Episode 59: Aloes, Agaves and other succulents with Colin Walker

Sedum rupestre  growing in a teapot. Photograph: Colin Walker

Sedum rupestre growing in a teapot. Photograph: Colin Walker

Colin Walker has been growing succulents for 50 years, and he just happens to be the president of the British Cactus and Succulent Society. I interviewed him this week to find out about his two specialisms, Aloes and Agaves, and also found out about his penchant for putting succulents in odd containers such as teapots - and why cat litter can help with your succulent propagation (as long as you get the right type). 

Colin is retired now but he was a biologist at the Open University with research interest in cacti and succulents particularly in terms of biodiversity (here's his OU profile). His book Aloes: The Definitive Guide, written with three other authors, was co-published in 2011 with Kew Gardens and the BCSS.

If you'd like to find out more about the BCSS, visit their website, Facebook page and Instagram account. Why not join and you'll have access to lots of expert advice, cheap seeds through their annual seed scheme and much much more?

If you're a Patreon subscriber of $5 or more, you can listen to Colin talking about Sansevierias and putting me right about succulent fertilisers in An Extra Leaf 10. Scroll down for more information on how to become a patron of the show or give a one-off donation. 

Colin in a plantation of Aloe vera growing in Lanzarote. Photograph: Marjorie Thorburn

Colin in a plantation of Aloe vera growing in Lanzarote. Photograph: Marjorie Thorburn

Below are some links to browse through as you listen to the show - and check out the photos that follow.... 

  • The cactus nursery near Sheffield in the UK that Colin mentions as his teenage plant mecca is Abbey Book Cacti.

  • Aloes vary hugely in size from Aloe descoingsii (a very tiny Aloe) to huge tree Aloes such as Aloe excelsa.

  • Aloe vera is a popular plant that really needs no introduction: this is the kind of video I mention that explain how to extract its gel.

  • Aloe variegata is also known as the partridge breast aloe.

  • Aloe 'Pink Lace' has pretty flowers and makes a great windowsill specimen.

  • Aloe aristata, the lace aloe, is surprisingly hardy and will survive subzero temperatures if kept dry.

  • Agave americana - the biggest species of Agave.

Aloe jacksonii . Photograph: Colin Walker

Aloe jacksonii. Photograph: Colin Walker

Echinocactus grusonii  at Jardin de Cactus Lanzarote. Photograph: Colin Walker

Echinocactus grusonii at Jardin de Cactus Lanzarote. Photograph: Colin Walker

Colin with  Agave victoriae-reginae  in early flower. Photograph: Photo: Marjorie Thorburn

Colin with Agave victoriae-reginae in early flower. Photograph: Photo: Marjorie Thorburn

Aloe vera  in flower on Lanzarote. Photograph: Colin Walker

Aloe vera in flower on Lanzarote. Photograph: Colin Walker

Question of the week

A listener in the US is desperately seeking Alocasia 'Dragon Sscale' - let me know if you have a lead on where they can source one of these?

Want to ask me a question? Tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com. There's an episode about moth orchids coming soon, so I'd particularly like to hear from anyone with a Phalaenopsis problem to solve.

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On The Ledge on tour

On the evening of Friday October 26 I'll be bringing a live show of On The Ledge to the RHS London Urban Garden show, with special guests including Alys Fowler and all kinds of leafy fun! Put this date in your diary NOW!

Credits

This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops, Rashem Pidity, Pokhara by Samuel Corwin, licensed under Creative Commons.