SUCCULENTS TO THE RESCUE!!!
To those that have a proverbial black thumb when it comes to caring for plants, especially indoor plants, then succulents are for you!
One important thing to remember however is that succulents grow and thrive in a well lighted area and one where the temperatures do not get too low. Both those requirements are in abundance here in Southern California and in the sun belt states.
Succulents Love Light and Sun
Succulents love a primarily sunny area but can survive in a semi-shady area as well. The problem is that with the sunny areas you’ll get optimum results in their growth and color patterns but lower light will cause a succulent to adapt to the less than desirable conditions and they manifest those conditions in a less than optimum way. For example: succulents will change to a less vibrant color and they will not retain their natural compact growth pattern. As a result you get an awkward looking hybrid.
Hello Warm Weather!
If you have chosen to make an outdoor garden, Spring and Summer are the best times to plant your succulents.
Indoor succulents can be planted any time of year.
Don’t Overwater Succulents
Succulents generally need less water than most other types of plants.
In an outdoor environment, succulents require water according to the predominant climate. In an outdoor setting, if the weather produces rain at least once a week, watering is not necessary. However, in drier, more arid climates where it rains less frequently, you should water on a watering regimen only once or twice a week. Containerized plants should be well drained and should be fertilized during the growing season with a diluted fertilizer by 1/2 or 1/4 of a regular dose used on other plants.
Remember it’s better to under water succulents than over water. Over watering creates root rot and the plant will eventually wither and die.
Soil and Temperature Matter
Planting succulents outdoors is the best location for succulents but not in freezing temperatures. However, there are some that can survive a colder climate but your choices will be more limited.
The soil you use for succulents is important as well. Their natural growing environment is in well drained soil. Succulents that you buy in a pot already have ideal soil conditions provided by the nursery.
However, when you transfer the plant or plants into a larger container that type of soil must be duplicated for an optimum growing environment although you can buy soil already mixed specifically for succulents. If you have a larger growing area it would be more economical to mix your own. To do that you should mix 2 parts standard potting soil with 1 part fine gravel and 1 part fine bark which provides some nutritional value. The gravel combined with washed sand provides proper drainage and heat retention.
So Many Beautiful Plants
There are over 10,000 different varities of succulent species around the world.
Burro’s Tail (Sedum Morganianum) is one of the most popular and Discocactus subterraneo-proliferans is one of the rarest, found only in one region in Brazil.
Have fun with Color and Size!
Because succulents can adapt to many different planting environments, it’s fun to be creative using various containers, such as shallow bowls, cups, hollowed out logs, old wheel barrows or anything that can be used as a container.
When planning a succulent garden, whether in a container or as a landscape project, keep in mind what you want as the end result, which means calculating the size, color and identifying surface characteristics. Start planting the tallest in the middle pot or the rear of a planting area. Move forward with progressively smaller species.
Consider color as well. Mixing color will lead to a more gratifying and artful end result. Considering that there are more than 10,000 varieties of succulents and cactuses, you’ll have a challenging but fun time in choosing the ones that work best with your living design.
Which Succulent Should I get?
There are so many succulents from which to choose. They offer a diversity of shapes, colors and styles that can fit anywhere from a home office to a child’s bedroom.
Some of my favorite outdoor succulents are Hens-and-Chicks, Stonecrop, Whale’s Tongue Agave, Bell Cactus, Plush Plant, Dudleya, Pig’s Ear, Zwartkop, Sunburst and Torch Plant. And these are just a few!
Many of these common names are endemic to a particular part of the country. If you’re curious, google can find it for you. Go explore the possibilities of succulents and have fun!
By Peter Martin
Peter Martin started his own business in Studio City specializing in interior plantscaping and exterior landscaping. You can see many of his landscape designs at apartment buildings and commercial real estate all around Los Angeles, as well as homes to the stars! He was also owner of Martin Iron Design where he manufactured and designed wrought iron furniture, lighting and accessories for architects and designers. Peter resides in North Hollywood, CA with his wife Susan and son Nick. Peter is a graduate of Cal State Northridge.
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