About me

About me
🌿 I've been gardening ever since a child, when I spent time with my father in his vegetable garden. But my fascination with Echeverias started in the 1980's, when my father gave me a pot with five Echeverias, which turned out to be E. imbricata. At first I wasn't much interested in them and planted them in some obscure corner of the garden and completely forgot about them. How great was my surprise when, a couple of months later, I noticed that they had spread and made a beautiful display - I was hooked!
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Monday, 24 February 2014


Family: Crassulaceae (krass-yoo-LAY-see-ee)
Genus: Echeveria (ech-eh-VER-ee-a)
Species: glauca (glau-ca) imbricata

Echeveria imbricata

Echeverias are arguably the most attractive of all succulents, highly valued for their amazing colours and variation, with the stunning leaf colour of many varieties at its most brilliant in the cooler months. Native to the Americas, they are prized by collectors and gardeners the world over. Their rosettes range in size from 2cm to 50cm in diameter. They generally flower in the warmer months with colours ranging from green to pink to red.

Echeveria imbricata exhibiting pink tinges on the tips of its leaves
Most Echeverias are summer growers. Once established they can tolerate extended dry periods without watering but will grow stronger if they receive adequate water during their growing season.

 As my trees got bigger, the shade started taking over my Echeveria patch. 
Here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) they do not seem to be able to withstand the severe frost we get, and a couple of winters ago I lost half this stock. So I've resorted to putting them all into pots and various other containers which can be brought inside or under cover during the winter months

Free-draining, porous soil is essential to prevent root rot. Echeverias are shallow rooted plants and therefore benefit from good levels of organic matter in the soil. Good ventilation is important for minimising pest and disease risks. Generally, the more sun they get the better they will display their colours and shape, but protect them from excessive sun during hot weather.

 Echeveria imbricata sharing a wooden crate with some Aloes

 Echeverias sharing space with Crassula imperialis in an Everite container

Echeverias in terracotta pots, ready to go under cover for the winter

As it does not tolerate temperatures below 7°C (45°F), in temperate regions it is grown under glass with heat. Like others of its kind, it produces multiple offsets (called pups) which can be separated from the parents in spring, and grown separately – hence the common name “hen and chicks”, applied to several species within the genus Echeveria.

However, one must be beware of the problem of common names. Hens and Chicks is a very poor name for this plant because it leads one to assume that it is the same category of plants called Sempervivums, also known as Hens and Chicks. But this is a far different plant – it is NOT an alpine succulent, but a Mexican succulent with very little cold hardiness, unlike the Sempervivum. This plant cannot survive temps much below freezing. It is nothing like a Sempervivum, and looks very little like one, too, other than being a succulent rosette. Please do not confuse the two or you will sorely disappointed when your ‘Hens and chicks’ melts to mush after the first real freeze.

When planted closely together, Echeveria will form very tight rosettes, so be sure to give them enough space to fully open up.

Echeveria imbricata in an Everite pot

 Happiness is more than just a state of mind, it's also a state of being, an act of spiritual courage.  It's a joy thing. Like an Echeveria.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014


I’m absolutely crazy about cacti and succulents and never miss a chance to lay my hands on a new specimen not yet in my collection. This is Haworthia minima and I am thrilled that it's now making a pup!

Haworthias are small succulent plants native to South Africa. They are closely related to Aloe, Gasteria, Kniphofia, Poellnitzia and Astroloba.

Haworthias in the wild grow in Southern Africa. They are relatively small (pot sized) plants that are classified as succulent – which means that they can cope with relatively harsh waterless hot environments. Their leaves are swollen to store water and may be green or attractively coloured. They are however not frost hardy, which means that for cultivation they need either a sunny windowsill or preferably a greenhouse.

Haworthias are grown for their shape and markings. There are many different types (or species). Some collectors also grow hybrids, which are crosses between two or more plants and are selected for their attractiveness. In many cases they multiply by producing “pups” or offsets and may also be grown from seed.
Info from the Haworthia Society

Another Haworthia in my collection

At the moment my Haworthias are outside but every winter I bring them in as the frost here in Tarlton can get quite severe.


Sunday, 16 February 2014


Gasteria armstrongii

Gasteria is a genus of succulent plants native to South Africa. Closely related genera include Aloe and Haworthia.

Members of the Gasteria genus, named for their stomach shaped flowers, generally prefer no supplementary water during winter, and regular, but not excessive watering for the rest of the year. The majority of species prefer light shade and should be protected from direct sunlight and frost. In the wild they tend to grow under other plants for shelter from the elements but mine are mostly in pots so I bring them inside every winter because of our heavy frost.

Gasteria armstrongii is vulnerable, occurring in a popular farming region. It is also only known from a few sites along the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape. Although it is well camouflaged and difficult to find, it is threatened by collectors and ploughing. Plants grow on a flat terrain in Renosterveld vegetation. The plant has been well established in cultivation (ex situ preservation) and is grown by succulent plant enthusiasts all over the world.

 Gasteria are prolific pup-makers and here I have transplanted a few into another bowl.

 A few of my Gasterias on a plant-stand on my patio in summer

 Some Gasterias over-wintering inside in my flower room

Gasterias don't seem to mind whether they get watered or not. They withstand drought easily and are just as happy if flooded with a lot of water. I must confess I have this tendency to kill my plants with lots of "love" in the form of too much watering, but the Gasterias have withstood this onslaught with happy faces!


Friday, 14 February 2014

Echeverias in summer

We've had a lot of rain and my Echeveria imbricata are hosting their beautiful bell-like little flowers en masse this summer and are offering plenty of babies, ready for picking and transplanting. E. elegans is not frost resistant and I have learnt the hard way, almost losing all my plants as we live in a heavy frost area. So I have transplanted all my stock into pots and various planters, bringing them indoors during winter.

Native to Mexico and also known as the Mexican Snowball, these beautiful rosette-shaped succulents are summer growers. Once established they can tolerate extended dry periods without watering but will grow stronger if they receive adequate water during their growing season. Free draining, porous soil is essential to prevent root rot.

Echeveria are shallow rooted plants and therefore benefit from good levels of organic matter in the soil. Good ventilation is important for minimising pest and disease risks. Generally, the more sun they get the better they will display their colours and shape, but protect them from excessive sun during very hot weather. 

Camera : Canon EOS 550D
Location : My garden, Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa


Monday, 10 February 2014

Bunny Ears Cactus

Opuntia microdasys is a species of cactus native and endemic to central and northern Mexico. In fact, the name Bunny Ears, or ‘Opuntia Microdasys’, refers to the shape of the cactus and the way other offshoots grow off the main stem at an angle, and not to the texture of the bunny ear-shaped growths. If you were to try to feel the surface of the huge succulent leaves, you might get a nasty shock as a beginner cactus-carer, as one of the first things to beware of when caring for your Bunny Ears, is the highly irritant spines.

They are tender houseplants and cannot handle frost. Mine spends summer on the patio and is brought inside to a location that is bright and dry but not too cold.

The polka dot cactus (other common name) is fairly easy to grow if a grower can provide enough bright light, no over-watering, provide it’s winter resting period and average room temperatures. Simple!

But despite the cute name, the Bunny Ear Cactus is in no way cuddly. When handling this cactus, be extremely careful. The spines come off with a simple touch, and despite thick gloves I always manage to get thorns somewhere and it’s the most irritating burn and itch you can imagine and very difficult to get rid of! The Bunny cacti is native to northern Mexico and desert regions stretching into Arizona. This plant has the appearance of a shrub, and spreads out to cover between 2-5 feet of ground as a mature plant. The name is derived from its appearance akin to a bunny’s ears.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Rattail Cactus (Disocactus flagelliformis)

I have two of these Raittail cacti and every September I’m rewarded with the most beautiful flowers after they spent the winter inside. These cacti like temperatures above 35°F (3°C) and do not tolerate any frost.

The Aporocactus or Disocactus flagelliformis (rat tail cactus, rat’s tail cactus) has thin weak stems (usually about a half inch in diameter) that can grow five feet long and hang down over the sides of its pot. I currently have two of these, which I bring inside every winter as they do not do very well in frost. But they do need to be kept cool in winter to encourage flowering in spring. 

Water this plant frequently in the summer and much less in winter. Add water at the top of the pot or container and allow it to seep through to the drainage holes, then remove the excess water from the pot tray. Keeping the soil slightly moist is also advisable in summer.

The rat tail cactus needs bright light and coarse heavy soil with excellent drainage. Drench and let dry, but water more sparingly during the winter. Air that is too dry can encourage red spider; air that is too moist can encourage rot. In Mexico they grow at high altitudes where the night temperatures are very brisk. In rural areas the dried flowers are used medicinally.

The bright pink flowers, 1.5 inches long, 2.5 inches wide (4 by 6 cm), are produced along the long, trailing stems in spring and summer are sometimes followed by small red fruits. In the wild, they are pollinated by hummingbirds, but in cultivation, they generally need to be hand pollinated.

Native to regions of Mexico, it is an epiphytic cactus in the wild, meaning it naturally grows in trees.


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Aloe marlothii (Mountain Aloe)

Camera : Kodak EasyShare C195 
Taken in my garden at my wildlife pond

One of the most stunning plants in Africa is the Aloe marlothii. It is found from sea level to high hills in South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. The plant usually grows to a height ranging from 5-12 feet. (As it grows more tree-like, dead leaves remain on the trunk in habitat as a defense against animal munching and cold winters.) They put out a flower that is a branched candelabra-shaped with yellow to orange flowers. The mountain aloe is undoubtablty one of Southern Africa ’s most rewarding aloes to grow and adds an interesting slant to aloe culture.

Given to me by a dear RedBubble friend,  Antionette, it has now survived two Tarlton winters and heavy frost and I am absolutely thrilled that it is now established and I’m hoping for some flowers soon!

Until recently, aloes were assigned to the plant family Asphodelaceae; the genus Aloe is now assigned to the Xanthorrhoeaceae.

Common names : mountain aloe (Eng.); bergalwyn (Afr.); inhlaba or umhlaba (Zulu)


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Crassula imperialis

Crassula in a planter on my patio- this one gets morning sun and afternoon shade, the soil is nice and porous and it's beautifully green and spreading

When we moved from our previous property 10 years ago, I brought a few of my favourite cacti and succulents with me and a small Crassula was stuck in the soil with one of the plants. These beautiful tiny succulents spread easily by falling ‘seeds’ (their tiny little leaves) and I am now lucky enough to have a large number of clumps throughout my garden.

Crassulas prefer very porous soil, and it is preferable to drench them well and allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings. They enjoy cool summer conditions, good light, and good air circulation. High heat in the summer, when they are dormant, will often cause lower leaves to drop. Crassula need winter warmth and will sit and sulk if kept damp and cold.

Crassula is easily propagated by just breaking off a piece and sticking it into the soil and before long you will be rewarded by a lovely, spreading little plant.

 Crassula sharing a pot with an aloe and some Echeverias. Besides the fact that it receives full sun all day long, the ground on this pot is a bit compacted now and the Crassula is looking worse for the wear. Will be lifting all these plants, putting in new soil and move it to a spot where it is out of the midday heat.


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