vivid blooms on Lobivia cinnabarina v.
walterspeilii are a bonus on this cactus.
a look around Bill Hendricks’ collection of 4,000
succulents, and it’s easy to understand the recent
craze for these high-style, easy-care plants. One with
rosette shapes are taking center stage in container
designs and bridal bouquets. More architectural forms
are becoming the go-to accessory for today’s mantels
and tabletops. And still other strappy types are being
tucked in living walls, galvanized frames, topiary
forms, birch logs, thrift-store stilettos, vintage spice
tins, fairy gardens, green rooftops and even doghouse
trendy homeowners are now discovering, the 72-year-old
Hendricks has known for decades.
always been fascinated with succulents," he says.
"I’m fascinated by their diversity, their color
and ‘wow,’ and their stories from different places
all over the world."
age 7, Hendricks says, he bought his first succulent, a
thick-leaved aloe plant, at a Cleveland dime store. He
credits that still-living aloe plant with spurring his
lifelong love of plants and leading him to a successful
career in the nursery business. Today, he is president
of the 500-acre Klyn Nurseries, a wholesale nursery in
Perry, Ohio, and was named 2014 Grower of the Year by
Nursery Management magazine. While his nursery grows
1,850 species of landscape plants, Hendricks says, he
keeps the succulents as a hobby.
not into sports; I’m into plants," Hendricks
says. "That led me to an interest in geography and
travel. So when I travel, I travel to see plants."
explains that all cacti are succulents, but not all
succulents are cacti. Succulents are plants that have
the ability to store water within their leaves, stems or
roots. Like a camel’s hump, these adaptations allow
the plants to survive long stretches without water.
(Cacti, on the other hand, are a distinct family of
succulents and are distinguished by their signature
Hendricks grows succulents and cacti in a 100-by-30-foot
greenhouse at Klyn Nurseries. All are meticulously
labeled and grown mostly in clay pots packed onto raised
tables, with a few hanging from containers.
points to one Eastern prickly pear cactus, or Opuntia
humifusa — he prefers using plants’ botanical Latin
names — and shares the story of an East German
plant-swapping friend. In the 1960s, Hendricks had sent
him seeds from this succulent found in Castalia, Ohio.
Hendricks was surprised to learn in his friend’s
return letter that he was familiar with the town from
his World War II days as a German officer; turns out, he
had been a prisoner of war at nearby Camp Perry.
Hendricks walks to the center of the greenhouse, he
shares a story of the ponytail palm (Beaucarnea
recurvata) that once climbed to the ceiling with its
Hershey Kiss-shaped base and palmlike top. In 1966, he
purchased the plant in a 4-inch pot for $1.25. Over the
years, it outgrew its various pots and eventually
Hendricks’ greenhouse. Although he found a new home
for the plant at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the
1,000-pound plant was too difficult to move, so it had
to be cut into pieces and removed from the greenhouse.
who is president of the Midwest Cactus and Succulent
Society and a frequent lecturer on succulents, offers
advice on growing succulents. He not only draws lessons
from personal experience but also his library of some
2,000 succulent articles and books:
succulents in containers with drainage holes. If there
are no holes, add some with a drill or use a liner pot
succulents thoroughly. Try placing a succulent pot in
the sink and drenching it until water runs out the
bottom. Let the pot thoroughly drain, then return it to
its saucer on a windowsill.
plants to dry out between waterings. Succulents prefer
neglect, and one of the biggest mistakes made by
beginners is overwatering them.
a well-draining potting mix. Look for a cactus potting
mix or create your own mix with equal parts of potting
soil, pea gravel and coarse sand.
succulents as much sunlight as possible since most are
sun lovers. A south- or eastern-facing window is ideal.
trim succulents to maintain a shape, clip away damaged
leaves or clean up dried tips.
northern climates, keep succulents in a dry, indoor
environment for the winter, then move outdoors for the
summer. In southern climates, many succulents thrive
a class at a garden center or public botanical garden.
Many popular classes cover how to use succulents to
create wreaths, vertical gardens, and terrariums or dish
a local cactus or succulent society. For a listing, see
the Cactus & Succulent Society of America’s
find succulents at garden centers, botanical garden gift
shops, big-box stores and succulent society plant sales.
Also, many online sites specialize in succulents. For
newbies, Bill Hendricks suggests the following:
Enjoy these showy rosettes in green or dark burgundy.
Find variegated or textured varieties for something new.
Try jade plants or stacked varieties.
Look for ones with fuzzy, ruffled and bordered leaves.
Remember these aloelike miniatures for low-light
Marvel at the vivid flowers of this easy-to-grow cactus.
Try one of the white-haired pincushion cacti.
Never fail with one of these globular cacti.
Count on these small, round cacti for their colorful
truncata: Celebrate the holidays with this Christmas
a collection of 4,000 succulents, plantsman Bill
Hendricks shares growing, cultivating tips.