Do they need beheading?

Alfred Station, NY(Zone 5b)

I have a succulent planter I started back in August. It has a variety of things in it, one of which are blue chalk sticks. They are pretty well taking over the joint. You can see how the planter looked right after planting, and how it looks today.

Would the blue chalk sticks benefit by pruning? And do they normally grow laying over like that or is that unusual? Everything seems pretty happy - only one of the original inhabitants died off (the one at about 7 o'clock in the first photo), so I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Thumbnail by gallesfarm Thumbnail by gallesfarm
Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

They need more light. Indoor succulents do much better (speaking in general terms with exceptions) when they get daily sun. This time of year a south-facing window is ideal. You will find the plants grow more compact and are more healthy with good exposure to the sun.

Alfred Station, NY(Zone 5b)

They actually are in a south-facing window (sliding door). Can't get much more light than they have now. Probably with the low angle of the sun, some is being blocked in the morning by the other side of our house (L-shaped, the window is on the inside corner of the L), so maybe that's the problem, but there really is nowhere else to put the planter that would be any better.

Will they branch out again lower down if I lop the top half or so off?

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

Yes, windows can have all kinds of obstructions outside. Depending on the angle of the sun, that can put them in the dark at certain times of year. Especially when days are short and the sun is low in the sky.

I have no experience cutting that plant but I would imagine you could try. You would probably be improving the exposure for the other residents of the pot, if nothing else.

Decatur, GA

Some of my succulents have the same problem of elongating in the winter here no matter what window I put them in during the winter. I try to slow their growth by giving them very little water during this time and it seems to help. I put them out as early in the spring as possible so they can get some good compact growth in the summer.

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

That sounds like a smart strategy.

For what it's worth, I have found my unobstructed SW-facing window to be just about perfect for growing any kind of succulent, even ones that require very strong light. I take advantage of the magic spot by putting my baby seedlings there, so they can get to size faster. The Echeverias don't stretch at all. Of course we have very clear weather in the afternoons so there's generally nothing between the plants and the sun except a pane of window glass (about 15% shade; most UV blocked).

I say this just to share that it's possible to grow great plants indoors. 98% of my plants are outside so that's my point of reference. That's where most of the indoor plants eventually end up.

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

While we're at it, here's how that spot looks today, a little before noon. It's getting a little crowded, some of the bigger plants are going outside soon.

Thumbnail by Baja_Costero
Decatur, GA

Great strong sunlight alright. Nice plants too. Whats the ruffle leafed one in the upper R corner? Very attractive.

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

That is a Dorstenia. I have high hopes for it (still quite small). There's also a cucumber tree to the lower right, maybe you can see a few leaves. Really hoping that one keeps on going too.

Decatur, GA

I thought that might be a Dorstenia. I have one old one and keep finding volunteers here and there. They shoot their seeds far and wide. :-)
Nice plants, except for the D. giga which is very touchy.

Alfred Station, NY(Zone 5b)

Just updating to say that I did whack off their heads - well, I whacked off most of what was there. They put out new growth, and it is much more upright. They do grow quickly so I've just pruned them back again a bit and I suspect I'll have to do that once in a while as they grow much much faster than everything else.

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

You have to remember that a dish garden or terrarium is always a work in progress. Some plants do better than others and some flourish at the expense of others. You might think about potting up the runaway grower in its own pot and putting in some thing else that grows a little more slowly. You want to be able to see all the plants in your dish garden. I love them.

This message was edited Jul 1, 2015 8:10 AM

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

That was exactly my thinking, too. The problem I always have with a dish garden (or any sort of community pot) is that one plant ends up taking over. Over time I guess you get a sense of which plants belong together, but along the way there are bound to be some mismatches. The real art of a community pot, in my opinion, can be seen not in a pretty initial setup but in how balanced and full the group looks months or years down the road.

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