Growlight On: Portulacaria Afra (Elephant Bush)

|| Flashing Lights || Sirens || Manically Waving Coloured Flags || Loud Speaker Turned On Full Volume || Oh yeah, that's right: New Succulent Alert! ||

Yes, folks, after repeatedly trying (and failing) to save my Caladrina, I gave up. Its four wilting leaves and bending 20cm stalk (thanks, stretching) just couldn't be saved from the big old plant heaven in the sky.

So, of course, I then had a free pot. Having just submitted an essay at university, I decided to treat myself to a brand new plant from a gift shop on Bold Street (Liverpool) called Mi Vida. Shout out to this heavenly shop: everything they do is gorgeous!

So, drum roll please: Let me introduce you to my brand new baby: Portulacaria Afra or Elephant Bush as it's more commonly known.

Ta Dah! Beautiful, isn't it?

I've done a bit research, and apparently this is a fast growing plant, so I'm excited to see progress pretty soon! I reckon the cuttings from this plant will be a regular occurrence. It's already had a few branches trimmed by a previous owner so it's obviously resilient. It was parched when I bought it, so I gave it a good soak and repotted it in a terracotta pot with cacti soil, plus perlite and gravel. Fingers crossed it likes its new home.

The Elephant Bush is regularly grown into a bonsai tree and I've been interested to find out more about this - while I don't think I have the patience to truly commit to making this succulent a tiny tree, I think I'm going to try and prune him into a somewhat tree shape. It's amazing how resilient succulents are and how quickly the replace what's lost of their foliage - that's part of the reason I'm so in awe with them, and other plants.

Is anyone else the proud owner of an Elephant Bush? What are your tips for looking after them?

Succulents Newsflash: Haworthia Cymbiformis and Mammillaria Bombycina

A few weeks back I visited RHS Wisley, and had a nose at their incredible display of dry temperate plants which included more cacti and succulents than I'd ever seen in my life. After this succulent-heaven (that's not a joke), I paid a visit to the Plant Centre next door and bought some new plants for myself, as well as some new fancy pots.

I've been traipsing back and forth from Hampshire to Liverpool this Easter Holidays, so I hadn't had the opportunity to add the plants to my collection up in the North. Finally though, FINALLY, I've got my two new babies up in one piece via car this week, and I've topped up their soil and integrated them with the other plants.

The two new plants are Haworthia Cymbiformis (from South Africa) and Mammillaria Bombycina (from Mexico). They're small and a little hassled but seem to be enjoying the Scouse Sunshine at the moment. The new pots were £8.99 from the plant centre, and came with drainage holes and cute little saucers in the same pattern as the pot. They're much posher than my 70p ASDA terracotta pots, but the contrast makes it all quite niche. 

Right now, both the plants are out in the afternoon sun with the other plants, but I think at night I will pop them on my bedside table to show them off a bit. 

The Mammillaria Bombycina was complete 'agg' to repot. The spikes are hooked so they snag at your skin (I didn't have any gloves up in Liverpool) and it hurts like hell to pull them out. Hopefully won't be needing to touch it for a while!

This is my first Haworthia and I'm a little nervous about keeping it happy. I use a grow light regularly and I'm terrified of burning the leaves as I've heard they only like indirect sunlight and partial shade. I'll try and keep him to the edge of the light, but I'll just have to experiment and get back to you!

This post has been a bit rushed, I admit, and I'm sorry about that. My dissertation deadline is looming and while I'm trying to find anything to do except work on it, I can't spend too long on the blog - give me 30 and a bit days and I'll be all yours.

Greenlight on: Sedum Adolphi

Lying in bed last night, I was trying to think what would be a good regular feature for this blog. I wanted to do a kind of 'spotlight' on singular plants, but I have a unreasonable hatred of the word spotlight so I tried to be clever and come up with something plant-related. To no avail - this title sounds awful and I think I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board with it. Watch this space for more terrible, failed puns. 

Anyway, here goes, my first "Greenlight" (name pending): Sedum Adolphi

This plant can grooow: rescued from a Prince's Garden Centre last summer, where it was shrivelling up into a dry mess, I originally struggled to get it to thrive. Whatever I threw at it it just withered more. After a quick search of the internet, I came across the hallowed ground for succulent and cacti care - the /r/succulents Reddit thread. If you haven't been on it yet then go go go! It's so useful if you're concerned about a plant, want an ID, or just want to show off. People normally reply to posts within a day, giving you surplus opinions on what to do to save your babies.

Back then to Summer 2016 and my shrivelling Sedum Adolphi. I posted a photo on Reddit and got back a definitive answer: 'water it you dumb-ass'. I had been watering it, but gently and fearful of rot. On second advice taken from my Nana, I soaked the plant overnight in it's pot and then repotted it the next day and crossed my fingers.

Thankfully, the good soaking worked. Within a few days this plant looked incredible and since then it's been growing good. The broken leaf you can see was my fault (don't ask) but this week I noticed some little pups growing on the lower stem which is mega exciting.

The plant was labelled Sedum Adolphi when I bought it, but I'm still not 100 per cent convinced it's a correct ID. Looking at photos of other Adolphis online, I think mine is altogether more green (when when I counter in exposure to sunlight). However, it fits most of the other characteristics - if you think you have a better idea, comment or send me a message!

Like I said, it's mostly green but when exposed to lots of sun it takes on a paler colour, with slight reddened tips. It's really hardy - can take a good lot of water without too much risk and always looks incredibly healthy. If you're looking for a 'starter' succulent I would recommend one of these: people often say jades are hard to kill but I've had the opposite. My jade is constantly on the cusp of death where as this little plant has been through thick and thin and still looks beautiful.