- Author: Jackie Woods
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jackie Woods UCCE Master Gardener
Succulents are trendy, cool, beautiful, inspiring and are esthetically pleasing to the eye. Their popularity continues to grow and for good reason: they are easy to keep and care for, there are many varieties to choose from and planting possibilities are endless.
So, what exactly IS a succulent? The word succulent means ‘juicy.' Succulents are plants with fleshy leaves and stems with extensive, shallow root systems. They are indigenous to arid or semi-arid regions and their ‘juiciness' is but a mere evolutionary adaptation to the immense heat and dryness of their environment. They are more efficient with water consumption than other plants. Succulents are drought-tolerant due to their ability to store water, are generally pest resistant, and they are super easy to propagate. They prefer well-drained soil and definitely do not like soggy or freezing conditions.
Common succulent plant names: Burro's tail (Sedum morganianum), Hens-and-Chicks (Echeveria elegans), Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii), Medicine plant (Aloe Vera) and Panda Plant (Kalancho tomentosa). There are over 60 plant families that are considered succulent. Most do best outdoors where sunlight is abundant but there are some, Echeverias for example, that can be grown in low to medium light conditions and thus can do well indoors.
Succulents can be planted almost anywhere; in a hanging wreath, a vertical wall, hanging in a basket, planted in a pot, in an old boot, in a seashell, in an old rusted birdcage, in a rock garden or in a piece of driftwood. There are thousands of ideas on Pinterest alone! Have an old water fountain but are drought-conscious? Plant succulents in it. Be forewarned: Growing succulents can be addicting!
Craving a more hands-on learning experience? Join the UC Master Gardeners Advice to Grow By free workshop on “Living With Succulents.” The workshop will be held Saturday, February 18th from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm in the auditorium at the UC Cooperative Extension office located at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Please register as seating in the auditorium is limited. Visit the UC Master Gardener website to register - http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/.