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May 28, 2014 | Donna Balzer

Wedding bell bliss

Echeverias proving popular for summer nuptials

Two out of two brides have asked me to help them find the same plants for their wedding this summer.

OK - it's true - I only know two brides-to-be, but I was surprised they both inquired about the same plant. My niece Ayla and the daughter of my university roommate , Kendra, asked me about succulent plants for their big days. As they showed me examples of what they were looking for on Pinterest, I noticed they didn't just want nameless succulents - they were both looking for one handsome plant: Echeveria.

Unlike petunias or poppies, succulents like Echeveria hold water in their fleshy leaves so they don't dry out on the front step, in a centerpiece arrangement or bridal bouquet. They come in a range of colours, will bloom all summer and are easy to care for.

Echeverias look like hardy Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum). The difference is Hens - also called Houseleeks - are hardy perennials in Calgary and have large, ugly, fleshy flowers in spring (I cut the blooms off when they sprout).

Echeerias are tropical and won't tolerate much frost, but they have fine delicate blooms all summer and larger, fleshy foliage.


Before I could get out to shop for my niece, my sister had bought Hens and Chicks and found some mixed pots of Echeverias at a big-box store. I shopped locally and then went online for Kendra. Jamey Lauinger of Vally Succulents in Comox, B.C. seemed to have the best selection. He told me he has already shipped succulents to brides in Yellowknife and a florist  in St. Paul this spring.

"It takes about four months to grow a large plant from five centimetre pots," he said, adding he encourages early planning and planting.

So, of course, I went to Comox in person and bought 75 plants, mostly Echeverias. Kendra wanted mixed pots for her table centerpieces so I also purchased natural clay bulb pans (shallow clay pots 20 centimietres wide by 10 centimietres deep). When my girlfriends came over one weekend for wine they were in for a big surprise. We got out hands dirty planting three small succulents per pot, using Promix HP, a fake soil with extra perlite for drainage.

By the time this summer's crop of brides march down the aisles, their succulents will have grown and multiplied, filling their pots and the bride's hearts.

I wonder if the grooms will even notice their succulent boutonnieres?

Balzer is a garden writer and speaker. Check out her blog at or follow on Twitter @NoGuffGardener.


Tagged: Donna Balzer | Guest Column

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