Every now and then, go down a different path
It’s official now. I’m not the flora annihilator any more. I used to be one, remember! Whatever type the plant was or however it looked or how well it was blooming … if someone gave it to me and told me there’s no way I could kill it because it’s doing so well, I can guarantee you no matter how much or how little I cared for it or do the things I am told to do for it to the T… I still would kill the dang thing!! WHOA was me. I even killed my unkillable shrubbery!!
So, what made me renounce the mighty title? My succulents have survived…and are now thriving. Well, it may not seem like a big deal to you because succulents can survive pretty much anything, anyone, anywhere..they’re the indestructibles. But, come on, with them looking so alive in my balcony, I’ll allow myself some credit and call this a triumph :-).
Succulents have adapted to survive arid conditions by storing water in their thick, fleshy leaves, stems or roots. Fortunately, this adaptive tactic gives us an incredible variety of interesting plant forms and shapes.. paddle leaves, tight rosettes, bushy or trailing columns of teardrop leaves… fancy stylish survivors, these.
If you want your succulents to thrive rather than barely survive, these tips will help:
Light: Succulents prefer bright light, such as found on a south-facing window. Watch the leaves to figure if the light level is correct. They scorch if suddenly exposed to direct sunlight and will stretch if under-lit.
Temperature: These beauties are much more cold-tolerant then you’ll generally assume. As in the desert, where there is often a marked contrast between night and day, succulents thrive in colder nights. Ideally, succulents prefer daytime temperatures between 70ºF and 85ºF and nighttime temperatures between 50ºF and 55ºF.
Water: You’ve got to water them generously in the summer. Allow the soil to dry before watering again. Do not under-water. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Warning: over-watering rots the plant.
Potting Soil: Pot them in a fast-draining mixture that’s designed for cacti and succulents. These plants generally have shallow roots that form a dense mat just under the soil surface. During the summer growing season, fertilize them as you would with other houseplants. Stop fertilizing entirely during the winter.
I’ve seen some incredible succulent arrangements: vertical gardens, wreaths, boxes, even wine cork planters like these ones below. Play with them. The possibilities are endless.
“Use plants to bring life.” - Douglas Wilson.