Be­come wa­ter-wise gar­den with suc­cu­lents

George Herald - Private Property - - Property News -

From minute blos­soms to ma­jes­tic sculp­tural focal points, suc­cu­lents can add tex­ture, va­ri­ety and colour to your gar­den, and they are drought friendly. From minute blos­soms to ma­jes­tic sculp­tural focal points, suc­cu­lents can add a wealth of tex­ture, va­ri­ety, colour and beauty to lo­cal gar­dens, and to top it, they come in many indige­nous va­ri­eties. In fact, 47% of the 10 000 suc­cu­lent species world­wide orig­i­nate in South Africa.

Their gen­eral abil­ity to sur­vive in hos­tile en­vi­ron­ments, the fas­ci­nat­ing forms and spec­tac­u­lar flow­ers that oc­cur in many, the fact that they can be eas­ily prop­a­gated and trans­planted, and can of­ten be left unat­tended for weeks and even months, make suc­cu­lents ideal can­di­dates for al­most any pa­tio, ve­randa, gar­den or hol­i­day home. For those with­out an out­side area, there are many suc­cu­lents that thrive in­doors too.

Get­ting started is as simple as plan­ning what sort of suc­cu­lent gar­den you're af­ter. For peo­ple with a taste for colour, just think Na­maqua­land with its spec­tac­u­lar flo­ral dis­plays, and you're on the right path. Suc­cu­lents can also be used as bor­der­ing around or be­tween pavers, as fillers for dif­fi­cult or dry beds, as bold focal points, in a rock­ery, or dra­mat­i­cally dis­played in strik­ing con­tainer land­scap­ing. Shade-lov­ing suc­cu­lents (such as those found in indige­nous forests) work well in shaded gar­den ar­eas and in­doors. Gar­den­ers can even start with just a few pots or a few square me­ters, un­til they are ready to ex­pand.

The prac­ti­cal­i­ties:

While most suc­cu­lents pre­fer full sun, a lit­tle shade is ac­cept­able too, as many do like some shade dur­ing the hottest part of the day.

There are many va­ri­eties that will thrive even in cold ar­eas if they are pro­tected from the el­e­ments.

Any soil is ac­cept­able, as long as it is well drained. If you have heavy clay soil, dig in compost and river sand to cre­ate drainage. Suc­cu­lents do not need a lot of nu­tri­ents so nu­tri­ent-poor soils are fine, although adding some compost or bone meal will al­ways be ap­pre­ci­ated (and will help the soil re­tain some mois­ture).

Suc­cu­lents gen­er­ally do well on slopes and of­ten help bind the soil.

Suc­cu­lents are hap­pi­est in clumps in na­ture mir­ror this in your gar­den.

Suc­cu­lents dif­fer greatly in size; en­sure the ones you are plant­ing have enough space to grow.

When plant­ing, bear in mind that the rep­e­ti­tion of sim­i­lar shapes, colours and tex­tures cre­ates im­pact and gives con­ti­nu­ity. The con­trast of dif­fer­ent colours and shapes adds va­ri­ety and in­ter­est.

Although they can be left to them­selves, suc­cu­lents do thrive with some at­ten­tion. When pos­si­ble, re­move old and dead leaves, cut or pinch back to en­cour­age bushy growth, wa­ter oc­ca­sion­ally, deal with pests and dis­eases, and dead­head.

The use of a mulch or gravel helps the soil re­tain wa­ter and pro­vides shade for the roots.

If planted in pots, use a sandy and light compost mix­ture. Add stones to the bot­tom of the pot to en­sure good drainage, and a lit­tle bone meal. Feed once a month.

Although suc­cu­lents don't need much wa­ter, they do en­joy some. Al­low soil to dry be­tween wa­ter­ing and wa­ter less dur­ing the win­ter months when suc­cu­lents rest. Too much wa­ter causes brighter colours to fade to green, and many plants will over­grow and be­come too fleshy.

Suc­cu­lents are gen­er­ally very easy to prop­a­gate. Of­ten all you need is a cut­ting clean off any dead leaves, al­low the root to dry for a few days in a shady spot, and then plant. www.pri­vateprop­erty.co.za

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