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A Calendar of Succulents – April Brings Seaspray and a Painted Beauty

Well, the season has really started in earnest now and I’m selling at plant fairs every weekend this month.

The season differs every year and there are always one or two plants that people seem to be keen to acquire. This year, one of the more popular plants has been a tiny little Crassula, which has been cheering up my stall with its creamy-white flowers and red tinged leaves. Unfortunately, I don’t know its parentage, so the name I have adopted is one that has been bandied about by the RHS and the British Cactus & Succulent Society on their websites, Crassula ‘Tresco Seaspray’. This cute little plant looks like a miniature Crassula ovata, but is much more delicate with slender stems with pairs of tiny fleshy leaves and pom-pom-like flowers. It is very easy to propagate, and any fallen leaves very quickly root themselves in neighbouring pots in the polytunnel. Its such a sweet plant that I don’t mind at all and extricating the plants and potting them on is easy– except those that seem to favour the agaves to root themselves into!

I’ve planted up a very attractive wall pot with this plant (see below) and it sits happily outside my back door all year long, occasionally getting a drop of water when I notice it. I should imagine it would be content outside anywhere that is relatively free-draining and sheltered, I just haven’t got round to trying it yet. A slightly shaded position results in a more greenish plant that stretches the normally short stems to about 8 inches, while a sunny spot reddens the leaves and keeps it at approximately 4 inches high. This is a great plant to mix in with other small succulents in containers but likewise, a potful makes a delightful mini-statement on a sunny kitchen windowsill.

For an echeveria-lover, I seem to have featured a lot of crassulas in my blogs, so I’m going to include a rather special echeveria this month for those of you who might be a little tired of all these crassulas. I couldn’t resist the strikingly beautiful Echeveria nodulosa ‘Painted Beauty’. This contrasting red and green leaved plant looks like it has been hand-painted with dark red or maroon leaf margins and green and red marked leaves. It is not a plant you will find commonly, but is worth seeking out, as it is so special. Like all echeverias, the softly pointed leaves form a loose rosette, but develops a more shrubby form as it ages. The species has a somewhat untidy habitat and can be twiggy, but this form, found growing in its native habitat in Oaxaca, Mexico, is neater and has broader leaves. Flower spikes can be as tall as 30cm with small deep pink flowers with pale lemon yellow edges and insides. The plant must be positioned in strong light to help keep it compact and stop it becoming straggly. If this happens, remove the rosettes and re-root them and try taking stem cuttings.