Tag Archives: succulents

Some More Snow

The sun has come out in a clear, cloudless, blue sky day, after many (5?) days of mostly gray weather. It’s so cold that there is still ice on the Conservatory windows at 11 AM, but bright and warm inside. We’ve had two more snowfalls since the last post (yes, that’s Monday classes cancelled three weeks in a row, for those of you keeping track.) More snow and very cold weather predicted for the weekend, so I’ve decided warm pictures are in order for today.

pencil Euphorbia

Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’

Brazilian Orchid

Brazilian Orchid

succulents in greenhouse

Red Echeveria and a trailing Kalanchoe

Oxalis triangularis

Oxalis triangularis

pomegranate flower

Pomegranate, Punica granatum

evolvulus flowers

Evolvulus glomeratus


Fingernail Bromeliad, Neoregelia spectabilis

shrimp plants in green house

Shrimp Plant, Justicia brandegeena and Golden Shrimp Plant, Pachystachys lutea

I love the colors in the greenhouse but all I really need today is this one: “New Growth Green”.

japanese holly fern

Japanese Holly Fern, Cyrtomium falcatum

February 13 2015 026







Desert in Bloom

cactus in bloom

Mammillaria species (Cactus family) in the Conservatory.

The Cactus and Succulent collection at the Horridge Conservatory contains a wide variety of beautiful plants. You may or may not know that a Cactus is a certain family of plants –the Cactaceae. All Cactus are succulents, but not all succulents are Cacti! A succulent is a broad category of plants which have thickened and fleshy leaves and stems, usually to retain water in  arid climates and soils. Most succulents come from dry regions of the tropics and sub tropics such as steppes, semi-desert, and desert. High temperatures and low rainfall force plants to collect and store water to survive long dry periods. Many succulents (including Cacti) are grown as ornamentals or houseplants because of their unusual and interesting appearance. Familiar succulents include  Jade plants (Crassula ), Aloe plants (Aloe ), or Mother-of-Millions (Kalanchoe).

gasteria flower

Gasteria armstrongii in bloom.

Cacti are for the most part native to the Americas, ranging from Patagonia in the South to parts of western Canada in the north. Most cacti live in very dry habitats subject to at least some drought. Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves. As well as defending against herbivores, spines help prevent water loss by reducing evaporation.  Cactus spines are produced from specialized structures called areoles, which are an identifying feature of cacti. Other types of succulents, such as Euphorbias, have spines but do not have areoles.


Golden Barrel Cactus, Echinocactus grusonii, with Paddle Plant, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.

kalanchoe flowers

Trailing Kalanchoe

The lengthening days of late winter and early spring is when many of our cactus and succulents bloom, just as in the desert. I love to see them at this grey time of year. Some, such as the Gasteria and Aloe, come in a range of sunset colors (like the Echeveria from this post.) Some are bright pink or purple and others are pure white. If a trip to the Arizona or New Mexico isn’t possible, come visit our little desert at the Horridge Conservatory.


Another Kalanchoe –Kalanchoe gastonis-bonieri


Mammillaria species in bloom.

May 22-27 2011 002


Two Aloe plants in bloom.

Jan 30 2013 013

Featured Plant: Echeveria

echeveria runyonii

Echeveria is a large genus of succulents in the  Crassulaceae family, which has about 1,400 species in 33 genera  worldwide. Echeveria, with approximately 180 species, are native to mid to higher elevations in the Americas, with the main distribution in Mexico and central America. They are easy to grow in the greenhouse, or at home with enough light. They like very well- drained soil, and can handle neglectful watering better than overwatering. Echeverias produce offsets which can be divided from the main plant and potted up. They will root readily.

There are two amazingly beautiful Echeverias blooming in the greenhouse right now. One is the Blue Echeveria, Echeveria runyonii. It has the most incredible sunset colors. My middle son, who is not particularly interested in plants, loved this one. It’s always been one of my favorites too.

echeveria runyonii

echeveria runyoniiEcheveria was named for the Mexican botanical artist Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy in 1828 by the French botanist de Candolle,  who was very impressed with Echeverría’s drawings. Echeverría had accompanied an expedition exploring Mexico and northern Central America and had produced thousands of botanical illustrations.

The other Echeveria blooming now is called ‘Black Prince’. It was left here by a former (graduated) student and we are happy to have it. The look and feel of this one is very different than the Blue. The  bright green center leaves become darker and darker toward the outer edges of the rosette, and the flowers are red.

echeveria black princeecheveria black prince