Growing my Favorite Plants and Loving It!

I’ve been fascinated by succulent plants, including Sedum, Sempervivum and tender succulents, for decades. That makes it sound as though I’m really old, but I started young – in fact I was about eleven years old when I had my first succulent encounter.

I was hooked, and never lost that fascination.

My Sedum and Succulent Nursery

Even before it became the latest fad, I was xeriscaping; using drought tolerant plants in unique planting combinations, and designing and building xeric gardens.

My new obsession is Jovibarba heuffelii and all the other Jovibarba species, and lately, it’s been that fascinating little gem from Chile, Viola cotyledon.

Now I have my very own Sedum and succulent plant nursery under the umbrella of Blue Fox Farm.

Up until June 2013, I sold many of the lovely plants that I grow via mail order to gardeners across Canada; now the online plant business is sold to a well established grower in Ontario who will continue to offer many of the same plants in addition to their existing line of tender succulents.

My Sedum and Succulent Nursery
My Sedum and Succulent Nursery

An online plant nursery is sometimes the only way to get specialty plants to add to your collection; luckily, there are now many of these, run by equally as enthralled growers and nursery owners.

Joining clubs is a fantastic way to meet other plant fanatics, and membership in Alpine Garden Club of B.C. or others like it in your area gives you an opportunity to exchange seeds and plants in your area of interest.

Growing plants for sale and gardening in general has become the fastest growing interest in older generations.

Having a Horticultural Crisis?

The Horticulturist is IN…

Let me answer your question about growing plants, their pests and diseases,

or any other plant or garden related issue. Click on the picture of the icky bug.

The baby boomers have discovered how fun, and how profitable gardening can be.

I, along with many others in my generation, enjoy using the knowledge that I’ve accumulated, especially over the years since I took my training at Fraser Valley College in Chilliwack, British Columbia to be a horticulturist.

In neat rows, the Sempervivum in their kraft paper flats thrive
In neat rows, the Sempervivum in their kraft paper flats thrive

The ground is mulched with recycled carpet – no trees grow through it, and weeds don’t germinate on it. 

It’s easy to rake the debris off it, plus it gives old wall-to-wall carpeting another use.

Under the carpet is lumber wrap, used for wrapping lumber in transit to keep it clean. 

Ask at your local lumber yard – they’ll be glad to get it off their hands.

160 varieties of Sempervivum
160 varieties of Sempervivum

The soil is Sunshine Mix #4, with some steer manure mixed in.  Each variety has a label so they don’t get too mixed up – ‘grave jumpers’ are those that root into an adjacent flat.

Indulging in my Passion

If you have an obsession with succulent plants, you have already found out how difficult it is to pass up a cutting from a friend, a tiny potted plant begging for a new home in the box store, or a dish garden at your local garden center.

Unfortunately, I don’t live near a major center; I’ve found out how uncommon these lovely plants are via the internet, especially in Canada, and the restrictions on importing plants from other countries are prohibitive.

That was the spur for me to make my ever growing collection of SedumSempervivum, tender succulent plants and Echeveria available to other Canadian collectors and gardeners by selling mail order plants.

I grow all the hardy plants outside all year, except occasionally when rooting cuttings which may be done in the greenhouse.

The climate here is warm in the summer months, and usually cold and snowy from November to about mid April. All the Sedum, Sempervivum, Jovibarba and thyme are cold hardy to at least Zone 5 on the Canadian zone map.

Tender succulent plants such as Echeveria AloeHaworthia and others that originate in warmer climates are grown in the greenhouse in the summer, where they enjoy the warmth and bright light.

I usually start moving them from their winter quarters about the end of May, and move them back into the house for the winter as soon as the nights become cool and frost threatens in September.

In many cases, the hardy plants are grown in flats or pots, or planted right in landscaped garden beds for others to see them displayed in their preferred conditions, and as stock plants for taking cuttings from.

I have to admit, the propagation aspect of owning my own nursery is a large part of its appeal to me.

The most important feature of any self respecting nursery is the Greenhouse..
The most important feature of any self respecting nursery is the Greenhouse..

I love to take cuttings, make them root and grow into beautiful healthy young plants; seeing a single leaf make roots and a new plant is always a miracle, no matter how many times I see it happen.

I’ve started growing many of the tender succulent plants directly in an open communal flat, and selling the resulting larger plants bare root.

I also grow many of the Sempervivum this way, if they’re not planted in some of the many succulent crafts that I so enjoy making.

Ways My Micro Nursery is Friendly to the Environment

  • I use absolutely no chemicals in my nursery. I feel it’s very important to protect any land we may be fortunate enough to have stewardship over.
  • I use only natural and organic methods of fertilizing my plants – either adding steer manure or compost to the planting beds, adding worm castings to pots of succulents, or watering with compost tea.
  • I sometimes add micorrhizae to the soil for better nutrient absorption by the roots.
  • I use sustainable gardening methods of plant culture, more and more every year, including water capture for irrigation purposes.
  • I re-use all my plastic plant containers and plug trays until they fall apart, then take them to be recycled.

It’s been fascinating to build my Sedum and succulent plant nursery, and I’ve learned so many interesting things about plants, how they grow and their many uses in xeric gardens.