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Welcome to the Wonderful World of Aeoniums

There are roughly 35 species of Aeonium which are members of the Crassul...

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There are roughly 35 species of Aeonium which are members of the Crassulaceae family. Most Aeonium species are native to the Canary Islands, but they can also be found in Madeira, Morocco, Cape Verde Islands and the East Coast of Africa.

Aeoniums are succulents that can survive in extremely dry and arid environments, they achieve this by storing water in their leaves and stems. Aeoniums come in many shapes and sizes, from the ornamental Aeonium ‘Medusa’ to the giant form of Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’ down to the tiny species Aeonium Aizoon.

Aeonium Pomegranate
Aeonium Pomegranate

Aeoniums are surprisingly incredibly easy to grow and require very little care and maintenance. In general, it is best to use a free-draining soil mix and keep your plants frost-free over the winter. You can use horticultural fleece to protect your Aeoniums from frost and hail stones if planted in the garden or potted up outside.

Most Aeoniums love full sun or part shade, the darker leaf varieties in particular love full sun, some other varieties of Aeonium such as the variegated forms and the Aeonium Tabuliforme, prefer part-shade or morning sunshine. 

Growing season

Aeoniums can grow all year round if the conditions suit them, but their main growing season is in the Spring and Autumn.

Dormant Aeoniums
Dormant Aeoniums

In the longer, hotter summer days you may see your Aeoniums becoming dormant, they prefer to grow in the cooler months’ each side of summertime. You can tell when your Aeoniums become dormant as the colours may darken right to the centre of the heads, or the heads of each rosette will bud or close like a rose bud. 

Dormant Aeoniums will shut down and not require any feeding or watering. It’s a bit like them going to sleep, over watering whilst dormant can kill your plants as they can suffer from stem or root rot. Just simply wait until the heads open up again before looking after them as normal.

You can move your Aeoniums to a cooler area with less light or a shady spot to stop this dormancy period, moving these plants will extend the amount of growth you will get in one season. 

During the winter months an Aeonium is still capable of growing but at a much slower rate, this is due to the overall temperature which is especially important during the night. The ideal growing night time temperatures for Aeoniums is between 12-16°C, and daytime temperatures between 18-22°C.

Growth and flowering

Flowering Aeonium
Flowering Aeonium

Aeoniums mainly grow in Spring and Autumn, feeding and watering the plants at these times of year will encourage plenty of growth.

Aeoniums don’t only possess great presence and structure but many varieties put on the most impressive flowering display. They produce large conical shaped flowering heads, these are covered in hundreds of daisy shaped flowers, each one packed full of sweet nectar that bees and insects absolutely adore. Flowering tends to be early in the growing season and can last for several months.

Soil mix

A simple compost mix for Aeoniums is 60% multi-purpose compost with 40% grit or perlite. This mix allows excellent drainage and air to move through the root system to encourage good robust, and healthy growth.

Watering Aeoniums 

A general rule for watering Aeoniums is to thoroughly drench the soil then let it dry out completely between waterings. If growing the plants outside in large pots or a garden during the summer, leave the watering to mother nature. If growing undercover then we recommend watering in the early mornings for best results.

Growing the perfect Aeonium

If you’re growing in pots or in the garden, the most important part of growing a big Aeonium is to establish a large root system. As Aeoniums grow the stems can become elongated, we recommend that when re-potting or planting out your Aeonium always bury the majority of the exposed stem deeper into the soil, this will encourage more roots and impressive growth. Another important point to consider is how these roots will be when the plant is large, as many Aeoniums can be top heavy, these extra roots will anchor your plant in position, and support it in strong winds.

To achieve a large root system, you want your plant to be hungry, this encourages root growth in search for food. 

We recommend planting Aeoniums in a fresh soil mix in the garden or in a pot. This fresh mix will usually contain enough food for one growing season. This will boost the plant and give it enough energy to establish a good anchor into the ground or pot. Once a large root system has been achieved, you can begin feeding. After the first year you can then use a standard good all-round feed or a slow-release fertilizer, water in a balanced soluble feed every two months to supplement the best Aeonium growth. If pot grown, you can repot each season. When repotting, it’s a good idea to clean off as much of the old soil as possible then pot up with a fresh soil mix, we always use this technique for our show plants.

Pest and Diseases

It’s important to always take good care of your succulents. A quick weekly visual inspection is a good way of keeping an eye on any pests or diseases that may affect your plants.

Many pests can affect Aeoniums such as Mealybugs, Aphids, Vine weevil, Caterpillars, slugs and snails.

Many pests like vine weevils can be treated with different types of Nematodes. Some pests like snails, caterpillars and mealy bugs can be manually removed, mealy bugs can also be treated with a 70% isopropanol mix. 

Group of Varigated Aeonium
Group of Varigated Aeonium

There are so many amazing Aeonium hybrids, such as the giant Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’, Aeonium ‘Voodoo’, Aeonium Tabuliforme x Nobile as well as hardy Aeoniums such as Aeonium ‘Phoenix Flame’ and sister seedling Aeonium ‘Emerald Flame‘ which are surprisingly hardy to  minus 7°C.

There are many variegated Aeoniums, which are sports or mutated forms of these already amazing Aeoniums. Many variegated forms were produced in China where they use many methods such as grafting, adjusting the PH of the soil mixes and even chemicals to educe or encourage plants to become variegated. It used to be incredibly rare to have a stable variegated Aeonium, as these would normally only occur from natural sports or mutations but now there are many new varieties available. 

Variegated varieties are well known for a slower growth rate than non-variegated forms, this is due to the lack of chlorophyll in the leaves to photosynthesise.  A massive advantage variegated Aeoniums have is the ability to grow brilliantly in lower light levels, they can be used to under plant larger plants or shady parts of the garden that need a bit brightening up during the summer. 

Variegated Aeoniums tend to need protection from the winter cold, and frosts

Growing tips

  • Grow in a bright sunny location
  • Use a free draining soil mix
  • Establish a large root system to maximise growth rates 
  • Once established feed regularly in the growing season
  • Water when dry and completely drench the plants and allow to dry again before watering, Drench Drain Dry 
  • Keep frost free over winter 
Aeonium

Aeoniums

We have a wide range of Aeoniums available on the website.

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Attributes Explained

We have categorised our plants based on a number of attributes to help y...

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We have categorised our plants based on a number of attributes to help you pick the right plant to buy. We’ve put together this guide to explain each of the attributes in more detail and what to look out for.

Colour

The Colour attribute represents the main colour seen in the plant throughout the main growing season, if you receive a plant that isn’t a similar colour or exactly like the plant in the image it may be due to the time of year as a succulent can colour up completely differently depending on whether it is Winter or Summer.

The colours of a succulent can also be affected by watering, feeding, weather and the position the plant was grown in. Over time if you give your plant everything it needs; the colours should return to the same colours as the images. 

We always do our best to photograph each plant true to its natural colour, and we are constantly improving our pictures so that it represents the plant as true to colour as possible.

Growth Form

The overall growth form of each plant is important to know as this will give you a great indication to where you can plant the succulent when you receive it.

Cluster/clumping a plant that will cluster into multiple heads and form a compact tidy appearance.

Pups/Pupping a plant that produces offsets from the root system, these emerge out of the soil next to the mother plant. Agaves are a prime example of this.

Single Rosette that offsets, a plant that grows on a stem that will offset as it ages, sometimes this can take a few years.

Single Rosette A stemless succulent with a compact rosette, these don’t tend to offset.

Single Stem A plant that grows on a single stem with a rosette at the top of the stem, these plants don’t always produce offsets.

Compact a plant that will grow into a very compact and neat form.

Branching a plant that will produce multiple layers of offsets, each offset will be attached to the main plant by a stem, these tend to be very easy to propagate.

Spreading a plant that will spread over an area if given the room and the correct conditions to do so.

Trailing a succulent that will trail out over the rim of pots and cascade down creating a waterfall effect.

Light Levels

Light Levels is a crucial attribute to take into consideration when deciding what plant to grow in your home or garden, this guide will help you decide the right succulent for you, whether you have full sun or loads of shade, this will help you determine the right succulent for your conditions. 

Shade a succulent that can tolerate and thrive in a shady position whether this is indoors or outside.

Part Shade a succulent that thrives in part shade, this is usually a plant that will need to be protected from the midday Sun, so morning or late afternoon sunlight would be ideal.

Full Sun a succulent that thrives in as much direct sunlight as possible.

Bright Windowsill a succulent that thrives in a windowsill that doesn’t get really strong sunlight, ideally a west or east facing windowsill away from the midday sun.

Or a North facing windowsill in the summer and a South facing windowsill in the winter.

Full Sun Windowsill a succulent that thrives in as much direct sunlight as possible, a nice south facing windowsill would be ideal.

for international buyers it’s important to note that these are based around the United Kingdom’s light levels.

Succulent Pot

Planting Location

Planting Location is a very important attribute to understand this will help you determine the correct succulent for your conditions whether this is indoors or out. Some succulents can only thrive when growing in an outside environment; this is due to the fact, they need plenty of air and natural sunlight, they may also grow too large for an indoor setting. 

Greenhouse a succulent that may need extra warmth especially at night so a greenhouse would be the ideal situation for this plant, plants in this attribute will also do very well outside during the warm summer months.

Indoor a succulent that will happily grow indoors in a naturally lit room or windowsill of your choice, check out light aspect attribute to determine the best succulents for your situation.

Patio a succulent that thrives in a pot on a sunny patio.

Dry Shade a succulent that will thrive in a shady position maybe under a bush/tree or up against a wall where they don’t receive much natural rainfall, these tend to be succulents that prefer to be protected from the midday sun.

Pot a succulent , happy to grow its whole life in a pot.

Wall where there may be a wall with a crack filled with soil for a succulent to be planted, Cornish dry-stone granite walls are ideal for these succulents.

Rockery a succulent that loves to be grow outside all year round in a great free draining soil mix and a top dress of gravel, even tender succulents can be planted in this situation and then lifted and protected for winter.

Garden a succulent that can be planted in the garden that is large enough to not be out competed by other shrubs and plants around it. Such as Agaves and large Aeoniums.

Windowsill a succulent that can be grown indoors on a windowsill.

Conservatory a succulent that will thrive in a nice warm conservatory away from the cold frosty winter evenings.

Mature Size

This attribute represents the overall size these succulents can eventually grow to, form tiny little plants such as Lithops and Haworthias to the giant tree Aloes of over 30ft tall. These succulents will only reach their full potential size if they are given the correct conditions to thrive in. Check out our, how to care for succulent’s guide. 

XSmall these succulents are as small as they come, growing no more than 6cm to 12cm when fully grown.

Small these range from 12cm to 30cm maximum size.

Medium these range from 30cm to 50cm maximum size.

Large these range from 50cm to 120cm maximum size 

XLarge these range from 120cm to over 30ft in some Aloe varieties.

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Surreal Semponiums

Semponium Variety

The story of how we bred the world’s first xSemponium, a cross between Sempervivum and Aeonium.

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Semponium Variety

Inspiration

The pursuit for hardiness 

Often when Surreal Succulents are designing gardens, Mark often says “why are we so limited with what we can plant out and leave out all year round without winter protection”?

Mark loves hardy carefree plants that need very little attention over the colder winter months, frequently saying “gardens should be enjoyed all year round and not wrapped up”.

Daniel loves the colourful and ornamental forms of all succulents, really enjoying the responsibility of winter care.

This was the start of the story of how the xSemponiums were born.

Daniel is very familiar with creating Aeonium hybrids which are enjoyed globally, such as Aeonium ‘Phoenix Flame’, Aeonium ‘Emerald Flame’, Aeonium ‘Blood’, Aeonium ‘Cornish Rose‘ and Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’.

With years of experience of hybridising, Daniel had often talked to the RHS botanists about the theoretical chances of crossing other members of the Crassulaea family. 

What are xSemponiums?

A xSemponiums is an inter-generic hybrid consisting of a Sempervivum and Aeonium. This was possible as they are genetically similar with both being members of the Crassulacean family. 

Sempervivums are generally small compact plants which are extremely hardy and can withstand freezing temperature to below -20. 

Aeoniums tend to be much larger and mostly frost tender, with only a few species and hybrids being able to take frost temperatures. 

How was this possible?

Sempervivum ‘Green Ice’ Flower
Aeonium ‘Ice Warrior’ flower

Two plants were used to make these amazing inter-generic hybrids, this may sound easy. However, the flowering season of these plants are very far apart, in fact they are completely different. Aeoniums flower in the months of spring where as Sempervivums flower in the summer months. 

The achievement of getting these two different species to flower at the same time with strong healthy pollen defied the laws of mother nature. 

At the nursery we had a late flowering Aeonium ‘Ice Warrior’ which was moved to one of our coolest spots of the nursery to slow down flowering in an attempt to preserve the pollen. Sempervivum ‘Green Ice’ was chosen being a strong Sempervivum cultivar. 

In our breeding we have found that using hybrids gives you a larger genetic pool with many more possible exciting outcomes rather than using species alone, which gives you less diversity.

This was by no means easy to pull off, the chosen plants had to be carefully contained to stop any cross contamination from other pollinators. These were then often moved in location to speed up or slowdown the flowering process. Once flowering of these two varieties was achieved the attempt of cross pollination could begin. 

With the goal being hardiness, it was decided that the mother plant would be a Sempervivum. The theory was that this would allow us try to maximise the hardiness that the Sempervivum could offer and that we could clearly identify that a hybrid seed was achieved by producing the seed in this plant.

The Aeonium ‘Ice Warrior’ had an abundance of good strong healthy pollen, this plant has an extremely long flowering period over several months. Once flowering there would be hundreds of flowers opening, offering a long window of opportunity.

Sempervivum ‘Green Ice’ will produce a short flower spike with up to twenty flowers only lasting for a few weeks. 

The fresh pollen from the Aeonium ‘Ice Warrior’ was removed and carefully transferred to freshly flowering Sempervivum ‘Green Ice’ using a soft paint brush and tweezers. We kept the flowers away and out of reach of pollinators as we didn’t want cross contamination with other plants.

Semponium Seedlings

We then left the flower to ripen in a dry sunny spot for 8 weeks, after this period we collected the flower heads and left them to dry out completely in a brown paper bag for a further 2 weeks.

After the 2 weeks we removed the fine dust like seed from the chaff of the flower, then carefully packaged into a cellophane envelope and clearly labelled it, which was then stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks until sowing.

The seed was then good to go, by that time it was late Autumn, we then took the fine seed and evenly distributed it over the surface of a tray of sterilized seed compost, we then covered the seed with a fine sand and carefully soaked the seed tray in a bath of sterilized water. A thin piece of glass was placed over the top of the seed tray trapping in the humidity to aid germination. The tray was placed in a bright spot and left to do its thing.  

Semponiums: ‘Vortex’, ‘Halo’, ‘Diamond’, ‘Mrs Frosty’, ‘Sienna’, and ‘Destiny’

We checked the seed weekly hoping to see signs of germination. By week three we could see signs that the seed had germinated but there wasn’t enough evidence at that point to know if the cross had been successful, more time and patience was needed. A further two to three months on, and to our excitement we saw massive variation in the seedlings, at this point we knew we had done it; we were overcome with emotion as we were witnessing the birth of the world’s first xSemponiums

Once the seedlings where at a suitable size we potted every single one on, giving each one star treatment, this was important as we didn’t want to miss any potential prospects. Over the course of the growing season we could select potential forms of interest and colour to grow on, this was an incredibly difficult task as we had so many different amazing looking variations.

We ended up choosing six varieties these all had unique distinctions whether it was form, colour or vigour, each one looked completely different to the next. 

Naming

xSemponium ‘Sienna’

This Semponium is called Sienna for two reasons, it grows with the most amazing sienna red in the springtime. It is also named after the daughter of Mark Lea from Surreal Succulents.

This Semponium grows with the most amazing formation, it naturally offsets with neat layers of rosettes to form an amazing pyramid which is just breath taking. Sienna grows with the formation of an Aeonium but the rosettes have a Sempervivum appearance, showing how amazing Semponiums really are. 

When grown in strong light levels, Sienna will go the most amazing electric red like never seen before in other succulents. 

xSemponium ‘Sienna’ is Surreal Succulents entry into the RHS Chelsea Flower show plant of the year 2021. 

xSemponium ‘Vortex’

This Semponium is called ‘Vortex’ due to the amazing growth patters this plant can produce from its central Rossette resembling a vortex whirlpool spiral. It grows a large head up to 50cm across and it has many more leaf layers down the steam. This gives this plants a very attractive form.

xSemponium ‘Destiny’

This Semponium is called ‘Destiny’. One of the most unusual feature of this plant is the veiny structure of the leaves. It also has the most amazing colours which range from bright green to a very deep purple red. This plant can produce one very large flat head up to 60cm across. It can produce offsets underneath the main rosette which grow and branch.

xSemponium ‘Halo’

This Semponium is called ‘Halo’ because of the white edges each leaf can develop in strong light levels. Halo grows with the growth formation of the Sempervivum forming tight clumps as it spreads. It has the leaf shape of the Aeonium making the plant a perfect blend of both is parentage.

xSemponium ‘Diamond’

This Semponium is called ‘Diamond’ for the amazing diamond shaped leaves it has. This is especially clear in the centre of the rosette. It has an amazing bright green colour with a contrasting red outline to each leaf. This plant grows up to 35cm across and can also offset at the base. 

xSemponium ‘Mrs Frosty’

This Semponium was named ‘Mrs Frosty’ after gardening legend and TV presenter Adam Frost’s wife. This plants name was decided on our Instagram live with Adam Frost over lockdown. It is a fantastic grower which has elongated spoon shape leaves. It has brown flecks that resemble ice crystals. It grows with an attractive green, brown colour which is capable of turning brown/ pink in strong light levels. It can grow to a large size in height and width 60 x 60cm. It can produce offsets layers of offsets making this a truly different looking Semponium.

The speed of growth of all the xSemponiums is fantastic, they grow incredibly quickly with immense hybrid vigour, the leaves look fresh and clean all year round, they don’t even seem to have a dormancy stage unlike their parentage.

Above all, the hardness of these xSemponiums is one of the most important features of these cross genetic hybrids, with hardness tests still ongoing. And a couple of winters under our belt, we have had xSemponium ‘Sienna’ survive temperatures to as low as -4, this is such an encouraging sign and gives us great hope for future breeding.

RHS

The Semponiums have received great interest and we decided to show them for the first time at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2020. Unfortunately, this show was cancelled because of the pandemic. So, the decision was made to save them until the shows return in 2021. 

These plants will all feature in our show garden and we have even entered x Semponium ‘Sienna’ into the ‘Plant of the Year’ competition. 

We are so excited to show case these plants at the world’s most prestigious show. The Semponiums give us a new range of colours, textures and forms to feature in our award-winning show gardens. These plants are so special in their own rights from their parentage, but it is also a chance to show how different and beautiful they are. We are planning to show them alongside many Aeoniums and other succulent plants. We are aiming to highlight that these really are a inter-generic hybrid when showcased in our display garden.

Semponium Sienna

Our first Semponium to be released for sale. Available very soon!

Images © Surreal Succulents & Mimi Connolly

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Agave Care Guide

Agave montana, Agave parryi var. truncata, Agave parryi 'cream spike'

Agaves are very easy to care for and can be extremely tough plants that require little attention to thrive. A free-draining soil mix is vital….

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Agave montana, Agave parryi var. truncata, Agave parryi 'cream spike'

About Agaves

Agaves are in the Asparagaceae family with over 270 known species native to Mexico and the surrounding region. Agaves are known for their beautiful structural forms and make stunning feature plants in pots, gardens and rockeries. Many species can survive temperatures well below freezing and are incredibly happy growing outside in the U.K, when given the correct amount of drainage. Be careful when handling these stunning plants as they come covered in an armoury of spikes. These are to protect themselves from being eaten in their habitat as they grow in arid locations where water is scarce.

Agave leaves unfold very slowly and incredibly neatly from a central conical shaped crown. Many species leave very pronounced markings and patterns where the previous leaf rested before unravelling. 

Agaves can take many years to flower and are often called century plants because of this, with some varieties taking up to 50 to 60 years before flowering. Some of the larger species of Agave can produce an incredible flowering display of over 12 meters high.

Due to the time they take to flower, it is very rare to find hybrid forms of Agave, but when they do arise, they are often beautiful and highly sought after. Variegated Agaves are visually stunning, with many coming in compact forms, making them the ideal collector’s plant.

Soil Mix and Feeding

Agaves are very easy to care for and can be extremely tough plants that require little attention to thrive. A free-draining soil mix is vital. We use 50 percent soil and 50 percent grit or perlite for drainage, a supplementary feed in the warmer growing season such as a slow-release fertiliser or regular balanced liquid feeds will help these plants grow. 

Agave victoriae-reginae 'white rhino'
Agave victoriae-reginae ‘white rhino’

The ideal time to feed Agaves is during the repotting process. Add a 5 to 6-month slow-release fertiliser during the spring at the recommended amounts or a well-balanced liquid fertiliser every two to three weeks.

Adding these will help to encourage good strong growth throughout the summer.

Planting

Planting your Agave at an angle will keep the plant’s crown from becoming waterlogged and allow the rainwater to drain freely out of the plant. It is especially important when grown outside where you cannot control the watering.

Pot on your Agave when it becomes pot bound, this is an excellent time to remove dead and dying older leaves and roots. It also allows you to pot on any pups that may have appeared. Always wash your hands after handling agaves as the sap can be irritant.

Many Agaves are cold hardy and will happily grow outside year-round given the correct amount of drainage. Choose a spot where they will receive plenty of sunlight. A bright location is essential, especially during cold winter months.

We like to underplant with rocks for two reasons. It will help keep the plant free draining at the base, and it also keeps weeds at bay as Agave can be hard to weed around due to their spines. Its good to use a thick layer of top dress to keep the leaves off the wet soil to avoid rot as the Agave grows.

You can use horticultural fleece to keep the plant dryer if the winters are particularly wet. You could choose to pop a temporary shelter over the Agave for the winter, as this will ensure extra protection against the cold and wet, especially if the Agaves are young and tender.

Positioning 

Positioning Agaves is incredibly important for them to achieve a mature size. Most Agaves prefer full Sun to Part shade. Variegated Agaves prefer part shade as this intensifies the colouring and markings. Position your Agaves where they can’t danger passers-by or pets with their sharp spines.

Watering

Agaves respond well to regular watering once a week during the summer, but if the weather is scorching, sunny and dry, it is always good to water up to 3 times a week. When watering, make sure the free-draining soil mix is thoroughly drenched and well saturated. The best time to water Agaves is early morning when the Sun is less intense. During the winter, Agaves require a lot less water, a slight moistening of the soil is sufficient for the colder months as the plant is dormant. 

Over-wintering Agave

These plants don’t just look tough, they are tough and can deal with all types of extreme weathers, from heatwaves to windstorms and torrential downpours. Some species, such as Agave montana can survive long periods under snow. 

The winters are usually the resting periods for Agave, it is always best to keep the soil on the drier side during these colder months. Sunlight is vital during the winter, as much direct sunlight will ensure a healthy plant come the spring.

You may even choose to snip the spines off the end of the Agave, to make them safer to be around. It also makes it easier to apply the fleece in the winter and prevents puncturing the horticultural fleece. This will not affect the plants in any way but be careful not to cut into the leaf tips.

If Agaves are grown in pots, then they can be moved into a greenhouse, conservatory or indoors on a sunny windowsill for the winter.

Growing tips

  • Use a well-draining soil mix 50% multipurpose compost and 50% grit of perlite.
  • Feed and water regularly during the growing season.
  • Plant at an angle so water can freely run away from the crown.
  • Use a good thick top dress to help the Agave from rotting.
  • Place in a bright sunny location for optimum growth rates.

Shop Agave

See a list of the current Agave we have in stock.

Shop All Agave
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Succulent Houseplant Care Guide

Group of Houseplants in Pots on Windowsil

Succulents make impressively rewarding houseplants, bringing many benefi...

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Group of Houseplants in Pots on Windowsil

Succulents make impressively rewarding houseplants, bringing many benefits to your indoor environment. They bring a sense of wellbeing and are one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all indoor plants. Succulents come in such great sculptural forms with added colour and texture that can brighten up any day.

With the challenges we have all been facing lately, as well as the stresses and strains of life, find your escape by surrounding yourself with amazing succulent plants.

Being surrounded by plants can greatly improve your mental and physical health as well as simply making you happy. What better ways are there to unwind than in your very own planted habitat? Having plants in your home can connect you back to nature, reward you with escapism and giving you a sense of place lowering your stress levels.

There are many reasons why succulents are one of the most popular and rewarding of all houseplants, their aesthetic beauty and low maintenance make them an obvious choice for any keen grower. As indoor plants, succulents are well known for their exceptionally low maintenance, from a succulent terrarium to a potted plant on a windowsill. They require truly little care and attention but reward you with out-of-this-world colour, form and beauty.

Caring for succulents indoors

Soil

Soil mix is very important for succulents, with your plants being indoors you want to grow your plants with a more open mix consisting of 50% peat-free soil and 50% grit or perlite. This nice open mix will allow the root system of the plants to become well oxygenated.

Why is it important to add grit or perlite into an indoor succulent soil mix?

Succulents need a good free draining soil mix to help encourage good strong root growth, adding 50% grit or perlite helps to open the soil and encourage the roots to develop stronger and deeper into the pot. Topdressing the top 2cm of your pots with grit or gravel will help to hold your plants away from the soil and give good aeration to the plant.

Indoor succulents soil mix

50% Peat free compost.

50% Horticultural grit or perlite.

2cm top layer of top-dressing, grit.

Trailing succulent, Othonna capensis

Feeding and watering

You can feed your plants in the growing season or if good light levels and warm temperatures are available then you can feed year-round. A good general feed can be used, or a slow-release fertiliser can be added to your soil mix.

Watering your plants its best to use pots with holes in the bottoms but if your pots do not have this, make sure you do not overwater and flood the plants. Succulents will benefit from a good watering as they are used to torrential downpours in habitat. Drench the soil and let it drain making sure that your plants are not sitting in water. Be sure to let your soil become completely dry before you next water. Overwatering and not allowing the soil to dry out between watering’s can suffocate the root system, so allowing the soil to dry out will oxygenate the roots encouraging strong healthy growth above and below.

A beautiful combination of three indoor succulents, Crassula ‘Buddhas temple’, Crassula ovata minima and Haworthia ‘OB1’

Indoor Light Levels

In general, succulents thrive in high light levels such as a south-facing windowsill or bright room. Some genera of succulents, Haworthia and some varieties of Crassula, can survive in lower light levels but, like all plants, may still need some form of natural light to grow.

There are a few varieties of Echeveria that can become elongated and lose their compact forms as they reach to find more natural light. If you can’t provide enough natural light then you can supplement this with grow lights, this will give you the ability to create a display anywhere in your home.

Succulents come in all shapes and sizes which include trailing house plants, so if you are looking for a small house plant or to create a stunning indoor planted display then succulents are the best house plants by far.

New to succulents? Then why not look at our succulent Gift Page where you can purchase these amazing plants in a kit form.

Want to learn more then check out our succulents care guide.

Succulents featured within the article, Haworthia limifolia ‘Variegata’, x Graptoveria ‘Titubans’ f. variegata, Crassula ‘Lucky Star’, x Graptoveria ‘Milky Way’, Aloe plicatilis, Aloe mitroformis ‘Special Form’.

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Haworthia Care Guide

Haworthia come in a fantastic range of unusual shapes and colours from s...

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Haworthia come in a fantastic range of unusual shapes and colours from spiralling formation to geometric sculptural forms. They are mainly slow-growing plants, most of which enjoy warmer temperatures and don’t require intense light, making them well suited to life indoors. The majority of the Haworthia growing season is in the wintertime. They come in a range of unique colours with many popular hybrids coming out of Asia.

Haworthia are native to South Africa where they can be found growing camouflaged in arid and rocky outcrops, they have adapted to survive in extreme heat with little water required. They are closely related to Gasteria and Aloe and often referred to as rock plant or crystal plants.

They grow in rocky outcrops to disguise themselves from animals, so not to be eaten for their moisture content. Due to this, Haworthia have the most impressively tall flower spikes, this is so they can attract pollinators without exposing their location to thirsty animals. They also have tiny flowers on their very thin flower spikes which are pollinated by flying insects.

Haworthia grow in the sweltering temperatures and will not tolerate frosts or cold weather so are best grown indoors or overwinter in a greenhouse.

Amazing

These plants can be impressive artistically sculptural in growth formation with the most fascinating features, of these being their translucency fleshy parts. Giving these plants the nickname window plants as you can literally look into the centres of the leaves and plants. Haworthia are a talking point in any collection, they are very photogenic for social media platforms with all of their exciting and unusual features.

Colour

One of the most enjoyable parts in growing Haworthia is the impressive range of colours you can achieve in your plants from different heat and light conditions. In low light, they can have a very lush appearance, whereas when grown in hot and intense light levels, they can take on a different array of colouration. There are even hybrids with golden metallic lines in the leaves that look electric.

There are many colourful variegated forms of these unusual plants, but due to the slow growth rates, they can command extremely high prices. The variegation can come in several colours from yellow to the highly collectable and rare pink and orange forms of many of these species.

Some Haworthia have a vast root system in comparison to the plant above. The roots can almost look like a hand made out of parsnips. With these large root systems, Haworthia are typically planted in ceramic pots as the root system can grow and reshape the pot when they run out of growing space.

In habitat, these plants grow very low in the ground with only the tips of the leaves visible, this isn’t necessary when potted as you can admire more of the plant when planted up higher.  

Growing tips

We use a grittier soil mix for all of our Haworthia, of 50 percent soil and 50 percent perlite and grit.

They will benefit from an extra thick layer of top-dress starting at the base of the plant.

You can feed them for faster growth rates, but it will have an influence on the colour with a lusher appearance.

Haworthia require very little water but make sure the soil is dry before its next watering, but water as you would with most succulents, drench the plant but avoid getting the crown of the plant wet.

If your plants look dehydrated, you can water more often or plant your Haworthia deeper into fresh substrate.

Happy plants will look full and plump with a shiny appearance.

Haworthia will enjoy feeding during their growing season.

Haworthia growers often trim the root system to encourage the plant to sprout more roots but be sure to let them heal before watering them. 

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Caring for succulents over winter

Succulents in Snow in Winter

There are many reasons succulents may suffer during the winter months but following these key points can help with the survival of your succulent plants in these challenging times.

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Succulents in Snow in Winter

Winter succulent care

There are many reasons succulents may suffer during the winter months but following these key points can help with the survival of your succulent plants in these challenging times.

Temperature

When the air temperature is set to drop below 5 °C, and a ground frost is likely, it’s essential to prepare your plants for winter conditions.

At this temperature, a light frost may damage the more tender succulents, and anything below freezing can potentially kill them, this is due to the amount of water stored in their leaves and stems. As water freezes it expands, this can burst the cell structure in the plant causing damage or even killing your plants.

Cold and wet succulents can be very unhappy whereas cold and dry plants can have better chances of survival, as this is more like the conditions of their natural dry habitat. 

Fleece

Wrapping your plants in horticultural fleece is vital for their survival, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. There are many different grades of horticultural fleece ranging from light frost to Heavy frost. We use and sell a specially created heavy horticultural fleece that is designed to protect down to -10. Wrapping your plants in horticultural fleece will help to trap in the warmth radiating from the ground giving your plant a protective environment a bit like wrapping yourself in a blanket. Another significant advantage of using the fleece is that it will help to keep the excessive rain off your plants preventing rotting during this cold, wet time of year.

This horticultural fleece is designed to still allow light and air movement to the plants by having an open weave.

Some essential jobs can be done to help prepare your plants for winter. Succulents can be affected by a multitude of things during the winter time. 

However, good housekeeping will give them the best chance of survival. Remove dead and dying leaves as these can potentially rot causing diseases and fungus to spread.

Moving your plants

You can also move your plants indoors to a greenhouse, porch or conservatory. If this isn’t possible, then there might be dry spots closer to your homes such as carports and lean to’s, roof overhangs or even microclimates in front of glass doors and windows. Here will not only be a warmer spot but will also help to keep the rain off your plants during this wetter part of the year.

Raising your succulents off the ground on to shelves and ledges will help to keep them away from ground frost, this is particularly crucial for unheated greenhouses. Elevating and wrapping your plants in fleece on benches is an excellent way of wintering your plants without having greenhouse heating.

You can also protect your outdoor succulents by covering them with some horticultural fleece, especially if you can’t move your plants when planted in the garden.

Top dressing

Adding a top dress layer to your pots or garden is an excellent way of stopping leaves and stems from rotting. A good thick layer 20 to 30mm of Cornish grit, gravel or stones will be plenty. Helping to hold your plants off and above the wet soil during the winter and help to keep them dryer as more air movement can get around the plant. Top dressing can also reflect light on to your plants.

It’s essential to ensure your succulents get as much light as possible during the winter if you choose to move them still try to give them plenty of sunlight.

Feeding

It’s not recommended to feed your plants over the winter as you want your plants to stop growing and run out of food by autumn. With less food available the plants stop growing, becoming more robust and hardier plants for wintering.

To recap

Protect your plants when night temperatures fall to 5°C and below.

Move your plants to a warmer or dryer location if possible.

Remove dead or dying leaves.

Use a good thick horticultural fleece and wrap your plants.

Use a good thick layer of top dress gravel to hold your plants off the wet soil.

Try to keep your plants in drier locations.

Do not feed your plants between autumn and spring.

Try to give your plants as much light as possible.

Ensure your plants get good air circulation.

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Surreal Succulents at RHS Malvern

Last year Surreal Succulents were excited to be exhibiting for the first time at the RHS shows. T...

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Last year Surreal Succulents were excited to be exhibiting for the first time at the RHS shows. This was a new challenge for us as we are new to showing plants at this level. We wanted to showcase the colour, texture and form and highlight how well they work in a garden setting together. We came up with a contemporary display garden theme that would suit any small space such as a yard, patio or balcony garden. With of course  its’s own Surreal Succulents style.

We decided to design and make some features for our show stand including our bespoke vertical succulent garden, succulent chaise longe and also corten steel planters. With a contemporary designer theme, we wanted to show how you can squeeze lots of plants into a small space.  Using existing walls or furniture with space for plants designed into it to take up as little room as possible.

We were delighted to be approached by BBC Gardener’s World as they wanted to do a feature on us preparing for the show and film the final display garden. This was fantastic news for us but the pressure was on.

Mark came up with the design of the vertical garden and succulent chaise lounge.  The succulent chaise lounge was inspired by the amazing repetitive patterns found in succulents and the design was certainly surreal. It was a concept piece that is actually comfier than it looks. We planted the head rest with Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ as these grow giant rosettes on the end of large upright stems, these looked like sun parasols. We also mounted multiple Aeonium tabuliforme vertically into the design.

The vertical garden was designed with the idea that if you only have a small wall space you can still enjoy a wonderful colourful succulent garden. We added some laser etched foot prints to make the design more surreal and add a different texture to the show piece. This was planted up with our Echeveria collection and looked amazing.

We then made and planted some large planters to show how a raised bed or a rockery/gravel garden might look when planted up with amazing succulents. Our feature plants were the Aloe polyphylla, Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’ , Aeonium ‘Velour’, Aeonium ‘Ice Warrior’ and Aeonium ‘Sunburst’.

Our large corten steel bowls were planted up with our Surreal Succulents hybrids and large Echeveria’s from our collection. These were a great edition to the stand, and were a massive hit with the visitors.

We finished the set up with only 10 minutes to spare, It looked amazing and we were so pleased with it. All the features worked well and the colours of the planters and wooden textures went really well with the plants.

The next morning we were met by the BBC producers and it was at this point we received our medal. A silver gilt, we were so happy and delighted as this was our first RHS silver gilt we had ever received. It was so nice to share this experience with the BBC team as they had met us before and filmed at the nursery to cover the feature, they were really rooting for us.

The show opened and we were filmed with the legendary Adam Frost, It was amazing to chat with him before filming. Adam said he had seen our feature covering our nursery and he really enjoyed it.

A short while later we also met Carol Klein who was very popular at the show. The floral Marquee soon filled and the atmosphere was buzzing. It was amazing watching the crowds of people taking pictures selfies and popping their pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

We felt a massive sense of achievement but the best bit was meeting all of you that visited the show. We loved everyone getting inspired by our garden and buying our succulents.

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How to Care for Aloe polyphylla

Aloe Polyphylla also commonly known as the Spiral Aloe. The Aloe Polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperature well below freezing making a perfect outdoor year round UK succulent.

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Aloe polyphylla also commonly known as the Spiral Aloe.

The Aloe polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperatures well below freezing. Making it a perfect outdoor all-year-round UK succulent.

The Aloe polyphylla is native to the Maluti mountains of Lesotho which is an area rich in minerals and high levels of winter snowfall, it is also the national plant of Lesotho.

The Aloe polyphylla breaks all the usual rules for keeping succulents. They are an incredibly thirsty and hungry plant that benefits from extra feeding and watering during the growing season. They respond by appreciating air to the root system and not drowning in water. This will cause their roots to rot, slowing down growth rates. To achieve a growing medium that will encourage root development, we use standard multipurpose compost at 55% then we add 35% of perlite and a further 10% grit to the mix. We also add a natural feed e.g. chicken muck.

As the Aloe grows, the bottom leaves of the Aloe polyphylla naturally dry out and die back. This process encourages new roots to develop, old leaves can be removed carefully by hand. When planting this succulent, it will benefit from being planted on a hump or mound. Angling the Aloe will encourage the water to run away from the leaves and to the root system.

  • To appreciate its beautiful growth form, angle the Aloe in the garden or pot and admire the beautiful spiralling crown.
  • One of the most unusual features of this Aloe is the fact that it can survive and thrive in temperatures well below freezing.
  • This succulent has impressive growth rates when happy.
  • The Aloe polyphylla is a hungry, thirsty plant and best kept outdoors.
  • The perfect UK outdoor succulent, hardy to -15°C (on mature specimens).
  • Plant in full sun on a mound and at an angle.
  • Use a free-draining soil mix and add a natural feed.

For more information view our product page. The Aloe polyphylla is incredibly popular so we can’t guarantee it will always be in stock. Sign-up to our newsletter to be kept up to date when products come back into stock.

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How to Care for Aeonium Tabuliforme

One of the most beautiful Aeonium species around, always drawing the attention at shows with it's...

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One of the most beautiful Aeonium species around, always drawing the attention at shows with it’s fascinating Fibonacci spiral and its compact and almost flat growing form.

The Aeonium tabuliforme is one of the more tender Aeoniums, it grows incredibly well outside but needs protection from frosts or ideally temperatures below 4°c. When planting this Aeonium it is best to slightly angle it so that water can freely run off from the crown (centre of the plant), it can even be planted vertically in walls and rockeries. In nature this plant can be found growing on the side of cliff faces so is well suited for vertical living.

This succulent is a great feature plant and will appreciate some shade but can tolerate full sun when planted at an angle. It also makes a great indoor house plant.

Plant in a good free draining soil mix, we feed our Aeonium tabuliformes in the spring so they can grow and shut down for the winter. Feeding less, leading into the winter months produces a tougher plant that has a higher chance of surviving the winter cold spells.

  • Use a good free draining soil mix.
  • Only feed in the spring.
  • Angle the plant so water can freely drain off from the centre of the plant.
  • The tabuliforme will tolerate shade making it a great house plant.
  • Protect from frost and freezing temperatures.
  • Doesn’t mind being pot bound.