I’ve long been a fan of growing succulents – all succulent types. A bucket list item of mine is to go out into a desert and see the plants in their natural setting, but for now I have to content myself with my own specimens. I have cacti and the traditional succulents, with species from desert to tropical forest. These faithful plants never let me down and provide beautiful texture and color year around.
My Ever-Growing Succulent Collection
My first succulent was a jade plant. It was just a little pup when I got it, but it is now a mini tree. It is also the parent to numerous generations of starts that I have given away. This plant doesn’t like to be moved but is tolerant of any other conditions, including a period of drought. Once the leaves shrivel a bit, I know it is past time to water. Watering succulents occasionally is a must. My obsession has led me to have numerous other succulents over the years. Some of them are decades old. They rarely need repotting, are stoic about lack of water, feeding is not usually necessary, and they are happy when I remember them.
After the jade plant, I got into cacti. Because of their numerous spines, I began collecting Ferocactus species. They got the name because the talon-like spines are truly ferocious looking. Next came an interest in Mammillaria. There are around 200 known species of these usually small succulents. There are several forms but most tend to be little pincushion shapes. They produce a plethora of different colored blooms, depending upon species. Mammillaria make ideal houseplants, as they are native to Mexican desert and enjoy a sunny southern window and low water.
I also have a Christmas cactus tucked away in the low light guest bedroom, which performs its blooming trick faithfully around the holidays. There are many more genera that I have had over the years, and never have I been disappointed. I am literally growing succulents in every corner of my home.
The types of plants that we usually call succulents are those with no spines and plump leaves. An aloe is a classic example, and one that I have had for around 20 years. It has been a favorite in form, growth, and maintenance, but it has also sacrificed leaves for cuts, burns, and wounds. An unusual succulent is our ponytail palm, also called elephant’s foot. This plant is tree-like with a caudex, or storage stem, that contains water. My African milk tree is in a container surrounded by Echeveria and Crassula. Some hanging containers sport string of pearls and burro’s tail.
Many of my succulent plants go outdoors around the patio in summer, but I have to be careful to avoid the light at high noon, which can burn some of them. I noticed that watering succulents more frequently is necessary when outside, but they are otherwise uncomplaining. My succulent collection isn’t just indoors, however. I have numerous varieties of Sedum and Sempervivum, as well as a containerized agave, that are not bothered by winter’s snow and ice. Growing succulents indoors and outdoors is easy and enhances the landscape.
I wouldn’t have a collection of plants without succulents. There are so many from which to choose and they will live long lives with little intervention. The vast array of tones, forms, and flowers make them an ideal group of plants for the easily bored gardener. Plus, they are easy to propagate and increase a collection.