Dudleya Farinosa Plant Care: How To Grow Bluff Lettuce

Dudleya farinosa [dud-lee-yuh, far-ih-NOH-suh] is a succulent type plant from the stonecrop family Crassulaceae.

It’s known by many common names, including:

  • Powdery dudleya
  • Bluff lettuce
  • Powdery liveforever
  • North Coast Dudleya
  • Sea lettuce (don’t confuse it with sea algae genus Ulva).
powdery leaves of the Dudleya Farinosa aka Bluff LettucePin
Daderot [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

These coastal bluffs are native to coastlines in Oregon and some parts of northern California and are part of The Jepson Manual.

The latter includes Monterey County, Mendocino, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz.

The botanical name is synonymously known as:

  • Dudleya compacta
  • Dudleya eastwoodiae
  • Dudleya septentrionalis

Dudleya Farinosa Care

Size & Growth

This particular species vary in appearance. It’s either drab-looking or spectacularly bright and vivid.

It grows from a caudex, forming a basal rosette with wide, spade-like leaves.

These leaves are typically pale green and approximately 2.5” – 3” inches wide.

The leaves often have edges and tips of bright colors, especially shades of vibrant red. The pale green stem is erect with red or pink tinting through.

The stems are not exceptionally tall and are usually below 6” inches. However, some plants may grow up to 12” inches.

Flowering and Fragrance

Atop the tall stems are branching inflorescence bearing pale to bright yellow flowers.

The bloom time for the powdery dudleys is during spring or summer.

The non-fragrant flowers appear in candelabra-like clusters and add a pale lemony yellow contrast to bright foliage.

Light & Temperature

These plants don’t do well in hot climates, arid conditions, or drought. They are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11b.

The minimum temperature they can bear in coastal winters is 20° degrees Fahrenheit (-7° C).

In summers, the highest tolerable temperature is 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C).

Direct sunlight in these regions may harm the plant. The optimal growing location is in partial shade.

Watering and Feeding

Watering the powdery liveforever plant is tricky. In their native habitats, they become dry when summer arrives.

This is why you must cut off watering to avoid drowning roots.

Water regularly once dry summers are over, and fall arrives.

If your dudleyas are looking gloomy in the growing season, use a succulent fertilizer.

Consult your local gardening center for further details.

Soil & Transplanting

Dry, rocky soil is the way to grow thriving North Coast dudleyas.

The soil should be well-draining to prevent root rot. Since the plant is salt resistant, soil with elevated salt levels are tolerated.

The typical succulent potting mix with good drainage works well.

They respond well to transplanting as they are quite resilient.

Remove some young offsets from an overgrown colony, with the roots intact, and plant in another pot or location.

As soon as soil contact is reestablished, the plants start growing.

Grooming and Maintenance

Dudleya Farinosa is very low maintenance.

You don’t have to deadhead the flowers or prune the foliage.

Just maintain good dry-moisture levels and regular division.

This will be enough for growing healthy plants.

How to Propagate Bluff Lettuce Plants

Although possible, propagating dudleya plants with seeds is very difficult. The seeds are very fine and hard to germinate.

If you want to propagate with seeds, sow them on the surface on top of a sphagnum layer and barely cover it.

Put a glass on top until the seeds sprout.

When the plants are large enough to handle, move them to their permanent locations.

If the seeds don’t work out, propagate by stem cuttings and division.

Bluff Lettuce Pest or Diseases

Dudleya plants are not entirely free from diseases and pests.

One of the biggest issues in some areas is an Argentine Ant infestation.

These ants are guilty of introducing mealybugs and aphids to the plants.

Visit your local gardening center to find a solution to prevent an attack from other problems.

Other than these, snails and slugs can attack the fleshy succulent leaves.

Overwatering the plants may cause root rot and other soil-borne pathogens, which could kill the plant.

Be careful with air circulation to prevent fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.

Dudleya Farinosa Uses

Native to sunny California in the USA, these plants look incredible out in front of beachfront properties.

They are also great for xeriscaping.

Either way, the striking red foliage and the plant’s uniqueness make it a fantastic addition to any garden setting.

They are used in some pen landscapes to attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

The plant is also a favorite as a house plant in coastal regions.

People also add it to succulent terrariums with other plants which can tolerate similar climates.

In fact, it is quite appreciated in Asia, specifically in China and South Korea.

Interestingly enough, in 2019, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported hundreds of bluff lettuce plants had been stripped from California coastal regions and sold overseas.

This is why 40 or so Dudleya species, including farinose are protected by the state and California Native Plant Society.

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