Teach Children Succulent Gardening

This video has some great tips to teach children succulent gardening. It is an interesting interview packed with helpful suggestions.  You will also have fun teaching children to grow succulents.

How To Teach Children Succulent Gardening

What a spectacular garden.  I love cacti and succulents and that is just over the top beautiful.  And Richard Blocker is going to be coming to Austin for the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society show.  And he is going to be sitting right next to our next guest at that show.  And our next guest is Cindy Arredondo from Desert to Tropics.  It’s great to have you back to Central Texas Gardener.It is great to be here with you Tom.

Well, it’s always fun visiting about these plants.  They’re so cool and we’re putting a different spin on the succulents we’re going to be talking about today and that is these are kid-friendly succulents and then why kid-friendly.  I know that often parents are afraid of when you think of succulents you often think of needles.

Right, cactus and succulents are synonymous.   So people obviously protect their kids and they don’t want them going anywhere near anything that can hurt them right.  But these are fabulous varieties that will encourage them to not only touch them and feel them but to plant them and grow them.  And you couldn’t ask for more.

Well, and before we move on and start talking about the individual plants.  I do want to let people know that all these plants, or many of these plants, will be available at the show and sale coming up.  And you’re going to be there.  Richard’s going to be there.  That’s our moment about that because this to me, this is one of the most fun shows in Austin.

It is that the fall show and sale is really spectacular because you’ve got the center tables filled with show plants and you’ve got raffles and drawings.  And then you’ve got vendors from all over the country – Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas – coming together, Arizona, coming together with really amazing cacti and succulents for sale.  So if you want the ultimate selection this is the place to be Labor Day weekend.

It’s like aliens have come to visit Austin.  There were some of these plants so bizarre looking.

And seriously they look like they belong under the water, and there’s also pottery artisans there as well, so homegrown potter.

Well know people will really enjoy that, enjoy talking with you.  Again, our subjects are the kid-friendly varieties and we’re going to start off by taking a look at a flat of different plants.  What is the species that we’re looking at here?

Well speaking of alien those are Lithops and there’s multiple species in there.  Those are native to South Africa and kids love them. They grow low to the ground and, actually, in South Africa you would seldom see the top of the plant.  So inside the little lines and grooves are actually solar panels you could say.  So when a child holds it up to the sunshine they can see the light reflecting inside the plant.

So it’s great for the eye and then all the different ridges and valleys are great to touch and feel.  So kids really love those and they’re super low maintenance.

They’re just fun to look at it.  You say alien and I mean, really, these do look like they come from another planet but really fun forms and I think that’s one of the things that kids respond to.  I often want to go to the nurseries now I often see kids just staring at the succulent tables because of all the different forms.  It’s like I candy.

It really is and those in particular do not want to be watered.  They can be grouped together so you can have different colors, different sized ones and put them all together.   They flower yellow or white flowers, okay, which will really cover the entire top of the plant and then come about December.  So the seed pod will be an elephant grey diamond shape right there in the center and it opens up like a convertible whenever it gets wet.  So those are winter growers that you sprits them with a spritzer.   You don’t want to get the roots wet and the seed pod will open up allowing some seeds to get washed out and then close back up slowly.  So kids really get a kick out of watching.

Well we talked about forms and just next to me we have kind of a nice assortment of different kinds of forms of plants here.  And I’m just going to pull them some out and let you tell me about them.  This one is is super cool.  I love the crenellations in the leaves and also it’s kind got those little hairs on it, a soft fur like kind of surface to it.

It’s velvety smooth.  It’s native to Madagascar.  That is Kalanchoe beharensis and it gets tree like.  It does great indoors in a bright situation or outdoors in the shade.  Kids love them.  Again the leaves are really ruffly and the texture is velvety so perfect for kids. It’s a Kalanchoe.

Alright,  well, and we’re going to see some other Kalanchoes in a little bit that really have that same kind of velveteen quality if you will.  That’s a great way to describe it, but you said tree like.

It will be.  It grows upright; it branches out so almost a mini tree mini bush.  Some people have told me that they grow them in their home in a bright living room and they’re just amazed at how well it does and sturdy.

I’m pulling out some of these plants.  I want you to tell me what your favorite potting mix is you know.  I look at these and what I would do if I was taking it home is get some regular potting soil and cut that like fifty percent was some kind of mineral sand or something like that.

What my husband Jay has done over the last several years what I call the Colonel’s secret recipe, he’s got a blend that’s just phenomenal.  He takes a base of rose mix out of the natural gardener okay and then he will actually cut that with crushed granite or coarse sand and then add Haydite which is expanded shale, okay, and when he makes the mix it’ll be basically, maybe a third a third a third.  Then he grabs a handful, lets it go and if it crumbles just ever so slightly on the edge it’s ready to go; it’s good.  But if it holds together, add a little something to to loosen it up and if it falls away too much add a little more to loosen it up.

Well this is another one which has kind of, if you look up closely, it has again that kind of hairy little quality.  Not quite as velvety as the other but its heading in that direction.

It is and that is Sempervivum, Raspberry Ice.  Sempervivum means ever living and so that is one, also known as a Hen and Chicks, and as it grows it will fill into the pot it’ll spread over the edges.  So you can grow it as a basket you; can grow it as a container specimen.  They are native to Europe and very touch friendly.  What’s great about that is in the spring and in the fall when we have our warm days and our cool night it pops out this beautiful magenta pink color along the edges.  Now, with the heat of summer, it’s turned green and it’s just it’s enjoying itself but very vivid and cool to the eye for children.

A lot of succulents respond to cool weather by taking on pretty colors which is something that people don’t often think of.

No they look great in stress.  I wish I had the same problem.

Well this one has a little bit of variation in the color on the foliage this is a little Jade Plant a Crassula.

It is a Crassula ovate.  It’s a Jade, it’s the ‘Crosby’ variety known as a ‘Crosby Jade’ and yes it gets that beautiful red red Ridge around the edge and great indoor plant. Kids love them again because of the color. Parents love them because you don’t have to water them. You can have living art inside with these you know with these plants.

Well this is, this is really beautiful I’ve always loved the Jade Plants and you know when you get these really little fine leaves though and there’s something about that that is just very appealing and I could see why children find it so appealing and childlike and the scale and eye appeal I guess.

It is its gentle and it’s sturdy. I mean you see that the delicate leaves that are actually sturdier than they look and the stems or just husky little guys and they’re just holding everything together.

Yeah you have the stem thing saying yeah very cool. Now I have always loved these and I always forget the name. It’s almost Aloe looking but it’s like a cross between an Aloe and a Sansevieria.

Okay exactly. If you feel the leaves its thin and some that feels like that Sansevieria. It’s a Gasteria hybrid and clusters freely. A slower grower than average, but a great window plant. So as a child wants to have his own a few plants in his room that don’t require high light right the Gasterias, Haworthias and plants like this perfect for them.

Yeah I just think this is the coolest looking thing and you know there are so many different variants on the forms on this particular plant that I’ve seen over the years. I just really love that one.

And even a light little different texture on each of them some are smooth some I mean more rigid and so again it offers that texture that right I mean kids love to touch things with their fingers right and these are plants that welcome it.

And kids like to play jokes on people too and speaking of which I’m holding a plant that some people call Carrion Flower because the scent of the the bloom is not particularly pleasant.

It is the kiss of death. It is a beautiful flower from afar for sure and the hairs are scary up close a little scary up close. Flies adore it but if yeah if your kids are anything like my kids they love to play tricks. And so whenever these are in bloom guests will come over and “Oh what a beautiful flower.” My son Jared will say “Oh smell it.” And they will go and smell it and make some of the best faces of just being repulsed. But a beautiful flower and really easy to care for. Great for fly control even. So yeah I’ve got horses. Put them out by the barn and the flies go to those to pollinate them and they stay away from other places.

Well there you go multitasking.

Multitasking and an interesting form for the plant when it’s not in bloom as well. It’s a very attractive and again child friendly no spines.

No spines. It may look like it from afar but if you get up close it’s smooth. And some of the variations of the Stapelias which are also native to South Africa do have a light little hair to them so you good texture again.

Right now I’m gonna skip around a little bit because we were running out of time and we have so many cool things to talk about. But you a little while ago we mentioned Kalanchoes with the Velveteen quality. We had three actually four different varieties right here and tell me a little bit about these because I just love the variation. Almost look like animal ears or something.

They do and this one is known as Panda Ears so definitely Kalanchoe tomentosa and this is another variety of tomentosa. There known as the ‘Chocolate Soldier’.

I can see why they call it chocolate because it’s got that really warm quality to it.

It is and with more sunlight it gets a little bit bronzer or more bronze and so it looks spectacular that the light hits the velvety leaves and so you get different a different look from every angle and again kids love to touch them. Really easy for them to grow. They do well inside or out and if a leaf falls off which is always inevitable yeah these guys will put out roots directly from their leaves and a child can easily you know settle that into the soil and out pops a new plant.

That’s delightful for young child.

It’s a science experiment you can do at home and really get a kick out of and propagate.

Now we only can have a few seconds to talk about this but I just think so cute. It’s your favorite I’m glad I pulled it out and it has an appropriate name.

It is Cub’s Paw, it’s a Cotyledon and it looks like a little bear just fighting his way to the sunshine and children love bears and they love furry plants. So this little furry
guy is definitely perfect.

I could see the name being perfectly appropriate and again you’re going to be at the Cactus and Succulent Society show on September fourth, fifth and sixth.

Definitely we will be there with bells on and encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the show and browse and turn your gigabytes into mega giggles or turn your megabytes into mega giggles.

Right, well, Cindy Arredondo again from Desert to Tropics thanks for being with us. Thank you, Tom. All right coming up next…

Both people in this video have given some wonderful tips and advice to teach children succulent gardening. Children love learning to garden and they also love succulents. It is never too early to get them started.

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