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Gardening with Mother Evelyn: Three succulent families you should become acquainted with

I’d like you to introduce you to three of my favorite succulent families.

Meet the Kalanchoe family

What a wonderful big family, originating from various parts of Africa. There’s the pretty blooming kalanchoe that everyone knows — it’s our favorite tough-as-nails blooming plant. That’s just the beginning.

Who can resist kalanchoes with names like Fang, Pen Wiper, Panda, Flap Jack, Mother of Thousands, and Butterfly Wings? All those nicknames describe the array of different looks. You can call them kalan-cho-ee or ka-lan-cho — either way, call them one of my favorites.

Exotic Echeveria

The most exotic, unusual and beautiful of succulents, with big, fancy colorful heads. There are varieties like After Glow in shades of lavender, blue and pink.

Some come in shades of red, or choose the ones with weird warty growths on the leaves. There are lots more echeverias, and all have attractive low pinwheel rosettes of leaves, many with colorful tips for an accent. Great in combinations or in the ground. Pretty flowers, too. Native to the Americas, they grow in summer and rest in the winter.

Debra Lee Baldwin, the featured speaker at Weidner’s Gardens on April 18, our all day Succulent Event, offers these tips:

• When your echeveria grows a tall ugly stem, double your supply by cutting off the pretty head about 2 inches below the leaves. Set in an empty pot so that the leaves rest on the rim. Leave in shade for a few weeks, and you will soon have a cluster of roots.

• Don’t throw away the ugly stem; put that nearby and watch for babies coming out of that old stem. Great experiment for schoolchildren, too.

Sedum

I have never seen a sedum I didn’t love!

Sedums shine as that essential filler plant that spills over the sides and down in combinations. Sedums also make a ground cover. Find tiny sedums in miniature gardens or nestled in your rock garden; they’re perfect for your succulent wreath, like the familiar Burro’s Tail. Make a mixed sedum carpet design in a low container. Want a big sedum? Try out that fall bloomer called Autumn Joy that gets almost two feet of foliage and flowers.

So many succulents to choose from, but how on earth does one make a succulent landscape look “wow” instead of hodgepodge?

Jeff Moore, from Solana Succulents, to the rescue. He’s speaking at 2 p.m. at the April 18 Weidner’s succulent event. For details go to www.weidners.com, under events and classes.

Some extra hints:

• Rabbit problems? Plant Plectranthus Fuzzy Wuzzy. It’s a pretty and effective barrier for rabbit control. They hate the smell.

• Gophers in your garden? Try some gopher spurge. Sometimes it works; other times it doesn’t. I had luck with electronic probes. My friend said his gophers just laughed at it. He now has a very fat cat!


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