Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Gardening under lights

The weekend before last I spent with my friends Erin and Matt up in Seattle. I've known these two since, oh 1994? Good lord, that's almost 25 years!? I must be figuring wrong (quick math and I realize no, I'm not figuring wrong, I'm just old). Anyway...since I had last visited (Nov 2017) Matt has become a little obsessed with succulents. I'd gotten email updates from Erin but this was my first chance to actually see the collection in person, they did not disappoint...

Mangave 'Bloodspot'

Since the wet season in the PNW was fast approaching these all had returned to the house, I understand many of them summered outdoors, on the patio (sounds familiar).

Mangave 'Lavender Lady'

Echeveria subrigida

Echeveria 'Autumn Flame'

Matt has bought a few of these plants in person, but many of them have been mail-ordered. I'm in awe of how good they look. I asked if he has any recommendations, a vendor he really likes, Leaf & Clay fits that bill. He's had mixed results with plants from Esty and Ebay, but Leaf & Clay ships quality plants well. Of course I should also share that he said some best purchases he's made came from Etsy and Ebay so you never know.

Agave 'Blue Ember'
This one was bought as Aloe striata, but Matt says he wonders if that's actually correct. I don't currently have A. striata but I remember when I did the small (immature) plants didn't look quite like this. Whatever this is though, it's beautiful.

Prior to becoming a succulent-lover Matt raised and bred reptiles. Their exacting needs prepped him well for taking care of plants. I'm in awe of how well tended everything is. My poor plants only wish they might be treated this well.

Haworthia venosa tessellata, in the front there. Look at those reptile-like scales and that color! (I did find this one on Leaf & Clay, but it's green, not that fabulously stressed color)

Here's where I should admit the title of this post was unintentionally borrowed from a Timber Press book Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers, by Leslie F. Halleck. I haven't read it — I don't think my brain has the room to absorb the details — but Matt has obviously researched lighting and made some beautiful choices.

There were a few plants I briefly considered packing up in my bag before I headed for home...

Echeveria 'Blue Heron' (variegated) was one of them...wow!

This little guy had a similar "wow" factor going on, but then I wondered if what I initially thought was variegation might actually be sunburn? I didn't ask...but lord knows it's happened to my plants more often than I care to admit.

This, like so many of the plants, perfection!

Echeveria 'Afterglow' (I have a horrible memory of friends who'd had a little too much to drink rubbing the powdery glow off my 'Afterglow'...)

This small table and light combo is where it all started, just a year ago. How the collection has grown...(I wonder what the next year will bring?).

One more cutie before we leave the plant room, Canis domesticus 'Lucy'...

A few of the early plants have gotten kicked out from under the lights and made a home on window sills around the house.

Crassula "Moonglow"

These stylish matching pots were traded in for the terracotta you saw earlier.

Glazed pots keep the soil so much wetter, I often wonder how much happier my plants would be if I'd never said "au revoir" to terracotta?

Since we're here I wanted to share a couple of phone-photos from Erin's garden. My basement green-wall was still forefront in my mind when I saw this bamboo screen and the Cotoneaster growing through it. Doesn't it look like a few really green Tillandsia were mounted on the screen? And check out that monster huge Eucomis flower...

Out in the front garden the Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather' is looking elegant indeed, and the Yucca aloifolia 'Purpurea' brings out the purple tones in the Eupatorium's blooms.

And check this out! PKW's be damned (*), those are some fabulous Halloween-esque seed pods from what must have been spectacular summer Phormium flowers...

*PKW = Phormium Killing Winter, the years 2008/09 and 2009/10 when virtually every Phormium in the PNW melted into a rotting clump. The years 2013/14 and 2016/17 were similar. Phrase coined by The Outlaw Gardener and not yet copyrighted.

Weather Diary, Oct 29: Hi 58, Low 46/ Precip .05"

All material © 2009-2018 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. That is an impressive collection of succulents, all beautifully tended. When I saw that Eucomis photo on Instagram, I started to wonder if I should grow my Eucomis in pots. I know technically they're hardy here, but mine always seem to decline once they're in the ground. I wonder if they would do better in pots.

    1. That's a good question, her's seem to bloom every year, whereas mine haven't bloomed in quite awhile. Maybe I'll try it too.

  2. Gorgeous, gorgeous specimens. New-to-me Echeveria 'Blue Heron' is now on my wish list. I think the coloration of the second Echeveria you considered pilfering is natural - I remember seeing the plant down this way once.

  3. Lucy is as cute as the Matt's collection is impressive! I would have been tempted to pack up Echeveria 'Blue Heron' too. Matt is obviously very attentive to these happy and healthy specimens. There's a big debate happening on one of the cactus and succulent sights about terracotta vs. plastic or glazed pots with compelling arguements on both sides. I thought you came up with PKW...but then I'm old and forgetful:)

    1. Oops, sites, not sights.

    2. When do you have time to keep on container debates, oh man of several jobs and a huge garden? And nope, PKW was all you...

  4. These are like a little C&S show put on just for special guests; thanks to your friends for inviting you to include us! My favorite kept changing as I scrolled on, but that 'Afterglow' is hard to put out of mind.

    If glazed pots are problematic for some succulents, it seems like an opportunity for someone to come out with terracotta pots in stylish shapes, that can be painted with milk paint or the like to offer different colors while keeping the containers porous. But they can't be such an issue; all the show specimens appear to be grown in glazed pots. Or are they grown in terracotta and transferred to fancy containers at some point ahead of the shows?

    1. Yes!!! That's it exactly, a little C&S show, thanks Nell.

      I can't speak to the show specimens, but my personal experience with the succulents on the patio here is that terracotta provides so much more drainage than glazed. One the soil in the glazed pots is soaked it takes forever to dry out. Something I worry about this time of year when I'm racing to get things undercover before huge quantities of rain falls. Then again in the summer months (when it's in the 90's and we haven't had any rain for weeks) the glazed pots keep the plants happier than terracotta would. My choice was made on aesthetics, I like the color glazed provides.

  5. I've never had much luck with Crassulas but 'Moonglow' surely is lustworthy. Was it your influencethat started your friends down this path? Must have been a fun time, comparing notes.

  6. Wow, impressive collection. I think he caught the bug and good! ;)
    Crassula 'Moonglow' is wonderful!

    1. Indeed! I can't wait to see where this goes.

  7. Oh, I must have Echeveria 'Autumn Flame' . The search commences.

    1. Good luck! I'll definitely be looking for myself here locally.

  8. What a beautiful collection! And they all look so healthy. Thanks for sharing photos of these beauties!

  9. A beautiful collection, beautifully grown, too. Lucy is lovable!

    The Aloe "striata" is a striata hybrid commonly sold in So Cal and mistakenly labeled as striata. The real striata has no marginal teeth.

  10. The possibly sunburned echeveria, is that an e.chroma? Also I never replied and said thank you for the advice! Everything is still living!


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