We cannot complain of boredom in the weather this summer. We’ve been treated to a daylong soaking of rain, after a night of lightning and thunder the likes of which this California native has never experienced. Rain gauges registered 1¾ inches in our garden, and plants in our town came alive.
Moisture in the air has left time to concentrate on further changes in the garden. I’ve been planting some large succulents in the bare spots left by the drought. I began propagating (starting new plants from cuttings) succulents during the winter using “grow boxes” that don’t seem good for much else. They’ve proven to be too shallow for tomatoes and larger plants.
The “grow boxes” are designed to be self-fertilizing (if you use potting soil with fertilizer), self-watering (if you have water) and no weeding (if you haven’t planted weeds in the boxes). They are 28 inches long by 14 inches wide and 12 inches high, made of “UV treated material” (looks like plastic to me), and can be purchased online. To their credit, I have found them useful in growing strawberries, greens and small vegetables. And great for propagating plants from cuttings of berries and succulents.
Many favorite succulents belong to the genus Echeveria (ek-eh-VER-ee-ah). “Hens and chicks” are a species in the group and are named so because they have a tendency to have a “mother” plant that grows numerous offsets (babies) along her side. These “chicks” are easily broken off and planted elsewhere.
Another favorite genus is the Aeonium (ay-OH-nee-um). They grow in the shape of a flower on a long stem and are colored green to reddish black. They look striking as a tall focal point in a container with shorter succulents arranged around its base.
The genus Sempervivum contains numerous plants with a rosette shape. One species called the “houseleek” — don’t ask me why — has “rosettes” that can appear to be connected by spider webs and can be separated and replanted.
Kalanchoe is well known for its colorful blooms. They come in pink, orange, magenta, and yellow flowers, and last for many months. The word Kalanchoe has four different pronunciations (KA-luhn-KO-e, kuh-LANG-ko-e, KAL-uhn-cho, and kuh-LAN-cho, and all are considered correct!)
Kalanchoe grows in sun and shade. It is easy to propagate, and if you have a bit of patience you can have colorful flowers almost anywhere in your garden, shade or sun.
Succulents are keeping die-hard gardeners busy and keeping our gardens presentable.
Until the rains and moisture return (think positively) take some time to learn the names and growing habits of this very interesting genus of the plant kingdom.
Tip of the month
Cambria Garden Club members have been propagating and planting succulents throughout the winter and spring. These plants will be sold in the garden shed during this year’s Pinederado celebration. All proceeds will be donated to the Lions Club for distribution in the community.
To care for your succulents, ensure pots have good drainage. After plants have been in their containers for a year, they may begin to look “leggy.” Tall plants can be cut and shortened and propagated in moist soil and offsets removed and planted in new containers. Propagation is fun, easy and good for your garden.