Gardening with Succulents

This summer I have experimented with succulents as I work to devise a solution for planting in a wet spot. That’s right – a wet spot! As you may well know, succulents thrive in extreme weather and store moisture within, making them a great drought-tolerant plant. Hen and chicks (sometimes called cats and kittens) are a very popular example of a succulent. Because they need little care, if you wish, you can put them in any remote spot for a touch of green or red or orange.

We have a spot that washes out when there is a heavy rain, and plants that thrive on normal rainfall just don’t thrive in this particular spot. We used a concrete bird bath top, drilled a hole for drainage, and planted succulents in lightweight potting soil to get them started. The torrential rains that wash across the driveway in this particular spot rush around the plantings, the plants are secure in their concrete base and we have some green where we once had a bare spot.

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The soil sometimes washes out of its concrete base, but can be easily replenished. I started small, given that this was an experimental project. I have added plants for color and texture since it appears that the tough little guys will «weather» any «weather». I have added decorative pebbles to secure the soil and the plants.

Did you know that succulents can be easily over-wintered? The same plantings can be moved indoors for the winter and need very little care. In the spring, when danger of frost has passed, just set out the container garden planted last year and it will adjust with little or no care. That’s my plan, at least……..

The appearance of succulents is rather exotic – not the traditional container garden, I’ll admit. I have listed a few here beyond the hens and chicks we see in many local gardens. Known as the ultimate low-maintenance plant, they are all very adaptable:

  • Aloe – a spiky plant that doubles as a topical burn treatment — especially interesting in containers because of the height.
  • Sedum – a multi-faceted plant of various heights with blooms of many colors.
  • Fish Hooks senecio is a trailing succulent of lime green, great for hanging containers.
  • Sticks of Fire red pencil tree is striking. It looks much like its name would indicate, but I have to admit, it looks almost plastic – much like the plastic aquarium plants one sees in tropical fish tanks. Of course, it is not plastic at all, and in the right pot of a contrasting color, is very striking.

More and more garden centers are adding succulents to their inventory. I advise you to check out the possibilities. They are usually inexpensive and as noted, require very little care.

Remember, key to a successful succulent container garden is proper drainage through exit holes in the container filled with a light weight soil that drains well. Add lots of sun and you have an interestingly different focal point.

Did you know……on average, a family of 4 will spend $70 on seeds and plants to grow their own veggies and harvest about $600 in produce throughout the growing season?

Did you know……watering your lawn at midday results in 30% moisture loss? Water in the morning to get the benefit of 100% moisture (almost) and bring the worms to the surface for a baby robin’s breakfast?

Did you know…..buying small plants and cultivating them to a larger size saves about 66%?

Did you know….you should let your perennials grow for about 3 years, then divide and save instantly by turning 1 plant into several?

Did you know….you can save about $23/ ton by composting yard waste to avoid collection costs? One-part kitchen scraps (plant-based only please) plus two parts yard waste (no weed seeds please) will yield healthy free compost!