Splendid but… untouchable: Echeveria laui, when the sky is reflected in a succulent plant

Admire it as long as you want, but don’t you dare touch it! Even a simple caress is able to disfigure this masterpiece of Nature, altering the suggestion of wax – or the sensation of painting – that this succulent plant returns to the eye. Echeveria laui is a very widespread Crassulacea and also appreciated by those who mainly grow cacti. Its appearance, on the other hand, is undeniably attractive and it is difficult for a specimen of this succulent to go unnoticed. Either for that splendid blue color, or for the compact shape of the rosette, with the blunt tips or, again, for its uniqueness even within the Echeveria genus, which also boasts various species with specimens with pale blue leaves. The fact is that it is impossible not to admire the perfection of a well-cultivated (and above all never touched!) specimen of this particular species.

In this article we deepen our knowledge of Echeveria laui, we understand why it has this appearance which is certainly not unique in the world of succulents but undoubtedly peculiar, and we learn how to grow it correctly. (…)

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Titanopsis calcarea, a winter flowering succulent with particular cultivation rules

From mid-December to the beginning of January is the flowering time for a rather widespread and highly appreciated succulent plant from an aesthetic point of view: Titanopsis calcarea. The appearance of the leaves, their arrangement, the color and the punctiform reliefs (similar to warts) on the fleshy surface of the leaves themselves make this plant  a small living rock, on a par with the Lithops. And it is no coincidence that the name Titanopsis derives from the union of the Greek terms “titanos” (understood as “gypsum”, “lime”) and “opsis“, i.e. “appearance”. In short, a plant with the appearance of a calcareous rock or a “clump of earth” (the effective definition is by Giuseppe Lodi), we could define it. The Titanopsis genus belongs to the Aizoaceae family (formerly Mesembriantemaceae) and is native to Southern Africa, in particular Namibia and the Cape Province. The cultivation of these plants, and specifically of Titanopsis calcarea, requires some special precautions compared to those we reserve for cacti.

Let’s go into detail and get to know this plant and its needs better in the following article (….).

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The Asclepiadaceae family: African succulents with beautiful but… smelly flowers

Although more than twenty years have passed, I still remember my first encounter with an Asclepiadaceae. A few years ago, I approached the world of succulents, and I went to visit a nursery just outside my city. I had been browsing among the succulents for quite a while when the owner of the nursery, an elderly but very chirpy lady, noticed me and my interests in plants, approached me and said: “Do you want to see a succulent plant with beautiful flowers?” I said yes, of course, I wanted to see it, so she took me down a narrow corridor cluttered with plants and pointed to a large succulent in a hanging pot. It had thick fleshy, straight green stems with reddish edges, and from one of these stems hung a big star-shaped flower with elongated, thin tips and shaded yellow petals crossed by tiny dark streaks. “Come closer, sniff how good it smells”, the lady said to me, passing from a restrained smile to an open, fat laugh, as soon as I obeyed and immediately withdrew, disgusted by the smell of rotting flesh that from that flower had entered right into my nose.

Keep on reading the article if you want to know how this story goes (…)

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Crassula ovata, “Jade Tree” or “Money Plant”: here’s how to grow this beautiful succulent

Commonly known as the “jade tree” due to the bright green color of its fleshy leaves, or the “money plant” due to the roundish/elongated shape of the leaves, Crassula ovata is a very common succulent plant in cultivation. It can also often be observed in apartments, where it grows well thanks to its great adaptability and where it can add an unexpected touch of green thanks to its sapling habit, with thick and robust brown branches. Crassula ovata is certainly a common plant, not at all sophisticated, and simple in its forms; however, it has its own charm and the ease of cultivation makes it a succulent practically within everyone’s reach.

In the following article we see in detail where it comes from, what are the cultivation needs of this succulent, what are its weaknesses and how it can be successfully reproduced even by those who are beginners in the cultivation of succulent plants. (…)

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Lithops: peculiarities and cultivation rules of the so-called “stone plants” or “living stones”

Also known as “stone plants” or “living stones”, Lithops are a genus of succulents that are always highly appreciated and widespread in cultivation and in collections. These are actually small plants, very particular, aesthetically pleasing and available in an infinite variety of colors and shades. Speaking of Lithops, one thing must be clarified immediately: they are non-cacti succulents. In other words, these plants do not belong to the large Cactaceae family (which includes cacti), but to the Mesembryanthemaceae family. In reality, according to many authors, to date the Mesembryanthemaceae family does not even exist anymore and the genera once attributable to it must be included in the Aizoaceae family. This vast family of succulent plants includes many other genera often widespread in cultivation or in nature also in Europe, such as Carpobrotus, Conophytum, Delosperma, Faucaria, Fenestraria, Lapidaria , Oscularia, Pleiospilos, Titanopsis and Trichodiadema.

Let’s deepen our knowledge of the Lithops genus in this article, in which we will also see the particular cultivation regime that these plants need in order to live in the Northern hemisphere. (…)

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