By Marianne Binnetti
I have been cutting back on my garden’s drinking but amping up the color by adding two bright succulents.
My go-to favorites are the flowering portulaca for bright blooms, and the dependable sedum ‘Angelina’ for year-round golden foliage. Hot, dry summer weather doesn’t wilt either of these well-behaved succulents, which have replaced the thirstier perennials that grew in my mounded garden bed. By mulching the new planting with gravel, I discourage weeds and keep those succulents happy because rock absorbs and holds the heat these two sun-lovers enjoy.
Sedum ‘Angelina’ is the prolific superstar of any drought-resistant landscape because this hugging ground cover blocks out weeds and can also trail from pots. Best of all, ‘Angelina’ survives the winter in my garden and adapts to either shade or sun. ‘Angelina’ even thrives in the dry shade beneath my cedar trees.
Growing Tip: Substitute sedum ‘Angelina’ for lawn in your difficult-to-water landscape areas. It grows around stepping-stones, and fills in the cracks between boulders.
Portulaca has a shorter life span than ‘Angelina’, rarely surviving the winter, but its bright blooms more than make up for the lack of winter hardiness. Hot-pink, bright-yellow, or orange rosettes cover the creeping plants — and the petals look as if they have been crafted from tissue paper. The flower shape is why portulaca is also known as moss rose. I like to think of portulaca as the napping flower: On hot afternoons the petals close up so the flowers can take a little rest.
Growing Tip: Portulaca is not fussy about soil, but it does need good drainage. Plant it in a raised or mounded bed, or use it in a pot with large drainage holes, and a handful of extra sand or perlite added to your regular potting soil.
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