Being in the landscape profession I’m commonly asked about all things pertaining to your garden. People want plant advice, pest advice, pruning advice – you name it I’ve probably been asked about it, which I love, because that’s why I’m here. If I don’t have the answer, I want to find it because there really is so much to learn about our gardens, especially ones we are trying to create. One of my favorite conversations I’ve had about plants was with a neighbor of my good family friend. Somehow succulents came into conversation and she went off about her extreme dislike claiming, “of course succulents suck – it says it in their name SUCC-ulents!” HaHa. I can appreciate differing opinions, but because I have a love of succulents I’m here to tell you 5 reasons Succulents don’t suck!
1. They are extremely drought tolerant. Now I say this with caution because around our office we all know they need occasional water, but we all admit they look better when watered regularly. Succulents require little watering because they retain water in their tissue, typically referred to as thick and fleshy. With the drought we are only beginning to deal with here in California, maintaining a garden with plants that can handle little water, also known as drought tolerant plants, will make your life a lot easier, reason one they don’t suck!
2. Reason number two, if you live in California you can probably plant them in your garden. There are hardier varieties than others, I would love to have agave attenuata in my garden, but it needs more of a coastal influence with less frost threat – with the first frost at my house it would for sure die. This winter has been exceptionally cold, multiple days below freezing, so I did lose some succulents and I have been covering some for frost protection when I know the morning temps will dip close or below freezing, but with that being said I now know what to add more of in my garden – Echeverias! Upon further research I’ve learned a lot of echeverias are hardy to 15 – 25 degrees Fahrenheit! A win for my garden come spring when I’ll plant some more and may not have to worry about extra frost protection come winter!
3. Reason number 3, they naturally make you feel like you have a green thumb. If all their needs are meet, occasional water, good drainage, and full to partial sun they naturally spread, or clump, and multiply. These “babies” can also be divided and spread to continue the massing in other areas. My friends and family have benefitted from my succulents, it’s easy to cut a few rosettes off and send them home with them to just stick right into their dirt. It’s fun to see them spread and grow, plus I feel like once you have success with one, you’re hooked because your green thumb has never felt so good.
4. The number 4 reason succulents don’t suck is their shallow root system. Unlike other garden plants, the roots of succulents are extensive, but shallow. This allows them to be used in unusual circumstances. Including, planting them in pockets of drystack walls, or tight places. Also, using them for projects, such as living wreaths and walls, or accents tucked into your garden containers.
5. And finally, reason number 5 Succulents don’t suck – they are interesting, unique, beautiful and colorful. They come in many unique shapes and sizes, and succulents don’t just come in green, there are many varieties of reds, purples, pinks, grays and even blues. Some are varieties are even fuzzy, which can add interest and texture to any garden. I hope these 5 reasons alone have encouraged you to try planting a few in your garden, especially if you’re someone who thought succulents suck, because I’m pretty sure you won’t be saying that any longer!