Sunday, January 5, 2014

From my book shelf to yours.  Some succulent books to peruse. 

I know I haven't posted in a while, things have been crazy.  I have had several people ask about my book recommendations and I keep promising a list.  So here is a start. I am listing these books in a loose suggested order, from simplest to most complex, or a suggested buying order if you so desire.  This is not an exhaustive list.  I am sure I am leaving a few of my own out.  Feel free to suggest additions. 

Here is a small section of my bookshelf, I have always been a book addict/collector and will probably always be one. I have been collecting books that interest me for as long as I can remember.  Feel free to ask for help finding the books you are looking for, I have become pretty adept at finding hard to find books. 

Part of my bookshelf
1.  The Sunset Western Garden Book (2013). Not a book about succulents, but the first book any Western gardener should buy.  It has great info about a broad range of plants and also has great general gardening information as well. You can buy it Here from Amazon, or check your local used book stores. It is also available as an app for the iUniverse. (iPad, iPhone, Etc.)

2.  Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting With 100 Easy-Care Varieties (2013),  by Debra Lee Baldwin.  This is actually the third book that she has written about succulents and has been called a "prequel" to her two other books.  It is packed full of great information and simplified for beginner gardeners. It has some fantastic demonstrations in succulent artistry that you can try at home.  I love Debra Lee Baldwin's writing style and her artistry with succulents and her camera.  Look for it used or buy it from Amazon

3.  Succulent Container Gardens:Designing Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants (2010), by Debra Lee Baldwin.  I am keeping all of her books together, as I feel they are a fantastic set of reference books but are beautiful enough to set out on the coffee table. This has been my favorite succulent book for many years. She covers plant-container combinations and gives some fantastic principles of design that you can use to make truly artistic combinations.   In our local area, Eureka, CA, Growing in containers is the safest as plants in containers seem to do better when we can move them around to adjust for our climate. This is the first of the three books of the three and it is fantastic!  Of course it is available from Amazon. But you can also find this in your local library or used book store. 

4. Designing with Succulents (2011), by Debra Lee Baldwin. This book covers larger scale planting with succulents and is packed full of information, pictures and helpful hints on using succulents in the landscape. It also has companion plant suggestions and care tips. Since it has been out for a while you should be able to get it used from Amazon or your local bookstore. It is also available on Kindle, but I am old fashioned when it comes to my gardening, or reference books.  I have to have it in hand. 
My Succulent Chair, I used some of the hints about succulent combinations, creative succulent artistry and other things from Debra Lee Baldwin's fantastic books as well as a little brainstorming online with her and other artists about colors.
5.  The Jewel Box Garden (2006), by Thomas Hobbs.   This is not a succulent specific book, but is one of the most wonderful garden eye-candy books out there.  The author lives in Vancover BC (USDA zone 8 I believe) and lifts all of his tender succulents out of the garden and places them in greenhouses for the winter.  This allows for pruning, cleaning up, pest inspection and propagation for the next season.  This book will have your jaw on the floor with its beauty. Be aware that there is only one chapter devoted to succulents. He also wrote a book called Shocking Beauty, also worth a look.  It has been out for a while so you should be able to find it easily used from Amazon.

Here is a couple books on Hardy succulents, which is especially of concern right now during the winter months.

6. Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for Every Climate (2012), by Gwen Moore Keladis, with photography by the amazing Saxon Holt. This is a fantastic book that covers some great cold hardy plants that you can choose if you are USDA zone compromised. Saxon Holt is an amazing photographer and I chose the book just for the pictures, but it is a great reference for plants YOU can grow.  On Amazon

7.  Cacti and Succulents for Cold Climates (2012), by Leo J Chance. This book is Cacti heavy, but has some excellent information about things you can do to protect your plants and has great information on plant choices. This book also has great information about xeric companion plants. From Amazon

Sempervivum, a cold hardy succulent
I am now going to introduce you to a very dangerous website for succulent fanatics and book lovers.  Meet Chuck Everson, whose goal in life is to get all the succulent books written in one book store/library.   His prices on many books are better than Amazon's and he has books that are not available in the United States at other stores.   His website is I will be linking to his site in several of the following books. Don't ever say I didn't warn you.

8.  Succulents: Propagation, by Attila Kapitany and Rudolf Schulz. This is one of the best books on succulent propagation that I have ever seen.  EXCELLENT. The authors are from Austrailia, but the book is great for anyone.  The best price for this book is from Chuck at Cactus Bookstore. If you look it or any of the following up on Amazon, they will be extremely overpriced. 

9. Succulents: Care and Health, by Rudolf Schulz and Attila Kapitany. Great information on what to look for when inspecting plants for pests. Plenty of pictures.   Part of a five book series. Best value from Cactus bookstore

10. Succulent Success in the Garden, Attila Kapitany and Rudolf Schulz.  Great book with hints on best placement of plants as well as some suggestions for hard to plant areas.  Very affordable from Cactus Bookstore. 

11. Succulents for the Garden, by Attila Kapitany and Rudolf Schulz. Interesting, but not essential. Cactus bookstore

12. More Succulents for the Garden, Rudolf Schulz and Attila Kapitany. Cactus Bookstore

Agave "Blue Glow"
The following are some general succulent and cacti references from my shelf. They are not too technical and are picture heavy. Some of these are out of print now. Find a couple that are not to expensive on amazon, from your local used books or check them out from your library.  I do not recommend any one individually above the others.  They are all great ways to look at pictures and see what different plants are. This is not a complete or even current list. There are always new "generic" succulent books coming out.  

13.Cacti and Succulents (1997), Hans Hecht. Great images of rain forest cacti. Now out of print but available reasonably from Amazon.

14. The Complete book of Cacti and Succulents (1997), by Terry Hewitt. One of the first books on succulents I ever bought.  Great general information. From Amazon.

15. Cacti and Succulents: A complete guide to species, cultivation and care (2007), by Gideon F.Smith. Good general information. From Amazon. 

16. Succulents for the Contemporary Garden, Yvonne Cave. Good general information, from Amazon.

17. Simon and Schuster's Guide to Cacti and Succulents: An Easy-to-Use Field Guide With More than 350 Full-Color photographs and Illustrations (1985), by Mariella Pizzetti. This is a smaller format book, it is a great compact book that covers cacti and succulents very generally. Very reasonably priced at Amazon.

18.  Garden Succulent Primer (2008) by Gideon Smith. A great general reference to the different plant families.  Very easy to use and has terrific pictures. Cactus Bookstore

The following books are much more technical succulent books from my shelf.  These will not be useful to everyone and some are out of print. I will try to start with the most general and move on to the more specific books.  Some of these books are very text heavy with fewer pictures.

19.  The Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World:  A comprehensive reference to more than 2000 species, by Fred Dortort.  This is an excellent, more recent reference book.  It does not cover many cultivars or hybrids that are sold in nurseries, but has amazing details about the succulent families and genera and their native localities. The pictures are excellent, often showing the plant growing in nature.  It does have some cultivation information as well as some details about cold-hardiness.  It is a great addition to any succulent library. From Amazon

20. Cacti: The Illustrated Dictionary, Rod and Ken Preston-Mafham. Older cacti reference book.  It is now out of print, but quite affordable. From Amazon.

21.  The Cactus Family (2001), Edward F. Anderson.  This was a long awaited cactus family treatment and I believe it must be out of print as its predecessor's are (Britton and Rose). I can not recommend any real deals for you as it is in high demand. I was fortunate to buy it new when it was released.   Here is a link to a book search site Bookfinder showing all available books for sale.

22.  Succulents and Succulents II, (1994, 2000) Maurizio Sajeva & Mariangela Costanzo. A great reference set, they are sadly out of print.  Great photographs and very little text.  This is where I go when I get stumped on an ID. Here is the second volume from Amazon. (way over priced)

23. Aeonium in Habitat and Cultivation (2007) by Rudolf Schulz, This is an amazing reference to the Aeonium genus.  Every plant is pictured in habitat and in cultivation.  The habitat images are impressive, they give you a rare glimpse into the plant's adaptation to its environment in the Canary Islands. From Cactus Bookstore 

24. The Genus Echeveria (2008) by John Pilbeam. A genus overview of Echeveria.   This is an excellent reference to the different species of Echeveria, has some cultivar and hybrid information, but is mainly focused on the species. From Cactus bookstore

25. Echeveria Cultivars (2005)  by Lorraine Schulz and Attila Kapitany. Amazingly beautiful treatment of the current Echeveria cultivars. Lovely photographs and helpful cultivation information.   Pairs well with "The Genus Echeveria" (see above.) From Cactus Bookstore

Baby Toes in bloom

26. Haworthia for the Collector (2009) Rudolf Schulz.  Incredibly lovely book covering Haworthia, one of my favorite genera. Excellent photographs, descriptions and cultivation information. From Cactus Bookstore

27. Sedum, Cultivated Stonecrops (1994)  by Ray Stephenson. More technical book on sedums, fewer photographs but excellent resource for cultivation requirements, growing recommendations and accurate (for the time) nominclature. From Amazon. There is a new book coming out soon on Sedums here is that link. Amazon

28. Mesembs of the World (1998) by Gideon Smith et al. Great reference for ice plant, Lithops and other allied genera. The book is a little dated, but still relevant if you are interested in the group. From Cactus Bookstore

Last but certainly not least, is a book I received for Christmas and has been on my wish list for several years.

29.  The Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae (2012) by Urs Eggli.   This is the first family level treatment that has come out in several years.  There are other books in the series as well for other succulent genera. This is a very technical book that has very few pictures, but the information is invaluable as it covers the entire family and there are keys to the genera, as well as location information and related species. I am still learning how the book works, but I am so blessed to be able to have a definitive source of information available to me. From Amazon.

I hope that this is helpful, I know that it is hard to find books that are really useful in our digital age.  I am happy to add your suggestions to the list.  I use the following websites to search for bargain books:


  1. Awesome list of books! I wish Laura Eubanks would make one already!