I was talking to a friend this past weekend about how when you love working with something, you always have a favorite “du jour.”
Or is it just me…
Well, in the context of plants and planting, the “du jour” I’m focused on is using more succulents in design, both containers and in the ground. It’s not just because they are ‘lifestyle plants.’
(I think I read that on Houzz and laughed).
It’s also because they serve a very important role in public and private gardens and landscapes, where water shortages and conservation is a reality.
Learning which succulent plants play well together, and how to combine them artfully for long term success is particularly important. I have been very inspired by learning more about the succulent plant palette from southern California gardens, and reading voraciously on the topic.
At home in the Bay Area, a visit to the South African section at the University of California Botanical Gardens in Berkeley, CA – the Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek – Tilden Botanical Gardens – and the San Francisco Botanical Gardens – show you what’s possible locally…
Over the years, using succulent plants seemed a bit like an afterthought. Almost like, well it’s a succulent so throw it in the ground anywhere, it will survive. But, nothing is quite so simple.
While the mild temperatures may not often dip into the frost zone in our climate, other issues arise.
Tips for Planting Succulents:
Two key factors that slow down any designer or home gardener from just throwing in succulents could very well be:
- heavy soils
- already installed irrigation system
Now, if you live along the sea coast and soil is sandy – drainage isn’t going to be an issue. But, if you live in a neighborhood or area and have inherited heavy clay soils, planting succulents without improving drainage, will be the kiss of death.
Why I mention an already installed irrigation system, is because you may need to add another valve (or irrigation zone) specifically to match the watering needs of succulent plants and other drought tolerant plants – they require less water and typically want to have the soil dry out before getting another soak. That might not be the case with other already existing plants growing in your garden.
What about you? Any issues or more success tips to share? We would love to hear!
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Also, stay tuned for more bite-sized succulent planting advice & tips.