Sunday, 28 November 2010

A flower for all seasons

One of the misconceptions of succulent gardens is that there are no flowers. I have already shown the spectacular agave flower spike,  and the glorious yucca flowers and there is nothing brighter than a green house full of cacti flowering. There is pretty much something in flower ever day of the year and one of the best plants for this are echeverias.

Apart form the different shapes, sizes and colours I have mentioned in previous posts, another unusual aspect of these plants is that they flower at different times; so you have spring, summer, autumn and winter flowers. In fact this year I have had at least one plant in flower on every single day and despite being so cold outside, I still have many varieties flowering both inside and out. 

I have to start with echeveria blue prince, simply because it started flowering in July and is still going today. I can't think of many plant that have open flowers for 5 months! I have had to move it inside as I don't want to risk it, so it is now hanging up in our porch.

One of the plants that is worth trying outside is echeveria black prince, smaller than e. blue prince but it's hardiness makes it a welcome addition to dry beds.  It also flowers very late and is just starting to get into it's stride.  Sadly heavy snow normally kills the main plant and flower so it is always a race to see if it can get its flower out and over before the first heavy snow.  I have some under simple plastic cloches and they get through my winters without problems at all.

For people who like the larger frilly plants echeveria mauna loa is one of the best.  Sadly it is not hardy and is in fact one of the more tender ones.  I lost mine last year as I just left it under my rain shelter. This year as I have back ups my main plant is in a cold frame and we shall see if that gives it enough protection tot get it through.  It flowers very later and is at it's best right now,  Whenever possible I take the lid off to let the flower stretch out a bit.  The pant flowering in the front row is echeveria blonde as you can see another later flowerer.

The shed where I over winter a lot of my plants is full of little flower spikes at various stages of development. Echeveria FO-76 has a pretty yellow flower.  More often than not you will find this one sold as echeveria sachez-mejoradae, which it is not, but for some reason no-one ever bothers to change it's name (including me). When I was sold mine it was sold as "The plant that is not echeveria sachez-mejoradae".

One I have been trying to cross for a while is echeveria john catlin.  It is probably the echeveria most people ask if I have spares of, which I have never understood, as I don't think it is as nice of many of the other white ones. But it is very hard to find and I guess that may be the attraction. Long flower stalks with pale pink flowers which are just past their best now.

Finally one that is just starting to flower echeveria difractens, also known as the shattering echeveria due to the ease its leaves fall off.  This one flowers twice a year for me, which I can not believe is normal.  Every year it's flowers get better and as you can see it is now a pot of  snaking flower spikes.

So no matter how cold or grey it gets  there is also a little bit of colour to brighten up my days.


  1. Are you cross pollinating all the flowering ones? Mine never seem to bloom at the same time, so it's hard to cross them.

  2. You have a beautiful collection! Lovely to see them. My 'Black Prince' just started blooming a month or so ago, months later than everything else. Mealy bugs got my difractens. Yours is so much better.

  3. BF: I am not crossing all of them, I simply have too many and it gets too hard to keep up. I am trying the John Catlin crossed with FO-76. One thing I have planned for my website is to split all thee echeveria I have up into groups according to when they flower.
    HB: Mealy bugs can be a problem, I am fanatical about bug control, especially watching out for Vine Weevil which can devastate a collection.

  4. blue fox have you tried collecting pollen and storing it in the freezer?

    SO, what do you use for mealies? alcohol spray?

  5. HB: Up until this year I have had a three pronged attack. Firstly all new plants go in quarantine area and are re-potted so I can have a good look at their roots. Then any bugs found I use alcohol spray or white spirit on. If the problem looks more serious then I will use a pesticide (but I try to keep that to absolute minimum). I am planning on trying Cryptolaemus Larvae next year instead of chemicals.