Julie Kuehl

Succulents seem to be this year’s “special” plants. Succulents are popular for two main reasons. (1) They are beautiful and (2) they are almost indestructible. Succulents are some of the most diverse plants. They can range from paddle leaves to rosettes, to trailing columns of teardrop shaped leaves. Many people think succulents can only be grown in a dessert environment. 

While it is true that some will not withstand our Midwest winters, many can. They can also be grown in containers and treated much like annuals. There are many winter varieties that I have seen referred to as sedum. Also the old-fashioned chick and hens are a type of succulent. 

All succulents, whether winter hardy or warm climate, have similar growing needs. They will require strong southern light (whether planted outside or in your home). If they don’t have enough light you will see the plants become misshaped and elongated. Succulents do not like to be over watered and will develop root rot. Allow the soil to dry to nearly arid and then give them a thorough soaking. Succulents should be potted or planted in a good draining soil mixture. Succulents should be fed much the same as any container or garden.

Succulents can be displayed in fun and creative ways. The main rule to remember when choosing a container for displaying your succulents is good drainage. Remember they don’t like their feet wet. If you want to use a fun vintage container, find a liner insert to catch excess water and plant actual succulent in a clay pot. Then cover any exposed area with moss. The sky is the limit for containers for succulents from boots to shells to old glassware, as long as you make sure there is good drainage.

As the summer progresses keep tuning in for more ideas and helpful hints. If you need an answer to a question or have an idea let me know at gardenvarietycolumn@gmail.com. Until next time keep playing in the dirt - it will make you feel great!

Julie Kuehl is a Polk County Master Gardener.

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