Propagation attempts of succulents

If you follow my blog and gardening website, you will know I love succulents of all shapes and sizes. So much so that I included one tiny succulent in each of the party favours I presented to each guest at my daughter-in-law’s baby shower last winter. Tell me you noticed the succulents as the header of this blog’s landing page.

Succulents are my favourite perennials as they tolerate hot sun and require little to no maintenance. Hen and chicks (sempervivum) are especially easy to propagate, simply by removing the ‘chicks’ from their ‘mother’ and inserting them into soil in a new location right in the garden.

This off-season of my gardening business, I decided to try my hand at propagating some succulents inside the house. So far, so good. All I did to encourage propagation was tuck a few leaves from various types of succulents into houseplants around the house. Especially the ones in a sunny location. I also tried placing a few leaves in a small, shallow, clear container into which I added a tiny bit of water. (second picture) The container sits on a north facing window sill.

The leaves withered up, but tiny new plants emerged at the base of the leaf in each propagation attempt. Just be sure to keep the soil moist around the leaves inserted in soil as well as a tiny bit (just enough to keep emerging roots wet) of water in the bottom of the container.

Versatile succulents

Succulents are easy to grow plants, even for the novice gardener.  They can be planted directly into your garden or in containers for indoors and out.  In really cold climates, you may have to bring your container in for the winter.

These versatile gems also make great centerpieces for DIY decorations at weddings or showers.  Recently I selected a variety of tiny ones, painted their pots pale pink, and created a centerpiece for decoration at a baby shower.  As my guests left, I tucked one baby succulent into their loot (party favor) bags…

 

These versatile succulents can be purchased in pots at your local nursery, or as seeds through a seed catalogue or by clicking on the Amazon links below…

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Please be sure to visit my other blogs:
Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at Your Daily Chuckle
and
Be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW
My gardening website can be viewed at gardens4u.ca

I’m a snob

Ok, I will admit it, I am a snob, a plant snob that is!  Some plants I find just too common and boring.  For example, “Look at that beautiful hosta!” said no one ever.  Or spirea either for that matter, unless you are talking one of the bridal wreath variety, then you may just hear or think that, but only if it is pruned correctly.

So, if that makes me a plant snob, then so be it.  I appear to have developed an aversion to hostas, probably because people have overused them in their gardens.  The only time I enjoy them is in the very early spring when their green spikes are one of the first signs of new growth to emerge from the soil as it thaws out here in the Ottawa area.  In the summer they get eaten by slugs and earwigs, and in the fall they turn mushy and slimy…

 

 

So, what perennials do I prefer over hostas for the edges of my gardens in my GARDENS4U and home gardens?  Here are my choices:

For shady areas I like perennial geraniums.  They are one of the first perennials to green up in the spring, require no maintenance what so ever, and maintain their neat, non-sprawling (most varieties) mounded shape.  They do spread throughout the garden, but are very shallow rooted, so easy to remove.  These geraniums are great for planting under trees, even evergreen trees where nothing else will thrive.

Another good choice for an edging plant in shady areas is lamium.  It is one of my favourites with its variegated leaves, reblooming pale flowers, and tidy habit.

be a plant snob with a lamium border

 

For part shade to part sun locations in the garden, I am loving heucheras these days.  Some varieties tolerate more sun than others, so be sure to read the tags.  By the way, heuchera is pronounced with a hard c.  I will never forget that after I was chastised for mispronouncing it by a 93-year-old client.  Heucheras come in a variety of colors from palest green to bright chartreuse to orangy-brown to reddish brown to deep wine red.  Leaf shapes vary too from smooth and rounded, to almost maple-leaf-like, to curly, lettuce-leaf-like.  They look good all summer, need no fall cleanup or protection, and survive our cold winters with no problem.  A simple tug to remove any crispy leaves in the spring and they are good to go.

become a plant snob with heucheras for borders

My first choice for full sun edging plants are those in the sedum or stonecrop families.  As succulents, sedums and stonecrops are all drought tolerant, thriving in hot, dry areas, especially next to stone walkways where not much else will grow. They too come in a variety of colors and shapes.  These sedums and stonecrops look especially nice when several varieties are planted together.

So, next season think outside of your comfort zone. Become a plant snob by replacing those boring hostas with a little more pizazz!

 

Gardens4u creation thriving in Texas

In January, I visited my sister in Corpus Christi, Texas for her birthday.  While I was there, the nice weather and the search for a unique birthday gift inspired  me to get creative with my green thumbs.  My design included a small garden in her front yard, with drought tolerant plants in pots to add color to her patio.  Gardens4u working in January; that’s a first!

My sister is a mother of three and grandmother of three, working full-time as a nurse.  Gardening is low on her priority list, so she wanted something easy to look after that would thrive in the Texas heat and drought. Succulents were perfect for the garden and patio pots.  Here are a few pictures of my creations, including updates taken two months later…

 

patio planters with a dwarf bottle brush shrub and succulents:

 

garden plantings of succulents, with rocks and mulch:

 

Although it is always tricky working in a climate zone very different than the one you are accustomed to, I am thrilled to see that these plantings are thriving.   The garden plants should be established by now so will require very little extra watering.  However, soil and plant roots in pots dry out very quickly, so these will have to be watered when the soil feels dry.

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at www.gardens4u.ca

 

 

Gardens4u in Texas

In Corpus Christi, Texas this week for my sister’s birthday, I just couldn’t stay out of the dirt.  For her birthday gift, I promised her a new garden in her front yard, one that she could not kill.  Seems like she did not inherit the same green thumb I did.

First, for inspiration, we went to the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens to see what will survive in this hot environment.  Instead of cold hardy as I am used to in the Ottawa, Ontario area of Canada, I had to think heat and drought tolerant…

 

 

We chose succulents, agave, cactus, sedum, aloe and various stonecrops for ground cover and trailers.  All are drought tolerant once established and can handle the extreme heat here in Texas…

 

 

Below are the before, during and after pictures….

 

Hopefully this new garden renovation survives the heat and drought conditions in my sister’s Texas yard.

Experiment with perennial succulents for containers in full sun garden locations

This year I am experimenting with perennial succulents in my urns that are located in full sun.  I had two coco liners filled with soil left from last summer’s hanging baskets.  I turned them upside down over my cast iron urns, tucking the fiber into the edge of the urns to make them fit and to prevent soil and water from leaking out.  I then cut slits in the fiber and tucked slips of succulents (sedum and stonecrop) into the slits.  For the top, I used a large sermpervivum rosette (the hen part of the hen and chicks succulent plant).   I am hoping the succulent slips will cascade over the sides of the urns as they grow.  I will rotate the urns occasionally as the sedums grow towards the sun, so they will cascade evenly around the perimeter of the urns.

Perennial succulents are an excellent choice for a hot, dry location in your garden.  There are many varieties to choose from; sedums and stonecrop are two of my favourites.  Choose a variation in color for a spectacular display. Once established succulents require very little water, and in fact too much water will cause them to rot.  These urns of mine sit in front of my garage with a hot, dry, full sun, southern exposure. Over the years I have not had much luck with any other plants growing there.  They all start off well, but quickly lose their appeal as they get leggy and dry out.  Hopefully the succulents will do the trick to keep my urns looking great all summer.

I also use succulents such as sedum and stonecrop as groundcovers in hot, dry, full sun locations in my garden.  They make beautiful edging plants in the perennial garden.

Winter Gardening c/o Home Depot

The latest Home Depot newsletter for garden club members has some great indoor gardening ideas for these cold winter months…

The first project is a garden dish, or a mini garden, suitable for any room in your home:

for this project you will need the following items:

  • horticultural charcoal to keep the soil smelling fresh
  • gravel for drainage
  • a shallow, low sided, heavy (ceramic is good) dish, with no drainage hole in the bottom.  You can use your imagination here to repurpose an old  container.  Any shape or depth will work with similar instructions, just use thicker layers of charcoal, gravel and soil.
  • plants, such as coleus, succulents and cacti
  • potting soil
  • moss or sand to cover the soil
  • decorative items such as shells, pretty stones, pine cones etc

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle less than an inch of gravel and charcoal over the bottom of container. (thicker if container is deeper than a shallow dish)
  2. Un-pot your plants, and position them as desired, keeping in mind that you are trying to create a miniature landscape. Be sure to use plants with the same light and water requirements in one container. For example, succulents and cacti like bright light, but require very little water.  In fact they will rot if watered too frequently.
  3. Surround the root-balls with soil, including a thinner layer over the non-planted gravel areas.
  4. Add a thin layer of moss or sand to ensure soil is covered.
  5. Tuck decorative items into moss or sand.
  6. Moisten your garden with a watering can or in the sink. Let it soak for a few minutes, then carefully tip out the excess water while holding the arrangement in place with your other hand. Repeat this procedure once a week or when the soil feels dry. Make sure your garden never sits in excess water.
  7. Given bright but indirect sunlight, most houseplants will thrive for months or even years in containers. Replace any overgrown or sickly plants as needed.

The next idea is for the transformation of a sunny window into a mini greenhouse that can showcase herbs and houseplants:

You will need the following items:

  • measuring tape, ruler, electric drill, level, pencil, hand saw
  • sand paper, wood putty, paint, moulding
  • 1/2 inch thick piece of glass
  • felt dots or plastic slide

Directions:

1.  Measure the depth and width of the window frame, and subtract half an inch from the width to determine      the dimensions of the shelves.

2. Have a glazier cut a 1/2”-thick piece of glass to size for each shelf. For a more finished look, have the edges sanded. Using a level and a ruler for precision, make pencil marks where each shelf support should go, starting from the top of the window frame.

3. Make supports out of moulding by cutting two lengths of moulding for each shelf (the moulding length should equal the depth of the frame). Sand the ends smooth.

4. Drill three evenly spaced holes (just bigger than the head of a wood screw) in each support. Hold a support against the appropriate mark on the window frame, insert the bit of an electric drill through one of the holes, and drill a starter spot into the frame. Repeat for the other holes, and then countersink screws so the heads don’t show. Repeat for remaining supports. Fill holes with wood putty, sand smooth, and paint supports. Once paint dries, attach a felt dot or plastic glide to each support end, and set glass shelves in place.

Filling your home with houseplants, tropicals or locally grown, is a great way to detoxify the air in your home, especially in the winter when windows and doors are shut tight against the cold.  Read this previous post to see how this works.  To increase your collection of tropical houseplants, take advantage of Home Depot’s current offer:

home depot tropicals pic

Click on this link to download and print the coupon Home depot tropicals    

There are many varieties of tropical houseplants to choose from, including the ever popular orchids.  Orchids are easy to care for, providing colorful and long-lasting blooms.  They are ideal for the indoor environment of your home and are sure to brighten up the dreary winter months.  The biggest challenge when buying orchids is what color to choose as they are all beautiful!

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