Hello from North London

New members, please take the time to introduce yourself and your collection.
jay3
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Hello from North London

Post by jay3 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 8:49 pm

Hello everyone, I'm Jay, I got into growing hardy succulents outdoors after buying some sempervivums in May to build a small outdoor succulent rockery at my parents' house. I was drawn to succulents because of their appearance and their xerophytic nature (bedding plants that were planted in the same rockery before had died out from lack of water). Since then, I've built up a small collection of cacti and succulents.

I am most interested in year-round ground planting of smaller species outdoors, so I am interested predominantly in and have acquired UK-hardy members of the genera Sedum, Phedimus, Hylotelephium, Jovibarba, Orostachys, Sempervivum, Rosularia, Prometheum, Umbilicus, Lewisia, Aristaloe, Delosperma, Escobaria and Echinocereus. I probably have about 40 or so species from those genera so far, with varying success. I also have a few hardy Agave, Opuntia, Euphorbia and Cylindropuntia, and a handful of more tender succulents and cacti.

I used the BCSS forums as a resource when researching what species would be best suited for my rockery project, so decided to join to learn more about succulents and cacti and share my (albeit limited) experiences so far. Looking forward to contributing more in the coming months!
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el48tel
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by el48tel » Fri Dec 25, 2020 9:22 pm

Welcome to the forum Jay
Attempting to grow Aeoniums, Aylostera, Echinocereus, Echinopsis, Gymnocalycium, Lithops, Matucana, Rebutia, and Sulcorebutia.
Currently being wooed by Haworthia, and attempting hybridisation.
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juster
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by juster » Fri Dec 25, 2020 10:38 pm

Welcome to the Forum Jay, it sounds as though you have made a good start with some hardy succulents. As you have found, there's a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm here, and probably you attend your local branch meetings when these are possible. Enjoy your plants!
Croydon Branch member, growing mainly cacti and Echeverias
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Paul in Essex
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by Paul in Essex » Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:07 am

Hi Jay. Welcome along. Small hardy succulents! A topic close to my heart :) You've made some great choices so far and there are loads more you can try. I grow quite a few echeveria, a few aeonium, dudleya, bergeranthus, even odd surprises like Faucaria tigrina and Aloinopsis spathulata. If you haven't got it already Agave polianthiflora is both hardy and very small. Also A. toumeyana. A. albopilosa looks promising, too, having been here for 3 winters now.
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by edds » Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:17 am

Welcome Jay. Once the words 'hardy' and 'succulent' crop up there's few better than Paul to advise! There are some other good threads on here from others who are growing other things outside with rain shelters and the like.
In terms of rockeries with hardy cacti on; do a search for Opuntia Fussen on here and see the amazing rockery of Pia in Scandinavia! I have bought 4 different clones of Opuntia fragilis with a view to seeing if I can get a similar result in our wetter climate. Just need to grow them on and work our the perfect spot!
Ed

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MikeT
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by MikeT » Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:57 am

Hi Jay

With that range of interests, you should also think about joining the Sedum Society. As well as the journal, there's a free annual seed distribution, and the free cuttings exchange. A great way to learn more about Crassulaceae and obtain plants that can be otherwise hard to get hold of. Details here.
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Stuart
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by Stuart » Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:57 pm

Harrow BCSS Branch usually have a well-supported Branch Show each year (in normal times). Well worth looking out for, plenty of inexpensive plants for sale etc, Try out their Branch Meetings, with lovely homemade cakes, when things get back to normal.

Stuart
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by edds » Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:52 pm

MikeT wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:57 am
Hi Jay

With that range of interests, you should also think about joining the Sedum Society. As well as the journal, there's a free annual seed distribution, and the free cuttings exchange. A great way to learn more about Crassulaceae and obtain plants that can be otherwise hard to get hold of. Details here.
Thanks for posting that Mike, I wasn't aware of this group as I'm not a fan of Sedum generally. However the exchange list on the website posted as an example (from 2011) but lists a fair number of Aeonium. Are you a member and does it still have a good range? For £12 it'd be worth it for just a couple of Aeonium I don't have!
Ed

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jay5
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by jay5 » Sat Dec 26, 2020 2:18 pm

Paul in Essex wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:07 am
Hi Jay. Welcome along. Small hardy succulents! A topic close to my heart :) You've made some great choices so far and there are loads more you can try. I grow quite a few echeveria, a few aeonium, dudleya, bergeranthus, even odd surprises like Faucaria tigrina and Aloinopsis spathulata. If you haven't got it already Agave polianthiflora is both hardy and very small. Also A. toumeyana. A. albopilosa looks promising, too, having been here for 3 winters now.
I was looking into Dudleyas recently, I noticed there were a few from the Northwestern US (from the same general area as Sedum oreganum, S. oregonese and S. spathulifolium) that seemed like they might be hardy. What species did you have most success with?

I did get a Bergeranthus glenensis (I think that is the most widely available species?) and that one seems to be doing okay.

Will definitely try the Agaves you've suggested – didn't know there were Agaves that small that were UK hardy. I managed to get a cheap A. filifera online and I also have an A. americana pup. However, it seems like their maximum size is probably too large to put them in the ground with the limited space I have.

I also have Aeonium spathulatum in a planter with some of the more half-hardy (USDA Zone 9) species like S. rubrotinctum, S. nussbaumerianum, S. furfuraceum and Echeveria secunda glauca (although I've heard that one might be fully hardy where i am in London – just not been bold enough to try it in the ground yet). Haven't tried any other Aeoniums though. I bring that planter in on the most rainy winter days, but it has been outside for the rest of the time.

I've tried E. elegans and E. agavoides in another pot, along with Gasteraloe 'Cosmo' (plus small Cylindropuntia spinosior and Trichocereus terscheckii which might be moved out once they get a little larger). This one was out for most of the time under the eaves of a south-facing roof (so it still got some rain), but I noticed the E. agavoides had a few leaves yellowing and mushing up so have it moved indoors now. The E. elegans looks to be fine, as is everything else. Again, not bold enough to try them in the soil until I've got a few more offsets.

Some of the problems I've run into so far are:

- Major stem rot issues with variegated S. lineare and S. mexicanum 'Lemon Ball' (both were planted outdoors in the aforementioned rockery). In both plants multiple stems collapsed, with the S. mexicanum almost completely destroyed. I replanted the collapsed stems of the S. mexicanum indoors and they seem to be okay there. I have read mixed things about the hardiness of these species – Gwen Moore's 'Hardy Succulents' book says these are quite tender, while many websites have them down to USDA zone 5/6 hardiness. Virtually every other small true Sedum I planted in the vicinity (S. acre, S. album, S. sexangulare, S. oreganum, S. oregonese, S. spathulifolium, S. stahlii, S. moranese, S. kimnachii, S. pulchellum, S. glaucophyllum, S. makinoi, S. tetractinum, S. sedoides) is doing fine, with the exception of S. hispanicum glaucum, which dried out in the summer and then got too wet in the winter (there are still a handful of stems surviving though).

- Leaf rot with S. praealtum in late autumn/winter. What seems to happen is about half of the leaf turns to mush. I have a big clump though, so there's still a lot of healthy leaves/stems. Maybe this is normal in winter?

- Crown rot issues with several Sempervivums. For S. montanum 'Cmiral's Yellow' almost all of the hens and chicks seem to have signs of rotting leaves, but I have only extracted one hen so far that seemed to be terminal. I managed to save S. tectorum 'Blue Boy' by cutting away the rot and placing it indoors. There was a third Semp (can't recall the exact species or cultivar) that had completely rotted and was unrecoverable. I dug them out and the roots actually seemed to be fairly dry, so I'm thinking this may be purely due to rain collecting within the leaves. Other semps in the same area like S. 'Mulberry Wine' seemed to have no signs of rot and were doing very well. I was surprised to find Sempervivums were so sensitive though, as my initial impression was that they're among the toughest you can get for our climate.

- I have a small C. imbricata in the rockery where the seller had cut the stem for propagation, leaving a dark 'scab' right of the top of the plant. This was fine in summer, but I noticed that in winter it had started rotting, and the back of the stem near the top had turned a woody brown. I also have a second C. imbricata (I think a slightly different origin, was sold as 'Fremont Co Colorado') that doesn't look too great either (a branch died off over the autumn), but doesn't have any rot issues. It is planted in a pocket of almost pure grit in the rockery. I also have C. kleiniae planted right behind the first C. imbricata and that one is doing fantastically with signs of new growth even at this time in the winter. I think I may have to pull the first C. imbricata out and pot it up out of the rain, unless there's a way I can protect the scabbed-over part specifically?

– Echinocereus reichenbachii and Escobaria missouriensis planted in the rockery both rotted heavily over the late autumn. The E. missouriensis was recoverable once potted up but is probably too damaged to stay alive. E. reichenbachii was unrecoverable. I previously also removed a E. trigliochidatus because it became squishy and had an orange-tinge, and potted it up. It is still squishy and has that tinge, but it's been potted for several months now. I am not sure whether it will survive. I also have an E. viridiflorus that's in the near-pure grit pocket with the second C. imbricata, and a very small E. trigliochidatus in a smaller near-pure grit pocket. Both are looking a little worse for wear and are showing a lot of signs of stress, but I think they'll pull through. The E. trigliochidatus feels a lot firmer to the touch than the squishy one that was pulled out. I am thinking pure grit might be the best way to grow cacti of this kind in a place without full sun in winter.

- Orostachys spinosa planted in the rockery died over the summer, without flowering. The leaves just shriveled up over time, and eventually the core lost colour too. I am really not sure what happened there. Thankfully, the plant I purchased had a number of offsets, about half of which (I think about 6 or 7) survived when potted up. From my research, it seems like this plant is a little tough to deal with. Will try again once the offsets grow a little.

– I bought a relatively large Chinese dunce cap (O. iwarenge/boehmeri?) plant and wasn't too sure the reproduction cycle of the plant. A lot of sites say it is a biennial that dies after 2 years, whereas others say it is deciduous and new shoots will come up from the roots in spring like Hylotelephium does. In autumn, every rosette flowered and now there's just a skeleton left. I am not seeing any new shoots coming up like I am on the Hylotelephiums. Will it come back, or should I dig it out and replace it? When I first purchased it, I did plant a small cutting that fell off the plant, and that one seems to be doing okay, but it is diminutive compared to the original plant.

One of the problems with this rockery is that it is largely east facing. The garden is south-east facing. This does mean that the plants get limited sun in winter and so evaporation is limited, which is of course a problem when you have high rainfall and humidity. Unfortunately, that was the only space in the garden, and the rock-scape had already existed there before I added the plants. I did start this project in May, when it seemed like that part of the garden was getting a lot of sun, and did not anticipate how bad things would get on that front by December.

I did go for a wide range of species just to see what would work and what wouldn't work. My hope is that the process of this winter might help narrow down the species that do well here. Once that's done, they can be propagated to create a more appealing display.

A surprise for me was that Lampranthus spectabilis seemed to be doing very well in the ground with lots of new growth, despite being widely described as tender. Same with the Sedum stahlii. Aloe brevifolia is also doing fairly well (I tried that one after reading a webpage where someone described their success with it in Torquay). That said, the winter's far from over yet.
Last edited by jay5 on Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.
jay5
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by jay5 » Sat Dec 26, 2020 2:19 pm

MikeT wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:57 am
Hi Jay

With that range of interests, you should also think about joining the Sedum Society. As well as the journal, there's a free annual seed distribution, and the free cuttings exchange. A great way to learn more about Crassulaceae and obtain plants that can be otherwise hard to get hold of. Details here.
I did actually join the Sedum society last week! Looking forward to contributing to that more as well.
edds wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:17 am
Welcome Jay. Once the words 'hardy' and 'succulent' crop up there's few better than Paul to advise! There are some other good threads on here from others who are growing other things outside with rain shelters and the like.
In terms of rockeries with hardy cacti on; do a search for Opuntia Fussen on here and see the amazing rockery of Pia in Scandinavia! I have bought 4 different clones of Opuntia fragilis with a view to seeing if I can get a similar result in our wetter climate. Just need to grow them on and work our the perfect spot!
Thanks for the recommendation, Pia's rockery is very impressive! One of the resources I used for learning what to plant in my own rockery project was also in Scandinavia, the SuccSeed one in Sweden. It seems like their problems with lack of sunlight in winter are comparable to ours, but they also seem to have lower humidity levels.

I have 1 small specimen each of O. fragilis 'Duel Co. Nevada' and O. fragilis x polyacantha 'Smithwick' in the rockery. The latter seems to be doing okay. The Duel Co plant is yellowing a bit. However, it was one of the first plants I put in, so I don't think the soil under it is as well-amended as for the others. Might be too much clay – the problem with O. fragilis is that it's too spiny to pull out to check how wet the soil is. I have some pieces that fell off the same plant in a pot (as well as a tiny O. fragilis from a different seller) and they all seem healthy, but do not seem to have grown very much.

I have read on a few different pages and forums that Maihuenia poeppigii is the best small groundcover Opuntioid to grow outdoors in the UK. However, it seems tough to find a UK supplier for it.
Stuart wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:57 pm
Harrow BCSS Branch usually have a well-supported Branch Show each year (in normal times). Well worth looking out for, plenty of inexpensive plants for sale etc, Try out their Branch Meetings, with lovely homemade cakes, when things get back to normal.

Stuart
I'm certainly hoping to once things do get back to normal! Glad to know the local branch is doing well.
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