01 Apr 5 Exotic Succulents and How to Care for Them
SUCCULENTS WITH PIZZAZZ
Succulents are some of the most intriguing plants on the planet, with their plump leaves, flower formations, literally incredible blooms, and gorgeous color varieties. So, although the bar is already set high, we’re going to go just a bit higher with these exotic succulents — there is something over-the-top unusual about each one of them. Nothing against pothos and ivy, you understand, but when one gets their hands on a truly unique and gasp-worthy succulent houseplant, it’s a game changer.
Most, but not all, succulents need to be protected from frost or hard freeze (although sedums and sempervivum are much more frost tolerant). Know what kind of succulents you have and be prepared to protect them using the tips below:
- Year round mild climate? Your succulents are likely just fine where they are.
- Milder climate with occasional cold snaps? Place them against a structure that radiates a bit of warmth, such as a south-facing exterior wall of your home.
- Regular freezing temps? Bring them in to your home, garage, basement, or greenhouse, always ensuring they have adequate light.
- Err on the side of less water as they enter this more dormant season — water just enough so that the roots don’t totally dry up.
- The kiss of death for succulents is a combination of too much moisture and cold temps, so be on the lookout for either (or both!) of these conditions.
1. Bunny Succulent (Monilaria moniliformis or Monilaria obconica ) Despite its reputation for being a bit of a fussbudget to grow, Bunny succulent is just so darn cute that you might find it irresistible. Its new bright green growth resembles bunny ears, with a first set of leaves appearing as a “head” and a second pair of leaves popping up as the little ears. This succulent is a winter grower, dormant during the summer months. Give it a loam-based compost with grit or perlite for extra drainage, bright indirect light (a sunny window is perfect) and plenty of ventilation. Water lightly but regularly throughout the winter, then when the foliage wilts and withers in the late spring, leave it alone until the fall. USDA Zones 10a-11b (all zones as houseplants).
2. Plover Eggs Plant (Adromischus cooperi) This low-growing (up to a whopping 3” tall) succulent has silvery-green 2” long leaves that have intriguing purple speckles and splotches. The flower spikes, however, are up to 14” tall with a bright pink bloom. It prefers bright, indirect light and well-drained gritty compost. Let it dry out in between watering, keeping water off of the leaves. Spring and autumn are the regular watering seasons, with dry periods in summer and winter. USDA Zones 9b-11b (all zones as houseplants).
3. Crystal (Haworthia obtusa) This slow-growing and easy succulent grow up to 6” tall with rosettes in dense clumps. The rosettes have bright green, plump leaves that look like molded glass and 8” tall pale pink flower spikes. The care is similar to an Aloe vera — bright, indirect light, loose and well-draining soil, and light but regular water. Never allow this succulent to sit in water — you’re asking for quick rotting if you do. USDA Zones 9b-10b (all zones as houseplants).
4. Split Rock (Pleiospilos nelii) These tiny succulents grow on a bit over 3” tall and 4” wide with stemless, opposing plump leaves. It produces a new pair of leaves each year, “splitting” up from the center of the previous growth. Its alien-looking flower is a daisylike yellow-orange up to 3” in diameter. These flowers are quite large in proportion to the actual plant, opening in the afternoon and closing at sunset. Split rock prefers bright, indirect light, loose and well-drained soil, and excellent ventilation (no closed terrariums for these guys). Give it light but regular water in the spring and fall, backing off in the winter and summer. USDA Zones 9b-11b (all zones as houseplants).
5. Dolphin (Senecio peregrinus) Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a 6” tall succulent that looks like dolphins jumping out of the water. We know. It’s adorable. And guess what? Pretty easy to grow, too. Make sure it has loose, well-drained soil and bright, indirect light. As for water, it actually likes a bit more than other succulents — weekly during active growing — letting the soil dry out in between. During its winter dormant period, water only once monthly. USDA Zones 9b-11b (all zones as houseplants).
Fun Fall Succulent Projects
Succulents offer such a rich range of design opportunities year round, but especially around the harvest season. Do an internet search on various tutorials and how-to’s for any of these projects and more — but let us know which one is your favorite!
- Succulent-topped pumpkins: Gather your pumpkins and small succulents (mostly 2” – 4” sizes and tiny clippings, but depending upon the size of your pumpkin, you may use larger plants). There are lots of how-to videos online, but the idea is to hot glue succulent clippings onto a bed of moss on the top of your pumpkins — the succulents root into the moss and need very little (if any) water or care.
- Succulent wreaths: Grab a wire wreath form, stuff it with moss, and insert succulent clippings with hot glue. These wreaths last forever with just a little misting every now and again.
- Succulent terrariums: Succulents are beautiful additions to terrariums provided it’s an open environment with no lid, as these plants need adequate air circulation. If you’re simply putting together a temporary feature for a table centerpiece, however, closed terrariums are fine. Add succulents, moss, driftwood and other decorative elements to create a cozy woodland theme.
- Succulent place settings: This is a darling idea for any holiday gathering you may be planning. Gather a variety of 2” – 4” succulents (one for each place setting) and small containers (teacups, ceramic pots, small silver cups). Pop a succulent into the container (you needn’t even remove it from its nursery pot), tuck in some moss around the edges, and finish with a place card with your guest’s name.