Tasty: Ideal Plants for Summer

Where water is the currency, succulents are the thriftiest of their kind, their fleshy leaves hoarding water for times of dry spell. Gardeners in the arid West have actually been utilizing succulents in water-thrifty xeriscapes for years.

John Spain, a Connecticut-based gardening expert who originated ways of growing succulents outdoors in the frozen north, found their advantages years back, when he often took a trip for business. "The only plants that survived without any care in my makeshift greenhouse were the succulents and cacti," he states. Today he likewise tucks succulents amongst alpine plants in his 2,000-square-foot rock garden.
A Size And Shape For Every Situation
At least 60 plant families have some succulent types. The adaptations that these plants have actually made to hold on to moisture make them particularly intriguing garden specimens.

Amongst the most familiar succulents are sedums, consisting of that perennial favorite Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy,' which grows 18 to 24 inches high and bears significant rosy-red flower heads in late summer. Another sedum, two-row stonecrop (Sedum spurium) is a low-maintenance groundcover with fine foliage and white, pink, or purple flowers in summertime. Low-growing Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' has yellow flowers.

Another groundcover, ice plant (Delosperma spp.) has small, fingerlike fleshy leaves and blossoms completely sun with masses of daisylike flowers all summertime. Delosperma nubigenum is a noninvasive type that bears yellow flowers.
Hens and chicks-- the typical name for the similar-looking however unrelated Echeveria x imbricata and the more cold-hardy Sempervivum tectorum-- is a longtime favorite for containers, rock gardens, and growing in the crevices of stone walls. Sempervivum's ground-hugging rosettes can be green, red, chartreuse, or purple to silvery blue in color. Echeverias can be found in rose, green, gray, and mauve, frequently with a contrasting edge color or a stripe. Both multiply without much effort, sending shoots with their children connected; these might root by themselves if they are in contact with soil. Otherwise, they can quickly be removed and rooted.

Desert-loving yuccas, agaves, and aloes, with their strappy and swordlike leaves with sharp tips, include a sculptural aspect to any garden. Though these large-scale specimen plants have actually long been related to the dry Southwest, there are hardy varieties that hold up against below-freezing temperatures.

That indoor classic, the treelike jade plant (Crassula ovata), is another favorite for outdoor containers-- though it is not durable in cold environments. In the same family, child necklace (Crassula rupestris x perforata) looks like a string of buttons or beads.

The lesser-known, multistemmed Aeoniums bear striking rosettes, often variegated, in shades of green, red, and blackish purple, at the ends of their branches. Similarly great as container and garden specimens, these generally grow 18 inches to 3 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. They do not endure freezing temperature levels, however, so they need to winter inside your home in cold environments.
Planting and Care
Although succulents typically need minimal care, many have one requirement that is absolute: excellent drain. Many have shallow roots that spread out so they can make the most of even short rainstorms. The roots give in to illness if they remain damp.

The best soil depends on rainfall where you live. In desert areas, some succulents grow even in clay. In wetter environments, though, mix sand and airy lava rock into the planting location. Dig holes just as huge as the nursery containers or even a little less deep, so that the plant crowns don't settle below the surface area. Mulch with pea gravel to keep surface wetness to a minimum. For containers, mix two-thirds gravel or lava rock and one-third loam if you live where there is a great deal of rain. In a dry environment, reverse the percentages.

Essential, do not overwater. Though container plantings need more water than those settled into the ground, probe the soil to be sure it is thoroughly dried prior to watering. And always empty any standing water from saucers. In garden areas, feel the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface area to make sure it's thoroughly dry before offering plants a good dousing.

Periodic rainfall may mean you'll just have to water succulent plantings now and then, even during the sultriest weeks of the year. That's when you might actually value the cost savings benefit these plants offer-- not simply the lower water costs, however the additional hours maximized from coddling your summertime garden. Gutter Cleaners Near San Diego

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