Inadvertently Good #2

Not an inadvertent beauty.  This inadvertently good thing is cultural, as in what plants like.   A surprise about Echeverias.

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I was lucky enough to find a copy of the John Pilbeam book, The Genus Echeveria.  The book contains some photos of Echeverias taken in their natural habitat.  Some of them live dangling from vertical cliffs hundreds of  feet tall, their small root systems lodged in cracks in the rock.  Some live tucked under the base of boulders, watered by the dew that drips downward off the stone, shaded by the stone.  Others are found mixed in with grasses and other soft-foliaged plants in dappled shade or even deep shade along roadsides.  This last environment is not what I think of when I think of succulents.

Carex solandrii:
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Which brings me to one corner of the yard where nothing I tried would grow.  Long before I got the book and saw photos of Echeverias in their natural habitat, I had a problem spot near the front door.  The spot was in either full or dappled shade from a Cercis tree for all but a couple hours in late afternoon, when it got full blazing sun and reflected heat from the walk way.  And in winter, when the Cercis were leafless, it got full sun all day.  Because of tree roots, the soil was very, very dry.  I tried Heucheras.  Some were fine nearby, but not in that corner, that very visible corner near the front door.  A Carex solandrii lived a little back from the corner, happy because it got most of the water from one sprinkler head.  A Fuchsia was next to the Carex and filled out the back of the planting bed behind the tree trunk. 

That dry empty spot the size of a shoe box annoyed me no end, so I kept sticking small plants there that ended up dying.  Could I rework the sprinkler system, which would involve a lot of digging through tree roots?  No way.  Finally I took some 'Black Prince' Echeveria pups I didn't feel like potting up, and stuck them there. Surprise!

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They loved it.  The Carex grew,  while the Echeverias thrived, tangled with Carex, somewhat hidden by Heucheras, in sometimes deep, sometimes dappled shade, just like a roadside in Mexico.  I think I might have inadvertently duplicated their choice habitat.

Echeveria 'Black Prince' flowers:
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The Echeverias I carefully tended in special succulent mix in pots with what I thought was just the right amount of sun and moisture could not compare.   The Carex finally died, and I thought it was time to move the Echeverias because they would get too much water.  But I didn't move them, and they got bigger and happier yet.   I replaced the Carex with a seedling, the Fuchsia grew, and the Echeverias got bigger and happier yet.   Echeverias, Carex, Heuchera, and Fuchsia.  Together. 

Typical (?) Echeveria buddy:
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I found leaves forming new plants, too, in deep shade tucked under Heuchera leaves.

New plants!  With a rose leaf as a comparison to show their size: 
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Not a slug to be found:  the lizards apparently take care of them.  Win-win deal with a bunch of Echeverias.  They are happy.  I am happy.  Even the lizards are happy.  The prominent corner of the planting bed is stuffed full, no longer empty.  My laziness served me that time!   "Right plant for the right spot" is a well-known gardener's saying, but I am amazed that Echeverias turned out to be what worked there. 

Comments

  1. They are very flexible plants and we do tend to forget that many come from very shady environments. Those look great in the dappled shade.

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  2. Very good example ! And, yes, allways the right plant exist, and we must find it ...

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  3. gorgeous combo. I wonder if I could do the same thing here with sempervivums? I'll have to try it somewhere...

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  4. Hello! These Echeverias look fantastic! Do you still have them growing here? I love the look of Black Prince, but mine usually have problems in the middle of the rosette and become unsightly. Do you use any special products or fertilizers?

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