in a do-it-yourself concrete pot
The beauty of
nature is often seen in the almost infinite variety of plants. One way
to experience that variety, says Brian Kemble, curator at the Ruth
Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, Calif., is through experimentation
Kemble says no
one knew for certain whether some of the succulents and cactuses at
the Ruth Bancroft Garden could be grown in this climate. But through
experimentation, including some failures, the garden world has learned
just how adaptable plants can be.
Kemble says, Bancroft is fond of gasterias, which are native to the
coast of South Africa, where it is never subjected to freezing
wanted to try them and in doing so, learned the gasterias, also known
as tongue plants, do very well in our colder climate. They thrive in
the shade, but when they were planted in partial sun, they produced
different colors ó red, purples and oranges.
learn without trying," Kemble says.
Here are some
tips for your succulent garden:
think you know all about a plant because you have one variety. For an
interesting garden, branch out.
ó Learn all
you can about a plant to improve your chances of growing it
successfully. Plant information ó soil, sun and water requirements
ó are included with plants sold at Ruth Bancroft Garden and other
ó There is
great joy and excitement that comes from planting a small plant and
seeing it grow. Succulents are slow growers, but they are worth the
wait as they reveal themselves over time.
ó You canít
generalize about succulents. To diagnose problems, such as too much
water or not enough, you have to consider the specific plant and
species, and its individual needs. The plant will tell you what it
important to preserve plants in native habitats. Some are so rare and
grow in such a small area that should disaster befall them, they would
be lost forever. Botanic gardens help preserve plants by propagating
outside those areas, and we can help by growing them in our gardens
and supporting their continuance.
ó Gardens are
not static. They grow and create their own changing conditions,
meaning that we need to consider those changes and adjust when we can.
ó If you need
to move a plant in your garden, be aware of what that might mean to
the plant. If you move it from shade to sun, it may sunburn, and you
may be moving from its protection against frost.
ó If you need
to move a plant to a sunnier area, do so in degrees by draping it with
three pieces of shade cloth, removing one layer every week. This will
give the plant a chance to adjust to the new site.
ó Most of our
soils are heavy clay, which is not the right conditions for succulents
and cactuses. If youíre planting in native soil, amend it with mulch
and compost, and add in rocks to improve drainage. You also can build
mounds using well-draining soil and rocks, and plant in those. The
mounds also will add visual interest to your garden.
are slower growers and are not heavy feeders. You probably donít
need to fertilize, but if you do, use a diluted amount, about half of
what is recommended for other plants.