Grow Your Own: Succulents

Succulents have become my latest “favorite” plants. I started collecting new and different varieties a few years ago, and have enjoyed discovering new ones when I visit plant nurseries or friends’ gardens.

Succulents come in many shapes, colors, and sizes, will grow indoors or out, and require little attention once established in the right environment. You can group different varieties together as a nice dish garden or plant them alone to develop into a stunning mass display. Drought-tolerant and tough, many will produce lovely yet delicate flowers when you least expect them.

While many succulents thrive in full sun, other varieties prefer to grow in filtered light. I have several succulent dish gardens on my front porch, which has bright light but no direct sun. Some of the cacti and agaves thrive in brutal heat and sunlight yet are surprisingly tough during winter freezes.

Water and fertilize succulents sparingly – too much of either could be the kiss of death for them. A few years ago I had a large beautiful jade plant that was well over fifteen years old. It was on my downstairs patio under a deck, and seemed happy in this location. We had a long rainy season that year, and I neglected to move the plant out of the drip line from the daily storms. It didn’t take long for it to begin rotting from the inside out, and it was near death before I realized it was in distress. Luckily I was able to take a few cuttings before it died, and as a result I still have jade “children” from that old plant today.

About Aline Clement

Aline Clement is a master gardener with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.