Go with Compatible Plants
Succulents either grow in the cool or warm seasons. Some grow in October until April when they go dormant. Warm season plants go dormant in October.
Choose the Right Container
Plants with shallow roots or that tend to rot faster do best in low or unglazed containers. Plants with leggy roots or those that require more water thrive in deep containers made of glazed, ceramic, fiberglass or plaster. In “The Plant Recipe Book”, Baylor Chapman has created an easy-to-follow, illustrated guide to creating succulent arrangements at home. She puts succulents in wood frames and boxes, logs and metal vessels, glass cylinders and handmade pottery.
Soil Aeration and Drainage
Bagged cactus mix sold at stores can be too organically rich for most plants so add extra pumice, says Matt Maggio, who creates succulent installations and container gardens for private clients and at Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar. He recommends two parts cactus mix for every one part pumice.
Matt Maggio’s all-purpose soil recipe: 50-60 percent pumic, 30 percent core (a lightweight substance made of ground coconut husks, which holds moisture and nutrients) and 10-20 percent humus.
Top Covering isn’t Just for Looks
Finishing the surface off with rocks can help control weeds and moisture, and regulate soil temperature. Lining the inside of the pot with bubble wrap helps insulate the plant from excessive heat, which can cause root dieback.
A Break from Mid-Day Sun
In nature, succulents often escape the elements by hiding in the shade of larger plants or rock crevices. So offer your succulent afternoon shade.
Watering Schedule will Vary
Water only during the growing season. “I don’t like to keep the mix wet all the time — you want to let the surface dry out a little bit before you water again”, Maggio says. “Conversely, you don’t want it to get bone dry or you’ll stress the plant. When a plant is water-stressed, it’s going to be dull looking, soft and malleable. When it’s well watered, it’s going to be plump, shiny and firm”.
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