Succulents: Care and Display Tips
Succulents are not your typical houseplant. Sought after for their unique texture, colors, variety and versatility, they add visual interest to their surroundings. Grouping them together in a container is a great way to bring a slice of summer color inside during the long winter months.
Succulents, which are members of the cactus family, require very little water and direct exposure to bright (preferably natural) light to survive. Native to virtually all desert climates, they will also thrive in arid environments elsewhere. Some species such as hens and chicks have adapted to dry soil conditions in the Northeast and are hardy, fast spreading perennials.
Common succulents include: jade, burrows tail, string of pearls, string of bananas, hens and chicks, sedum, agave, air plants, bear’s paw, aloe, baby toes, desert rose, Irish mittens, snake plants, rat’s tail cactus and pin cushion plants. As you might expect, these plants resemble the familiar things they are named after. String of pearls is just that—delicate cascades of green pearl sized balls. Baby toes are small groupings of soft chubby appendages, and hens and chicks are clusters of small woven star balls with one larger “mother hen” star ball among them.
Alone, succulents are an eye catching focal point. Group them together and they can make a statement as well as soften a space. When tucked into the crevice of a stone wall or rock garden, they lend a timeless appeal that suggests the stones and plants have been coexisting together for decades.
Succulents are equally appealing whether displayed in an antique urn, aged terra cotta plant pot, hypertufa trough, or even a contemporary glass planter. Dish gardens spilling over with succulents of various shapes and sizes are now being used as a substitute for cut flower arrangements in many homes and businesses. Florists have also caught on to the succulent trend and have been incorporating them into table arrangements for wedding receptions and corporate events. These unique plants have even been used as an accent or even an alternative to a traditional bridal bouquet.
Longer lasting than cut flowers and just as beautiful, succulents may be enjoyed for months and even years to come if given the proper, basic care.
SUCCULENT CARE TIPS:
- Provide succulent plants with full sun or direct bright light.
- Ideal temperatures are between 70-85 degrees during the day and no lower than 40 degrees at night.
- Do not over water. A light misting of water with a spray bottle once or twice a week is adequate for most succulents.
- Dry soil is necessary. Succulents should be potted in a fast-draining mixture that’s designed for cacti and succulents. Modifying basic potting mix with approximately half potting mix to half Perlite or Vermiculite (both products may be found in gardening supply stores) will increase aeration and drainage and will work fine as a medium for succulents.
Shelley Fleming-Wigglesworth is a certified Maine Master Gardener and award winning newspaper columnist from Kennebunk, Maine. She has been writing for the York County Coast Star for more than a decade as a freelance columnist and features writer. In 2010 she began writing her own gardening column “The Master Gardener’s Notebook” for Tourist News. She also teaches gardening classes at local schools and colleges.