Succulent bed highlights

I’ve been in a “stock taking” mood lately, looking at various parts of the garden to see how they’ve come along. Comparing the current state to, say, last year is useful in assessing what has done well and what hasn’t—and whether you’re happy with the way things have progressed.

I’ve already made some changes recently to one small part of the succulent bed next to our front door, replacing crassulas and echeverias with colony-forming cacti that should tolerate the daytime heat and the searing summer sun a little better.

Now I’m looking at other areas of the succulent bed to see where tweaking might be necessary.

This post describes the origins of this succulent bed. The larger plants have now been in place for 2½ years. Succulents don’t grow as explosively as bamboos do, for example, so progress has been more measured. However, you can see progress even compared to last year. Just take a look at the first two photos.

Succulent bed in July 2010
Succulent bed in August 2011
The biggest difference is the size of the variegated agave (Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’) and the coral aloe (Aloe striata) in the center of the photo.
This variegated yucca (Yucca recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville’) was planted last fall. It replaced a plain green Yucca filamentosa (see photo from July 2010) which, much to my surprise, failed to thrive and began to look ratty. ‘Margaritaville’ has been a big success, and one of my favorites in this bed.
This stunning agave (Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’) has thrived over the last 2½ years and now has close to a dozen “pups” (or babies).
The bluish-green succulent on the right is called Senecio vitalis. It was planted in February 2011 and has almost doubled in size.
Closeup of Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’. Its leaves were marred by hail in May; you can still see the pock marks in the bottom leaves. However, it’s amazing how many new leaves the plant has produced since then.
Some of the pups surrounding the mother plant. I definitely have enough to trade now.
While the larger architectural plants form the backbone of this succulent bed, I added quite a few smaller succulents for variety. On the right is a Pachysedum (a cross between a Pachyphytum and a Sedum) and on the left an Aloe aristata.
Another Aloe aristata. It’s gone dormant for the summer, forming a tight ball with the outer leaves turning brown. Once cooler and wetter weather returns, the rosette will open up and resume its growth. Not the prettiest plant in the summer, but worth keeping for the winter and spring.
Echeveria ‘Perle von Nürnberg.’ One of my favorite echeverias for its intense purple color. Echeverias, I’ve learned, do not like our hot summers. They do survive but definitely suffer. This is one protected from the hot afternoon sun, and it will look perkier come fall.
These two have proven to be real troopers:
Left: Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’
Right: Aloe striata
Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ also suffered hail damage in May, but has had a tremendous growth spurt so the marred leaves are not that visible anymore. It always amazes me how fast some agaves grow when given regular water during summer. This particular agave is not particularly cold-hardy and needs to be covered when temperatures drop below 28°F.
Agave schidigera var. filifera. One of my favorites, but others find it a bit too intimidating. This specimen has a lot of threads, nicely complimenting the white marking in the leaves.
The leaf shape of the Yucca gloriosa (in the background, left) is mirrored by the ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) in the foreground (right). Ponytail palm is not a palm at all, but a very slow-growing and eventually tree-sized succulent from eastern Mexico. There is a lot of conflicting information as to their cold hardiness, but ours has been in the ground since the beginning and hasn’t sustained any frost damage.
Our Beaucarnea recurvata is actually a little family of three plants—I assume three seedlings sprouting in close vicinity. The caudex (the modified round stem that stores water) looks quite impressive even in an immature plant.
The hanging leaves from the Beaucarnea recurvata provide effective sun protection for smaller succulents that don’t want to bask in the hot late-afternoon sun. This Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginae) is loving its spot. A mature specimen is easily one of the most stunning of all succulents.
Much smaller and striped horizontally instead of vertically, this zebra plant (Haworthia attenuata) loves a spot in dappled shade. Not considered very cold hardy, ours has shrugged off dips down to 26°F. The overhanging leaves from the ponytail palm definitely give added protection.
Agave ‘Blue Glow’ on the left is particularly stunning when backlit by the evening sun (not easy to reproduce in our garden since our specimen is in the shade when the sun is low).
On the right is one of the weirder succulents in common cultivation, a flapjack plant (Kalanchoe luciae). In the summer it looks more green, but colder temperatures bring out the blues and reds. This one turned to mush in the winter of 2009 but has come back since then. Definitely not cold-hardy.


  1. I initially read this as "stock TANKING mood" and thought it would be about bamboos. Just a bunch of awesome succulents though. Oh well. ;-)
    It's not work, it's gardening!

  2. Your succulent garden is looking beautiful. I love that aloe. I have lots of agave parryi to trade or just give. And probably some other stuff you would like too. Let me know.

  3. Alan, your comment made me laugh. I *will* have a stock tank update soon. The 'Koi' I planted is shooting out of season, probably because of all the extra room it now has.

    Candy, would love to do a trade. Let's get together one of these weeks/months! Can you e-mail me your e-mail address? You can reach me at


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