by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal, Watters Garden Center
The popularity of succulent plants has exploded this year. Their easy-care, love of the sun, and diversity make for fascinating plants. So unique are many of the anatomical adaptations they often appear to be from another planet.
Here are 10 unusual succulents that add personality and distinction to any garden, houseplant collection, a desk at work, or “on the road” in a motor home.
Pebbled Tiger Jaws (Faucaria felina) is the kind of plant that attracts and repels the temptation to touch its strangely serrated leaves. In addition to the exciting form, this plant produces golden flowers that nearly obscure the plant in fall and winter. Pebbled tiger jaw fills a niche for those who want to grow a succulent in a shady spot. If the plant becomes too dry and the leaves separate from the stems, you can use them to start new plants by placing them in potting soil.
Crinkle Leaf Plant (Adromischus cristatus) is a South African relative of the kalanchoe. Crinkle leaf plants feature triangular leaves with lightly ruffled tips. They tolerate light frost and grow best in a cool sunny spot with infrequent watering. On mature plants, red and white flowers peek out from between the 2-inch leaves.
Plover Eggs (Adromischus cooperi) sport pudgy leaves dotted with purple specks. The plants are perfect to use indoors through winter. The speckles on plover egg plants become more pronounced in brighter rooms. Plants are easy to propagate by leaf cuttings; simply twist a leaf off and insert it into a moist cactus soil. Roots form in four to six weeks.
Mexican Hens and Chicks “Topsy Turvy” encompasses hundreds of rosette-forming succulents native to Central America and South America. The squared-off leaf tips of “Topsy Turvy” give it a sea urchin appearance, and it looks handsome when planted in groups or combined with other succulents in a dish garden. Plant in a chartreuse pot to show off its pale blue-green leaves.
Baseball Plant (Euphorbia obesa) has a plumpness to it that beefs up any container garden. Its spherical shape adds heft and texture to plantings but doesn’t bear the spines expected on a cactus-type succulent. Weekly water keeps a baseball plant more than happy. Petite flowers let you know the plant is thriving.
Graptoveria “Topsy Debbie” forms rosettes of leaves spread by offsets, which readily form new plants for propagating pleasure. Plants grow best in a bright room that cultivates robust health and vigor.
Echeveria Gibbiflora “Barbillion” feels like the wattle of a turkey, and you instantly picture this ugly beauty. They both are carunculated, a term that refers to a bumpy, fleshy growth that is beautifully hideous! Give plenty of light, yet water sparingly. This unusual succulent piques your interest, appreciation and loyalty.
Echeveria “Blue Curls” has frilly leaves in shades of pink and aqua. A single specimen of this succulent makes an exquisite statement in a container. Prevent water from accumulating within the rosette and remove dead leaves from the base to keep pests from interfering with its vigor.
Aloe Hawthoroides is the commonplace aloe updated with dozens of feathery bristles on each leaf. This highly touchable plant has a moderate growth habit that grows in any room of your home.
Kalanchoe Rhombopilosa is often called “pies from heaven.” This kalanchoe is but one of the many strange and beautiful living things you’ll find at Watters Garden Center. The leaves are fuzzy, gray and covered with brown streaking. Golden flowers appear on the stalks in spring. Kalanchoes prefer growing in rooms with lots of light.
2020 Succulents and indoor design ideas are on WattersGardenCenter on Pinterest.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping locals grow better succulents here at Watters Garden Center.