North Coast Times - - LOOKLOCAL - Sara Fitz­patrick

CON­SIDER your­self a brown thumb?

Try suc­cu­lents. Vir­tu­ally main­te­nance free and per­fectly suited to our Mediter­ranean cli­mate, th­ese hardy sun-lovers are surg­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

Suzanne Le­froy, from Perth Suc­cu­lent Bowls, shares her bloom­ing good ideas on grow­ing and car­ing for the plants. Why do you love suc­cu­lents? It has to be the amaz­ing range of colours they come in; you could de­sign a colour wheel us­ing suc­cu­lents as they come in al­most ev­ery shade of the rain­bow.

There are sur­pris­ing shades of blue, teal, sil­ver, char­treuse and bur­gundy, and the shapes and tex­tures range from roses, dainty beads, daisies and fluffy mounds to bold sug­ges­tions of the di­nosaur era. Do you have a favourite va­ri­ety? Se­dum ‘Gold Mound’ has an amaz­ing yel­low hue that turns bright red in win­ter, Cras­sula ‘Bon­fire’ has burn­ing red colours, too in­tense to look past in any gar­den, Cras­sula mus­cosa has gen­tle green tips that wave in the breeze and Kalan­choe to­men­tosa has soft fluffy leaves that make you want to stroke it.

What are some lesser known facts about suc­cu­lents?

You can grow a new plant from a sin­gle leaf cut­ting; you can even su­per glue a suc­cu­lent rosette on to a moss frame and it will shoot out new roots and grow into the moss.

Also, suc­cu­lents change colours with the sea­sons and they even take on the most amaz­ing colour changes when stressed (a stressed suc­cu­lent oc­curs in tem­per­a­ture ex­tremes and with lack of wa­ter­ing).

Why are suc­cu­lents ideal for Perth gar­dens?

They love full sun, thrive in low nu­tri­ent rich soils, tol­er­ate wind, and thrive in our wet win­ters. They also add big im­pact to small gar­dens and can grow in the ground, con­tain­ers, ver­ti­cal gar­dens, rooftop gar­dens, just about any­where as long as there is plenty of sun­light.

Five tips for grow­ing healthy va­ri­eties 1. Lots of di­rect sun­light 2. Wa­ter only when the soil is dry 3. Dead head the flow­ers when re­quired

4. They look amaz­ing with slow re­lease fer­tiliser sprin­kled around the root ball twice a year

5. Cut back plants thatare out­grow­ing con­tain­ers and plant di­rectly into the gar­den to prop­a­gate new plants

What are com­mon mis­takes peo­ple make when grow­ing suc­cu­lents?

Most peo­ple don’t know that suc­cu­lents are gen­er­ally sun lovers, this means they won’t thrive in­doors. Colour­ful suc­cu­lents do best out­side. That be­ing said, there is a range best suited to in­door lo­ca­tions (Cras­sula un­du­lata is a great ex­am­ple). Also, suc­cu­lents love good drainage so if pos­si­ble, buy a pot with a hole in it.

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