Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Succulents Versus A Central Valley Winter

I have been on a succulent binge the last two years...there are so many really interesting choices and they are such a great plant for pots in our hot summer climate. I've learned not to waste the deeper pots on them...they are perfectly happy with a few inches of soil beneath them. I started out making combinations in pots as I have with other plants. Combinations work best when working with perennials, vines and annuals in the big pots I have gravitated to over the years. Our hot, dry summers require daily (or more frequent!) watering of small pots with most plants. But as I experimented with succulents I found they could get by with much less water and I began using all the abandoned small pots I had on the shelf and tried potting up one plant per pot. I really like the way the plants stand out on their own and I enjoy making combinations with groupings of the pots. I also learned that the hot afternoon sun was a bit much even for succulents and so grouped them against the west fence to allow some afternoon shade. But the most important thing I've learned...the thing that saves me having to replace plants come spring... is that it isn't just the winter cold that is hard on is sitting in the cold soaking wet. Our winters can be quite rainy and I actually like the rain (as long as I keep telling myself it is better than a drought) but the succulents need to be moved to a protected, covered spot so that they don't end up soaked with the night temperature dipping down towards freezing. So at some point I will be moving the pots to their winter home on shelves under my patio cover where they will be safe and dry and protected from the frosts we sometimes get and they will be much happier come spring when they get to go back out into the garden...just like many of us!