Easy Succulents: Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'
Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives' (aka X Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives' in PlantFiles) is a hybrid between Graptopetalum paraguayense and Echeveria gibbiflora, a very commonly hybridized species of Echeveria. Though both parents are fairly common in cultivation, this plant seems to be even more common, showing up just about every nursery in southern California that sells succulents. Obviously I am not the only that thinks this is an easy plant to grow. It is not just easy to grow--it also looks good, and under a variety of circumstances.
I tried to research this plant's namesake but I was unable to come up with anything (not really sure where to look). There are several of Fred Ives on the internet (an actor, a business person, etc.) I have no idea who this plant is named after.
Echeveria gibbiflora hybrid Echeveria Perle Von Nurmberg, a commonly confused species
I have grown this plant in both full sun--a blistering experience for some succulents in this hot, arid climate with temps topping 115 F sometimes--and in full shade, where most other Echeverias and Graptopetalums struggle, get etiolated and eventually succumb to mealybugs. In full sun, its true color potential can be appreciated, though in shade it still maintains an attractive greenish-turquoise color.
Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' in hot summer sun (left) and summer shade (middle) and autumn (right)
As far as temperatures go, this plant was unaffected by a severe freeze a few years ago when temperatures dropped as low as 24F for over 7 hours (an exceptional freeze for this locale, and one which left few succulents undamaged.) However I could not detect any damage to any of the many individuals I had growing about the garden or in pots. As I mentioned already, the heat can be pretty stifling here in summers, yet only the most exposed plants seem to get a bit blanched in afternoon sun when temperatures get well over 100F. There are few succulents that actually seem to enjoy that sort of sun exposure and extreme temperatures, however, and even fewer Echeveria relatives.
This, like most Echeveria and Graptopetalum species, is quite drought-tolerant needing little if any water from me all year-round. However, planted in situations where this plant receives a LOT of water I have yet to damage it by overwatering, either. One large specimen shares a pot with a Strelitzia I water heavily and yet all the water only seems to make this plant grow faster. So this plant does fine with either no water or lots of water, and every amount of watering in between.
This first plant gets a lot of water, being planted near a palm, the second a moderate amount, and the third none.
Planted in well-draining soil, this plant is about as close to a ‘no-brainer' as I can grow. But even individuals I have stuffed in planters around my palms where the soil is mostly clay, have done great. And sometimes those soils stay moist and water-logged for months in winter and still this plant seems as happy as ever.
‘Fred Ives' is an aggressive and rapid grower. One problem this plant does not have is trouble growing--or reproducing, for that matter. I can think of no other Crassulacae member that grows faster than this plant. Most plants quickly outgrow many areas in which they are planted. Thankfully it is quite easy to prune back, by either cutting off pieces, or just snapping them off. In time, most plants eventually get top heavy and snap themselves off, often ‘replanting' themselves. A broken-off ‘cutting' will quickly sprout a health crop of hair-like roots and root in just about into any soil-like surface upon which if finds itself. This makes planting cuttings so easy, one can just walk around the yard and toss them into the garden, and most will eventually root. Still, I usually go through the extreme effort of shoving the cut or broken end into the soil a few inches, and have so far had not a single ‘cutting' continue on and grow (needless to say I am running out of room to grow this plant, and it has become ubiquitous in my yard).
This 'cutting' just fell off a heavy plant. Later it is growing well in ground. This plant was a cutting, and has spread on its own since.
Plant showing rootlets (upper right of left photo); Stems get long and thick, enabling this plant to drape out of pots and planters with very heavy mulitple rosettes... eventually they give and one had a new plant to put somewhere
The plants flower year-round, producing long, branching inflorescences and small bright yellow flowers. Many inflorescences, if left alone, will eventually produce bulbils, or small plantlets that quickly produce their own rootlets, providing yet another way for this plant to continue to reproduce.
Flowering plant in fall (flowers all year round except dead of winter); flower details
Though it is an easy plant, it is not immune to bugs and aphids seem to be is one weakness. Like all the blooming Crassulaceae in my garden, aphids 'spontaneously' generate as soon as a flower has grown out of one, and Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' is no exception. But aphids seem to like the crown of this plant as well and can disfigure the leaves sometimes attacking the newly formed ones in the rosette center. A little neem oil seems to take care of them. I just can't seem to keep up with every plant. Snails can also take quite a toll, as they can with all the Crassulaceae.
Aphids covering this plant, eventually damaging future growth; aphids in flowers (middle photo); plant with aphids, but also leaves munched by snails (right photo)
Yet despite its common occurrence in my landscape, I am still not tired of it. This is one of the most consistently attractive of the Echeveria-like plants in the yard, and displays an amazing variety of color patterns, sizes and shapes depending on time of year and where it's growing.
Seasonal color variations of same clump of plants in my garden
In summary, this is one of the easiest plants I grow, on par with some of my least favorite weeds in terms of ease of growth. It is a great plant and deserves to be grown everywhere the climate permits, and indoors everywhere else.