Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Pot luck

As the weather gradually starts to warm up and everything begins to dry out, I really appreciate the toughness of succulent plants. They are ideal subjects for pots, being decorative as well as incredibly drought-hardy and heat resistant. If you would like to have pot plants on a paved area in full sun, succulents will do the job where most things would die.

This group of plants are characterised by fleshy, water-storing leaves. They may also have an attractive pale bloom or soft hairs over the entire surface of the plant. These are all adaptations to preserve water, making succulents ideal for hot dry climates. Since we have a warm wet climate they can be problematical to grow in the soil. The good drainage we can give them in a pot makes growing easy. Pot them up in a half and half blend of potting mix and coarse sand, and mulch around the top of the pot with gravel or small pebbles. Let each pot dry out before you water again, and dont allow the plants to sit in a saucer full of water.

These plants are generally very easy to propagate either from single leaves, tip cuttings or offsets. With cuttings and leaves, always allow the cut surface to callus for a few days before you pot them up this prevents the entry of disease-causing organisms and gives the plant the best chance of taking. Small plants or offsets can simply be pulled gently away from the parent plant, and will usually have adequate root systems to grow away quickly.

Ive had success with succulents growing in the ground in a bed next to a west-facing house wall. They get no watering or natural rainfall, and the soil is sandy builders rubble, yet these tough customers are growing beautifully and flowering well.

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