Succulents are very popular garden plants and it is easy to see why. They relish hot, dry situations and can take a starring role in dry, heat-tolerant and low-care gardens. Many also grow well in containers, so are great for small spaces, too. This tough plant group is also finding its way into flower and table arrangements indoors and into open terrariums for indoor gardens.

 

Why succulents are so popular

In recent years, gardeners have rediscovered the beauty and versatility of succulents. New gardeners in particular, along with those restricted to growing plants indoors or on balconies, are driving our passion for succulents. This, in turn, is encouraging wholesale nurseries to experiment with making new varieties available, including Flower Power's growing nursery, which has an extensive succulent and cactus program.

Although succulents are often thought of as a single group, they come from different plant families including the daisy family (Asteraceae) and the stonecrop family (Crassulaceae). They also come from many parts of the world, including arid and coastal Australia. What makes them a group is that all succulents have adaptions for surviving dry conditions such as fleshy leaves.

For gardeners who like to collect plants, the huge variety on offer makes growing succulents a rewarding hobby. They are relatively easy to propagate, often growing from a detached leaf or small stem cutting. You can also divide some succulents to create new plantings.

 

Flower Power's Arborglen growing nursery has an extensive succulent and cactus program, led by expert grower Frank Tamburic.

 

How to grow succulents

While succulents are easy to grow, there are a few tricks to success. Importantly, succulents need well-drained conditions. This is easily achieved in a pot by using a specially formulated succulent and cacti potting mix - Flower Power recommends Debco Cacti & Succulent Premium Growing Mix. In the garden, plant succulents into raised beds if there is a concern about drainage. Use an inorganic gravel mulch around succulents.

Although most succulents thrive in full sun, they do also tolerate light shade, especially from hot afternoon sun. Indoors they must be grown with bright light – if the situation isn’t well-lit, the plants will fail to thrive and will develop pest issues such as mealy bug. Many succulents also need protection from cold or frost (for example, move containerised plants to a frost-free spot over winter).

While succulents are designed to withstand long dry periods, all perform better with regular watering, especially during hot periods. Watering should be reduced in winter. Succulents are not heavy feeders, so keep fertilising to a minimum with an annual application in spring of a slow-release plant food.

Although succulents are usually grown for their foliage or plant shape, these plants do flower. If you don’t want your plant to flower, simply cut off the flowering stem as it begins to form.

Echeveria 'Silver Queen' and Kalanchoe 'Flapjacks' are two very popular succulent plants for gardens and pots.

 

Succulent garden ideas

Succulents are a great option to fill many niches in the garden, indoors or out. Here are our top succulent ideas for small spaces:

 

These two plants show some of the diverse growth habits of succulents - Senecio serpens, or blue chalk sticks, grows upward, while Sedum morganianum, or donkey's tail, has a trailing habit.