Succulent Gardening in Dry Climates

Succulent Garden

These plants are native to dry climates such as cactus and aloe plants, so they will thrive in your garden or containers all year long.

There are many species of succulents that are cold-hardy, drought-tolerant, and easy to care for.

Succulents can tolerate drought conditions because they store water in their thick foliage.

Their deep roots help them reach the water table and allow them to go for long periods without water. These plants also grow quickly and require little maintenance.

Succulents are one of the most popular plants for dry climates, as they need very little water to thrive and are available in a wide range of colors.

Russian sage is another popular plant for a drought-tolerant landscape, as it is easy to grow, requires well-drained soil, and has an intense aroma.

Aloe is an excellent plant for a garden because it has medicinal properties. It can grow in various climates, but you must ensure not to over-water it or the leaves will droop and turn mushy. Also, ensure that the soil is well-drained for your aloe plant to flourish.

DESIGNING A SUCCULENT GARDEN

Succulents require well-drained sandy soil and some do better with some gravel mixed in but it needs to have enough soil to hold nutrients.

They have shallow roots which makes them great for growing in containers or raised garden beds that aren’t deep.

Designing a succulent garden is no different the designing a flower garden. Placing the taller plants in the back with medium height plants in the middle and the smaller plants in the front.

Another idea is to place a centerpiece with accent plants around it which makes it the focal point of the garden, drawing the eye to it.

Large rocks can be incorporated into the design being the centerpiece as one large rock or a small cluster of rocks that are next to each other or leaning on each other. You can also use good-sized rocks in different areas of the garden as accents.

Depending on your budget, within a garden can be a raised garden bed which also can be used as a focal point.

To help keep moisture in the soil and to increase the look of the garden, the use of rocks on the surface of the soil will help to achieve this.

If the garden needs to be raised up, brick or paving stones can be used which also can improve the look of the design.

ROOTING A STEM AND LEAF

Some of these succulents can be cloned which is a cost-effective and quick way to fill in an area with the same plant without having to wait for years.

  • Cut a stem that is about 3 inches and with two pairs of leaves or a healthy leaf.
  • Let the area at the cut dry out to form a brown callus-like spot at the bottom.
  • Wet the bottom and dip it into a rooting hormone for best results.
  • Place the plant in well-drained soil that is damp.
  • If planted in a container, place it in the sun.
  • After a week or two, it will have a root system that you can check by slightly pulling on the plant.

CACTUS

Cactus comes in many different varieties that come in all sorts of sizes and shapes with flowers that produce fruit with some varieties taking years to mature to the point of fruit production.

VARIETIES

  • Prickly pear – grows to about 15 feet tall and 6 feet wide with yellow blooms and requires well-drained soil with gravel mixed in. It blooms in late winter to early summertime and the fruit can be eaten. They are also known as tuna cactus, barbary fig, and mission cactus.
  • Blue flame cactus – grows to 15 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide with blue berries and requires well-drained soil with gravel. This cactus naturally grows in a dense form, known as a cactus forest. It produces a fruit that tastes and looks like a combination between cranberries and blueberries. This cactus is also known as bilberry cactus, whortleberry, and garambullo.
  • Candelabra – grows to 10 tall and wide, their flowers open in the day and the flower closes for the evening and are ivory in color. Their fruit can be eaten and they require impoverished soil that is made specifically for cacti.
  • Claret cup cactus – grows to about 3 feet tall and about 6 feet wide with fruit that tastes similar to strawberries and is orange when ripe. This cactus has red blooms and prefers volcanic soil and is also known as hedgehog.
  • Golden ball cactus – grows to about 3 feet tall with yellow spines and requires fast draining soil. This cactus is also known as yellow tower and lemon ball.
  • Golden barrel cactus – grows to about 4 feet tall, comes in golden yellow spines, and requires fast draining soil.
  • Strawberry hedgehog cactus – grows to about 28 inches tall with purple to magenta flowers and requires fast draining soil.
  • Mammillaria polyedra – grows to about 1 foot tall, 5 inches wide, they have 1 inch or white blooms and require fast-draining soil.
  • Peanut cactus – grows to about a foot tall with bright red blooms and requires well-drained gritty soil.
  • Turk’s cap cactus – grows to about 3 and a half inches tall with fury pink blooms and requires well-drained soil.

ALOE

There are over 600 varieties of aloe that span its size from just a few inches tall to aloe trees that grow to be 20 feet.

VARIETIES

  • Aloe vera – grows to about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
  • Coral aloe – grows to about 1 and a half feet tall and 2 feet wide with a cluster of red blooms that are on 2 foot tall stems.
  • Spiral aloe – grows to about 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.
  • Soap aloe – grows to about 1 and a half feet tall and 2 feet wide with orange, red, or yellow blooms that attract hummingbirds.
  • Torch aloe – grows to about 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide with orange to red blooms that come off a stem in late winter or early spring.
  • Tiger tooth aloe – grows to about 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.
  • Mountain aloe – grows to about 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
  • Fan aloe – grows to about 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide and is a shrub.

AEONIUM

Aeoniums are native to Morocco and the Canary Island that come in yellow, green, and dark red to purple colors.

They grow branches with multiple blooms with small flowers that typically appear in spring or summer and die after blooming.

There are many different varieties that branch and not all branches will bloom, so the whole plant won’t be lost.

The blooms of these plants will last a long time after they have been cut off the plant.

VARIETIES

  • Aeonium arboreum – grows to about 5 feet tall, grows like a shrub and is also known as Irish rose and tree aeonium.
  • Aeonium sunburst – grows to about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
  • Aeonium dodrantale – grows to about 6 inches tall and is also known as rose succulent.

CRASSULA

Crassulas are native to the South of Africa with about 350 varieties and come in annuals and perennials and range from a ground cover plants to shrubs and small trees.

The majority of the varieties are slow-growing plants that are hard to kill when neglected.

These plants have the ability to lose a leaf which can be put into the soil to take root.

Crassula plants are sensitive to cold and hot temperatures, they will go into a dormant state if the temperatures get too hot, and if the temperatures get too low then they won’t grow and may die.

They can be rooted from a cutting of the stem or a leaf to propagate more plants.

VARIETIES

  • Crassula erosula – grows to about 6 inches tall and about 3 feet wide with clusters of blooms in summer and is also known as crassula campfire.
  • Crassula perforata – grows to about 30 feet long if allowed with small pink or light yellow blooms in spring, they have distinct green foliage and are also known as the necklace plant.
  • Crassula pellucida variegata – grows to about 4 inches tall with 1 foot long trailing stems with small white blooms from spring to fall.

ECHEVERIA

Echeveria is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America with 150 varieties.

They are slow-growing succulents that are typically gray to green or blue to gray in color that can also be green or purple and some have beautiful patterns.

Most varieties of echeverias bloom with groups of blooms that are on stems and in the shape of a bell.

VARIETIES

  • Echeveria elegant – grows to about 8 inches tall and 1 foot wide with pink flowers that are on pink to red stems that are about 1 foot tall and is also known as Mexican snowball.
  • Echeveria princess lace – grows to about 1 and a half feet tall and about 1 foot wide.
  • Echeveria imbricata – grows to about 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide.
  • Echeveria agavoides maria – grows to about 14 inches wide.
  • Echeveria frank reinelt – grows to about 4 inches tall and 8 inches wide with light green and pink blooms.

EUPHORBIAS

Euphorbias are native to Madagascar and Southern Africa, they are also known as spurge and come in around 2,000 varieties.

They vary from small annuals to large perennial trees, are rich in color from their leaves to their flowers, and have long-lasting blooms.

Some varieties only live for 2 to 3 years and they should be separated or restarted to promote new growth.

The sap from the euphorbias plants is known to be a strong skin and eye irritant.

VARIETIES

  • Euphorbia aeruginosa – grows to about 1 foot tall and is a small shrub.
  • Euphorbia anoplia cluster – grows to about 1 foot tall and 1 and a half feet wide with red or maroon blooms.
  • Euphorbia caput medusae – grows to about 2 feet tall and 8 inches wide with deep roots.
  • Euphorbia columnaris – grows to about 7 feet tall with clusters of yellow blooms.
  • Euphorbia cerclformis – grows to about 3 feet tall and 4 inches wide.

ICE PLANTS

Ice plants are native to South Africa and grow between 3 to 6 inches tall and 2 to 4 feet tall depending on the variety.

There are around 300 varieties that bloom through the majority of summer and into the fall with a variety of colorful blooms.

VARIETIES

  • Lampranthus haworthii – grows to about 28 inches tall.
  • Lampranthus aurantiacus – grows to about 14 inches tall and 5 feet wide shrub with orange blooms.
  • Delosperma floribundum – grows to about 6 feet tall and 1 and a half feet wide.
  • Delosperma cooperi – grows to about 6 inches tall with purple blooms that last from June to October.
  • Delosperma brunnthaler – grows to about 2 inches tall and 2 feet wide with yellow, orange, red pink, purple, bi-color and tri-color varieties of flowers from spring to fall.

KALANCHOES

Kalanchoes are native to the tropical areas of Africa, Madagascar, and China with around 125 varieties.

VARIETIES

  • Kalanchoe pinnata – grows to about 3 feet tall with yellow and pink blooms throughout the majority of the year.
  • Kalanchoe prophyrocalyx.
  • Kalanchoe beharensis – grows to about 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
  • Kalanchoe manginii – grows to about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

PORTULACARIA

Portulacaria is native to South Africa with 28 varieties of shrubs and small trees. This plant is often used as a bonsai plant.

VARIETIES

  • Rainbow portulacaria plant – grows to about 20 feet tall but this slow-growing succulent typically grows to around 10 feet or less with pink to purple blooms and is also known as rainbow bush and elephant bush.

SENECIO

Senecio is native to Europe with around 100 succulent varieties that are in the daisy family and many other varieties that are not succulents.

VARIETIES

  • Senecio mandraliscae – grows to about one and a half feet tall with small white blooms and is also known as blue chalk sticks plant.
  • Senecio string of pearls plant – grows to about 3 feet long with small white blooms that smell like cinnamon, they require fast-draining sandy soil can they can easily be cloned.
  • Senecio crassissimus – grows to about 2 feet tall and one and a half feet wide with daisy-like yellow blooms from mid-summer to early fall.
  • Senecio articulates – grows to about 2 feet tall with small white blooms and they are also known as candle plant, hot dog cactus, and sausage plant.
  • Senecio jacobsenil – grows to about 3 inches tall with bright orange flowers and they are also known as weeping jade, trailing jade, and vining jade.