Succulent plants are trendy these days, and it might have something to do with the endless variety of colours, textures and shapes they feature. Also, they are an easy-care choice and therefor well-suited to the casual gardener! Incorporate them into your garden or flowerbed or let them dazzle in containers both inside and out. Use them to create a stunning vertical garden or a green wall. They are eye-catching any and everywhere.
Unique among plants, succulents are able to conserve moisture in special water storage tissues. You must always plant them in conditions with excellent drainage, and garden soil mixed with sand is ideal. You can cover the soil with decorative gravel or pebbles, playing with colour contrasts and complements. For a sure winner, white stones spread over the earth provide the perfect backdrop for your garden arrangement of various attractive succulents.
Succulent plants are available in an unbelievable range of species. While their juicy stems and leaves are somewhat thick and fleshy, several plants have a waxy appearance whereas others look positively hairy! With no lack of variety, there are somewhere around 12,000 species of succulents among numerous plant families, including:
- Avagacae, which includes Agava, Lucky bambou, Cordyline, the Dragon tree and Yucca tree
- Crassulaceae (aka Stonecrop or Orpine), with Cotyledon, Aeonium, and Crassula plants
- Liliacea, which includes Aloe Vera
Follow these steps for a succulent garden
Growing succulents is a lot simpler than you might think. Outside in the garden, plant your succulents in a spot where there are plenty of stones and where the soil is light and well-drained. The ideal location will be dry and bathed in sunlight.
- Clear the designated spot and meticulously remove all weeds.
- Dig to a depth of approximately 30 to 50 cm.
- Spread a layer of pebbles; they will ensure good soil drainage, which is essential.
- Add sufficient earth, a mix of garden soil and sand in equal parts.
- Lay out your garden and place your plants where you want them. Fill the empty spaces between plants very carefully.
- Cover the earth between plants with decorative gravel if you choose. Accessories are welcome too! Rocks and pieces of colourful ceramic can all be integrated into the garden.
If you plant your succulents indoors, in a pot or terrarium for example, put a layer of gravel over the bottom of your container before adding soil and planting.
Although succulents are distinctly low-maintenance, here are some basic tips on how best to care for them.
- Keep it to a minimum.
- Let the soil dry between watering.
- Apply specially formulated fertilizer for cacti and succulents that is rich in phosphorous and potassium and low in nitrogen and limestone every 3 to 6 weeks between late April and mid-August.
- Remove wilted flowers and leaves.
- If you want to propagate carassula from leaf cuttings, use the segmented part of the leaf that you will detach and plant in the earth.
- For cacti, put a stem segment in earth. Roots will develop and you'll be able to plant the new cactus.
Weeds and disease:
- Outside, weed regularly or you'll have to start from scratch after a year or two.
- Always remove wilted flowers and leaves; because they're filled with moisture, they could cause the rest of the plant to rot.
- Regularly inspect your plants to ensure harmful insects have not taken up residence, particularly mealybugs, scales and spider mites. Use a commercial insecticide to help you get rid of them.
- Succulent plants kept outdoors during the winter should be covered.
Let your creativity and imagination lead the way when you choose and design your garden space. Shapes, colours and textures can be mixed in a multitude of variations to spectacular effect. Stand back and admire!