• Planting Dudleya in a brick

    by  • June 6, 2013 • Plant Profiles • 11 Comments

    Canyon Live-forever or Rock Lettuce, Dudleya cymosa, is a great California native for containers.  This container is a brick found at the lake and probably used as an anchor along the shore.  I found a better use for it and planted a small dudleya in each opening.


    Dudleya (1)

    It’s lived happily here for two years, but I may want to pry it out to divide it.  The brick stands next to a step on the patio and is in part shade.  This gets a random hosing off, and no direct water.  I thought the pale green paint peeling off the brick looked well with the leaf color.  Simple pleasures…


    Dudleya (2)

    Dudleya is named for the first head of the botany department at Stanford University, Professor William Russell Dudley, which is a good way also to understand how to spell it.  The plant on the left was very small when planted, but with lots of neglect as far as watering, it caught up nicely.


    Dudleya (3)

    Canyon live-forever can be planted in stone or rock walls, like lots of drainage and are attractive to hummingbirds.  The flowers are yellow-range and bloom in May.  Planted in back are Helichrysum ‘Icicles.’


    Dudleya (4)


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    11 Responses to Planting Dudleya in a brick

    1. June 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Hmm . . . are you sure that’s Dudleya cymosa rather than some other Dudleya species? I have a plant that is supposedly Dudleya cymosa, and mine has considerably broader leaves. Also, I’ve read that Dudleya cymosa grows only in the absolute sunniest spots imaginable, and with very little soil, such as in cracks in the asphalt of a parking lot with no trees anywhere in sight. Mine has been slowly deteriorating for the several months since I bought it, and I’ve been thinking that’s because I haven’t managed to find it a spot with a sufficient amount of sun. But if yours is really Dudleya cymosa and has been surviving for years in part shade, then the problem with mine must be something else.

    2. Sue Langley
      June 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Hi Gayle, It’s Dudleya cymosa ssp cymosa to be exact. Check out Calflora for dudleya and I bet you find yours, as there are a number of them. In the wild the leaves get reddish, but these are almost white. The steps where they are are shaded part of the day by the tall oaks and I have them planted in gravel and soil mix.

      • Gayle
        June 7, 2013 at 8:07 am

        Well, maybe it comes in a wide variety of forms. When I run a Google image search on “Dudleya cymosa,” I get many results that look exactly like my plant but also some that look like yours.

        • Sue Langley
          June 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm

          Gayle,…I really rely on Calflora and Calphoto for IDs. Google Images can help narrow the choices, but the other two sites are so well documented.

          • June 12, 2013 at 8:50 pm

            Yes, I checked there too, and the images on Calflora and Calphotos look to me exactly like my plant, which does have reddish tints, and not so much like your plant. Google Images is the only place I found plants labeled as Dudleya cymosa that look to me like your plant.

    3. JIM
      June 7, 2013 at 11:54 am

      I’ve found a good deal of misidentified dudleya over the years & google has helped me a lot. I go with the largest percetage of what I find there. The leafs have varible apperance depending on how much water, sun and when they get it.. The flowers have always helped me to identify. Sue’s definitly looks like it gets plenty of water. It’s got the orange cymosa blossom look. Dudleyas always amaze me on how they survive the worst & come back. I lucked into having 2 different species of Dudleya here when I moved in & brought 4 others with me when I moved in.
      Sue I really enjoy your site. It’s helped me & I can first hand sympathize with the challenges & joy of living where you do. I’m @3,600′ just west of Porterville in the Southwest corner of the Sequoia National monument.

      • Sue Langley
        June 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm

        Conditions in a garden and then in the wild are sometimes much different. I’m thrilled when I can identify one I’ve never seen in the wild when up to now I’ve only seen it in the nursery. Jim, we have a wonderful business called Intermountain Nursery in Prather. Natives and Mediterranean plants.
        Sounds like you live in a beautiful area!

    4. June 7, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      I have dudleya caespitosa growing locally and I propagated it – it also seems to have somewhat different forms and that has confused me. Dudleya hybridizes easily which is why I gave away all my plants except the little local ones I’m propagating – they are just about to bloom now. So it could be that people are finding hybrids that occur naturally.

      I love your brick! Great use of found materials!

      • Sue Langley
        June 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm

        Hi Mouse! Thanks! This one seems to grow easily like any other succulent and forms babies at the base. This one came from Intermountain nursery and they get this from Mountain Vally Nursery in Squaw Valley (near Sequoia) I divided this from a 2″ pot!

    5. June 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I’ve never grown Dudleya, but I love how these look once they filled in. The brick planter is brillant!

      • Sue Langley
        June 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

        Thanks, Clare, My sister and I found the brick at the lake, then I realized I had three divisions to fill each space. I raided the driveway for some gravel to add to the soil mix. I like the delicate look of this particular one.

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