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A Calendar of Succulents – An Introduction to The Carpetweed Family

Succulents are great plants for small spaces and can bring life to a patio, balcony and windowsill with their jewel-like colours and easy maintenance regime. They make wonderful houseplants too – while they love being in a sunny outdoors spot during the summer months, they mostly need protection from the wet during the winter. So, if you don’t have outdoor space, that’s not a problem, they’ll be just as happy indoors if you give them the right conditions. Throughout this 12 month series of blogs, I will talk about some of my favourite plants for both inside and outside the house over the course of the year as well as the best plants to grow as specimens or in containers.

If you’re a collector of pebbles and driftwood, the Aizoaceae or carpetweed family, that includes the group of plants referred to as ‘living stones’, is the plants for you! Their fascinating forms and textures will hook you and you will soon have a small collection on your windowsill as the plants are tiny, grow slowly, and don’t take up a lot of room. They are enthusiasts’ plants, and it’s important to understand their cultivation requirements (the opposite from most other succulents as these are winter growers) but once you do, they are easy, just as long as they get maximum amounts of sunshine and the right amount of water.

Lithops are the most commonly known of the group. These ‘living stones’ resemble tiny knobbly toes and their leaf surfaces have shallow fissures and marbled marks in subtle browns, reds, greys and greens. Native to South Africa, these plants live in dry, rocky areas where they are completely camouflaged amongst the stones. They suddenly burst into flower in early to mid autumn with a single starry flower of yellow or white. A tiny textured delight.