Groff's Plant Farm Images


Published: Thu Sep 7th 2017

















For the last few years succulents have been hot, hot, HOT! Meaning that in almost every gardening magazine as well as home decorating websites, and Pintrest have featured these easy-to-grow plants. They certainly are a gateway to getting young people and the often-maligned generation, the Milennials, interested in gardening. We’ve even grown them to give as wedding and baby shower favors. They are definitely mainstream now.

And rightfully so. Tender succulents like kalanchoe, jade plants and aloe grow well indoors in a sunny dish garden with little attention. Hardy succulents come in a variety of shapes and colors and grow just as easily unattended outside in a sunny flower bed.

The key is good drainage. When growing indoors, use a pot with drainage holes. Water enough to wet the soil completely, then allow the plant to dry out. A thorough watering once a week is about right. Some people like to grow succulents in a glass terrarium. This can be a bit tricky to not keep too wet. Only water enough to dampen the soil, then let it dry out until the next watering. Spritzing them with a water bottle won’t effectively get the water to the roots and I don’t recommend it.

We have a succulent-filled green roof doghouse (pictured above) at the farm that we planted six years ago. It has built-in drainage holes at the bottom. It seems to do best when it rains about once a week. It’s only been watered a handful of times over the last few years during several weeks of hot, dry weather.

Succulents look their best when mixed. They come in such interesting shapes and sizes, it’s not hard to make a combination planter. Our doghouse is a mixture of red, yellow and green foliaged sedums, ice plants that bloom in pink, and red and green webbed hens-and-chicks. Most of them are evergreen and retain color all winter. They also bloom at various times over the spring and summer; there is always something interesting to see.

The taller, upright sedums usually bloom in the fall. Some of my favorites are the dark foliaged ‘Matrona’ with deep reddish-pink blossoms and the variegated leaf of ‘Autumn Charm’ with light pink flowers. These make such great combinations with fall mums and ornamental grasses.

If you kept tender succulents outdoors over the summer and are planning to bring them in for the winter, inspect them well for bugs. Aphids seem to like the fleshy leaves. Wash them off, or spray with horticultural oil to rid them of pests before bringing them in the house. A sunny east-facing window is best. If they are not getting enough light, you will notice they start to stretch.

Succulents are popular for a reason. They are colorful and easy to grow, and who doesn’t like that?