Visiting Southern California is like being in an arboretum for houseplants. Much of the rest of the natural environment in the rest of the world does not support plants that Southern Californians can grow outdoors. Thankfully, those of us who don't live in a frost-free zone can enjoy many plant varieties indoors, that they can grow in their front yard.
I was visiting a cousin at her Los Angeles home and spotted this great specimen, in her yard, of a long-time favorite houseplant. It's called' hen and chicks' and that is because you usually find them potted up with a "hen" plant producing, right beside it, smaller "chicks", officially called basal offsets. This one is just about ready to show off its red flowers but I could not stay long enough to see its delightful flowers unfold.
These Mexican natives, botanically know as Echeveria secunda, have been sold as houseplants for years. These charming succulent rosettes with their dusty blue color are quite easy to grow, and that has made them quite desirable. In enough light, they should show a hint of red around the tips of their leaves and bloom for you, too.
There are several species of Echeveria available today and they all have the same care and are easy to grow, if they get direct sun indoors.
- Direct sun indoors. They will probably do with only an hour or so of direct sun but the more the better.
- Let them dry out a little below the soil line. If they sit dry for too long, they will begin to lose lower leaves. Even though they are succulent a thorough watering when necessary is best so that all of the roots are moistened.
- A plant is a 4" (10 cm) diameter pot should dry out slightly below the soil line, then water with about 1/2-3/4 cup, (enough so the water seeps through the bottom of the pot.)
- A plant in a 6" (15cm) diameter pot should dry out about 1/2"'-1" (about 2cm) below the soil line before watering with about a pint of water.
- Soil moisture meters for indoor plants were developed for measuring the moisture content of a houseplant's soil. There are several models available for sale on the market. For prickly cacti and succulents, that fill up most of the pot, it can be difficult to test the moisture level by feel and a moisture meter may be just the aid you need..
- Fertilize regularly for best growth and blooming.