Sandy's Garden ... Is it Echeveria? Is it ever
For several years, a succulent plant has occupied an unobtrusive location on the tiles of our now largely-ornamental hearth.
Our recollection is that the plant carried little pink flowers when it first arrived in our home but we are far from clear about this. Equally, we cannot remember whether the plant was a gift or whether we may have bought it on impulse if it caught our eye in a garden centre display.
Whatever, there have certainly been no flowers for several twelvemonths, the plant’s spearhead-shaped, slightly glossy, brown-tipped, light green, succulent leaves having sufficed to warrant it being allowed to occupy a small, unobtrusive space.
However, in recent times it has begun to ‘crawl’ out of its pot, spilling over to one side like a caterpillar making good its escape.
No longer particularly attractive, it was about to be consigned to the garden waste bin when sentiment intervened. It had never done us any harm; it had shared our home for years; we had quite liked it when it was young and pretty; surely it deserved some little consideration in its old age, even if we didn’t know its name?
So, it found itself transferred to fresh compost in a larger pot, fed, well-watered and propped up, for we think it was always meant to be an upright plant rather than a recumbent one and both Ailsa and I are grateful for the assistance of walking sticks to aid our uprightness from time to time. And, having bestowed some rare attention on it, we wondered what it is.
I turned to a book which has rested on my shelves for many years – ‘The Indoor Plant Spotter’ by Dr D.G. Hessayon.
I came to the conclusion our ‘mystery’ plant is almost certainly an echeveria, one member of what Wikipedia describes as “one of the most well-known succulents".
I have admitted to having no knowledge of succulents … and ‘super easy to take care of’ … yes, that tallies with the lack of care afforded to ours. And what about its ‘caterpillar’ tendency?
Sure enough, it turns out that an echeveria which becomes leggy with elongated growth has had inadequate light - and that tallies with having been parked in an unobtrusive location on the hearth tiles. So, it’s an echeveria.
This makes it a member of a family of rose-shaped succulents native to semi-desert areas of Central America, Mexico and north-western South America. Because of their charming leaves' structure (tick), echeverias are popular houseplants. Unless they receive direct sunlight at least 4-5 hours every day. they will elongate to reach towards the closest source of light.
They will flower better if they are put outdoors during summer month, being thoroughly watered … preferably from below ... when their soil is dry to the touch. The family Echeveria is named after Atanasio Echeveria y Godoy, an eighteenth-century Mexican botanical illustrator and there are upwards of 150 species in the genus, so
I am not even going to try to identify which species ours is. But it pleases me to be assured that it … of whatever variety … will enjoy a holiday in our garden during what may turn out to be its final months.