When you plant succulents, you dress outdoor spaces with living sculptures. Succulents are the camels of the plant world, bearing thick, fleshy leaves that store water. These textural beauties hail from regions as diverse as tropical Mexico and cooler Europe.
Succulent leaves showcase a variety of subtle hues: gray, green, blushing pink, blue-green,
and silver. In many plants, the leaves form tidy pincushions perched on nonexistent (or nearly so) stems. Other types have leaf-studded stems that sprawl along the soil and sometimes tumble over pot edges in cascades of foliage.
The leaves aren't just colorful; they vary immensely in form and texture. Some leaves are waxy while others resemble smooth stones. Still others are furry or shiny and smooth, while some bear long hairs that blanket leafy rosettes with what appear to be ancient, thick cobwebs.
These water hoarders boast undemanding dispositions, producing leaves that store water, reducing the plants' irrigation needs. Roots don't sink too deeply, giving succulents versatility in growing sites. Not only can they survive in shallow soil, but they do so in spots where the soil is inhospitable and temperatures sizzle, such as planting areas near a street or along concrete paths or driveways.
Succulents are ideal candidates for containers, especially unglazed terra-cotta, which permits airflow to roots. Many plants grow no higher than 4-8 inches, another reason they're well-suited
These water-storing jewels are easy to grow, and
a tough-as-nails constitution makes killing them a feat. The surest way to premature death is via overwatering. Irrigate plants sparingly but before their leaves shrivel.
In containers, tuck succulents into a blend of equal parts enriched potting soil and sand. For a decorative touch, top the soil mix with polished stones, river rock, or sand.
Succulents reproduce themselves in various manners. Some types generate tiny plantlets at or near their base. Others produce runners that form small plants at their tips. Over time, as succulents reproduce with miniature versions of themselves, the original planting can become crowded to the point of overflowing. Wait until the tiny new plantlets appear firmly rooted in the soil, then snap or cut the runner stem near the tiny plant, dig it up, and transplant in a less crowded location.