Patio Gardening – Succulents

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Creative Commons License photo credit: themissiah
One of the most difficult things about getting settled in a new home, is getting your garden restarted. I like to start with areas near the house, like patio gardens. Patio gardening can be very different than gardening in larger spaces because you need to be very conscious of the microclimate of your garden. One of my favorite things to grow on my patio is succulents, like the jade plant pictured above.

Plants in pots are much more sensitive to variations in temperature and moisture than plants whose roots have room to spread and find the nutrients and water they need. Because of this you have to plant your patio garden carefully, paying attention to sun and shade, wind and water.

Succulents such as jade plant, aloe, and hens and chicks seem to prefer to be neglected. (Whenever I pay too much attention to a succulent plant I manage to kill it with over watering.) They tolerate hot dry conditions extremely well, which is exactly the type of microclimate that tends to prevail on most people’s patios. I have also grown succulents well in partial shade, so don’t worry if you don’t have a super sunny spot.

The important thing is not to overwater your patio succulents! Water about every two weeks. I’m sure I have let my plants go longer without water and I have never killed them from lack of water. If you live in a colder climate, you will have to take your succulents inside when the weather turns cold, but they make fabulous easy care houseplants in a sunny spot.

Succulents are also traditionally associated with positive qualities. Most people know that aloe is a great remedy for burns and skin irritations. Jade plant is also called “money plant” because growing it is suppose to attract wealth to your home. Hens and chicks is a plant that was grown by the ancient romans to ward off lightening strikes. Including these lucky plants in your patio garden can’t hurt. Growing such easy plants will make you feel lucky to have discovered them.

5 thoughts on “Patio Gardening – Succulents

  1. Designer Baby Bags

    I’ve been having a battle with succulents lately – a friend at a nursery recently gave us a burro’s tail and got one for himself as well. Both of them died within a month. Really should have ‘neglected’ it more. Good, informative post!

  2. Garden Grrrl Post author

    My mom grows those in her kitchen and has for years. I don’t know if you had it indoors or out, but mostly likely if it died, it was over-watering. Succulents can also get sunburned-brown spots on the leaves, or get too dry and start to shrivel. It would take a succulent a very long time to die from lack of water though. I think I have let my hens and chicks go for at least a month without water in a strawberry pot. Did you re-pot it when you got it home? Succulents do best in lighter soil. If you use regular potting soil it can stay wet for too long.

  3. suzette

    I just visited Los Olivos, Ca. in the San Ynez valley, there I purchased a potted arrangment of succulents and moss. The guy there said the succulents loved water, he suggested watering 3 times a week. All their plants looked wonderful. They specialized in these potted arrangements with lots of different succulents and moss. So just wondering about the too much watering. They had some of the clay pots sitting in water. I got some succulents and moss and have made some of my own arrangements but don’t want to kill them by water. Any help would be great. I live in the Salinas valley, dry, hot days cool nights, windy afternoons and evenings. Thanks

  4. Garden Grrrl Post author

    Well the frequency of watering really depends a lot on the weather. I’m not sure what kind of succulents he was selling, but most succulents are desert plants and will rot with too much water. That said, if you are growing them in small containers or in hanging baskets with moss they will need to be watered frequently since the container will dry out rapidly. In The Salinas area I wouldn’t be surprised to find that you needed to water several times a week. However, I have had good luck growing succulents in dry conditions. I think they are a great option for patios and doorstep containers because they tolerate infrequent watering and are decorative year round. I used to live in Davis, which is also hot and dry much of the year and my succulents did great on my patio, despite my frequent forgetting to water.

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