The Succulent and Cactus Lady

Hatiora gaertneri (Bladroos)

A native of south-eastern Brazil, Hatiora gaertneri (also known as the Easter Cactus) is a tropical cactus that requires a certain amount of regular water in order to survive. The fully grown cactus resembles a shrub. In the wild, these cacti grow on trees or rocks only, so they require a special potting mixture to keep them healthy in your home.

Immediately after flowering has finished, this cacti requires a one month resting period. During this month, restrict water to keep the soil moist only, and do not offer fertilizer. After the month, resume watering and fertilizing on a regular basis.
- Name kindly supplied by Roger - (Info from House Plants Expert)

At the beginning February 2014, a friend sent me a cutting (above) and after being "lost" in the post for almost a month, it finally arrived on the 26th February 2014, looking slightly worse for the wear. I immediate potted it up and waited. To my utter horror, it seemed to die within a couple of weeks! I left the "dead" looking plant in the pot, carefully pampering it and keeping an eye on it and it wasn’t long before, to my utter delight, new stems started to emerge (below).

 By this time the cold weather was starting to settle in so, as a precaution, I brought my precious little epiphyllum indoors, to spend the winter safely in my flower room inside.

Then in September, as soon as it was warm enough, I took it back outside and within a week I was promptly rewarded with a couple of flowers.

Litrosies of bladrosies se blomme is verskillende groottes en so ook die stammetjies of takkies. Mens kry dié met die lang aaneenlopende blare wat aan die kante gekartel is, en hul dra gewoonlik die groot blomme. Sommige lyk nogal na orgideë en kom in al die kleure van ligroos, rooi tot geel en oranje voor. Sommige blommetjies het ook dubbel blaartjies en die buitenste is byvoorbeeld rooi en die middelblaartjies wit of ligroos. Die ander litroos is die kleiner tipe met die ballerina blommetjies. Die plant se blare is in litjies aanmekaar en die blommetjies is kleiner. Hierdie blommetjies het ook dubbele blaartjies met verskillende kleure aan een blommetjie. Daar is ook die gewone ou rooietjie wat enkelblommetjies dra met sy geel stuifmeeldrade. Hierdie is nogal ’n baie sterk plant. Hulle groei maklik van steggies en groei ook baie vinnig en blom ook sommer vinnig. Al behoort hulle aan die kaktusse, hou hulle nogal in die warm somer van genoeg water. Hulle is wel gevoelig vir baie koue en ryp. Hul kan in volson of semi-skadu geplant word en sal oral baie goed blom.

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

The happiest season of all!

Christmas, and summer time. Everything is in full flower. Surely it must be the happiest season of all! Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and a festive season filled with LOVE, JOY and INSPIRATION!Posted by at  9 comments: Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to PinterestLabels: christmas 2015, echeveria, the happiest season of all

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The joy of succulents in pots

Although succulents and cacti and are renowned for their 'easy care' and drought and heat tolerance, many succulents you may have in your garden might not be suited to your specific climate - some may prefer little water, some may thrive on lots more water, some may even prefer the shade and many might not be tolerant of too much cold or heavy frost.

Echeveria imbricata - doesn't tolerate frost and thrives on lots of water

That is the situation I have with many of my succulents. Here where I live (in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa), we can have winters with extremely heavy frost. Even though we rarely experience temperatures below -2℃, which most succulents do not have a problem with, I have lost many an Echeveria because of the frost at temperatures well above freezing.

Another problem is the beautiful, rich, deep topsoil l have in my garden. That brings it's own set or problems - the soil is extremely porous and well-drained and even heavy rain tends to sink right down to well below where the plants can get hold of it (most succulents and cacti have very shallow root systems).

The joy of having your succulents in pots is the fact that you can control temperature by moving them either into the sun or into shade, you can tend to each one's water requirements separately and, if your pot is well-drained, even over-watering is hardly ever a problem. It's wise to pot your most precious and rarer succulents, ensuring that you may enjoy their beautfy for many years to come.

Shade- and water-loving Crussula imperialis

Echeveria imbricata in Terracotta pots that are easy to move under cover for winter

A young Aloe ferox starting its life in the safety of a pot, avoiding frost in the early years

Euphorbia cooperi (Transvaal candelabra) which I raised from a baby but lost one winter because I forgot to being it inside. It is mostly found in wooded grassland and rocky places from KwaZulu-Natal, through Swaziland and up to Messina in Limpopo, all basically frost-free areas.

Keeping my Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Eve's Needle) in a pot, reduces the chances of this weed-like opuntia spreading all over the garden

This Cactus trichocereus echinopsis hybrid is in a pot just because he's so beautiful and I love to look at him!

Echeveria imbricata thriving in dappled shade on my patio with protection from the frost from some overhanging branches

An Haworthia, some Aloe aristata (Guinea-fowl Aloe or Lace Aloe) and Peanut Cactus in an enamel bowl on my patio table. I often use some of my potted succulents as centre pieces for breakfast or lunch parties.

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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Kalanchoe rotundifolia (Haw.) Haw.

Family: Crassulaceae

Common names: Common Kalanchoe, Nentabos, Plakkie (Afrikaans) and umadinsane (Zulu).

Kalanchoe rotundifolia is a brittle succulent plant which grows up to 1m tall under favourable conditions. It is a common, orange-flowering species with a slender stem. It has fleshy, rounded or lobed leaves that are 2.5cm broad and are clustered at the base of erect stems. It must be noted that some of these plants, although with the species name rotundifolia, have leaves that are not round. They were grouped together because they had other similarities. The genus Kalanchoe typically has a tubular flower. Flowers are borne in an inflorescence with a long erect stalk. The flat-topped inflorescence consists of yellow or orange flowers and often become red and conspicuously twisted when old. The flowering period occurs through autumn and early winter (February until June).

It is a delightful little plant that puts up a brave show in clumps among trees and shrubs. The robust red flowering specimens are rewarding garden plants, flowering for many weeks. Kalanchoe rotundifolia is traditionally used by the Zulu as a charm to make one invisible.

A few Kalanchoe rotundifolia cuttings in a plastic tub to the right of the basket
This is an easy plant to propagate from both seed and cuttings. The seeds of these plants are very fine and must be collected as soon as they are ripe before they disperse. The best time to sow these seeds will be early spring in order to give them plenty of time to grow before late autumn. Sowing may be done either in seedling containers or directly into the garden.

Ideal cuttings for propagating are semi-hardwood and soft tip cuttings. Cuttings should be planted into river sand and there is no need to apply root-stimulating hormones. Each leaf is capable of producing a new plant when it drops to the ground. The rooted cuttings or seedlings must be planted in dry, shady conditions.

This is a good plant for a low maintenance and waterwise garden. In summer rainfall regions there is no need to water as rain will be sufficient. Kalanchoe rotundifolia will successfully seed itself in the garden and once it is established it will persist for many years.

This plant is a danger to livestock, notably goats and sheep, as it contains the same or similar poisonous substances as the Cotyledon species that cause loco disease or nenta.

My mother plant from which I've taken several cuttings and they are now spread all over the garden.
Plant Kalanchoe rotundifolia in light shady areas, in the shade of plants or in a sunny spot that gets at least some shade. These plants are particularly attractive when they show up in odd places in the garden and are very useful in the wild garden. They will grow in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained. Too much water and shade will hinder flowering. - See more at: Kalanchoe rotundifolia in light shady areas, in the shade of plants or in a sunny spot that gets at least some shade. These plants are particularly attractive when they show up in odd places in the garden and are very useful in the wild garden. They will grow in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained. Too much water and shade will hinder flowering. - See more at: Kalanchoe rotundifolia in light shady areas, in the shade of plants or in a sunny spot that gets at least some shade. These plants are particularly attractive when they show up in odd places in the garden and are very useful in the wild garden. They will grow in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained. Too much water and shade will hinder flowering. - See more at:
Kalanchoe rotundifolia is indigenous to South Africa and widely distributed in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

Earth's little gems - Gasteria glomerata

My newly-acquired Gasteria glomerata on the left sharing a pot with Huernia longituba

I acquired my Gasteria in February this year (2015) by way of an on-line auction on FaceBook and after winterizing inside my house for two months, I was thrilled to discover a small! flower soon after I put it outside at the beginning of spring. I juts can't wait to see it fully open!

Gasteria glomerata is a stemless, compact succulent plant with an unspotted but slightly roughened grey-green leaf surface. Leaves grow in a single line (distichous), but the plant clumps up freely to make a mat. Already I see a baby peeping through on the left! It is native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

G. glomerata is a rare endemic confined to the lower Kouga River, now part of the Kouga Dam. Although it is rare, its status is not threatened at all due to its cliff face habitat and it is protected within a reserve. The seed is also dispersed world-wide and the plant is commonly grown in many collections. Its ease of propagation ensures that it is not necessary to collect plants from the wild.

The terrain of Gasteria glomerata is rugged, inhospitable and the plants occur on sheer, vertical, shady, south-facing rocky ledges (altitude 500-700 m), in minerally poor, slightly acid quartzitic sandstone soils. Gasteria glomerata is pollinated by sunbirds. Its fruiting capsule, opens from the top to release the flattish seeds. The fleshy leaves store water and are therefore drought tolerant, making this an ideal water-wise garden plant. Even though its habitat on the cliffs is very exposed, and is bone dry at times, the plants receive enough water from seepage for survival.

It is popular due to its horticultural value, and can be grown in small containers or in succulent plant gardens and is easily propagated from leaf cuttings or seed. It is a slow growing, but long-lived species. Leaf cuttings should first be allowed to dry and heal by placing them on a cool windowsill for at least three weeks. The basal part should preferably be treated with a fungicide. Plant the leaves in an erect position or lying on their side in sandy soil. Rooting is rapid and young plants can be harvested the following season.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Succulents in hanging baskets

If you are someone who has always been partial to hanging baskets, yet you like cacti and succulent plants, you might be wondering, “What are my choices?” There are plenty of succulent plants that hang down that are perfect for hanging baskets.

Last spring I planted a few succulents in a hanging basket that used to contain Plectranthus verticilatus, which unfortunately died during winter. The story goes that, as long as your 'money plant' (Plectranthus)  grows well, you'll never be short of money, and I had my plant for years. When it died last winter, I must say I started getting very worried! he he!
I used a few Echeveria imbricata, Echeveria elegans, some Gasteria and a few sprigs of Crassula imperialis. They have all survived the winter and really filled the basket nicely! Hanging from a wooden beam on the patio, they get morning sun and late afternoon sun and very little water.




More succulents you can use :
Burro’s tail (Sedum morganianum)
Ragwort vine (Othonna capensis)  – This is one of the creeping hanging succulent plants. A member of the daisy family, this is not as common as some succulents. But, it has much to offer. Native to South Africa, this creeping plant features slender, trailing stems. These can eventually reach several feet in length. The shiny, green leaves are usually in clusters. Spindle-shaped, these look as if they are suspended on the stems. The yellow blooms, which look like daisies, need sun to open.

String of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) - being a succulent it is very forgiving to being under-watered.

String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
String of nickels (Dischidia nummularia) - This trailing succulent plant has interesting foliage that screams for attention. It consists of round grey-green leaves which are flat and reminiscent of little coins (about nickel size) hanging  from a string.

Rattail cactus (Aporocactus flagelliformis)The Rattail cactus is another succulent that actually prefers a hanging basket, as the trailing stems can get several feet long.

Vygie (Mesembryanthemum Lampranthus)Vygies is another creeping succulent that does well in a hanging basket. I've got mine in a little basket on a plant stand on my patio and is already starting to hang down. I'd like to plant him in a hanging basket, but would just have to find the perfect sunny spot in the garden to hang him.

I'm sure there are many more species that can be used in your basket, so just use your imagination and give them a try, you might be pleasantly surprised!

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Monday, 7 September 2015

Sedum rubrotinctum

Sedum rubrotinctum has small, glossy, bead-like leaves that take on a reddish hue in full sun. In a climate with very strong sun this Sedum needs light shade. Leaves tend to drop off the sprawling stems and root to form new plants but stem cuttings can also be taken. The leaves are considered poisonous if ingested and their sap may irritate the skin. Heads of yellow flowers, with reddish sepals in strong light, are produced in the Summer.

Commonly known as the jelly bean plant, or pork and beans, it is a species of Sedum from the Crassulaceae family of plants. It has been classified as a hybrid plant — of Sedum pachyphyllum × Sedum stahlii — named Sedum × rubrotinctum.

A newly-planted stem of S. rubrotinctum

S. rubrotinctum, originating in Mexico, is cultivated as an ornamental plant for planting in gardens and as potted plants. It is grown very easily and tolerates all types of soil except for those that are poorly drained. It grows very well in summer, can take variations in climate, although it is not frost-tolerant. New plants may be grown from leaves (or beans) that drop off or are separated from the stem and laid on the soil.

Water the jelly bean plant more in the spring and summer, but still let it dry out in between waterings. Plant in well-draining potting soil and never let it sit in water. Fertilize in the spring and summer once a month with a cactus and succulent fertilizer. No insect pests or diseases are known to severely attack this plant.

Be careful when touching this plant as it can irritate some people’s skin. Also make sure that no pets or children eat this plant. Jelly bean plant leaves are delicate and can fall off easily.

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

My little green cactus

My little green cactus stands out there on the balcony,
What do I need red roses for, what do I need red poppies for?
And if some rascal says something ill-mannered,
Then I get my cactus and it pricks, pricks, pricks!
My little green cactus stands out there on the balcony,
Hollari, hollari, hollaro!

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Sunday, 5 July 2015

Aloe striatula

Family: Aloaceae
Genus: Aloe (AL-oh)
Species: striatula (stree-AT-yew-luh)

From the wilds of South Africa comes this amazing species with upright stalks of 1" wide, dark green foliage. In warmer climates, the stalks can reach in excess of 3' tall. The larger stalks tend to arch outward with age due to excess do we. In early summer, the clumps are topped with amazing scapes of orange-yellow bells. This is one for the plant nut who likes to push the limits of hardiness.

Aloe striatula is a strong-growing climbing aloe whose native habitat is in mountain tops south of the Karoo region of South Africa. A tough and hardy plant, Aloe striatula is popular in gardens throughout the world. It can grow to a 6 feet tall shrub.

Aloe striatula gets its name from its distinguishing markings -- dark green stripes on its stems and leaf sheathes, in Latin "striatula" means "striped". Also known as the “Coral Aloe”, Aloe striatula is quite cold and heat tolerant. Its leaves are thin, dark green and strongly recurved, with small white teeth on their margins.

Aloe striatula is one of the hardiest aloes, and will tolerate much colder temperatures than most Aloes, including frost and even some snow, but it prefers full sun and well-drained soil. In the Eastern Cape it is often planted along the boundaries of kraals, as it naturally forms a well-shaped and hardy hedge. Like other climbing aloes, it can easily be propagated by cuttings (truncheons) as well as by seed.

The brilliant yellow inflorescence emerges in late fall through winter and rises above the foliage.

When planting in the garden you will need to provide Aloe striatula with a free-draining soil as it can be prone to attack from fungal infections if the roots become too wet. Dig in plenty of horticultural grit and sand to the soil of required but avoid planting in heavy soils or soils that are prone to water logging.

If suitable ground does not exist then consider planting into a pre-formed mound of free-draining soil, a raised bed or even a suitably sized container. For the container, use a good quality compost but with a 50:50 mix of horticultural grit and sand.

Although closest to the rare and unique Aloe commixta of Table Mountain, Aloe striatula is part of a whole group of related climbing aloes that grow throughout Southern Africa, the "Macrifoliae" Aloes. Other species in this group are: Aloe ciliaris, Aloe tenuior, Aloe gracilis, Aloe juddii, Aloe decumbens, and of course commixta and striatula itself.

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Crassula Perfoliata ssp. falcata Up-date

Since I acquired my Crassula falcata in January this year, I've been patiently waiting for it to flower. I was told that a young plant takes ages to flower, but just two months later, in the first week of March I was blessed with the first bud!

Endemic to South Africa, from the Cape Province, they grow to approx. 2 feet (0.61m) tall. The blossom started off with a light pink but soon turned into a sparkling, striking red.

12th March 2015

16th March 2015

By the 4th May I was rewarded with this beautiful flower!

The flower is actually quite heavy and soon leaned horizontal and I was scared it might break off. But turning it to face the sun solved the problem as the plant reacted quite well and started to get up straight again.

Over the past two weeks of June, the bloom has started fading and this summer I'm looking forward to some more lovely flowers!

Crassula falcata plants grow to 2 feet tall. Their small scarlet red flowers grow in a large cluster, rising dramatically above the plants' leaves in summer, giving a beautiful showing for 6-8 weeks. They flower smells like cinnamon and can bloom twice per year, attracting birds and other pollinators.

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