Succulents – the no spare time gardeners friends

IF you love having a garden but have little free time to tend a conventional garden there is a solution.

A garden that, if you forget to water at times, will not have shrivelled up to a stick with dried leaves on it, is a great bonus for a busy person.

If the plants can spring back to life after neglect and produce specularly larger than average flowers for the size of the plants it can be amazing. The plants themselves offer a range of colours that can be contrasted and blended to great effect in containers or the garden. Maybe it sounds too good to be true.

It is possible with the naturally occurring desert and arid zone succulents. These amazing succulent plants have the ability to store water in their leaves, stems and/or roots. They also have an uncanny ability to draw moisture from morning dew and mist.

Succulents differ, in many classifications, from cactus in that they do not have spines or prickles, which makes gardening with them easier.

A most popular succulent in Spain is the Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) which you will often find growing in containers to grand dimensions in historic courtyards all around Spain. Other traditional Spanish favourites include Kaffir Lily – Clivia Miniata and Housetree Leek – Aeonium Arboreum. These all make great outdoor containers plants or contrasting additions to the garden.

There is also a huge range of smaller or more compact succulents that be combined  in containers form a mini landscape. This includes the Paddle plant – Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, various Sedum species (such as Stone Crop, Burros Tail, Propeller Plant), Sempervivum species (such as Cobweb and Red Houseleeks), Portulacaria species (such as Moss Ross, Purslane), Delosperma (Ice Plants) and many more.

They are a great way to have an indoor or balcony garden display.

That they store water means that they have to be given water regularly to build up their reserves but they will tolerate long periods without water if it is not too often as they need to become replenished. It is best to water them once the soil starts to dry out so as not to overwater.

The soil mix they grow in should not be too nutrient rich so a well composted soil mixture for pots or lightly improved garden soil for outdoors is sufficient.

If your water quality is tending towards hard water or very alkaline you will need to repot the plant every year or so to reduce the mineral build up. A way to prevent this build up is to use rain water to water your succulents.

Succulents need good light but not always direct sunlight so they can do well indoors close to a window or other light source.

Most succulents are very easy to grow by division and cuttings usually take readily if given a moist environment until strong roots form.

There is a huge range of succulents available if you want to have an interesting addition to your garden that is low maintenance and hardy.

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