By Keri Byrum
It seems that everywhere you look, succulents are part of the latest trends in home decor, gardening, and DIY projects. These plants are colorful, require little maintenance, and are easy to grow under the right conditions.
Low-water needs. With special water-storing capacities, succulents are some of the few plants that thrive on neglect and infrequent watering. Plants such as these flapjacks (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) are well adapted to handle our heat and humidity. They have the added benefit of blushing to a rose color during the winter months, thanks to lower temperatures and shorter days.
If you aren’t sure when to water your plants, softly squeeze a leaf. If the leaf is firm, it needs no water; if there’s a little squish, it’s time to water. The humidity and frequent rains in the Gulf Coast mean your succulents need little to no supplemental water.
New uses. Take advantage of succulents’ low water needs by replacing high-maintenance plants with these drought-tolerant varieties. I planted succulents in this window box to add color to a boring fence. The mix of succulents is quite beautiful, and it adds a point of interest. Unlike most other plants in hot locations that have to be watered several times per week, these succulents thrive with only occasional watering.
Small spaces. Succulents need little space to have healthy root systems. Take advantage of this by using succulents in unique containers or unexpected places. Once plants get large, break off small pieces for propagating, and try sticking them directly into pots, or even small pockets of soil in rocks. Regular potting soil works just fine for growing healthy succulents.
Handling humidity. Unlike those growing in the West, daily summer rains and high humidity can be a challenge for succulents in the Gulf Coast. A few that thrive include flapjacks, mentioned earlier, along with most sedums, aloes, and agaves. Echeverias are also a good choice. They are especially colorful, and you can find many varieties of these rosette-shaped plants, with a wide range of textures and sizes.
One warning: Growing succulents is extremely addictive! Enjoy the colors and textures of succulents and make the most of the possibilities. There is a reason these tough plants are so popular! Your biggest challenge is finding new ways to incorporate them into your home and garden.