It’s not hard to please these tough cookies and they’ll please you right back
All over the world, plant breeders have risen to the challenge of producing plants of outstanding quality and incredible interest. As gardeners we are looking for hardy plants that will thrive on no care at all. Succulents are perfect for the beginner gardener.
Succulents are a group of plants that save water for dryer times in their leaves, stems or roots and have adapted different ways to surviving harsh conditions. Succulents are the perfect choice to complement the strong architectural buildings and bold lines that are so popular at the moment. These plants have some amazing foliage forms, colours and shapes, which makes them very inspiring and stunning in the contemporary garden. Many gardeners are limited in their plant choice by the amount of water available and this is one of the reasons why succulents have become so popular.
One of the main reasons succulents die in the home garden situation is over-watering. Many gardeners can’t get used to seeing dry soil and feel obliged to water it but succulents can cope with many months of dehydration. The soil needs to dry out between waterings as they hate being waterlogged. Make sure you lift pots off the ground so the water goes straight through the soil (one of the few times we want this to happen) and don’t put a saucer under the pot as they can rot very easily.
Slugs and snails are also a menace to succulents; nothing is more disappointing than a large feature leaf that’s damaged forever. To control these, a few containers of beer placed around the base of the plants will attract them and they will drown in a drunken stupor. Mealy bug can also be a problem for those plants grown in pots. It can live in the soil and damage the root system. It is a white insect shaped like a rice grain and is easily controlled with Natrasoap. To keep your succulents looking the picture of health, just apply a slow-release organic fertiliser every six months (spring and autumn) around the soil surface and scratch in lightly if they are growing in the ground.
When you next visit your local garden centre, take a look at the range of outstanding collectable varieties with interesting textures and you’ll be running for the trolley. It’s so easy to become inspired to create a few mixed pots or borders — or even convert the whole garden over to these tough beauties.