Tag Archives: cryptanthus

Succulent Plantings…When Summer Heat Sizzles!

Cork Bark and Succulents - Echevaria, Variegated Jade, Rhypsalis, Cryptanthus, Haworthia, String of PearlsWhile parts of the country are enjoying an unusually cool summer, here in the heart of the south the temperature and humidity can still soar. Unfortunately, even nighttime temperatures rarely provide respite from the unending heat, though, thankfully, we (and our plants!) have had a couple of welcome breaks this year.

Succulents: Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle', Rhypsalis, EchevariaWhile there are plenty of tough, heat tolerant plants that, with the proper maintenance, work very well in our landscapes, this post is going to concentrate on succulents, with examples of some recent container plantings.  Look HERE for more succulent arrangements we’ve done in the past too.

Three bright yellow pots provide a temporary home as a centerpiece trio, then these plants will move outside for the rest of the season. The curly little number here is an interesting, and new to the plant scene (at least for us), succulent-like plant (It’s actually a bulb.) called Albuca spiralis  ‘Frizzle Sizzle’. Native to South Africa, its growth actually slows during the heat of summer, and it must be kept on the dry side during this resting period.  As we move into the colder winter months, it will begin to grow again and should make a relatively easy indoor plant for a  bright room inside.

Succulents: Echevarias, Rhypsalis, Variegated Jade, Sedum and Pilea 'Aquamarine'The basket planting shows a tiny leaf blue-green succulent-like plant that is actually a Pilea called ‘Aquamarine’. It has fast become a favorite for succulent and other arrangements in containers. The tiny leaves grow quite quickly, mingling with other plants and eventually trailing, seemingly indefinitely! This mixture also has echevarias, workhorse succulents that can grow to enormous proportions.image

The square brown planter is home to a variety of succulents, including a number of Hechtia glomerata.  It’s  in the Bromeliad family and native from Texas down into Central America. Species of Hechtia are terrestrial and inhabit dry, rocky places and often seen growing  on vertical walls along rivers, where the soil drains exceptionally well. Hechtia is a plant that’s new to us this year. We’ve noticed it has  the spiny edges on leaves that some bromeliads are known for.

Tillandsia ( Air Plants), Succulents (Hechtia glomerata) and RhypsalisSucculent plants and air plants, Tillandsia, are  perfect partners, as you can see in this cork bark composition. Here’s the Hechtia again, with another plant called Rhypsalis. Rhypsalis is another fascinating plant. It’s actually in the cactus family and most are native to Brazil. Its name is derived from the Greek word rhips, which means wickerwork and refers to the slender, flexible, reed-like stems.
Rhipsalis are primarily epiphytic, meaning they live in trees, but some also grow in  the cracks of rocks. Quite a versatile little cactus! It doesn’t have spines like a conventional cactus; instead the stems seem almost flattened and branch frequently. Flowers are among the smallest of cactus flowers and usually white, though some may be tinged with yellow or red.

Succulent Planter with Hen and Chicks, Echevaria and CryptanthusThe wooden bowl shows an old favorite, sempervivum or hen and chicks, a well known succulent and widely available in many rosette colors. One thing we’ve learned about “semps” is they really do appreciate a bit of shade in the afternoon here in Birmingham. Maybe it’s our constant humidity. At any rate, a touch of shade seems to help.

Succulents and Cactus in a Marble DishAnother cactus called ‘Old Man’ and a little succulent called Haworthia are at home in a small marble container. There are no drainage holes in this piece, so careful watering must be done sparingly.

Succulents in Cork Bark - Close-Up. Rhypsalis, Variegated Jade, Echevaria, Cryptanthus, HaworthiaFinally, a long, very narrow piece of cork bark is home to a varied selection of succulents including Portulacaria afra, sometimes called miniature variegated jade plant though it’s a different species.  Its small, cream-variegated leaves on reddish stems are striking combined with the echevarias, haworthias, Cryptanthus, and  Senecio rowleyanus or string of pearls (not shown in this picture). With  bright light and a light hand with water, this planting should  flourish.

These plantings are just the tip of an amazing succulent iceberg. We’re constantly on the lookout for others to expand our design repertoire. So far we’re having a grand time!

 

Succulents…See Some Things We’ve Created!

succulents in the greenhouse...

succulents in the greenhouse…

air plants...

air plants…

With the spring planting season approaching, the nursery will be a plant lovers dream, filled with the best of everything we can find. These include fragrant, ornamental, and edible herbs, including the popular oregano ‘Kent’s Beauty’, sun and shade loving perennials for your garden,  bright, flowering annuals for pots and planting beds, and shrubs expressly selected for their ornamental qualities and durability in southern gardens.

Another grouping of plants we have all year around are succulents, and they are so beautiful arranged in containers for the summer or as a combination planting in the home all year around. Some shown here also incorporate tillandsias, or air plants because their care and culture is so similar.

living wreath...

living wreath…

The living wreath shown here that Molly planted was a huge hit on our Facebook page, and for good reason.  Just look at all the interesting textures and colors used, including echeverias, cryptanthus, air plants and even a tiny phalaenopsis orchid! This post on creating a living wreath give you some tips on how to make your own masterpiece. To see yet another that Jamie made, take a look HERE.

imageBecause succulents, air plants and even bromeliads (another great companion) come in so many different shapes, colors and sizes, it’s fun to come up with endless combinations. Here are more that we’ve created in the past few months.

In this long, narrow planter Lauren used a number of different plants including succulent echevarias, sedums, haworthias, and a pretty pink aloe. Meandering through this combination are pilea ‘Aquamarine.’

this will get large!

this will get large!

 

This two tier planting is going to get quite large! Flapjack kalanchoes share the space with a trailing succulent-like plant called dorotheanthus which will have charming little red flowers as the weather gets hotter. It’s also quite cold tolerant, though not completely hardy for us here. This container would be best moved in for the winter.

image

 

 

 

 

We’ve used cork bark planters to great effect in the past, and here Molly planted one with some really beautiful hen and chicks, sempervivum sp., and a couple of hardy sedums. This planting could be kept outdoors through the winter with the exception of the tiny aloes on each end, which can be repotted and moved inside during the colder months. The entire planting could also be moved into a sunny room for the winter.

one of two...

one of two…

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger...

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger…

The two pretty white pots shown here work together (There’s actually a third as well.) I used a tall tillandsia to add some height to this planting until the flapjack kalanchoe attained some size. The cryptanthus adds some color at the front and the pilea will contribute delicate trailing leaves to this composition.   In the second pot I added an echevaria to the planting, keeping the pinky color scheme going.

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn't drain...

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn’t drain…

Succulents can be planted in anything! This copper planter does not have drainage though, so the plantings need very careful attention to be sure they’re not overwatered – always be mindful of what kind of containers you’re using. Those that drain are always best. I have to confess I just really liked how this looked anyway! And, it’s been growing quite happily in the greenhouse since February.image

Succulents can be used as accents. too. Here a container is home to a tall sanseveria and  pussy willow stems with  sweet allysum tucked between for it’s dainty white blooms.

Finally, if you’re designing a container with succulents (Or anything!) remember the container you’re placing them in is part of the design as well.  This little log shaped planter is brown in color but  tinged with a touch of pink. I liked how the cryptanthus on the left picked up on that but contrasted with the other plants chosen to offset it in color and weight.image

So, with warmer weather right around the corner,  grab a pot, stop in , and find some succulents and air plants of your own to plant up – you can’t go wrong – promise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Found Objects – Planting Possibilities

An old window gets a new life...

An old window gets a new life…

Found objects…Have you ever come across something unexpected or in an unlikely place? Or turned a common object from one thing into another, transforming its former use into something completely different?

Found pipes...planted

Found pipes…planted

 

 

 

 

The  first happened to Jamie. On a walk she found two small concrete pipes…from what we’re not sure, but they were broken at just the right spot to make a planting pocket with a dip in the front. Serendipitous, indeed! She brought them to the shop so we could all drool over them (Yes, we all did!) and wish they were our own. Here is the planting she chose, using poppies, sedum,  variegated thyme and a touch of chartreuse reindeer moss.

succulents...

succulents…

The second is our group window project. This window had been floating around the shop for some time. Last year we did the first planting, transforming it from it’s former use, It became obvious, though, as the year went on, that it needed a planter box behind the frame so the plants could have more room to grow.

Echevarias, air plants, haworthias....

Echevarias, air plants, haworthias….

 

 

Thanks to the carpentry work of Bert, the window was transformed into a wall planter. Stuffed with moss, filled with potting soil, and covered with chicken wire, it was ready to plant!

hanging...

hanging…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly, Jamie, Lauren, Pinkie, and myself all took a pane and planted it up, pushing  various sedums, echevarias, haworthias, air plants and others that like a dry, sunny location through the chicken wire. It sat in the back of the greenhouse for a number of weeks, settling in. Our shop cat, Gracie,  discovered it at one point and smushed my pane and a couple of others. That’s when we decided to push sticks into it to deter him. It worked!

Found objects…sometimes the ordinary can become extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bromeliads – Colorful And Easy Tropicals For Your Home…

IMG1376You’re no doubt familiar with the brightly colored bracts and strap-like leaves of bromeliads. Extremely long lasting and colorful alternatives to orchids and other flowers,  they can’t be beat for a touch of tropical beauty and their ease of care in our homes and offices.

bromeliads brighten the greenhouse...

bromeliads brighten the greenhouse…

 

 

 

 

These bright plants are distinguished by their rosettes of leaves – the most famous of the bromeliads is the pineapple. Bromeliads can be found growing in the wild from Florida and the West Indies to Mexico, through Central and South America. They’ve adapted to a wide range of growing conditions, though, from tropical rainforests to elevations as high as 11,500 feet in the Andes Mountains.

cryptanthus and succulents...

cryptanthus and succulents…

 

 

The majority of bromeliads are epiphytic, meaning they grow on trees but don’t take nutrients from the tree itself, rather from the moisture in the air – the tree is just a means of support. Another member of the bromeliad family we carry is cryptanthus.  It is a terrestrial, growing on barren, rocky soil.  Cryptanthus are found in the cloud forests of Ecuador, surviving on the moisture from the clouds that envelope them. The dark leaved and  silver/gray  bromeliad-like plant we’ve had all summer is a cryptanthus called ‘Black Mystic’, and it is beautiful and easy to grow!

bromeliads make great gifts...

bromeliads make great gifts…

 

It’s fascinating to find out the native habitat of many of the plants we use in our homes and offices – but understanding where these plants come from originally can also help us better understand how to take care of them.

 

 

 

 

bromeliads, cryptanthus and succulents in a pretty blue bowl...

bromeliads, cryptanthus and succulents in a pretty blue bowl…

 

We hose down our  bromeliads in the greenhouse when they’re very dry… if you’d like to more closely mimic the natural conditions of the bromeliad in your home (minus the hose!), let tap water sit for a few days so the chlorine and fluorine dissipate. Pour into the “cup” of the bromeliad and freshen the water periodically, allowing  the water to flow over the cup and into the soil. Now that you understand  the natural growth of  bromeliads, you can see why it’s important not to overwater them.

Allow them bright light inside or place them outside on a patio or porch through the summer to  enjoy these bright beauties!

 

A Living Wreath With Plenty Of Wow!

living wreath...

living wreath…

This living wreath Jamie planted the other day has plenty of WOW factor, doesn’t it? She incorporated a very cool bromeliad plant, Cryptanthus ‘Black Mystic’,  and an annual trailing foliage plant used a lot in sunny containers – silver dichondra. The round, silvery foliage of the dichondra “echoes” the lighter markings in the cryptanthus beautifully. A third plant in this mix is streptocarpella, an open growing plant with airy blue flowers.

The wreath is made using a two piece metal form that is lined with green sheet moss and filled with a good, light potting soil. We use Fafard – a good soilless mix containing NO fertilizer or moisture holding products. Once all the plants are inserted into holes poked through the moss, additional moss is used to firm the plants in and the wreath is watered well to settle the soil. It’s been hanging in our bright greenhouse for a few weeks now and is settling in nicely!

Cryptanthus with the succulent string of pearls...

Cryptanthus with the succulent string of pearls…

The cryptanthus also plays well with succulents – the foliage form is such a nice contrast with the roundness of other plants. You can see an example of this in the photo here…even there it has a bit of that “wow” factor!

We’ve gotten in more of these wreath forms if you’d like to try your hand at them, and we have more of the cryptanthus if you’d like one for yourself. They are really eye catching and so easy to care for.  We’ll show you in more detail how to make one of these wreaths in a later post – or, if you’re in the area, let us know if you’d like us to make one for you!

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Succulents Coming Soon

This planter shows what we did with some of the succulents we’re beginning to get in – this definitely means spring is coming! Echevarias, rhipsalis, sedums, cryptanthus, these are all plants that take our summer heat in stride. Some are annuals and only grow through the summer, while others will survive winters for us as well.


Mix them with a few herbs – think thyme, oregano, chives, sage, trailing rosemary (we’ll give you examples down the road!) or other sun lovers – a pretty variagated yucca would be interesting, or you could go with a different contrast in leaf form and soften the look with some asparagus fern…the possibilities are endless and so much fun!

 

You could even include some houseplants – pepperomias in particular work well as do some pileas. An interesting plant you may not have seen much of is one called rhipsalis, with light, thread-like foliage. Remember, these will add a lot of color all by themselves. If you would like some flowers in the mix, purslane,  narrow leaf zinnias (cut them back if they try to take over), and mecardonia (tiny yellow flowers on a low growing, trailing plant) are a few you could start with.

rhipsalis

rhipsalis

Pepperomia

Pepperomia


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