Peeking through the cracks of California’s cliffs, together rocky outcroppings and inland valleys is another outstanding genus of succulents: Dudleya. Native to California, Arizona and even down to northern Mexico as well as southern coastal Oregon, the Dudleya family comprises more than 40 species once thought to be part of their Echeveria genus. Named for the first thoughts of botany in Stanford University, Dudleya, or liveforever, will thrive in its indigenous landscape with just the smallest oversight, as its common name implies.

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Botanical name: Dudleya spp
Common names:Liveforever
Resource:Native to California, Arizona, coastal Oregon, Baja California
USDA zones: 9 to 11; changes by species (find your zone)
Water requirement: Moderate; prefers the moist winters and dry summers of Southern California
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: Varies by species; low ground covers projected inflorescence
Benefits and tolerances: Drought and coastal tolerant
Seasonal interest: Flowers in spring
When to plant: Plant divisions in fall.

Revealed: Dudleya brittonii

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Shown: Dudleya pulverulenta with Agave attenuata

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Distinguishing traits. Liveforever’s colours soothe and tend to match surrounding plants and materials. Rosettes vary in the grey to green spectrum; a powdery coating adds a chalky effect.

Late winter and spring welcome towering, leafy inflorescences, but unlike Echeveria, the stem emerges from the bottom of the rosette, not the center. Flowers come in a variety of colours, including white, crimson and yellow.

It’s a winter-growing plant, also if not in bloom it may appear inconspicuous, even dying. Liveforever seems its worst if many plants look in their best form, but it revives once the weather cools down and it rains a little — its leaves store water.

Dudleya pulverulenta

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

How to utilize it. Liveforever is native to cliffs, rocky outcroppings and other free-draining vertical sites. This accounts for its affinity for slopes, which can serve as inspiration for your own backyard. It can’t tolerate standing water on its own rosettes — or perhaps on its own roots — over summer, thus a slope or wall which would otherwise be a troubling website is the best spot. Planting with an angle is preferred.

Liveforever also grows well in pots and containers. And, like with succulents, it grows well in rock gardens. Use it as a specimen or let its chalky color to match as well as other succulents; its own spring inflorescence will diversify the backyard greatly. Due to its preference for bright light, liveforever is not the very best houseplant.

Revealed: Dudleya pulverulenta

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Planting notes. Accustomed to the conditions of coastal Southern California, liveforever prefers bright sunlight and mild climates with warm, dry summers and moist, cool winters. Avoid extreme temperatures swings with coastal natives; look for species indigenous to inland climates. Plant it in soil.

Liveforever goes dormant in summer. It is susceptible to fungal decay and mealybug infestation, especially if proper summer care is not taken. Avoid watering it on the summer and give it more regular water in winter. To reduce fungus, remove dead leaves at the bottom of the plant.

Unlike with many succulents, you can’t propagate with individual foliage. Propagate in autumn or with seeds.

Hint: To avoid topsy-turvy plants, cut mature trunks in fall; let the cutting dry out for a couple of days and plant it back in well-drained soil for a clean, well-packaged plant.

Revealed: Dudleya pulverulenta with shared sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), germander blossom (Salvia chamaedryoides) and orange kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos ‘Bush Tango’)

Gardens by Gabriel, Inc..

Shown: Dudleya pulverulenta

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