Tough but at­trac­tive

Get creative with suc­cu­lents’ huge range of shape and colour

Life & Style Weekend - - GARDEN - with Ma­ree Cur­ran

SUC­CU­LENTS are the dar­ling of the plant world just now, and with good rea­son. They are re­ally easy to grow, and the in­cred­i­ble ar­ray of form and colour means that you can have great fun cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful ar­range­ments.

Suc­cu­lents have the abil­ity to store water in their leaves, stems and roots. So they can cope with ex­tended dry pe­ri­ods by draw­ing on the water re­sources that they have stashed away in the good times. An­other re­ally good thing about suc­cu­lents is that they are (mostly) re­ally easy to prop­a­gate.

Suc­cu­lents can be grown ei­ther in­side or out­side but they do need plenty of light. Most re­quire ei­ther fil­tered sun most of the day or at least a few hours of di­rect sun each day. Many will sur­vive quite well in full sun, but in sum­mer most ap­pre­ci­ate some pro­tec­tion from the hot af­ter­noon sun.

The best choices for in­door po­si­tions are those species that just re­quire good light. Some of the aloes, scilla, gas­te­ria, ha­wor­thia, rhip­salis and zy­go­cac­tus will work well, as do most of the jade plants. Lots of the hang­ing types of suc­cu­lents, like string of pearls and chain of hearts, pre­fer a brightly lit spot with lit­tle or no di­rect sun at all. Two re­ally pop­u­lar ones at the mo­ment are both forms of eu­phor­bia. The Ghost Cac­tus (eu­phor­bia lacteal) has ex­tra­or­di­nary pale green and white up­right stems. The Milk Cac­tus (eu­phor­bia trig­ona) is also up­right but its stems are green or red with small leaves on the sides.

Those lovely suc­cu­lents that look a bit like fleshy rose blooms are of­ten types of echev­e­rias. They usu­ally do not thrive in­doors for ex­tended pe­ri­ods.

Usu­ally, we rec­om­mend plant­ing suc­cu­lents in a con­tainer that has drainage holes be­cause if they stay too wet, they will rot and die. But it is pos­si­ble to grow them in ter­rar­i­ums, bot­tles and all sorts of other con­tain­ers with­out drainage holes. Ide­ally, put a layer of char­coal or gravel in the bot­tom of the con­tainer be­fore adding a pot­ting mix suit­able for suc­cu­lents. You will need to care­fully con­trol the amount of water that en­ters the con­tainer be­cause there is no way for ex­cess to es­cape. So po­si­tion it out of the rain, and water very spar­ingly.

Try plant­ing a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent leaf shapes, tex­tures and colours to­gether, and fill the spa­ces in be­tween with coloured peb­bles. Or group a col­lec­tion of small pots each con­tain­ing a sin­gle spec­i­men. Suc­cu­lents lend

them­selves to re­ally creative plant­ings, so have fun.

Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­[email protected]­nat­by­ron.com.au

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

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