The Inner Gardener

Inner City Gardening for the Soul

Succulent Statements 21/05/2012

Filed under: succulents — theinnergardener @ 2:04 pm
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What is a succulent?  From a garden perspective, a succulent is a plant that stores water in its leaves, stems and/or roots. Cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti!

I confess, I am a sucker for a succulent. I’m not one for fussy plants in the garden – I don’t have the time or inclination. I think that is why succulents appeal to me. I am a bit of a collector, and always on the lookout for the one I haven’t got yet. They are plants that require little attention but give so much in return, and for the ‘brown thumbs’ amongst us they are a perfect plant because they are so forgiving, especially if you forget to water them.

Succulents can be tucked into all sorts of spaces. Every garden has a spot for succulents.

Succulents are easy to propagate, easy to care for, are water-wise and thrive in containers. In fact you can let your imagination run wild regarding the containers you use, as long as they have generous drainage holes. The only thing a succulent demands is good drainage.  Container gardening with succulents is a great option if you live in an apartment with a balcony or a small courtyard. In the garden, you can plant them in a raised bed or a mound, anything that allows that rain to drain away from their roots. Most succulents prefer sunny outdoor conditions which bring out their brilliant foliage colours and keep their growth compact.

All sorts of containers can be used for succuletns. This one is a wire basket.

An easy-care potted arrangement of succulents. The design tip here is to use a repetition of the same coloured pot (terracotta) in different sizes with plants that suit the pot shape. Taller pots and plants to the rear grading down to the lowest at the front.

From a design perspective, succulents can make bold statements in the garden and the year–round foliage shapes and colours provide a spectacular palette to work with.  AND flowers! Succulents have some of the most stunning flowers spikes, many of them look like they are made of wax. The flowers of most succulents produce nectar, so honey eaters can often be seen hanging precariously from the flower stem  having a drink. Succulents also mix beautifully with natives and ornamental grasses.

In this garden design I decided to use the bold foliage of succulents to complement the 1960’s architecture.

This design is very effective and entirely portable too! A great idea if you rent and like to take your garden with you. Once again, notice that the pots are the same colour, allowing your eye to appreciate the contrasting foliage shape and colour of the plants without distraction.

This photo gives you some idea of the range of shapes and colours succulents come in.

I mixed some succulents in with this native design.

A simple use of bold Agaves.

For those of you who are new to gardening and want a positive first experience with growing plants, I would recommend starting with some succulents. They are also  great plants for kids, who might not always remember to water! And for the more experienced gardener who hasn’t used succulents much , experiment a little by  incorporating them  into your planting scheme, you might be pleasantly surprised by the contrasting combinations you discover.

Stunning flower spike of a succulent cultivar.

For more growing information that is specific to the Australian context, I recommend any of the books by Atilla Kapitany & Rudolf Schulz, 2 experts who live in Victoria.