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Aug 24
OCC Horticulturist Creates New Hybrid

Flower  Joe Stead


‘Pink Instead' Stars on Cover of National Magazine

Orange Coast College's horticulture lab coordinator, Joe Stead, is making history in the world of plant succulents with a new hybrid fouquieria aptly named "Pink Instead"–a play on its propagator's last name.

"Pink Instead" is starring on the front cover of the July-August issue of the national magazine "Cactus and Succulent Journal."

Stead collaborated with Costa Mesa resident Dan Houston for the journal article, one of five projects they worked on together. Houston captured breathtaking photographs of the new hybrid succulent.

"Pink Instead," a cross between the white-flowering fouquieria purpusii and the fouquieria Macdougali with bright red blossoms, "had never been done," Stead observed. The new hybrid plant originally flowered during the summer of 2008 with unusual pink flowers.

"This plant is a super plant," Stead said. Some fouquieria take up to 10 years to flower, "but this hybrid flowered in the first year and grew three times as fast."

Since the magazine article was published, Stead has been inundated with requests for the plant. He is reserving rooted cuttings for the International Succulent Introductions (ISI) program at Huntington Botanical Gardens. Revenue generated by sale of the succulents will return to OCC's Horticulture Department.

Stead built his first greenhouse at the age of 18, but he never thought horticulture would become his calling. "I always loved plants," he said.

He was taking classes in OCC's Allied Health program in 1995 when he stumbled onto the campus horticulture gardens and met ornamental horticulture professor John Lenanton. "The rest is history," Stead laughs.

At first he volunteered in the gardens, then Stead took a part-time position, which led to full-time employment in 2000. He also teaches a class in cacti and succulents, his passion. He believes that the drought-tolerant plants make sense in California's dry climate, especially as water conservation becomes increasingly important.

Stead grew up in Santa Ana, graduated from Mater Dei High School and lives in Tustin with his wife, Liann. He has a grown daughter, Jennifer, who is finishing up a Master's degree in education at Argosy University in Santa Ana.


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