Saturday, July 16, 2016

Foliage Follow-up: Stressed out succulents

My Aloe wickensii provided the jumping off point for this month's foliage follow-up, the meme hosted by Pam at Digging.  I know that succulents will frequently turn red when exposed to water and/or heat stress but I didn't know that they could twist and turn themselves like acrobats until I saw this:

Originally planted in 2014, the area in which this Aloe wickensii is planted is more exposed now due to the thinning of nearby trees.  The photo on the left was taken from the side and the view on the right was taken from overhead.


According to an on-line source such shape changes can be a response to extreme heat and intense sunlight.  I felt like covering my head and hiding too after last month's awful heatwave, which occurred on the heels of a period of unusually cool spring weather.

The Aloe sent me looking for other signs of stress among my succulents.  Agave 'Jaws', which sits just a few feet away from Aloe wickensii in the same bed showed little sign of stress; however, upon close examination, I did discover a surprise

I almost stepped on a tiny Agave pup that showed up about a foot away from 'Jaws' (to the left of the larger plant in the photo on the left)


Aeoniums enter dormancy this time of year so their change of shape isn't extraordinary.

These Aeoniums, planted in the narrow space between the outer fireplace wall and the driveway, are curling inward but they're not nearly as stressed as those along the street entering our neighborhood, which look more like round balls.


Shade, especially afternoon shade, seemed to buffer some succulents.

Aloe vanbalenii x ferox, shown here partially in the shade of a peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa) with Sedum x rubrotinctum and Aeonium nobile, doesn't seem the least bit stressed

Agave bracteosa, planted nearby, is assuming a new shape but I think that's a natural progression in this case.  It's common names include Candelabrum Agave and Squid Agave.

The 2 Agave 'Blue Flame' that sit along the street receive a good amount of shade in mid-afternoon.  These 2 are in much better shape than the 'Blue Flame' and 'Blue Glow' specimens I have in full sun in the bed on the southeast side of the house, some of which suffered from "agave edema" when the heat suddenly soared last month.

The lower leaves of Agave impressa yellowed last year after the shrubs behind it died off and it received more sun but the bright red streaks shown here are new


The Agaves in the dry garden on the northeast side of the house showed no signs of stress.

Agave ovatifolia's only threat is being overcome by the spread of the trailing Lantana

And the same could be said for Agave vilmoriniana


All in all the succulents managed June's heat relatively well but I am thinking about moving poor Aloe wickensii.

Visit Pam at Digging to find other foliage highlights.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

19 comments:

  1. I think your Aloe wickensii is a bit of a contortionist Kris! They all add their own certain style to your garden.

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    1. I'm afraid that Aloe wickensii makes me feel as though I'm torturing the poor thing, Angie! If it doesn't loosen up soon, I think it has to move.

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  2. I can certainly relate to this post. All my succulents and standing to attention, closing up their thick leaves as though to reduce exposure. Plus they are looking pale and yellowing in parts. I remember last year I had some small agaves that were burnt along their edges and yellow and orange. After I watered them and gave them some shade they started to recover. At least there is that to be said for succulents. they are incredibly tough.There seems to be no end to our 100ºdays and no rain in sight.

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    1. I don't envy you those roasting temperatures, Jenny. The forecasters predicted a miserable summer here and the 2 heatwaves in late June certainly indicated we were headed in that direction but we've been lucky these past few weeks - it's warm but not miserable. As to whether that luck will hold, who knows? After the El Nino forecast fiasco, I no longer trust the long-term forecasts.

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  3. Your Aloe wickensii takes me back to a beautiful, yet tortured, version I saw years ago at The Berkeley Botanical Garden...

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    1. I guess I'm comforted that my poor aloe is in good company.

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  4. The aloe looks good like that too despite being a less than ideal state for it. A lot of succulents look nicer when stressed.

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    1. I like the red color other succulents take on when stressed but I don't know that I feel the same about this shape shifting routine...

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  5. My wickensii was so stressed by the Big Broil I potted it up and put it into full shade, where it is recovering. Yours looks happier than mine did. This species is from a region with summer rainfall.

    One of my striatas puts up one leaf and then another as if it is shading its eyes, or being very demure.

    Your impressa looks good!

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    1. I was hoping that the cooler temperatures we've enjoyed recently would allow the Aloe to unfurl. I have so little shade to offer it without moving it to a pot but it may come to that.

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  6. I was fascinated to see how the poor wickensii seems to be trying shade itself with its arms! I had no idea succulents would change shape according to the weather.

    Also, I really enjoyed seeing all you blooms in your last post! Your garden is still doing well, despite the heat.

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    1. I had no idea that a succulent would go to such lengths either, Deb. It deserves better treatment!

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  7. I feel their and your pain. This is like a march through hell! ;)

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    1. Actually, we've had pretty comfortable weather here since the horrific heatwave a few weeks ago. Apparently, it hasn't been cool enough to get the succulent to loosen its grip, though! The aloe may be smarter than I am - another heatwave is expected later this week.

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  8. I've found that Agave bracteosa wants afternoon shade to look its best. I have one (the solitary cultivar 'Calamar') that gets virtually no direct sun, and it looks great.

    Don't worry about your Aloe wickensii closing up for the summer. That's perfectly normal. If you look at photos of aloes in habitat, few of them look all that great in the middle of summer. (Yours doesn't look bad at all, I think.)

    The 'Jaws' pup was a nice surprise. One of my favorite agaves.

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    1. Thanks for the reassurance about Aloe wickensii, Gerhard! I've been feeling bad every time I look at the poor thing but there aren't too many shady areas in my garden these days. The Agave bracteosa gets about half the day in shade, although unfortunately it and 3 of my Agave attenuata get a blast of sun in late afternoon.

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  9. With my love of succulents, its great to read you post and have photographs of them growing outside.

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  10. http://www.llifle.com/Encyclopedia/SUCCULENTS/Family/Aloaceae/25075/Aloe_wickensii

    Your aloe may be perfectly happy, doing its summer dormant thing.

    'Habitat: It grows mainly on very thin soil on rocky slopes, usually steep and exposed with little or no grass'

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