Friday, November 7, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Dyckia Marnier-Lapostellii

My favorite plant this week is a recent acquisition, Dyckia Marnier-Lapostellii, a succulent plant from the Bromeliad family.  I picked it up during the round of San Diego County nurseries a friend and I made in mid-October.  I usually wait until I have more experience with a plant before I name it a favorite but this one grabbed me from the moment I saw it and, since then, it has given me more reason to be impressed.

Dyckia Marnier-Lapostellii in its nursery pot



It's said to grow slowly to just 1 feet (30.5 cm) tall and wide.  My new plant is almost that large already so it's a mature specimen.  The leaves twist, giving it a claw-like appearance, like something that might be found crawling about in the depths of the ocean.  Its leaves are covered with white scale-like hairs and sharp spines run along their edges.  When wet the plant takes on a purple/burgundy color, as I discovered when it rained here last week.

The same plant after a light rain



I read that, if watered from above too frequently, it can lose its usual silver/white color but, when I checked it earlier this week, it was back to its pre-rain color.

Dyckia restored to its ghostly silvery white color



I'm not sure it wouldn't be better in a pot but, after risking those spines to get it planted in the ground in my dry garden, I'm planning to leave it where it is for now.  All Dyckia have vicious spines but this one was particularly difficult to handle.  It's reportedly best grown in cool sun and I'm also concerned that it may get too much sun where it is, which can turn the leaf tips brown but I'll keep a careful watch on it.  According to on-line sources it wants more water than many spiny succulents, requiring regular water in summer but limited water in winter, another reason why it may ultimately require a move to a pot.

Dyckia Marnier-Lapostellii hails from Brazil and is named for a scion of the famous Grand Marnier liqueur family.  This chameleon of a succulent is my contribution to Loree's favorite plants meme at danger garden.  Visit her there to see her favorite this week and find links to other gardeners' favorites.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


26 comments:

  1. That's a gorgeous plant, and it's so cool that it changes color when it rains. I have one Dyckia in a pot that gets brought in for the winter. I love it, but yes, those spines are lethal.

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    1. Maybe we need Loree to provide input on how to handle Dyckia without causing serious injury.

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  2. It'll be a brave raccoon that digs that one up..

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    1. I bought several Agave for one bed in the hope those would ward off the raccoons - it didn't work. Perhaps I should have gone all out and purchased Dyckia or Opuntia.

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  3. This plant has been on my Wishlist for years but I'm glad to say I finally got hold of one last month, yay!

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    1. I don't think I'd even seen it before coming upon it at Solana succulents in San Diego.

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  4. What a cool plant...changes color, looks like an octopus and sinister looking too!!

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    1. The color change was a real surprise to me - I haven't seen anything like that with the others.

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  5. I' ve never heard of this one. I love it.

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  6. That's a wow! I love plants that turn purple and this one is going on the list to hunt for when all the big sellers turn up at the cactus show.

    Dyckia can be a literal pain to get home and into place.

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    1. If you find one, get yourself some extra thick gloves, Shirley. I have 2 others and struggled when planting those but this one was much harder to juggle.

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  7. I've got two small colonies of dyckia that have proven very tolerant of my ignorance of their needs. They are a different type however, never reaching more than 5 inches across, so perhaps they have different requirements than your color changing wonder. That is a real beauty!

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    1. I love the purple/burgundy color when its wet but it's neater still that it changes back and forth.

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  8. It's a beautiful plant and the colour change is superb. I've a yearning to grow succulents on the steps in our garden, but a lack of space to put them in our cold winters. Always nice to see them secondhand! Re your comment about 'cool sun' - I always think it's odd that succulents react to too much sun - I've so much to learn (some of my cactus this year have also objected to too much sun!)

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    1. A surprising number of succulents are perfectly happy in partial shade, Cathy. In your area, I suspect they do need winter protection - I'm lucky that mine can stay in the ground.

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  9. What a great plant, I can see why you're smitten with it! The color change is amazing and you're a brave woman to have planted it in the ground, I hope you were wearing long sleeves!

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  10. Wow, stunning! After dealing with two big clumps, I've given up on Dyckias, though there is still a Puya out on the slope. Those spines are just too nasty.

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    1. Fortunately, all of mine are relatively small. This one doesn't get much bigger than it is already but, if the others form clumps, I may have to reconsider those. The only thing worse are glochids on Opuntia.

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  11. Almost all silver plants change to green when they get wet, it is only the light reflecting on their hairs that make them appear silver but changing to purple is new to me, really beautiful. I'm another who is surprised that a cactus can need shade. "cool sun" is also a strange requirement, difficult to really know what that means.

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    1. Although I've come across several references to "cool sun" on plant tags and websites, I've yet to find a clear definition of what is meant by the term, Christina. My best guess is that it refers to morning sun, which is less intense and less likely to burn plants, at least here where the afternoons can be hot. Some succulents really do prefer partial shade unlike true cactus which generally thrive in "hot sun" ;)

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  12. Like Hoov, I steer clear of dyckias. So beautiful, so deadly. I can't remember how old my clump is and wish I knew so I could judge its speed of growth. Seems a lot faster growing than puyas, for example. But San Marcos says yours is "mostly" solitary -- sounds like the perfect dyckia!

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    1. If it remains close to its current size, Denise, I think it's manageable. I don't think I could handle one of the large Dyckia clumps I've seen in photos either.

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  13. I looooove how white/silver and chunky this is! Stunning.

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