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The ins and outs of growing succulents in Alabama

The ins and outs of growing succulents in Alabama

Auburn, Alabama — Whether you are an experienced gardener or just a beginner, growing succulents can be a breeze.

“A succulent is a thick, fleshy, waxy leafed plant that thrives in periods of drought. They are good for people who forget [to water] or travel a lot,” said Lucy Edwards, a regional home grounds Extension agent for Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Because succulents do not need much water or attention, they are ideal house plants.

Avoid too much water

One of the most important things for succulents, Edwards noted, is not to give a them too much water. Succulents need to be kept in a dry atmosphere, and must be planted in coarse potting material.

“Ideally you want the potting material to dry out between watering,” said Edwards. “Rocks at the bottom of the container are not the best way to create drainage.  In fact, you are raising the water table up closer to the plant roots – root rot is more prevalent.” Maintaining a well drained pot or dry soil is key to keeping a healthy succulent.

How much sun is enough

Edwards also mentioned that succulents are evergreen, but have a dormant season, typically between September and March. In these months, succulents need even less water. During the active months, Edwards advised exposing the succulents to morning sun, which is “easier on a plant. Afternoon sun is more harsh.”

What to pair with succulents

In addition to keeping a dry environment for your succulent, Edwards also recommended planting them with other plants that thrive in similar conditions.

“Succulents together are okay because they have the same drainage; herbs are also good. Don’t put succulents with a water needy plant, because they are incompatible,” said Edwards.

When asked which succulents are easiest to grow, Edwards mentioned a Christmas Cactus because it is a seasonal plant.

“Succulents are perennial. They come back year after year,” said Edwards.

Some succulents even have medicinal uses, like Aloe. Succulents are diverse and range in size and color.  Hen and Chicks succulents and Living Stone succulents both have a unique appearance and can spice up a garden or window.

How to replant succulents

Succulents are a popular plant because they are both easy to grow and easy to replant.

“Take a leaf off of a succulent and lightly place it into the soil and it will grow into a little seeding. As long as you take care of them you can have as many as you want,” said Edwards. If you take care of your succulent, you can continue to watch it grow and expand for years.

Where to find succulents succulents

Many gardening stores carry dozens of succulent varieties. Gardening stores and nurseries also offer potting material, pots, plants and fertilizer to the budding gardener wanting to  grow succulents.

(photo taken with permission at Blooming Colors: Erin Slay)

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