From the Sperry Garden – October, 2007

It was 18 years ago that I marauded California looking for wonderful and unusual haworthias (pint-sized relatives of aloes). I went to 6 or 8 cactus and succulent nurseries and I was successful in finding more than 300 different varieties.

Convinced that I must have found most of them I made that bold statement to one of the better growers. She told me that they had some 2,100 varieties in their private collection. I was dismayed, as those first 300 had been comparatively easy to find. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford or justify looking for any great numbers of others.

My collection, nonetheless, thrived in my greenhouse. A few of the plants came out for the summers, but most never moved. Until a few days ago.

I had begun to notice that the plants weren’t thriving like they once had. Some were laying loose on top of the potting soil. Others had filled their pots and had no more room. I needed to do something for all of them.

What I noticed was that the potting soil had changed form drastically. The organic matter had long since decayed and most of the plants were left in a slurry of sand, fine gravel and perlite.

Now all 300 of my haworthias have been repotted into larger containers and fresh, lightweight potting mix. Odds are, with the return of sunny, warm weather, these South African natives will soon have a growth spurt. I’ve made it my goal this year to give them a little more attention. After all, no group of plants that I’ve grown has ever demanded less.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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