Succulent Love

Written by David S.

Succulents are easy to grow plants that are available in a fantastic variety of colors, shapes, and flowering types. One benefit of growing succulents is that they are very drought tolerant and when established, grow well in our Southern California climates without looking stunted and unkempt. Succulents have specialized cells that help them to hold water in hot weather so that they can produce photosynthesis when other types of plants would struggle to do so. That ability makes succulents an excellent choice for Southern California yards and also as indoor plants. In this newsletter, we look at a few varieties of succulents, their blooms, and add a bit about how to grow them. 

Calandrinia – A Purslane – Fuschia Pink Blooms 

Clandrinia is easy to grow, and they produce beautiful cup-like flowers in fuschia pink tones. One of the beautiful things about Calandrinia is that they bloom throughout the summer season and sometimes into fall, which keeps your yard looking beautiful for longer. 

Usage – Calandrinia and other purslane plants make excellent groundcovers. Like most succulents, these are low-growing plants that send up spikes of flowers. They can grow to 18” in height, making them also appropriate for borders and edging. These plants love heat, and you can add them to a rock garden, in the ground, or pots. After they are established, water them 1-2 times per week and use soil that is well-draining but holds some moisture. A succulent potting soil is highly recommended as many succulents like acidic soils.  Check out our selection of succulent soils, such as those by EB Stone. 

Echevaria – Aloe Vera – Gorgeous Gray/blue Colors 

Echeveria is a beautiful plant with a rose-shaped profile in grays and blues. This is a low growing plant making it fantastic as a foreground plant in a bed, as a border plant, or in a pot. Mature plants can be one foot wide making this a dynamic choice for adding interest and color to your yard. The blooms appear along the spikes that can be 1 or so feet high. The flowers are orange/red with a touch of yellow. These are beautiful and easy to grow. 

Soil – Escheria love well-drained soil that retains moisture, but is not overly wet. Start with an excellent succulent potting soil such as EB Stone Cactus soil. We carry many brands of quality succulent and cactus soil and amendments. Our helpful staff will point you to the best products and answer your questions about growing succulents. If growing succulents in a container, you may want to add a layer of FoxFarms Salamander Soil to the bottom of the pot. Containers tend to lose water quicker than in-ground beds. Salamander soil can be a good way to keep water in the bottom of the post but not in the soil around the roots of the plants. 

Where to Plant – Echeveria loves heat so plant in full sun. They will tolerate some shade, but the more sun you give them, the better the blooms. When established, there are lovely drought-tolerant plants. Plant them in a bed or a pot. These make wonderful additions to a rock garden, mixed succulent pot, or by themselves. 

Echeveria makes wonderful landscaping plants because they are easy to grow, and because of their beautiful form and gorgeous colors. 

SUCCULENTS AS GROUND COVERS

Spreading and sprawling succulents are amazing in a yard. Here are a few that work well as groundcovers.

Portulacea – Sun Rose or Moss Rose 

Portulacea is a group of plants that are very pretty too. They have a five-petal cup-like bloom that is bright and cherry. Usually, they bloom in white, red or pink but new hybrids are available in rich purples too. Growing Portulacea is very easy. As with most succulents, you will need well-drained soil, but that holds some moisture without being overly wet and soggy. The key to creating this type of soil is to start with a good base. The soil should be relatively free of clay. Clay holds water while sandy soil drains fast. You must have a good mixture of both to achieve land that is well-drained and yet holds some water. To get there, use a succulent or cactus potting soil and amend with a bit of compost. Ask our staff about ratios and products to create succulent potting soil for Southern California climates. 

Plants in the Portulacea family are easy to grow, and they love full sun. They will take partial shade, but the pay off will be fewer blooms and darker color foliage. When fully established, there are very drought tolerant, but like the sun issue, the less water, the fewer flowers. 

SPRAWLING AND TRAILING SUCCULENTS 

Donkey Tails – Sedum Morganianum 

Donkey Tails are a beautiful dusty, mint green, and they produce amazing trailing arms that are comprised of alternate succulent leaves. Sedum is a wonderful plant family because of its color and the textures that the arms produce. The arms can grow upwards of two feet in length so give them some space to sprawl. 

How to Grow Donkey Tails:

Donkey Tails are very easy to grow as are most plants in the Sedum family. Start with good succulent soil and water now and then. They love full sun, well-drained soil, and a little organic matter. When fully established, lightly water 1-2 times per week. These are very forgiving plants and will stand up to drought conditions. 

Where to Grow – Dappled Shade is best, but they will be okay in full sun. Succulents have specialized cells that hold water during the hottest part of the day. Other types of plants lose water during the hottest part of the day. So, if the dappled shade is not available, full sun is the next best spot for most sedum plants. 

The long trailing arms make these very appropriate for indoor or outdoor hanging baskets, rock gardens, beds, or containers. This is another beautiful succulent for mixed succulent gardens. 

String of Pearls 

Another plant that is very similar to Donkey Tails is the String of Pearls Plant. Instead of long thick arms, the string of pearl plant produces long strings of green foliage that look like large green peas or pearls. This plant makes a beautiful hanging plant for indoor or outdoor. Like Donkey Tails, it likes some afternoon shade. If you are looking for a plant or two to decorate a covered porch, either donkey tails or string of pearls would be an ideal choice. Both are beautiful from a tall pot where they can spill over the edge or in a hanging basket. 

Green Thumb Nursery Carries a large selection of succulents. Most are very easy to grow and uplift their growing environment. Most can handle indoor or outdoor locations as many want full sun or partial shade. 

If a succulent garden is in your future, be sure to give us a call first to check on the availability of specific plants. Our inventory changes every day throughout our five locations. You can also shop online or in person. We also encourage you to stop by and visit the nursery. Doing so is always a great option as you can visually see the beautiful attributes of the succulents and talk with our expert staff about succulent choice and care. 

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