Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants


Tis amazing what a little “spring cleaning” will do for one’s spirits. Today was gorgeous and sunny out, and nurserywork was a welcomed gig. Later on in the evening I found myself looking through old plant photos, dreaming of the season ahead. It’s really exciting to think we’ll be outside gardening on the regular in only a few more months. One can dream I suppose, counting the days as per usual…

For the moment I am left with my thoughts, my plants and a computer loaded with photos. Upon further investigation I came across a series of bottled succulents that sparked a past interest. I love junk hunting and for reasons I’m unaware of antique and strange glassware always seemed particularly interesting. While I’ve curbed the habit as of late (there simply isn’t enough space) I used to really enjoy growing succulents in bottles. I love terrariums and planting succulents in glass seems to give them a strange authenticity. It’s as simple as finding a neat bottle, carefully filling it with soil and dropping in some of your favorite succulent cuttings. The ease of propagation of these species is unmatched and the cuttings are almost always successful. For less then 10 dollars you can make a great gift that almost anyone can appreciate. Who could hate a plant that needs so little care. Planting a succulent in a sealed bottle adds even greater ease of growth, the plant practically takes care of itself.

While you’re at it you might as well create yourself a couple nice succulent frames as well. With less carpentry skill then a grade 3 shop class, anyone should be able to build a simple wood frame. From there tack in some chicken wire, tuck in some soil and spagnum moss, and load with as many succulents as possible. Give it a couple weeks to root horizontally and then hang it where you please. By far one of the neatest succulent projects you can do and it shouldn’t take longer then an afternoon.

Now that you have your jars filled with echeverias, and you’ve framed up some sedums and sempervivum. What are you going to do with the rest of your wheel barrel full of succulent shapnal. Easy, succulent pots!  Simply sprinkle the remains of any sedum on top of soil, and roots will grow within a week or less. Within a couple months they should look something like this.

What do you do with your left over succulent cuttings?

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time you’d probably agree with me when I say I shouldn’t collect anymore plants this season. As it stands I have over 130+ potted plants indoors, 50+ large tropical specimens at the  greenhouse, and a garden that is so over filled it’s bordering on insane. Still when I was invited to view a local cacti collector’s private stash I couldn’t resist myself. Her collection was impressive and a real treat for a sun starved plant geek in November. With the potential of moving leering overhead she wanted to thin out her collection a bit and was willing to pass along some obscurities.  We ended up chatting for a couple hours, touring her various growing areas, and I left with some really great specimens.

Left to right: Sinningia leucotricha, Gasteria NOID ,Hemanthus albiflos, Echinops NOID, Rubutia muscula,
Astrophytum NOID and a Monadenium ritchiei

Sinningia leucotricha is an interesting velvet leafed plant from Brazil that forms a caudex-like woody tuber.  After this photo I replanted it in a nice new terracotta pot and exposed the tuber. It looks great, and I look forward to watching it do it thing further. More info to follow

Quite an interesting Gasteria specimen, it’s leaves textures remind me of snowflake obsidan.  Anyone know it’s species name?

A large flowering sized Haemanthus albiflos.

A small Echinops (white / pink flowers)

Rubutia muscula. What awesome little fuzzy orbs.

Monadenium ritchiei Another euphorbia oddity to the collection.

While I already have a small specimen of this, I couldn’t resist. This is one of largest Disocactus flagelliformis I’ve ever seen. Hoping to take some cuttings and do a small run of these next spring. Simply amazing!

Selenicereus grandiflorus otherwise known as a Queen of the Night Cactus.

What fun! I’ve jigsawed them into the collection and they look great. I’m looking forward to seeing them thrive come spring and summer.

Thank You Linda !

Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.