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July 2013

Gardening 101:
Easy by Design
Written By: 
Joan McDonald

Make a bold statement in containers or garden beds with a variety of no-fuss, no-muss, water-saving succulents


Summer have you wilting? Even on the sultriest of days, low-maintenance succulents won’t. These highly efficient plants store water in their leaves, adding easy, eye-catching color to containers and beds. Plant them individually for a sophisticated look or coordinate by color and texture for extra wow factor. Their shallow root systems also make them ideal for home décor projects such as living wreaths and vertical palette gardens. Planted together, the following selections create a gorgeous summertime design. Center your container with the red-tipped kalanchoe, surround it with hen and chicks, and use purslane as a trailer for its soft orange hues. Then throw in a chartreuse sedum such as ‘Lemon Coral’ for a bit of contrast.

Flapjack  (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)
This popular succulent, also called “desert cabbage,” has a unique leaf structure that resembles a stack of pancakes, hence its catchy nickname. When planted in full sun, its vibrant red foliage grows in a rosette pattern that can reach up to 14 inches in height, easily making it the center of attention in a combination container. It produces a stalk that dies back after flowering but offers up new plants, or offsets.

Hardiness: Zones 9a-11b
Light: Full sun
Soil: Use a well-draining cactus and succulent mix.
Water: Weekly; fill until liquid seeps through container’s drainage holes. Do not over-water. Let it dry out between waterings.
Fertilize: Feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at one-quarter strength once a month.

Purslane ‘Rio Orange’ (Portulaca oleracea ‘Rio Orange’)
With its large, bright orange blooms on a background of cascading deep green foliage, this annual edible, also known as “moss rose,” works great in containers and garden beds. Each plant rambles up to 16 inches, creating a sea of beautiful, low-spreading flowers.

Hardiness: Zones 8-12
Fertilize: Feed once a month with balanced liquid fertilizer.
Maintain: Prune back to keep it to scale.
*Same light, soil, and water as flapjack

Hen & Chicks  (Sempervivum ‘Tordeu’s Memory’)
This jewel has bright green rosettes with leaves that are tipped in a russet color. As it matures, it produces green and red offsets that spiral outward with low-growing texture, creating the effect of a carpet of rosettes. Like most succulents, semperviviums can thrive in lean soil.

Hardiness: Zones 3-11
Fertilize: Not needed
*Same light, soil, and water as flapjack
 




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Photographs by (Planter) Alex Antonacci, (Flapjack) Doug Kalan, & (Purslane) Richard Elliot & Courtesy of (Hen & Chicks) Simply Succulents

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