Succulent garden

The common characteristics of the numerous succulents

Those that we commonly call succulent plants, and which in scientific terms are more properly classified as succulents, belong to numerous botanical families with considerable differences in shape and size, but all linked by the particular ability to store water and thus be able to survive in arid environments and long periods of drought. This capacity is guaranteed by particular tissues, the aquifer parenchyma, which absorb water and make the stem, leaves and roots thick and fleshy, precisely greasy. Many species have undergone a further transformation and instead of the leaves they have thorns, entrusting the chlorophyll function to the stem. Their evolutionary history is mysterious, the places of origin are very varied, usually arid areas, where periods of rain alternate with long periods of drought. They could not live in the deserts, because they would lack even a small amount of water to store. The dimensions are generally small, but there is no lack of very large species, such as giants, especially among the Agavaceae and Cactaceae, some can even reach 12 meters in height.

Growing needs of the succulent garden

Before planning the construction of a succulent garden, it is necessary to check that the climatic conditions allow it. These plants, in fact, require little care, adapt to the most arid soils, tolerate the lack of water and intense heat but suffer with temperatures below zero, excessive humidity and poor lighting. Where winter is harsh and very rainy, they should be brought indoors or at least sheltered in small greenhouses. The ideal winter temperature is around 5-7 ° C. Watering must also be scarce, about 2 times a month, maximum 5-6 in summer, where it is particularly hot, remembering however that it is always better to give little water rather than too much. Succulents adapt well to the most diverse soils, the important is that they are well drained to avoid the dreaded stagnations. At the end of winter, to help the vegetative restart and flowering, you can make nourishment with fertilizer for succulents.

The succulents most suitable for growing in the garden

Succulents are ideal for creating an ornamental garden of sure effect, for their original and exotic appearance, the great variety of shapes and sizes and the ease of cultivation. They are particularly suitable for creating a rock garden, in an arid and dry environment. The choice of plants must be made considering the size of the space to be occupied, the effect to be obtained, trying to harmonize colors and shapes. Usually the largest specimens are placed in the center, while the edges are made with smaller species, with limited growth. Suitable for this purpose are many species of Cactaceae, which have thorns instead of the leaves and solitary flowers with bright colors, or the Crassulaceae, very decorative, in particular the genus Echeveria, with the leaves placed in rosettes, the Kalanchoe, the Sedum, the Sempervivum, or Aloe humilis, the smallest of its kind. Very suitable for gardens, among the Aizoaceae, the genus Lampranthus, with a rustic and bushy character and spectacular and colorful flowering. A garden that is always in bloom can be obtained by combining species with different flowering periods.

Succulent garden: How to take care of the succulent garden

The main attention that a succulent plant garden requires is to keep the soil well drained, avoiding excess water and humidity. To do this it is necessary to water in moderation, only when necessary, and to protect the plants in very rainy areas with canopies or small greenhouses. In fact, if succulents live in too humid environments they can turn yellow and rot, as well as being more exposed to fungal diseases. It is also possible to carry out a preventive treatment with systemic products against fungi and parasites, such as aphids, mites or cochineal, which most often infest them. Succulents also suffer from poor lighting, with the stem that becomes thin and whitish, and the intense cold, below zero, which causes the stem to crack and often, if no action is taken, the death of the plant. Lack of adequate nutrients makes them stunted. Succulents do not require pruning except to remove damaged parts or procure cuttings for reproduction.

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