Succulent gardens, with plants that feature fat leaves and unusual shapes, add interest to ordinary landscapes. Because they look exotic, you might think succulents are difficult to plant and care for. In reality, succulents are some of the easiest plants to grow. They thrive in conditions other plants would consider neglect. The key to a successful succulent garden lies in the right kind of soil and light. Once you master those basic needs, occasional watering is all you need to help your plants thrive.
1. Choose a location for your garden that gets full sun to partial shade. Make sure the location gets bright sun for at least a portion of the day, especially if your garden will include cacti.
2. Prepare the outdoor garden's existing soil, removing the grass and weeds and breaking it up with a shovel. If you're replacing the soil in your planter, remove it now.
3. Create a fast-draining, succulent-friendly soil by combining equal parts sharp builder's sand; a larger, coarse material, such as gravel or pumice, and either the existing garden soil or potting mix. Pour the materials into your garden space and mix with the shovel. Smooth out the surface, but don't pat down.
4. Plan the placement of your succulents. Place them close together if you want a garden that's immediately full. Space them several inches apart if you'd like to give the plants an opportunity to grow and spread out. Keep in mind it can take a few months to a few years for the plants to fill in the garden completely, but this option saves money on plants.
5. Wait a full week before you water your garden to allow the roots to harden and to recover from transplant damage. Water until the soil is completely moist, usually no more than five minutes, depending on garden size.
6. Water one to two times per month during the spring and summer and once about every other month during fall and winter. Check before watering to make sure the soil has mostly dried out. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
7. Fertilize once in the spring and once in midsummer. Use a half-strength, phosphorus-rich houseplant fertilizer.
8. Weed regularly to prevent unwanted plants from stealing water, nutrients and ground space from your succulents.
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