Monday, November 23, 2009

In Praise of Succulents: Jade Plant Edition

Due to the events mentioned in my last post, I have been unable to give my houseplants my full attention for the past couple of weeks. As a result, there have been a few problems, including, ::sob:: the loss of my original Hedera helix plant, my absolute favorite. (You can read about it, and see its former beauty here.) Somehow, I must have skipped over it during watering, probably more than once, and yesterday I discovered a dry brittle mess that most likely cannot be salvaged.

Well, there was much wailing, cursing and gnashing of teeth, during which the lament “Why can’t all houseplants be like succulents?” was repeated more than once. I mean, if I miss watering one of those once or twice, it is no big deal.

I managed to calm down, remembering that my dentist had warned me of the dire consequences of the gnashing of teeth during my last check-up. While I definitely wouldn't want to have a plant collection consisting solely of succulents, I do love them. And it really is in times like this that I really appreciate the durability and beauty of my Jade plants (Crassula spp.)

Crassula ovata

Different view of the same plant, showing more of its structure. I've had this plant for several years, maybe since 2001. It is one of the few succulents that I grew in my New York area apartment, which was bright, but didn't get direct sun in mid-winter.

Crassula arborescens and Crassula ovata variegata

Crassula ovata 'Gollum'

I think my favorite Jade Plant is my Crassula ovata 'Gollum' grown from cuttings received from a generous Garden Web poster in the summer of 2003. I've pruned this over the years to give it a pleasing shape, otherwise it would be a much larger plant. In spring 2008 nature decided to do some pruning of its own when the wind knocked my plant off the back stoop. It took more than a year of allowing the plant to grow unchecked before I was able to re-prune it into a shape I found pleasing, in late summer 2009.


Ivynettle said...

I was never too fond of Crassula. Never liked succulents much anyway, and the Crassulas at work always got so top-heavy they kept tumbling off the tables, and if they didn't do that, it was a sign they'd been kept too wet, so that the pot was heavy with water, and then the roots rotted, and the plants fell out of the pots. ;)
Though once it's a really big plant, they look kind of good...

Becky said...

I obviously could learn a lot about keeping Jade plants from you. Your plants are so robust and lovely. I'll be watching for a post on how you do it!