Our San Francisco gardening business has been focusing more on succulent plants in the last year, as the forecast trends towards drier, hotter weather. The need to conserve water in the garden and landscape is essential and using plants with lower water needs is key.
Dry garden plants, like many California natives, and the flora from similar Mediterranean dry climate regions around the world, which include – parts of South Africa, Chile, New Zealand, parts of Australia, and the Mediterranean region of Europe – have plants adapted to similar climates with mild wet winters and long dry summers.
SUCCULENTS– besides being drought tolerant and low maintenance are also incredibly popular right now. How much do you love their architectural appeal, see this post if you do. It’s of an inspirational modern LA garden planting, which uses mostly succulents.
As you learn more about which types are best, specifically for planting outdoors you’ll find that there are also great rewards in designing with different types and species. Also, finding them in every color; being able to use them to create living walls; and as artistic accents for interior design.
Basically, they are a lot of fun to design with. Right? But first, do you even know what a succulent is?
Okay, so let’s first start with…
What is a Succulent?
Depending upon who you ask – a horticulturist, a botanist, a hobbyist – the definition of a succulent plant will vary. A definition I like from Rudolf Schulz, a well know Australian succulent grower and author:
Any plant which has enlarged, water retaining cells in the leaves, stems or roots has a degree of succulence, and hence can be called a succulent.
Stem succulents include most cacti and a wide variety of tree species. Their stems store water for extended dry periods. There are also leaf and root succulents. Most of the succulent plants we’ll focus on for our climate, plus what is more readily grown, so that you actually get your hands on them – are leaf succulents. (Many examples like Agave, Sedum and Echeveria are listed below.)
From a design perspective, I like to think about succulent types according to their ultimate size, speed of growth and definitely, their particulars.
This is very useful for growing them, whether it be in your garden, containers, as a house plant, vertical gardens… However you choose to use them, you want to have each plant’s specifics, so that you know how to use them either as a specimen or in a grouping.
About Succulent Types When Buying In Bulk Online
Buying small, bulk succulents online is great if you plan to use them for a DIY project such as a wreath, wall panel, terrarium or like this small dish garden. In this case, the grower usually limits the choice of cuttings or small sized bulk plants to a few types that are compact in habit, and desirable for a small style succulent DIY arrangement. Also, when you buy bulk succulents online, the photo shown represents the general types of succulents you’ll receive. Most online companies I’ve seen also note that your succulent order may not be the exact ones pictured.
So, that seems fine. But…
Why Plant Labels Important!
If your plan is to use the succulent in the garden, I would strongly advise you NOT to buy a succulent plant, without a plant tag. The tag should at least include its botanical name and, even better, info like: SIZE, sun/shade exposure, and water requirements. I noticed recently my local hardware store (photo below) carried numerous succulents with plant tags that just said succulents, with very little other information on the plant.
What are these? Where should you use them? How large will they grow?
16 Succulent Types Useful & Gorgeous for Outdoor Planting Beds
- Mesembryanthemum aka, Mesembs or ice plants
Planting areas starring succulents can be amazing! Or, having a mixture of succulents infused with other dry garden plants sharing similar cultural requirements can be amazing. Are you ready to get designing?
10 Succulent Plant Tips and Trivia
A Visit to the Ruth Bancroft Gardens
Why Include Agave Plants in your Planting Plan?