What Are Succulents?
Succulents plants come from all over the world. They have interesting shapes and marvelous textures and colors, and fleshy leaves, stems or roots. Popular examples include agave, echeveria, sempervivum and sedum. (Cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti.) These undemanding plants are easy to grow. They excel at conserving water, making them great, low-maintenance choices for your containers. Lowe’s Garden Center sells a variety of succulents in different colors and leaf types.
Succulent Care and Planting
While succulent pots don’t have the watering and maintenance requirements of other plant types, there are some things they need.
- Bowl: Make sure you use a container with a drainage hole in the bottom. If the container doesn’t have one, drill several small holes.
- Potting Mix: Succulents don’t like wet roots, so your soil should drain easily (which is why you need the drainage hole in the container bottom).
- Light: Succulents love sun. Put them somewhere with full sunlight. Ideally, your plants should receive six to eight hours of sun each day. However, many succulents will do just fine indoors in bright, indirect light. Consult the plant tag to be sure of the light requirements.
- Water: While all plants need water to live, succulents don’t need a lot. That makes them very low maintenance too. If you aren’t sure when to water your succulents, gently squeeze a leaf. If the leaf is firm, it needs no water; if there’s a little squish, it’s time to water.
- Temperature: Some succulents — like sedum — are hardy. Others need protection in winter. Bring them indoors before frost.
- Gravel: Gravel or another ornamental topper is optional, but it provides a finished look and keeps soil from splashing on the foliage when watering.
How to Plant Succulents
When planting or repotting succulents, fill a bowl of your choice with potting mix. You can use a special soil mix for succulents, or create your own by mixing potting soil with sand to make it more porous. (Remember: Succulents don’t like wet roots.)
Remove the plant from its nursery pot by turning it upside down in your hand and pulling off the pot. Then set the plant into the center of the bowl or the container of your choice. Some succulents, like agave, have sharp edges so wear gloves. To create a succulent arrangement, start with a single plant — usually the largest or most colorful one.
Next, plant around the edges of the bowl or succulent planter. Use a mix of succulents for texture and color. Don’t worry about planting too close because they can tolerate being close together. You want them to have a lush, crowded look.
Fill in any gaps with soil mix, tamping lightly. Finish off with a topper of gravel, aquarium stones or some other ornamental material.
Use a watering can with a narrow spout so you can direct the stream into the soil rather than on the foliage. The root systems of succulents are very good at providing moisture for the plants, so be careful not to overwater.
Which Succulents Should I Plant?
A multitude of forms, hues and habits make succulents versatile performers. These plants are all about color and texture, so mix and match them for artful combinations. Here are some examples:
Key Lime Pie Plant (Adromischus cristatus)
Fuzzy, plump leaves are crimped at the tips; flowers are tinged in red.
Attractive rosettes of dove-gray leaves are tipped with rose; it displays orange and yellow flowers.
Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’
Blue-green leaves blush to pink; it has white star-shaped flowers.
Baby Toes (Fenestraria aurantiaca)
The small, stubby stems have translucent tips and bright yellow blooms.
Plush Plant (Echeveria ‘Pulv-Oliver’)
Velvet-textured green leaves have red tips; orange flowers appear in summer.
Pachyveria ‘Blue Pearl’
Small shrubby stems have thick, blue-green leaves.
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe millotii)
A branching shrub with frosty-green scalloped leaves; it has yellow-green flowers.
Haworthia (Haworthia spp.)
An upright grower, it has distinctive alligator-like markings and clusters of small flowers.
Echeveria ‘Lime and Chile’ (Echeveria elegans ‘Lime and Chile’)
Showing off a tightly bunched lime-green rosette, it has bright orange-yellow flowers.
Aeonium ‘Catlin Hybrid’
Burgundy-tinged leaves form large rosettes; it has golden-yellow flowers.
Sempervivum ‘Hens and Chicks’
Over 6,000 named sempervivum varieties offer different leaf colors and plant sizes.