Looking after your Succulents
Are succulents a low-maintenance option?
The short answer is, yes! With low water requirements and usually no need for pruning, succulents mostly look after themselves. They’re also tough as old boots (though a lot more attractive) and able to withstand the sort of conditions that would make other plants weep – we often use them on roof gardens and similar challenging spaces. The requirements of succulents are simple: ample sun is best, though some varieties do just fine in shade, and they need free-draining soil so they don’t rot.
What style of garden suits succulents?
Succulents are often associated with xeriscapes – dry, desert-like landscapes, often with sparse plantings and lots of gravel – but they’re actually a lot more flexible than you might think. We love to use them in coastal gardens, where their fat, glossy leaves provide life and contrast against more muted foliage. We’ve even used them in tropical gardens – the very opposite of xeriscapes! – where they’re the perfect solution to tricky spots, such as a patch of sandy soil, a place to which we can’t run irrigation, or a cluster of pots that might be prone to neglect.
With countless varieties available, there really is a succulent to suit every style of garden. We love succulents in shades of moody blues and greens, but they also come in every colour of the rainbow and in myriad enticing shapes. For example, check out Phillip Wither’s show garden from the Australian Garden Show in 2014, which featured a ‘coral reef’ of candy-coloured succulents.
Our favourite succulents?
This is a bit like picking a favourite child for the Secret Gardens team, but Crassulas are a genus that pops up over and over again in our gardens. Larger, shrub-size varieties, like Crassula ovata, make a bold statement, while smaller varieties add fullness, layers of texture and beautiful shades of soft blue or bright green to a garden bed, grouped in a pot or planter, or in tricky spots like roof gardens.
Mother in law’s tongue is another favourite plant in this category, though it might not be a plant that one immediately recognises as a succulent. Whether used as a virtually un-killable indoor plant, or with its strappy, upright leaves artfully lit outside, we love this bold, architectural species.