Dudleya pulverulenta, also known as the Chalk Dudleya, chalk lettuce, or chalk liveforever, is an easy succulent to grow in full sun to part shade. It originates from the coastal regions of northern California and southwestern Oregon.
These succulents are popularly grown in hanging baskets, but they also make great rockery plants or groundcover in sunny locations with well-drained soil or gravel beds.
If you love succulents but you’re not quite sure what to do with your new dudleya pulverulenta (chalk dudleya), you’ve come to the right place! This type of succulent may look like it needs special treatment, but it’s actually quite easy to care for, as long as you give it what it needs!
The dudleya pulverulenta care can seem tricky due to their need for intense sunlight, but once you’ve mastered the dudleya pulverulenta care, your plants will thrive and you’ll have beautiful, showy foliage to add to your collection of succulents.
With the right amount of sunlight and water, these low-maintenance plants are great additions to any garden or arrangement!
Here’s what you need to know about dudleya pulverulenta care and how to keep your plant thriving year-round.
We’ll walk you through exactly how to care for your chalk dudleya here, including the watering schedule, sunlight requirements, soil composition, and when and how to repot it.
Origin and distribution
Dudleya pulverulenta are endemic to North America, with over 90 species identified in California alone. In fact, many of these species can be found throughout much of western North America and others have been found as far east as Kansas and north into Canada.
Not surprisingly, most chalky dudleyas prefer dry warm climates with very little rainfall but some are also adapted to high humidity habitats such as bogs and swamps. The plants grow from a fleshy taproot that is buried deep within the ground and not visible above the ground.
Most species form rosettes of evergreen leaves that resemble lettuce or succulents. It is for their foliage that they are commonly called chalk lettuce or chalk dudleyas although they do not belong to either family. The plant will eventually produce small flowers on tall stalks which bloom at night and close during daylight hours.
Dudleya pulverulenta propagation
Dudleya pulverulenta are easy to propagate. You can divide it into sections, or you can just take a leaf with a little bit of root and place it in some potting soil. They root quickly, so you should be able to see new plants growing in about 3 weeks. I have also successfully propagated them from seed.
The process is similar to other liveforevers but they do tend to grow slower than others. If you want to start seeds indoors, plant them around April 1st. Seedlings will emerge within 2-3 months. If you start your seeds outdoors, wait until June 1st for germination to occur.
Once established, Dudleya pulverulenta prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Watering frequency depends on whether or not you’re in a drought; make sure that there is good drainage at all times because these plants do not like to sit in water.
These plants are native to California where they receive plenty of rain throughout the year. In drier climates, water once every week during spring/summer/fall and once every two weeks during winter time.
Dudleya pulverulenta care information
In general, Dudleya pulverulenta plants are easy to care for succulents that need little water and thrive in most indoor lighting conditions. If you have a green thumb but are looking for something a little more forgiving than cacti or other desert succulents, a dudleya may be right up your alley.
Dudleya pulverulenta prefers an environment with filtered light or full sun to partial shade. If you’re looking for a slower-growing, more compact variety of Dudleya, place your plant in filtered light or partial shade.
However, if you want it to spread over a large area and be a bit faster growing, place it in direct sunlight. It will still grow at a steady pace, but just not as quickly as it would in full sun.
The key to growing Dudleya pulverulenta is a well-draining soil mix. The great thing about dudleyas is that they are very resilient in terms of their ability to adapt to their environment, but they don’t like sitting in water.
When it comes to potting mix, use one with a lot of pumice or other coarse material, which will allow for adequate drainage while holding onto moisture during drier spells.
Some people prefer a soil/potting mix ratio of 50/50 peat moss and sand; others swear by 80/20 peat moss and perlite. You can also add some organic matter such as composted bark mulch or leaf mold.
In general, you want your dudleyas to be planted in soil that drains quickly and doesn’t hold onto excess water, Dudleya pulverulenta hate wet feet! There are several commercial potting mixes on the market specifically designed for succulents, cacti, and other drought-resistant plants.
Dudleya pulverulenta require moderate watering and should be watered whenever they appear dry. Water thoroughly, allowing water to drain out of holes in pot, then empty saucer.
Keep your plants on a frequent schedule so they don’t dry out too much between waterings. However, it’s also important not to overwater them either; make sure their soil is dry to your touch between waterings.
Since chalk dudleyas can grow in desert-like conditions, they don’t require much fertilizer. Feed them a small amount of liquid fertilizer about once every two months during active growth. If you live in an area with very hard water, use water-soluble fertilizer to keep your plant from becoming too salty.
Or consider using succulents and cacti food instead. Succulents are easy to find at most garden centers, but if you want to make your own mix at home, just combine equal parts of epsom salts and bonemeal. This will give your plants a balanced supply of nutrients without overloading them with any one mineral.
Dudleya pulverulenta like temperatures to be a bit cooler than most succulents. Daytime temperatures in the summer should be about 65 degrees and then can drop into the lower 50s at night. During the winter months, it is ideal to keep your plant around 60 degrees or slightly warmer.
It’s important not to let them get too cold as they are susceptible to damage from frost. If you’re worried about your plants during colder months, you can place them near a window where they will receive indirect sunlight but still stay warm enough for optimal growth.
Chalk dudleyas are desert plants and need little water and no fertilizer. They do best in areas with medium humidity, however, which is why they make a good houseplant.
If you don’t live in an area with low humidity, try misting your plant every other day. Make sure to avoid getting any water on its leaves, as it can cause fungal infections like mildew.
The ideal humidity range is between 30 and 50 percent. If your home falls outside of that range, consider investing in a humidifier.
Chalk dudleyas are easy to prune. Pruning is usually done by cuttings of long stems, which can be done at any time of year. To do so, simply take a cutting using a clean shear or scissors.
When to repot
Chalk dudleyas are much easier to grow if they are re-potted every year or two, especially for beginning gardeners. As with all succulents, it’s important to use a potting soil formulated for cactus and succulents.
They don’t need a lot of water and sun, but too much will cause them to rot. It’s best to move them inside during cold months as well. During their growing season in spring and summer, they should be kept outside where they can receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
During winter months when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, bring your plant indoors where it can receive bright indirect light from an east-facing window.
The plant should be allowed to dry out between watering, which should occur about once per week in spring and summer when temperatures rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit; less often in fall and winter when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
During dormancy/winter rest, your plant will not require much water. Since it is winter, you will also need to increase light levels for your plant. To bring your plant out of dormancy, gradually increase sunlight and water.
Make sure that both daytime and nighttime temperatures remain in the 50-80 degree range. Increasing daylight hours will help bring your Dudleya pulverulenta out of dormancy quicker.
If your plant does not come out of dormancy within a few weeks, it may be dead. If so, remove it from its pot and check to see if there are any roots left on the base of its stem.
Dudleya pulverulenta flower & fragrance
Up close, the flowers on many varieties of dudleyas are very fragrant. The bright purple flower spikes of Dudleya pulverulenta can be particularly heavy with perfume during humid afternoons and evenings.
As a rule, all dudleyas produce copious amounts of nectar in order to attract pollinators.
Chalk dudleyas grow very slowly, in fact, it’s quite common for individuals to remain in their original containers for years. However, they can be increased by detaching clumps and planting them where desired.
They should be repotted after being moved. On average, most chalk dudleyas will require repotting every two years.
Dudleya pulverulenta is considered to be a poisonous plant. The stems, which contain saponins, can irritate the skin. If they come in contact with the eyes, they may cause discomfort and temporary blindness.
If ingested by pets or children, consumption can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions. Contact your physician immediately if you suspect poisoning from ingestion or contact with skin or eyes.
USDA hardiness zones
Chalk lettuce thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 8-10. If you live outside of these zones, you can still grow chalk dudleyas, but they may require some special care.
In areas with colder winters, like zone 7 and below, Dudleya pulverulenta should be planted in a container that can be moved indoors during cold months.
Pests and diseases
The Chalk Dudleya’s biggest threats are from insects and diseases. It is susceptible to mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites, thrips, and aphids. If you see signs of these pests or diseases on your plant (leaves with silver spots), you should isolate them immediately and treat them for the pests. In most cases, a systemic insecticide will be effective against crawling pests such as mealybugs and scale insects.
Dudleya pulverulenta plants are a great succulent to start with. They are often used in offices and as houseplants as they don’t need as much care as some other succulents. As long as they have good drainage, their soil is kept moist, and they get bright light, they should be fine. Many people add rocks or gravel on top of their soil so that water will drain through more easily.