New Love — Easy Care & Water Saving Succulents

by Linda Wiggen Kraft

Falling in love with plants is the reason all gardeners garden. A plant’s beauty and gifts, whether food for the soul or body, captures our hearts and leads us on our garden journeys. There is always room in a gardener’s heart for more plants.

A type of plant I never gave much thought to before has wrapped its beauty around my heart. I am now smitten with succulents. It is not the blossom of these plants that inspires, it is the beauty of the geometric growing patterns, the textures and coloring of the thick water holding leaves that takes my breath away. Their easy care with little need for watering makes me love them even more. I can go away for a long weekend and not worry about watering my front door pots.

Some succulents have a perfect symmetry of rosette or mandala shapes with spiral geometry and subtle colorings from cool blue green, chartreuse, orange to purple. Perhaps the most familiar shape is hen and chicks. The intricate patterning, texture and colors of the rosette forms make me want to stop and spend hours looking at and absorbing their beauty. These forms are seen mainly in the echeverias, semipervirins and aloes.

Sedums are also succulents that come in a vast array of sizes, shapes and colors. Some are trailing plants. Some have large leaves and flowers, others fine leaves that contrast well with the larger shapes. The range of shapes, colors and growing heights makes them perfect companions for small garden arrangements.

One of the best things about growing succulents is their need for little water. They evolved in harsh dry sunny conditions and need similar growing environments. Good drainage and loose soil is the number one requirement. In containers they need watering only once or twice a week, even in the hot harsh days of summer.

Many succulents are hardy in our climate, others are annuals. Combining hardy and non-hardy succulents is often done in containers. The annuals can be taken out at the end of the growing season, and the hardy ones left outside. As long as there is good drainage they will survive. The non-hardy ones can be potted up and taken inside, where they will live if provided enough light.

A way to observe and enjoy succulents is to plant them in containers, where they will be seen often and close up. Containers can be any kind as long as there is good drainage with loose soil. Traditional garden pots made of glazed ceramic, terra cotta, hypertufa, and modern materials can be used. Also found objects and vintage containers are a great display option.

Container gardens are usually placed in a prominent place to show off their beauty. The entrance to the front of the house, or a focal point in a garden, are good places for succulent gardens. Looking down into a pot of arranged succulents, each one a world unto itself, is the perfect way to enjoy the beauty and majesty of these easy care plants.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer and mandala artist. Her work can be seen at www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. She can be contacted at 314 504-4266.