Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It Feels Like Spring!

I think I am suffering from Spring Fever! You know the kind - all gardeners get it when the sky is blue, the snow is gone and a bit of green starts to come up in the garden! But it is still too cold and wet to do any real gardening in the outdoors. So I decided to plant this pot of succulents. The plants are not cold hardy and must come indoors in the fall. But after the frost is gone, I like to see them in pots around my patio. I love the 'desert-like' quality of these. They make me feel as if I am living somewhere else in the world.
This pot contains three different plants. The top one is Jade, or Crassula. It is usually grown as an indoor plant here in Ontario. But I have put some out during the summer months and they love the outdoors. The leaves even start to get a red colouring to the outside of the leaves due to the sunlight. I have never had one flower for me, although it seems relatively easy to do.
They have to dry out and be in a colder environment with daylight hours cut back - no artificial light. Then after a few months of that, they can be brought back out in normal light, watered occasionally and they should start to flower. My 'condition' has not allowed me to look after them to such an extreme extent, but maybe next year I will try it.
These things are easy to propagate. Just pinch off a bit of stem and put it into a pot of moist soil. They can even be propagated by leaf cuttings. Put the leaves into soil and a tiny new plant will appear at the base of the leaf. I have even taken cuttings from this plant and left them in a plastic bag for almost a year. I had meant to use them in the classroom, but things did not work out. But by spring we were able to squeeze some planting into our curriculum and I took out the bag of cuttings and the students planted them. They grew!

Family: Crassulaceae. Genus: Crassula. Species: C. ovata.
Common Names: Jade Plant, Lucky Plant, Money Plant.

The plants at the front of the pot are Echeveria. These are sometimes called Hens and Chicks. These are not hardy in our climate and must be moved indoors in the fall. Due to my condition, I did not even bring them outdoors last year. They were mostly dead when I went to transplant them this morning. I took cuttings and pushed them into the soil. I hope these will take because they are just beautiful in the summer. When planted outside they develop long flower spikes. I have several different species of this plant. Some can stay outdoors all winter and some have to be taken inside when there is a chance of frost.

Family: Crassulaceae. Genus: Echeveria.
Common Name: Echeveria, Hens and Chickens.

The plants on the right are commonly known as Burro's Tail. They are also in Crassulaceae Family. These are easy to propagate, either by leaf or cuttings. They grow in long trailing stems, covered with blue-green succulent leaves. I have had this plant for over 30 years. I just keep pinching new shoots off and re-planting them. Sometimes I even forget to water it for several weeks. But this plant doesn't mind that. In fact, it seems to like being neglected.
I have never tried this one outside, but this year I will grow some in a pot on the patio.

Family: Crassulaceae. Genus: Sedum. Species: S. morganiarum.
Common Name: Burro's Tail.
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