By Seve Kale
My thumb is so far from green, it may as well be red. Regardless, I recently decided to hop on the gardening bandwagon and start my own succulent garden.
Through trial and error, along with some advice from the pros, I’ve created a cheery little garden on my back patio. Best of all, it is thriving in the dead heat of the Texas summer! If you’re looking to add a little plant life to your porch, the following tips and tricks will put you well on your way to succulent success:
Having adapted to survive harsh, arid conditions all over the world, succulents are fleshy leaved plants designed to store water. From brushy leaves to rosettes and paddle leaves to twisting columns, succulents come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Be creative and do some research to figure out which variations will look best in your garden.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, some plants such as aloe provide homeopathic remedies. No matter the particular plant you choose, your drought-tolerant succulents will create a sustainable, low-maintenance garden.
Plan Your Strategy
Success may be hard to come by, unless you do your research. Check the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find out which zone you are gardening in. Knowing your zone will help you pick the succulent species that will thrive in your climate. You’ll likely want sempervivums or sedums, unless you live in Zone 8 or 9.
Once you’ve chosen the sort of succulent(s) you’d like to grow, chose your container. Succulents have very shallow roots, so even an interesting bowl or dish can make a great setting for a container garden. “Succulents appreciate soil that is well aerated and drains well,” says Robin Stockwell of Succulent Gardens, a nursery dedicated to succulents based in Castroville, Calif. “Coarse bark or crushed lava work well for this, sand does not.”
Everything in Moderation
According to Stockwell, “Succulents are low maintenance, not no maintenance.”
Remember, succulents aren’t cactus — they do need constant moisture. However, take care that their soil doesn’t become soggy and allow the potting mix to dry between watering. They will be at their healthiest and most colorful in full sunlight, but some species may scorch if suddenly exposed to direct sunlight. Most succulents will survive the winter right in their containers, but those in colder climates might want to require additional protection.
With careful observation and persistence, you’ll learn to create the ideal environment for your plants. Snails, earwigs and hail can wreak havoc on your succulent garden, along with other bugs and diseases, so keep an eye on your plants to make sure they are staying healthy and happy.
If at First You Don’t Succeed
Try, try again! If your plants are looking sad — dried up or shriveling — try taking cuttings and making new plants.
It’s easy to propagate a new plant from the leaves — simply remove some of the bottom leaves, set them aside for about three days to callous (which prevents rot) and then set the cuttings on a pot of soil and wait for them to root. Use this technique to expand your own garden or give away plants as gifts.
Armed with a bit of background knowledge, you’re well on your way toward creating a beautiful succulent garden. Don’t be afraid to be creative with your garden — incorporate shells, rocks or other interesting objects to create a unique masterpiece. From succulent wall gardens to hanging wreaths, the possibilities are endless.
Seve Kale is a writer for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.