April & Haworthia seedlings.

Small, unassuming haworthia blossoms.

The arrival of an actual spring means things are starting to wake up and bloom – including plants that are indoors, in the basement. I don’t know how they know, but several of my haworthias all started to send up flower spikes at the same time, which is a rare occurance.  They like to fire off randomly, and never overlap, so I haven’t really had a chance to try my hand at cross pollination… before now.

There are enough flower stalks waving around that they consistently hit me in the face anytime I go to water anything.

I’m sort of taking turns trying to match up the haworthia species out of the limited selection that’s blooming at the same time, but I’m generally taking the approach of trying to pair up plants that I think belong to the same haworthia subspecies.  My main pair would be this haworthia cymbiformis v. planifolia and this haworthia truncata x maughanii.  Neither one is particularly rare species, but the combination could give an interesting windowed hybrid.  It’s a bit hard to tell, but my first attempts at hand pollination seem to have resulted in at least a few seedpods, although I won’t count those chickens until they hatch (and I’ve managed to successfully catch and capture the seeds).  Mostly this server as a fairly good learning experience on hand pollination, and I think I might have figured out some things I was doing in my first attempts that I can hopefully correct next time.


Meanwhile, the seeds that I started several months ago are progressing pretty well.  The main specimens are starting to show some of their true pattern potential, which is good — they’re slow growers, but I’m trying to usher them to adulthood, because right now I need to do a ridiculous rotation through the nursery lights as it’s time to start flats of annual seeds.  Next year I need to plan for the succulent seedlings and propagations to be ready to transition out by the time of the year.  I’m using the disposable plastic beverage cups (with drainage holes melted into the bottom) as mini greenhouses this year.

This weekend I also got around to pulling together some materials I’ve been gathering.  The shelves I set up in the basement have been ridiculously bright, and I don’t really know where exactly one goes about finding mylar sheeting to capture and reflect the light.  So I went with the slightly more DIY option of taking a cheap shower curtain and outfitting it with some reflective foil tape from the home improvement store, strategically placed in rows across the shelves.  Here’s an in-progress stage of the project, as seen from outside (and inside) the shelves.

All the little items I’ve been kicking around indoors I’m trying to wrap up, as I’m already rapidly adding items to the list from the outside yard, and we’re not even past the frost dates yet! What have you all been trying to button up before the weather gets nice?


Happy surprises – Haworthia Attenuata ‘Alba’

I know I am a bit too much of a helicopter plant parent, and my succulents would probably benefit from more neglect.

But I love the occasional happy surprises that come from periodically handling each individual plant and checking on its progress – for instance, spotting the first signs of a new offset forming on one of your favorites — such as this week’s happy discovery was a new offset forming on one of my rooted haworthia cuttings, the variegated haworthia attenuata ‘Alba’.

Are you able to spot it in the first picture?

Skipping the Plant Show and Spring 2017 Seed Orders

#succulents #propagation Side swipe for more pictures!

A post shared by Todd Huss (@beliquits) on

This past weekend was the big Midwest Cactus and Succulent Show and Sale in Cleveland, and due to some inclement weather, I opted to not get up super early on a Saturday morning and drive two hours there and back this year.  I wasn’t entirely ready to brave the roads, and I knew from the prior year that if you weren’t there early, things would get pretty picked over– even though last year, I think the massive turn out caught the event organizers by surprise and I knew (as I have a Facebook friend from the group that runs the show) that this year they were a lot more prepared.

Still, though, from the sounds of it – the crowd was so huge that the space they were holding the show in couldn’t accomodate everyone, and many folks had to wait outside for their turn just to enter the building.  The stories didn’t make me regret my decision to stay home too terribly much.  (Although I’ve seen a few pictures of plants from the sale that gave me slight pangs of regret.  Just not enough regret.)

So try to stop myself from focusing on my FOMO, I spent some time… (more…)

“Mexico Mix”

Its been an interesting week.  I think I peaked, internet fame wise, when an older post of mine got picked up by some Facebook gardening groups; my phone started sending me alerts that I had a huge spike in traffic, and at one point I had 5.5k visitors in a day.  I typically consider it a good day if I break ten!

So welcome, new followers.  Glad you find my information occasionally helpful.

One of the items I talked about in the post that circulated was how most commercial succulent mixes aren’t great right out of the bag.  I have a couple different formulations that I’m working on most of the time, but I have a general mixes that I stick with depending on the categories of plants.  The three main mixes I keep around are: my “Mexico mix” (for Crassulaceae), “Gritty mix” (for Asphodeloideae, aka South African plants), and “Mesemb Mix” (for the family known as ‘ice plants’ or ‘mimicry plants’ that are more finicky).

"Mexico mix". My soil mix for echevaria and young propagations.

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The “Mexico Mix” is the easiest, and is probably the default mix to use.  Ive had best results with crassula, echevaria, and graptoveria, graptopetalum, etc, using this mix, and its also what I use for starting leaf propagations and stem cuttings (once they have started rooting).

As a rule of thumb, you can take bagged cactus/palm/citrus mix and cut it down 1:1 with inorganics – perlite being the cheapest and most common.  To fill my bin, I use about:

  • Eight scoops of peat-based cactus/succulent mix
  • Five scoops of perlite
  • Two scoops of shredded pine bark
  • Two scoops of gravel or crushed granite (“chick grit”)

I might tweak a little bit here and there, until my finished mix looks close to what you’d see in the video above.

Do you have a ‘recipe’ that’s working well for you?  Share in the comments, along with where your plants live (what part of the world, indoor/outdoor, etc.)


Leaf propagations that go nowhere

The irritation that comes with a leaf that sends roots through your entire propagation tray but never puts out new vegetative growth.  Times up! You’re evicted. It’s fine to start making room for the spring seed trays. You had all winter to get your act together.

Echevaria Nodulosa are notorious for this for me. I’ve heard some people swear that you can’t propagate then from leaves, and I have pictures to prove you can, it’s just going to take a lot of attempts and rejects like this guy.

Warm February

It’s unseasonable warm here in Ohio for February. If the weathermen are right, we are due for about 7 Days of 50 to 60 degree weather in a row. The spring bulbs are coming up a bit early, and the cats are demanding that I share the sunny windowsill. Fortunately for me they choose not to bother the plants much; as long as no one gets startled the plants are pretty safe. Knock on wood!

I’m going to take this opportunity to try to get a plant mail order in to replace one variety of haworthia that I lost in the fall. Wish me much that the beautiful weather holds long enough to get my shipment here and give the rabbits better lunch options than my hyacinths and tulips!