The Moral Hazards Of Little Potted Succulents


I read on a blog far better than my own--was it Danger Garden's?  Spiky Obsession's?  Desert Dweller's?--that some Echeveria flower stems will root.  I didn't doubt it for a moment, but I had to see it for myself.

Yep, they root!

Otherwise, some frustration in the garden.  A whole lot of roses left to prune, and nowhere to put the prunings.  The green waste bins are full, the trash-trash bin is close to full as well--stuffed with rose clippings, just a corner left for the actual trash-trash.   Trash day is not until tomorrow.  I have extra buckets of trimmings waiting for disposal.  Should I walk around the neighborhood tonight in the dark, looking for space in neighbor's bins, like a bag lady in reverse?  Oh, dear. 

I left the roses alone and looked to all the succulent pots, dried out now from our December rainy season. 

All the tiny Echeverias grown (very, very slowly--I neglected them horribly) from the leaves pulled off last year's flower stems were crowded in their little plate of dried-up potting mixture, so I planted them in the ground on a slope where, theoretically, they could be very happy--a little morning sun, a lot of bright afternoon shade, and perfect drainage. I ended up with over twenty-five little plants clustered together on the slope.  They may thrive eventually and form a bronze-green galaxy of pinwheels right abut the stairway, perfect for close admiration.     One hungry snail could ruin it all.   


I had a new rooted Senecio vitalis for the front slope.  A small piece rooted in a week.  New stems sprouting in three.  Planting the Senecio, I saw Cotyledon 'Happy Dancing Girl had dozens of fat grey finger-shaped leaves knocked off its formerly pristine perfect form.  Coyote maybe, or rabbit.  Ideally, coyote chasing and catching rabbit.

Now I have lots and lots of loose Cotyledon leaves.  Scrounging around the Google, it appears that Cotyledon leaves of some species will root, so I'll give it a try, and let you know.   Dozens of leaves reminds me of The Moral Dangers Of Little Potted Succulents.   We all start with one cute little succulent in a pot on a sunny window sill, don't we?  The wise among us stop there.  The rest of us fools collect, propagate, trade, hunt, form wish lists, sneak broken bits picked up off garden center floors, ask both friends and enemies for cuttings, and eventually end up with a...succulent garden?  No, with problem!

They're not happy, I'm not happy:
A lot of cute little pots eventually are a lot of clutter.  Where non-succulent plants would simply die of neglect, the gardener then free to throw everything out, lesson learned--maybe--succulents endure.  Like the old advice to parents, "Live long enough to become an annoyance to your children," those cute little succulents are a silent reproach, a persistent reminder of self indulgence, overdoing it, overreaching one's time and energy.  At this point, the wise among the foolish who did not stop at one on the window sill figure out some way to make that clutter look attractive and manageable. 

Must get this under control...

Ideas:  groups of those that both look good together and have the same growing requirements.   That requires design talent.  Uh-oh. 

Nice uniform shelves with a few carefully staged, masterfully cultivated plants, like a bonsai show.  That requires getting rid of a lot of plants.  Uh-oh.

Uniformity--using the same size and type of pot for all the different kinds of plants, and rowing them up neatly.  The same pot creates a structure and rhythm that makes all that aquisition look on purpose. That, maybe I can pull off. 

As you can see by these pictures, I need to get to work--though I have seen worse--two foot dandelions and other weeds growing amidst a mess of empty and overflowing succulent pots crammed on sagging pieces of grey plywood stretched between frail sawhorses...shudder.  It's time to do something before I succumb to that.   Succulent clutter is bad for the plants themselves, not just the eyes and the self-respect. 

Now that I have perhaps illustrated the dangers of wanton irresponsible cute-succulent accumulation...who wants a Cotyledon? They're really cute!



  1. I love everything about this post! Well done. The title had me wondering what exactly you were talking about but now I see it so clearly. Danger!

  2. A lovely post, and I know exactly where you are coming from! It may have been me that mentioned the echeveria trick, I'm sorry.

  3. Never apologize for getting someone else addicted to succulent plant collecting - just try having this obsession with only a back bedroom and grow lights for the winter - sigh. Can't wait for spring...

  4. Succulents always have the moral high ground..they are thrifty, self sufficient, elegant, honest and naturally beautiful-no make-up.

    Take all those things in little pots and put them in about three big shallow pots...presto-combo !

  5. Thanks Danger!

    No apologies Spike, I was so thrilled to see those roots. I thank you for the idea!

    Blue you are a better gardener than I--we have it too easy in this climate.

    ks you are right, but one plant always seems to take over the whole pot. I think I may do as you say, though. What a mess they are this way.

  6. Hoov, so true, we're cursed with enduring succulents! A nice problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. I think I'm over the "must have one of everything phase," but you just never know, they're so darned appealing.

  7. "Must have one of everything phase". Yep, that's where I am. They are darn appealing!


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