A Calendar of Succulents – Nice and Plumply Does It
Well, I’m cheating this month because there are two succulent species looking their best at the moment that I want to talk about.
The first is Aloe variegata, (common name ‘Partridge-breasted aloe’) a plant from South Africa that is relatively common and easy to look after. It is a near cousin of Aloe vera, and while not as successful for treating burns, it is much more handsome with racemes of orangey-red tubular flowers to add to its appeal. This small aloe has green or deep brown leaves painted with creamy white blotches and stripes and white-toothed leaf margins; its sharply pointed foliage forming a spiky rosette. Its crisp outline looks fantastic in an indoor display and the plant can tolerate a hot south-facing window or conservatory and doesn’t mind an unheated spot during the winter. Young plants or ‘pups’ push their way up from the roots to form small colonies that are easy to break off to make new plants. The flower stalk makes a welcome appearance from the centre of the plant in late winter or early spring (in the UK). Like most succulents, these plants require good drainage and careful watering. The plant can also tolerate light shade.
My second selection is another Crassula – this time Crassula tecta. A diminutive, species from the Little Karoo in southern Africa, this beautiful little plant has plump, overlapping, rounded leaves covered with a frosting of white papillae that look like they have been dipped in icing sugar. If you look closely, you will see the amazing texture of the papillae – looking more like fabric than plant tissue. During the winter months, flower spikes emerge through the foliage terminating in long-lasting white balls of tiny flowers. They look adorable in tiny pots along a sunny window-sill, but over time will spread to form small mounds in a larger pot.