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by Cromwell
(Moscow, ID, USA)


This is a common-ish looking plant, looking like one of the several pictured ion this site, but I’m not sure which one it is, which I think may be affecting my means to care for it (especially with watering) as leaves are slowly but surely dying.

I bought it at a little fair, and it was planted in this rock (pictured), which seems to be like pumas rock.

The leaves are all a slightly deep green color, no purples or reds.

Also, in the year that I’ve owned it, it has sprouted up two tiny ‘baby’ shoots from beneath the soil, which have air roots coming from their stalks. I’m not sure what kind of watering it needs, but it’s bottom leaves are slowly dying, first turning slightly yellowish at the tips, then drying out.

I really like my plants, but need to know what they are to give them proper light and water, as I have no way to know for sure if I’m doing it right, though little or no growth suggests I’m doing something wrong.

Drought Smart Plants reply:

Hi Cromwell, I’ve found that it’s best to talk about each plant seperately, so the other one is now here: Uncommon Plant.

This one appears to be a sort of Echeveria, but it’s in such sad shape that I couldn’t begin to tell you which one.

The problem here is that it’s probably only living in a tiny amount of soil, however big the hole in the tufa rock is. The dead giveaway is the ‘air roots’ that the young ones have, and what also tells me that this plant is in trouble is the size of the caudex, or stem. This is one really old plant.

Here’s what I suggest: See my page on Succulent Plant Propagation and follow the directions for ‘beheading’ your plant. I promise you, it will be for the best! Everyone is so terrified that they will kill their plant, but honestly, they are so tough that it’s really hard to kill them (other than over watering).

Start with a sharp razor blade, and a pot of dry potting soil. I use Sunshine Mix #4, but whatever you can find locally, as long as it’s sterilized, will be fine. It has to be well drained, which means that it can’t be manure based, and it has to have pumice, gravel or other drainage material in it.

Now, the hard part: cut the top of the plant off, right above where the bald part ends and the leaves begin. Important; allow the whole thing to dry out and then place it cut side down on the dry potting soil. Do not water! In a week or two, tug on the plant, and you’ll realize that roots are starting to emerge from the cut part.

Success! You can also detach the baby ones and treat them the same way. Water them after a week or two, and they’ll almost magically turn into gorgeous plants overnight (well within a week or so).

Have fun propagating!

Comments for Unknown common plant

Jan 06, 2012

There’s hope, yet?
by: Cromwell

So there is a chance to save it? That makes me very happy to hear! I will try to do so today! I had previously cut a “baby” off of the big plant a few months ago and placed it in a peat moss medium (the chips that expand in water) but it has yet to grow even this much later. I’ve tried to be careful and not water anymore than I would for a cactus, but I wonder now, is it safe to say that these plants don’t like much water at all?

Jan 07, 2012

by: Jacki

Hi Cromwell, watering is important for any of these types of plants, as they are designed for water storage.

They prefer a lot of water all at once, and then being dried out almost completely.

Don’t tease them with tiny dribbles.

Completely soaking the root ball, and then drought is their favorite thing. It’s amazing how this one simple thing will keep your plants healthy.

It’s hard to wrap your head around it at first, as many people have only grown jungle type plants, which prefer to always have a moist soil, and will die if they dry out.

Succulents NEED to be dried out, in fact, some of them will split if they get too much water, and many of them can’t withstand it and will rot and die.

Jan 03, 2016

Perhaps It’s a Sempervivum?
by: Jay

Hi, Cromwell. While I’m still somewhat new to the plant world (I’ve only been growing plants for about two and a half years now, though I do own quite a few) I believe what you have here is actually a sempervivum. Sempervivum tectorum, if my identification of my plants is correct.

Currently, I own approximately forty of these little rosettes, both inside and outside of my home, and your plant looks exactly like a few of mine did when they weren’t receiving enough light.

I could be wrong, but if you do indeed have a sempervivum on your hands, your plant will need a lot of sunlight and nutrient-poor soil (sounds backwards, I know.) They thrive this way, and prefer to be grown outside, where they can handle both heat and cold (I’ve found that the cold gives them deep purple tips.) They’re hardy little things, and can be grown in almost any type of container once you know them well, though they thrive in breathable terra cotta with drainage. Hope I was of service!