Care for succulents
These plants have an inbuilt ability to survive in tough conditions. But they’ve been pampered by being domesticated and need more care than those in the wild.
Full sun. Shade reduces the leaves’ colour pigments – white, pink, red or almost black – and they’ll revert to full green.
Well-drained. If your garden soil is heavy, grow in pots in a succulent mix.
Temperate. Most tolerate hot, dry conditions but not for too long. Frost expands the water stored in leaves and leaf tissue will be destroyed.
As they enter the growing period in spring, apply a slow-release fertiliser low in nitrogen.
Succulents need less water than most plants because they store it in their leaves. But this doesn’t mean no water. In prolonged hot, dry periods, water the soil not the plant. At other times, too much will cause root rot.
Top 10 succulents to grow
Succulents are the perfect plants for time-poor gardeners. Try these easy-care varieties in garden beds or pots.
2. Hens and chicks (Sempervivum)
4. Money tree or jade plant (Crassula ovata)
7. Mother in law’s tongue or snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
8. Aloe vera
9. Chalk sticks (Senecio)
10. Agave attenuata
Growing in pots
Use a special succulent mix for growing in pots. Succulents don’t need to draw as much water from the soil as other plants because they store moisture in their leaves, so the roots can focus on drawing up nutrients from the soil rather than water.
A succulent mix allows excess water to drain away quickly, avoiding root rot while providing the nutrients needed for them to grow in an artificial environment. Grow in porous pots of stone, terraco a, concrete or hypertufa so excess moisture can seep through the walls.
Leaf propagation is a popular way to double your plants, but stem propagation increases your plants by up to 10 times.
Drill with an 8-10mm drill bit through the centre of the plant until just above the roots. You will feel a bit of resistance. This shocks the plant, forcing it to go straight into reproduction mode, and generates up to 6 pups around the outside before it eventually dies.
Crowning involves using pointy-nosed secateurs to take out the centre of the succulent. Plant the crown in damp succulent mix after it has developed a callus. Meanwhile, the original plant not only survives, it also produces up to 10 pups on its remaining stem.
De-heading is a form of stem cutting for tall succulents that may become unsightly as they lean over. After cutting through the stem with clean secateurs, let the top half form a callus then plant in damp succulent mix.
The original base will produce up to 10 pups.
For more gardening projects, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine in selected newsagents and supermarkets or buy online today!
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