And yet I keep trying! I rescued my aloes from an ignominious end a few years ago, and they ended up back in the same situation this winter. I didn't take pictures of the crime scene this time...it was a messy and labor-intensive salvage operation when I re-potted these a few days ago and I couldn't be bothered to snap photos until these "after" shots.
I replaced the depleted soil with fresh cacti/succulent mix, and I used a vinegar and water mix to clean the encrusted salt off the inside of the pots. Salt deposits from water can aggravate root dryness by messing with the solute level of the soil. I won't bore you with the details but salty soil can pull even more water out of a plants' roots. So I used my homemade floor cleaner remove them from the pots, followed by a good rinsing lest the vinegar should leach into the potting soil and affect the plants.
|Glass vase fillers not really stopping the flopping here|
A lot of these aloes (which multiplied prodigiously) are lacking even a few roots. Will they even survive in their new soil and pots? I don't know. I'm hopeful but not confident. I added glass beads to the top of the soil in a few of the pots to reduce the flopping these plants are so prone to doing.
And then there's this attempt at a clever container planting:
While shopping for the new potting soil I grabbed this variegated aeonium and planted it with a mightily struggling ghost plant (Graptopetalum).
|Aeonium to the left, Graptopetalum on the right|
At least I think it's a ghost plant. Debra Lee Baldwin has a nice post on Gardening Gone Wild about what survivors these plants are, and given the parlous condition of this plant over the last couple months, I have to agree with her. It basically had no roots, just a couple hairs straggling away from the stem. The leaves are shriveling and flopping, suggesting it needs to be watered but I was watering it regularly, so...
I decided to cut off the top section that looked the least unhealthy, but something made me pause and not throw the lower part of the stem in the compost. I stuck them both in here with the new aeonium; maybe just maybe this new pot and their new location will help.
Worst of all, look at this sad little moon cactus!
See how its pink globe is wrinkled and shriveling? Ugh, I did this! I left this cactus in a tiny pot where it became terribly root bound, marooned on a windowsill above my sink where it got knocked into the sink at least 15 times over the past year spilling dirt every time, so there was hardly any soil at all left clinging to the encircled roots. For shame!
|The little "moons" around the main section should be bright yellow, not dusty brown|
And so my struggles with succulents continue! For what it's worth, I actually read Baldwin's book Succulents Simplified a few weeks ago, and it didn't really help simplify anything for me. From a design perspective it was filled with beautiful container ideas. If you want to make a cool centerpiece or unusual container garden, I highly recommend it. But aside from explaining the basics that I already knew—don't water much during dormancy, don't let soil get waterlogged—there wasn't a lot of helpful tips for the grower of already-dying succulents. At least my Christmas cactus and Easter cactus are about to bloom (again!). But we'll get to that on Bloom Day!