Somewhat similar in appearance is Echeveria gibbiflora. This makes a very handsome plant with erect branching stems although large plants may need a stake for support later. The most commonly seen form has large leaves more than 10 in (25 cm) in length which have a pronounced keel at the base where they join the stem. The surface is an attractive grey-green and this is yet another variety over which care should be taken with pesticides. The species is very free flowering producing numerous tubular light red to orange flowers on long stems during the autumn and winter. Young plantlets are occasionally formed at the base of the leaves on the rosette and the sides of the flowering
In addition to the true species there are several cultivated forms which have considerable appeal. E. g. caruncuiala is a somewhat grotesque form with warty protuberances on the upper surfaces of the leaves. E.g.crispaia has attractively waved edges to the leaves and E.g.melallica has bronze-coloured leaves. E. violescens is sometimes sold as this last variety but has more purplish leaves.
Echeveria ieucolricha is very similar to E. gibbiflora in its general appearance but is considerably smaller and the leaves are not so neatly arranged in a rosette. However on closer examination its greyish appearance is caused by dense white hairs rather than a greyish meal. It lacks the keel at the base of the leaf that the earlier species had and has a small patch of brown hairs at the tip of the leaf. The red flowers are produced in spring.
Echeverias generally are extremely suitable plants for those with limited space available or for those who have no greenhouse. They are virtually indestructible and most varieties flower readily. They prefer a somewhat sandier soil than the general run of succulents and if you are using a proprietary brand of cactus compost it is as well to mix a little extra washed river sand into the soil to provide adequate drainage. They may be stood outside in the summer months to great advantage since it prevents them growing too fast and becoming too leggy and also encourages the production of harder wood and diminishes the need for staking. Propagation is elementary: the leaves may be broken off and laid on or slightly inserted into a seedling compost, in which case young plantlets will form at their base, or alternatively the stems may be cut through and stuck into a pot where they will quickly root into the new compost. The best time to strike cuttings or propagate is. of course, in the spring when the plant is able to produce the roots it requires for growth very quickly. They may also be raised from seed but unless you are certain that the plant you have is a true species you may be disappointed by the result, which may not conform to the original, since many commercial plants are hybrids between different species.
Although this section is mainly concerned lulus globosus. in spite of its round stemless appearance, properly belongs here. It is an unusual and intriguing plant and in its true form as S. arliculalus it has perfectly conventional stems. The variety illustrated, which is more commonly seen in cultivation than the true species, has stems which have become so compressed and swollen as lo be almost completely spherical, although il still produces a few arrow-shaped leaves near the tips of the round stems. The stems break off very easily and can be rooted quite readily, but it does make it difficult to obtain a plant of any size. It also requires just about the sunniest position in your and stems which start to revert to the original cylindrical shape should be removed or they -will- tefld to take over the
Senecio is the Latin name for the common British ragwort or groundsel and these succulent varieties are an excellent example of how diverse and adaptable nature can become. The similarity between varieties is even less obvious with species such as 5. macroglossus variegaius (illustrated on page 71), which at first sight looks remarkably like an ivy but produces groundsel-like flowers. To encourage this latter species to flower it should be regularly pinched back to prevent long straggly growth, trained round a hoop, and grown very cool in the winter, all this helps to ripen up the stems preparatory to flowering.
Carallumas also have British relations called motherworts or Arislolocliia. They are very similar to the stapelias described overleaf and like them require a dwarf pot or broad pan as they have very shallow but wide ranging root systems and eventually form a good-sized clump. Caralluma hes-peridum is the most commonly seen variety. It is a native of Morocco and has four-angled red-spotted green stems. There are small fleshy teeth on the sides of the stems and unlike stapelias it produces flowers from the tips of the stems rather lhan from the base. Flowering stems normally produce a tuft of flowers, up to ten in this variety, of a pentagonal shape slightly soft and velvety purplish-brown in colour.
Ecliidnopsis cereiformis is closely related, but. as its name implies, looks more like one of the upright cacti without spines. Like Caralluma hesperidum the flowers are produced from the ends of the stems but unlike it they are produced singly from the sides of Ihe stems rather than in tufts from the lips. The edges are not nearly so sharply angled and Ihere are many more of them with tubercles rather than spines on the
Senecio slapeliaeformis, which is frequently sold as Kleinia slapeliaeformis, is very similar to both the preceding species. It has slender upright stems ultimately forming a clump by branching below ground level. The greyish stems are sharply five lo seven angled and are distinguished by dark green lines running down Ihe sides. Small leaves are produced from the edges of the stems at regular intervals and the species can be induced to flower without too much difficulty if water is withheld during the summer months when the plant rests. The flowers are quite attractive, red and daisy like, and the clump-forming habil should be encouraged by growing this species in shallow pans in a mixture of loam and sand like the two previously described. There is a slightly similar variety of Senecio called S. kleinia which is sometimes confused with S. slapeliaeformis. This has stems which branch above the ground and can attain a height of 3ft (I m) or more, while the species illustrated seldom exceeds 10 in (25 cm) in height. The leaves are much more pronounced and longer, often up to 6 in (15 cm) in length on older plants.
Stapelia are a fair size and have hairs on the margins of the petals which are purplish with latitudinal protuberances across them. S. giganlea is even more impressive and produces flowers up to 14 in (35 cm) across but is not very often found for sale.
Siapelia variegata is by far the most commonly found species and is easier to look after in summer, with less tendency to rot off. It is an extremely variable species and a great many of the forms have been given Latin names. The true species has greyish-green stems up to 4 in (10cm) in height with somewhat flattened angles. The stems are heavily blotched all over with purple and it is this variegation which gives the plant its name. The flowers too are blotched heavily yellow and purple giving the plant an extraordinarily sickly appearance. The varieties which are available are normally distinguished by the different arrangement of the blotches on the flowers although there is a cristate form which is not uncommon.
Cyanotis somaliensis is related to the better known tradescantia or wandering jew and is not an obviously succulent plant. It makes an excellent addition to any collection and can be grown satisfactorily with a winter temperature of 7°C (45 F). The stems arc rather weak and somewhat arched in habit and should be pruned back slightly at the beginning of each growing season. The mid-green leaves are long and tapered away from the stem which they cover at the base with a pronounced sheath: they are densely covered in long silky grey hairs. Propagation can either take place by dividing up the matted clumps that form if the plant is pruned hard or by striking the tips that are pruned off in the spring. The species flowers fairly readily at the end of the branches in the axils of the top cluster of leaves: like all tradescantias the flowers are three petallcd. they are blue in colour and produced right through the summer.
Although completely unrelated it is as well to mention here a little plant called Anacampseros rufescens that is fairly commonly offered for sale. It is slightly similar but has no hairs and much more succulent purplish leaves. The plant has been known since earliest times and was much valued as a talisman for bringing back lost love. It needs a very bright position in the home or greenhouse and will almost certainly need the aid of a photographic lamp once the buds are formed if they are to open, as they normally are formed and then die without opening in our climate.
Stapelias are not plants for those with sensitive noses. They are pollinated by blow flies and in order to attract them in their native habitats in South Africa and east India they have learnt to imitate the smell of rotten meal. They are for this reason unsuitable for most homes as the smell is really quite powerful, and it makes it difficult to appreciate the bizarre appearance of the flowers. In spite of their unpleasant odour they are very easy to grow although they may not flower until they have reached a fair size. They need a fairly cool resting period in the winter, but a living-room windowsill will suffice as their main requirement during the resting period is a lot of light. Although they should be kept on the dry side during this period they should not be allowed to shrivel up and during the growing period they should be watered fairly generously and even damped lightly over on really hoi days with a mist sprayer. If you wish to propagate these varieties cuttings may be taken from any of the stems in the spring but they must be allowed to dry out before they are struck, otherwise they will merely rot when they best to use a propagator to root them if one is available, otherwise you can try inverting a jam jar over the pot in which the cuttings are struck. Like the species on the previous page ihey require pans rather than pots if they are to grow well.
Siapelia graniliflora is one of the most impressive species and the sharply raised angles of the stems and the stems them-186 selves are covered in soft hairs. The flowers
Tradescantia navicidaris is even more like Anacampseros rufescens in habit, than Cyanotis somaliensis to which it is related. It is a native of Northern Peru where it forms a low-growing sprawling perennial herb. In cultivation it seems to lack this clump-forming habit and like Cyanotis somaliensis needs to be trimmed back regularly at the start of each growing season in order to maintain a compact shape. The leaves, which are very sharply keeled and clasp the stem at the base, arc borne in two rows on either side of the stem; the Latin name navicularis refers to the similarity between the leaves and a little boat. Although it is somewhat slow growing it is an interesting plant to have in the collection since like the succulent senecios it is a succulent example of a plant which we would not otherwise think of as being generally such. It also has attractive rose-pink-coloured flowers which are produced on short stems at the tips of the branches from the axils of the leaves during the summer and right through the autumn making it a valuable addition from this point of view. Propagation, as with all the tradescantias, is very simple when done by means of cuttings taken from the
It is sometimes diflicult to know where to draw the line in discussing the cultivation of sedums in greenhouses or in the home. Many sedums are natives of Britain, particularly Sedum anglicum the common English stonecrop. and both S. lineare and S. sieboldii are perfectly hardy in a sheltered location. The real enthusiast should use these hardy succulents to form a bridge between his indoor collection and the plants he grows in the garden.
The variety illustrated above is S. lineare variegalum. This makes a most attractive plant with arched stems closely surrounded by light green lanceolate leaves which arc borne in clusters of three and tinged with a white variegation round the edge. Like the following species this one produces two types of stem, flowering and non-flowering. The stems which are subsequently going to produce flowers are longer than the others, up to 6 in (15 cm) in many cases. The true species, S. lineare. is much more free flowering than the variegated form, and care must be taken to remove any stems which revert to the type or they will quickly swamp the weaker, variegated growth and lake over the plant.
There is a slightly similar species to the preceding one without the variegated leaves, but like the preceding one coming from the Far East, called S.hergeri. It differs in having very much larger leaves which are
Sedum sieboldii medio-variegalum makes an excellent pot plant. It is a native of Japan and dies back to ground level during the winter when it is ideally suited to a position in a cold frame. This may not always be available, especially to people living in flats, and in this event I advise you to put it on a spare-bedroom windowsill. As soon as the warm weather comes the shoots spring up from the base surrounded at regular intervals with almost circular grey leaves, often tinged with red. and conspicuously marked with a large yellow blotch in the middle. They are borne, like those of 5. lineare variegalum. in groups of three giving the plants a faint resemblance to a variegated clover. It can either be grown in a shallow pan or can be used for hanging baskets or window boxes. Care must be taken to remove the unvariegated shoots which detract from the overall appearance of the plant and will quickly take it over if allowed to flourish unchecked. Two sorts of stems are produced, flowering and non-flowering, the latter arc longer and produce a cluster of reddish-pink flowers in the early autumn, after which the stems die back to the surface of the rootstock. During winter, water should not be withheld altogether but the plant is dormant and will only require a little water every month or so to prevent the roots from desiccating completely. Propagation is achieved by taking cuttings from the non-flowering stems, or by dividing up older plants into clumps. This latter course may be necessary as the plants tend to become a little one sided with age as parts of the rootstock bccomc too old to carry on producing new shoots.
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