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Tuesday, March 21, 2017 Cacti and SucculentsContainer Gardening

Super Succulent Pots

A few years ago, I was elected President of my local Homeowner’s Association. I’d never lived in an organized community before (or ever run for office) so I took my new job very seriously. And, being a gardener, I immediately thought that without spending a lot of HOA money, I could jazz up the neighborhood with some colorful containers placed near the community’s entry and exit gates.

The gates were attractive enough, but the landscaping around them was uninspiring. There were a few trimmed shrubs by the entrance and a trio of crape myrtles lining the exit. Nothing with year-round color that would say “welcome” to everyone in the neighborhood.

So, I immediately ran out and bought a trio of colorful pots and filled them to the brim with an assortment of colorful annuals.  They were gorgeous and I got a lot of complements from the neighbors. But, within a few days I quickly discovered I’d made a grave error. Turns out, there was no water source near the pots so on hot days the poor annuals struggled to hold up their heads. On several occasions I even found myself making an emergency run with a 5-gallon bucket of water sloshing in the back of my truck. Not an efficient way to keep three large pots hydrated.

After a month of running fire brigade like rescue missions, I had to admit defeat and pull out the remaining, very crisp looking, flowers. But, luckily I write for Costa Farms and I started to think about their line of Desert Escape succulents and how they could be the perfect solution. They might not flower like annuals do, but succulents do come in a variety of cool colors and fascinating shapes so I thought I’d give them a try.

Well I’m happy to report that the three pots, filled with Desert Escape succulents thrived in their sunny exposed location and didn’t seem to mind that the only water they’d get was from occasional rainstorms. All I had to do was drive by and enjoy them. Succulent varieties in the various pots included: echeveria, euphorbia, kalachoe, haworthia, portulacaria, aloe, crassula, senecio.

Of course, the thing to remember with succulents is that many of them are not cold tolerant. When frost threatens I toss a sheet over the pots to protect them at night, but here in North Florida that only happens a few times a year. If you live in a colder climate, you need to bring them indoors and place them near a sunny window until spring.

Succulents also require good drainage so make sure your containers have holes in the bottom to allow excess water to run off. And, look for a potting mix especially designed for succulents that has sand mixed in to help with drainage.  Remember, succulents will tolerate a lot of abuse, but wet, mucky soil can kill them.

Written by:
Doug Jimerson

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