Aaah succulents… For years I never gave them a second look. I was too spellbound by flowering plants to bother with succulents. They were just green looking plants, what’s so special about these? I thought.
And then a serious drought hit California a few years ago. Drought resistant plants and all types of low-water requiring plants were available at the nurseries, and guess what? I kept seeing more and more succulents as an option for drought tolerant plants for our gardens. Gardening magazines were enticing gardeners with succulent gardens.
I started seeing succulents in beautiful floral arrangements and in gorgeous potted plant ensembles. Succulents were getting their just dues, they were being spotlighted everywhere. I had to pay attention now. They were looking pretty darn good, now that they were being used in lovely creative ways. I got intrigued. I started giving them a second glance.
I succumbed to the marketing blitz and bought a few succulents a while back to try out in my garden, and I’ve grown to love them ever since.
Succulents are so easy to grow that it’s hard to mess these up unless of course you make the mistakes that I made.😏
Here are some surprising growing tips I found out after I struggled to keep succulents looking good and healthy. I made the mistake of assuming that just because succulents are drought tolerant plants, that automatically makes them sun loving plants too that can handle our strong California sunshine. Not so. In fact, as I found out the hard way, succulents like part-shade. They aren’t very happy being out in the blazing sun for hours on end, and many times they start drying out.
I remember attending a plant fair hosted by Sunset Magazine a few years ago. There was a vendor at this fair selling exclusively succulents. This guy was selling beautiful succulents in every size and variety imaginable. Since I had just recently started gardening with succulents and had bad experiences with them I shied away from purchasing any new ones at the fair.
While I was discussing how my succulents aren’t doing well with my friend and telling her how I didn’t want to waste any money on more succulents, the gentleman overheard me and offered some advice. He said very often people mistake succulents for sun-loving plants, when in fact they prefer part-shade. He said succulents can survive without water for long periods of time (notice how their leaves are very thick and juicy) but what they cannot handle is direct hot sunlight for hours and hours. The leaves dry out and the succulents slowly die. Once I learnt this little growing titbit I have had success with succulents ever since.
To give you an example, I had a huge 1-feet wide succulent that my friend Georgina had given me for my birthday one year. I had it in a pot in full-sun. Over time it just got smaller and smaller as it started dropping its dry leaves one by one. It was on its last legs when I decided to move it to a more shady location, not expecting it to survive. To my surprise in the mild shady conditions, the succulent came back in full force and over the course of a few months grew to a size even bigger than what it was before – almost 2 feet wide!
That vendor at the fair was right. Succulents thrive in shade. They can get by with very little water, but what they need is part-shady conditions.
Succulents really define drought-tolerant plants. They may not be able to handle 10-12 hours of sunshine, but what they can handle is not being watered for days, even weeks. These plants are truly water-wise!
There are so many varieties of succulents available in various colors, shapes, and textures that it makes it fun to try new varieties every now and then. I pick up succulents from plant fairs, nurseries, and I’ve even picked up a few from home gardeners who sell their excess plants and cuttings.
My succulents can go without water for more than two weeks as long as they are in a little bit of shade. Like all plants, even succulents need water. I mean their leaves don’t get so juicy and succulent without water, but they don’t need much. Just enough to replenish the soil about once a week. I’ve gotten away with not watering my succulents for weeks, as long as they are in part shade.
Now to the topic of cuttings, succulents are the easiest plants to multiply. Want more of that succulent you like? Just cut off a piece from the mother plant and stick that cutting in some soil and water it. Only water once every two weeks, as succulents don’t need much water. But remember to keep it in a shady spot. This cutting should get bigger over time.
Other ways to make succulent cuttings is to take a leaf from the main plant and stick that in soil and you will get a new plant from that leaf too.
Once my kids figured out I like succulents, they got creative with my birthday present last year. Rani gave me a wooden crate filled with little succulents. Perfect present for a newly converted succulent gardener like me 😊🌺🌿
There are so many wonderful succulent ideas in magazines and online blogs, that even I have started doing some fun fancy stuff with succulents now😄. Once in a while I use succulents indoors as decoration when I don’t get a chance to make a bouquet from the garden or pick up fresh flowers. These succulents make an eclectic departure from decorating with flowers.
There are loads of web sites, articles and books on succulent gardening. Here are links to a few online articles on succulents that I think are helpful. To say succulents are having a moment right now would be an understatement. The ultimate guide to succulents. Tips for growing healthy succulents. Succulent Savvy
Try succulents in your garden. You will be surprised at how much fun you have with these water-wise plants as you grow to like them more and more, just like I did.
Mother’s Day Tip 💝
Succulents make wonderful no-fuss plants for those who think they don’t have a green thumb. As you may have figured out by now, succulents are by far the easiest plants to take care of. So go ahead and pick a few succulent plants in various textures, colors, and sizes and put it together in a box, basket or a crate. Tuck some moss or tissue here and there, and you have a lovely Mother’s Day present for that special lady.