Knowing what to consider for the succulent garden
Consider these factors before you start buying every cactus in sight:
- Placement: Locate succulents on the sunny south side of a house or building, where reflected heat and the warmth retained in the walls will help them endure cold nights. Choose a location with good air circulation as well. Place thorny plants away from paths and other traffic patterns.
- Arrangement: Succulents and cacti rarely grow only with others of their kind in nature. It's okay to have an all-succulent/cactus garden, but it's okay to mix them with other kinds of plants. Just be sure to group them with plants that have similar water needs. Use the bold forms as specimen or accent plants. Silhouette them against walls. Play with the many foliage colors.
- Drainage: Succulent plants grew up in places with gravelly soil and fast internal soil drainage. Give it to them. Give them drought. Give them sun. Leave them the heck alone. They'll love you for it. If you're one of those people who waters every day, stay away from succulents, because they hate that kind of attention.
- Feeding and watering: Go easy on the fertilizer, and apply it only during the active growing season (and only in small doses). However, don't use it unless you see actual nutrient deficiencies. Withhold fertilizer and water during fall and winter.
Handling thorny plants is tricky. Succulents are much heavier than other plants because of the water in their tissue, so they can be top-heavy. And a top-heavy succulent can lead to accidents that cause you painful injury. Many succulents are also brittle and need to be handled with care. This is extreme gardening, so wear thick leather gloves, a heavy, long-sleeved shirt or jacket, heavy boots, and eye protection, and wrap the plants in newspaper or a piece of old carpeting. If you get pricked, clean the wound promptly and thoroughly to avoid infection.
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Gardening is also a great way to provide healthy food for you and your loved ones. When you buy produce from the store, it just isnt the same as presenting a salad to your family that came exclusively from your garden worked by your own two hands.
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