Succulent. The word conjures up images of summer – a punnet of luscious red strawberries begging to be eaten or a ripe peach bursting with flavour, its juice running down your arm as you bite into it.
But there’s another type of succulent: plants that have fleshy leaves and stems that thrive in what I call “tough love” conditions. Think aloe vera, yuccas, cacti, agave… They are great for a water-wise garden since they require very little watering.
Best of all, they can multiple really easily (for some reason, I’m thinking of Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fish!). This makes them perfect for propagating.
To propagate succulents, collect a few clippings from friends or family who have them growing in their backyards. No need to be too fussy – just break off a few ends. See picture below.
Remove the lower-most leaves at the bottom of the clipping and leave to dry in the shade for a day or two. This will help the plant develop a callus and avoid fungal infections.
Now plant the stems into your soil. You don’t even need to dip the stems or leaves in hormone rooting powder. The grittier the soil, the better the drainage.
You can plant them in anything – no need to stick to pots. Chipped teacups, ratty old boots, old tin cans… I grew mine in a woven bowl somebody had chucked out for our council clean-up. Once planted, I covered any visible soil with pebbles – again, thrown out by a neighbour!
Give your arrangement a good drink of water.
Keep out in a sunny spot and water your succulents once a week.
You’ll know they are growing when you see them sprouting little “babies” (see pic below).
Getting up close and personal with my succulents
So tell me, do you have a green thumb? Is there something you just can’t grow, no matter what? And are you good at remembering to drink enough water?