Monday, 18 July 2011

Is there such a thing as too low maintenance?

It is often mentioned how succulent gardens are low maintenance and there is no doubt that this can be true.  With my dry bed the sole work is cutting off flower stalks and picking up leaves that blow in from other gardens. That's it; no pruning,  no digging in organic material, weeding, watering or any of the other stuff you normally associate with gardening.  In fact I sometimes wonder if it has gone too far in its lack of requirements; I am obsolete, it can survive and look good if I am there or not. 

Is this a case of  "be careful what you wish for" ? After all I always wanted a garden that looked good all year but didn't need much care, allowing me to just sit back and enjoy it. I thought this was the ideal garden, no real work,  just lots of enjoying. So I got what I wanted. As many of you will know, the real joy of gardens is not just sitting in them but getting your hands dirty, getting in among the plants. So what to do in a garden that needs no care? I ensure my plants look their best, removing ANY dead leaves, make sure the gravel is all tidy, check for bugs and basically anything else that keeps me in among the plants.  Sadly that doesn't keep me busy for long so I resort to my pots which ultimately ends up in propagating more plants.

One echeveria that kept me busy for a little bit today was e. carnicolor.  I posted this picture of it earlier in the year.

The flowers have finished and I hadn't bothered removing them. They have taken on a life of their own and the plants are a mess. 

I have mentioned before that if you leave echeveria flower stalks then new plants will form and this one has taken it too the extreme.

So cleaned the plants up and re-potted them, strangely into a smaller pot as they had too much space. They looked much better afterwards and can be put out in public again.

In a month or so the young plants will have filled out to nicely to fill the pot and no doubt it will be even more of a medusa when it flowers next year. I couldn't resist tidying up a few of the flower stalks:

Most of these will be given away, but I am wondering if I can't do something with one of the stems. Maybe another one to try to bonsai, it's a good colour, has a good structure (it you don't let it run wild) so may look good as a miniature.

So while the dry bed may be no maintenance at least the pots give me something to do.


  1. This is a nice echeveria, I likehow it seems to be more compact. I must have missed your post about the stalks, but will start leaving mine on to see what more they give me! I'm forever sticking more leaves in more pots to start's a good thing we like to share!

  2. Goodness, a husbandly public admission of too much time on his hands ... that was rash. The list of tasks on the fridge is now multiplying like an Echeveria stalk.

  3. Look at all those nice little babies! I love giving succulents as gifts! These would be perfect with some other little sedums in a tiny pot for a gift!

  4. Can I have one of those echeveria stems? Kidding aside, this is nice post. Keep posting.

    Lisa from video-guitar-lessons-personal-teacher

  5. Mandy: It is one of my favourites, although needs to be kept under control to look its best.

    Titchy: No getting ideas!

    Candy: They would work well in one of your bowls.

    Lisa: You are welcome to one if you live in Europe.

  6. My Echeveria stems just dry up. I grow them very very hard so the plants are probably desperate for water. (Note to self: water more!).

    My small potted succulents are higher maintenance than I expected due to the constant invasions of mealy bugs, aphids, and spider mites. Vigilance required.

  7. HB: Our lower temps make things easier here. The plants don't get stressed by my summer temps. Bugs can be a problem though, and I have said before that I monitor my plants very carefully, mealy bugs are the only thing I have to really watch out for, and vine weevil (which I do treat systematically ever few months as I can't risk the echeverias.