By Gary Jones
Succulents are pretty darn smart. They store water in their leaves and are smart-looking. Who doesn’t love their dramatic architectural quality? Better yet, they are virtually carefree plants. It should come as no surprise that they are hugely popular.
There is a dilemma involving succulents because there are so many to choose from. Although you really can’t go wrong with any of them, here are five top choices to really make an impact in your garden:
Agave — This is such a big family of plants that at least one of them will fit your need. Most of us know about the big, dramatic ones. Did you know that there are tiny, 1-foot tall and wide gems? There are also many varieties in between. All have striking, angular foliage and, best of all, beautiful, colorful winter blooms that rise above the foliage on tall stems. Be sure to give agaves full sun — something ideal for sunny San Diego.
- Kalanchoe — Pronounced kal-an-KO-ee, these include the much-loved, tidy and colorful bloomers with glossy leaves. However, there are odd and unusual ones, too. Some kalanchoes have felted or dotted leaves and can grow in tiny mounding types and big dramatic ones. These are plants to explore. Kalanchoes need afternoon shade in the hottest areas.
- Sedum — They range from perennial-like wonders with colorful summer blooms to low-growing and colorful groundcovers. These low spillers are fun to place at the edge of any container to simply let them spill and trail. Sedums add color (even the prostrate ones bloom) and texture to sunny and part-shade areas.
- Echeveria — Echeveria hybrids are the wonderful, colorful, weird and wavy rosettes that look like they probably belong at the bottom of the ocean along with sea urchins. The very fleshy leaves are often pink, lavender, rose, silver or striped. Don’t forget to give them some afternoon shade in the hottest areas.
- Haworthia — You may not know the name of these plants, but you will recognize them from the lush, pointed leaves that are covered with striking little dots or lines of white bumps and ridges. Their small size makes them perfect for pots and they are especially good as houseplants. Haworthias require bright, indirect light to thrive.
Here is a quick piece of advice for planting and care: When planting in pots or in the ground, use a potting mix that is ideal for succulents and cacti. We usually recommend the E.B. Stone Cactus Mix.
Don’t forget to regularly feed your growing succulents. We recommend using Grow More Cactus Juice for maximum growth and vitality.
Would you like to show off your succulents? Feel free to share your favorite photos with us. We might even include them in a future issue.
—Gary Jones is the Chief Horticulturist at Armstrong Garden Centers, which has locations on Friars Road and Morena Boulevard. Email your drought and gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.