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Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata’

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Who will not fall in love with this climbing  succulent plant. The leaves are thick, large, and heart-shaped with green around the middle and creamy yellow around the edges. Even with no flowers, it is already very pretty. Hoya is a slow growing climber that can be trained on trellis or shaped into all sorts of forms.

Variegated Heart Shaped Hoya

I just bought this pretty hoya today in Garden World. It is my Christmas present. It hasn’t flowered yet but the flowers will be clusters of light pink with red star center. Growing requirements for Melbourne area/Australia:

  • Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata’, also known as Valentine’s Hoya or Heart Hoya.
  • Large heart-shaped variegated leaves.
  • Clusters of light pink and red flowers that are slightly perfumed.
  • Shaded but bright position outdoor,  if kept indoor may not flower.
  • Cool to intermediate range of temperatures. keep the plant under shade or indoor during winter time.
  • Keep the plant drier in winter and moist in summer.
  • Weakly weekly  liquid fertilizer during warmer months.
  • Similar soil to the one used for succulent (well drain).

My friend Vivi grows a small leaved hoya under her front yard veranda facing west and the plant is very happy and flowering. I had never seen a hoya plant with heart-shaped leaves that are so large before….  straight away I fall in love with it.

Pretty Hoya Kerrii 'Albomarginata'

Hoya Kerrii 'Albomarginata'

Note 23/12/2013:

I have been reading a lot about hoya plants especially Hoya kerrii. It seems that it is one of the biggest and the most robust type of hoya. Not the small and dainty one like the one that my friend has. Once it is mature, will quickly creeps everywhere and once the stems are hardened, they are not easy to train. So if the plant is out of control, it is necessary to prune it. Another thing to know is that H. kerrii flowers will release a lot of red/brown nectar, so much that the little flowers look like they are bleeding (I read somewhere that some people call this bleeding hoya flowers ‘Jesus Tears’). The nectar drips can be messy, so it is important to place the plant in a spot where it is easy to clean (by spraying water).

Hmmm….. can’t win it all, but I still like the variegated heart shaped leaves. Just wait and see what is going to happened later.

Flowering Succulent Plants

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It rained so heavily last night and now it is still cloudy and cool 19 deg. C. We had planned to see Comet Ison on Sunday before dawn, but it seemed that this comet did not make it through its journey close to the sun. It is just gone out of sight.  Images from NASA spacecraft showed Comet ISON approaching for its slingshot around the sun, but nothing coming out on the other side. Very sad and disappointed, but at least I have seen the best one so far (Ikeya-Seki).

Note on Ison Nov.30,2013: The latest news…. apparently a tiny part of Ison nucleus has survived and it has been seen coming out from behind the sun. It looked like a tiny nucleus with very short and stumpy tail and still….it may not survive very long.

Now talking about some of our flowering succulents so far:

Donkey’s Tail, Burro’s Tail or Sedum morganianum is an odd plant from Mexico. The very brittle stems and leaves form long and neat strands. The small red bell-shaped flowers are also strange as they grow on the end of the strand hanging down. Very suitable to grow in hanging baskets/pots. Both stems and leaves are very easy to break off at the slightest touch or movement. The good thing is that most of the broken part (even a single leaf) will grow roots and start a new plant if they have dropped on soil.

Donkey's Tail

Donkey's Tail Flowers

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Aeonium haworthii or also known as Pinwheel Aeonium is commonly grown and the rosette leaves form nice clumping mounds if grown in full sun. This Canary island succulent has small creamy yellow flowers.

Aeonium haworthii - Pinwheel aeonium

Pin Wheel Aeonium

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Crassula tetragona has clumps of tiny white flowers. This southern African native is also known as Miniature Pine Tree (don’t make any sense to me). Just like all succulents, it is very easy to grow, best in full sun and well drain soil.

Crassula tetragona

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Dec. 03/2013: More succulent flowers:

Kalanchoe hildebrantii ‘ Silver Spoon’ is one of my favourite succulent plants. The small leaves are spoon-shaped and green-grey silver in colour. The flowers are clusters of red orange bell-shaped blooms that grow on tall stems. When the flowers are matured, they will produce some fruits/pods with seeds inside. Not the prettiest flowers, but the plant offers interesting and pretty leaves.

Flowers and Fruits - Kalanchoe hildebrantii  'Silver Spoon'

Kalanchoe hildebrantii 'Silver Spoon' 1

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Kalanchoe beharensis is also known as Elephant Ear. Another favourite succulent of mine. The green silver-grey velvety leaves are kind of triangular. how to explain the peculiar leaves? This is what I get from Wikipedia, by using the proper way to explain leaves. Do not ask me the meanings as I am not an expert. Ha, ha….

Leaves are olivaceous in colour, triangular-lanceolate shaped, decussately arranged with leaf margins that are doubly crenate….” (Wikipedia)

The not so beautiful small flowers are bell shaped, hairy and the colours are cream with green center. This is how I explain them… do not ask me to explain them by using botanic terms:(

Kalanchoe beharensis aka. Elephant Ear

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Next flowering succulent is the Stapelia grandiflora or also known as Starfish Cactus or Carrion plant. The flowers are hairy, red meat colour and smell like rotten dead animals. Flies will lay eggs/maggots inside the flowers in believing that there is food there for the maggots to eat. But within a day or so the maggots are starving and dead and the pretty star-like blooms will also wilted. The flies have helped the process of pollination. Mission accomplished!

Flower buds - Stapelia grandiflora - Carrion Plant - Starfish Cactus

Stapelia sp. (Carrion or Starfish Plant).

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Although not as fleshy, Yucca plants are also considered as succulent. The one that we have is Yucca filamentosa ‘Hairy’. The name hairy comes from the fact that the leaves grow hairs. The plant consist of trunkless rosettes of soft-textured but wide, blue tinted leaves that are adorned with particularly large numbers of curly white threads, giving the entire plant a hairy effect. The flowers are creamy white that grow very tall, well above the plant itself. Very showy blooms indeed!!

Close-up Yucca filementosa 'Hairy' flowers

Flowers of Yucca filementosa 'Hairy'

Yucca filementosa 'Hairy'

Epiphyllum ‘Santa Barbera’ and ‘Great Waltz’

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Bought this Epiphyllum hybrid three years ago as one single stem cutting in a tiny pot. This year it is flowering, very nice two big blooms. The name on the tag is ‘Santa Barbera’. Is it the same as Epiphyllum ‘Santa Barbara’ ??

Epi 'Santa Barbara' Tag

Epiphyllum 'Santa Barbera'

Epi 'Santa Barbera'

Epihyllum 'Santa Barbera' 2

This Epiphyllum ‘Great Waltz’ was also bought at the same time, as a single stem in a small pot. After three years, more extra long stems had grown and the plant is having five large bloom. Similar colour as the ‘Santa Barbera’, but the petals have different shape.

Tag - Epiphyllum 'Great Waltz'

Epiphyllum 'Great Waltz' - Flower Bud

Epiphyllum 'Great Waltz'

Epiphyllum 'Great Waltz' Oct. 28 - 2013

Epiphyllum 'Great Waltz' Oct. 29 - 2013

Chiapasia nelsonii

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One of my favourite orchid cactus is this early shimmering pink bloomer with confusing names. Even the name tag has two different names. At the front it is written Chiapsis nelsonii, but the other side says Chiapasia nelsonii.
Plant Name TagWhen I checked online, there are quite a few names: Disocactus nelsonii, Epiphyllum nelsonii, Chiapasia nelsonii, Phyllocactus nelsonii, Phyllocactus chiapensis. Frankly, I don’t even know which names are correct, as I am not an expert.

About the plant:

This orchid cactus from Chiapas area in Mexico produces incredible numbers of bright pink 8 cm blooms for a few weeks in Spring. Each stem will produce a flower at almost every areole creating a spectacular sight.

This Chiapas beauty is well suited to outdoor growing in almost all parts of Australia although areas that do not experience cold in winter may not be able to flower the plants.  This plant prefers shade levels of about 50%, less than 30%  will cause leaves  to be sun bleached and more than 70% may retard flowering. It prefers open composted soils or in pots any good quality potting mix. In extremely cold and wet climate, keep plant dry in winter or provide a very well drained potting media.

Fertilise when new growth appears in spring (after flowering), and keep plant well watered  all through growing season. Reduce watering in winter to encourage flower initiation for spring. Stems may need support for best result. Prune back plant every 2 to 3 years to encourage new vigorous growths.

(Source: Paradisia Nursery)

These are the photos of our blooming C. nelsonii right now:

Disocactus nelsonii – Chiapasia nelsonii – Epiphyllum nelsonii

Disocactus nelsonii – Chiapasia nelsonii jpg

Disocactus nelsonii

Disocactus nelsonii - Early Bloomer

Aloe spinosissima

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3- Aloe arborescens

Aloe spinosissima is a cross between Aloe arborescens and Aloe humilis. It is also commonly known as spider aloe or gold tooth aloe. Fast growing clumping species with rosettes to 40 cm wide. Showy coral red flowers grow in late winter through early spring. It produces many offsets that can be separated easily for propagation. The spines along the grey green leaves can be a little sharp so it is better to wear gardening gloves.

If grown in an open space, aloe spinosissima can form a rounded mound that will be a nice focal point in the garden. The brightly colour flowers will attract many honey eater birds.

We grow ours alongside the fence and it has started to grow too many new shoots, so I have to separate them as soon as possible. Apparently the temperate weather in Melbourne and our garden sandy soil is quite perfect to grow this aloe species. Just like most other succulents, if grown in pots, it only need water when the soil has started to dry. If grown out in the garden, once the plant is established, there is no need to water at all. It is best to grow in full sun to flower well.

2 - Aloe arborescens

4- Aloe arborescens

Jade Plant – Bonsai Ideas

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Big cuttings of jade plant (Crassula ovata) are ideal to grow as bonsai. The fat and rough look of the fleshy stems and trunks are ideal for bonsai. They are easy to maintain and to keep them alive. The soft branches and stems are easy to shape and bend.

Bonsai - Variegated Jade Plant

Jade Plant Bonsai

Bonsai idea - Jade Plant

Bonsai Jade

Jade - Bonsai Idea

Chopping Jade Plant

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Spring glorious spring has sprung! All of sudden one of our jade plants (Crassula ovata) next to the foot-path was growing out of control. The big fat branches were getting much too heavy so they bent and drooped down. It was nice and rounded before. The only way to make it better is to chop all of the top part of the plant. Yesterday I just did that.

Oh no! That will kill it…. Not to worry at all with this large succulent plant. You can just break a branch and stick in in the ground and it will grow. Actually the more you cut the tip of the branches, the compact and rounded it becomes. As long as the soil is well drain, Crassula ovata will grow happily. In the sun, in the shade or as indoor plant, no problem at all. The only difference if you want it to flower, then you have to grow it in full sun.

Yesterday I had planted half of the cuttings. It was one wheel barrow full, stacked very high. I just used the old soil from the bonsai trees that I repotted recently. It was mixed with a bit of ordinary potting mix for a bit of nutrition. Today, there is still more to do, half wheel barrow full. I have to cut all the spent flower to make it look nice and tidy. Probably I will have about 20 pots of newly planted cuttings and quite a few of them are large that look  more like mature plants. Some one I know sells stuffs in the market, probably I will ask her to sell them for me once the plants have grown roots.

Jade - Crassula ovata in July 2013

Jade – Crassula ovata in July 2013

Out of control Jade - Crassula ovata getting too big and heavy

Out of control Jade – Crassula ovata getting too big and heavy

What is left of the plant now is many exposed cut trunks and branches. It looks ugly now, but new leaves will grow back and the plant will be much lower and bushier. The cuttings in the wheel barrow (the picture above) are the remaining half that I have to pot today or tomorrow.

Jade - Crassula ovata - Growing from Cuttings. Still more to do today.

Jade – Crassula ovata – Growing from Cuttings. Still more to do today.

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