Whether you are creating a colorful rock garden, a dramatic container arrangement, or even a work of art to hang on an outdoor wall, adding succulents to your outdoor space is the most eye-catching way of beautifying any garden. On top of that, you don’t need to have a green thumb to grow them successfully, as they are quite resilient, and can thrive and propagate on their own without giving them constant attention.
So to give you a good start in creating your own succulent garden, here are a few tips you need to consider, including how you can properly care for them! Read on to learn more.
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Making your own succulent garden outdoors always starts with plant choices. Since not all succulents do well in certain areas, it is advisable to do some research first and be familiar with their lighting and watering needs before you begin.
But if you are a novice when it comes to succulents and just wants to start with something simple and reliable, Sedum and Sempervivum are what you are looking for! They are not only easy to grow but also very adaptable to bright, sunny spots or even slightly dappled areas. Now, if you want to add interest and color to your outdoor garden, try putting some Kalanchoe, and/or Aeonium.
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In case you don't have much space in your garden, it is crucial to know how large the plant of your choice will get, as some species like Agave and Aloe can grow quite big, which can also produce some invading offsets.
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But if you really want to include these types of succulents in your outdoor garden, you can use them as a centerpiece by placing only one or two of these plants. Then surround it with smaller species like Echeverias, Crassula, and Sedums to add volume to your garden.
Once you’ve decided which plants you’ll use for your outdoor garden, the next step is to find the perfect space for them! Remember, not all succulents are the same when it comes to sun exposure, as there are some species like the Aeonium that cannot tolerate full sun and will most likely get sunburned when overexposed. So if your area will lead some of your succulents to get more than what they can handle, it is advisable to give them some shade to protect them, especially from the scorching sun in the afternoon.
Soil plays a major role in preventing root rot. So before planting your succulents, it is recommended to first check the condition of the soil and as well as the drainage of the area.
To do this, simply dig at least a 1-foot hole and fill it with water. If the water drains within 30 minutes, then the soil is porous enough for your succulents. Otherwise, you can mix in at least 3-inches of sand or other gritty material to increase its texture and drainage. You can also add some pebbles or small rocks to prevent weeds and conserve moisture while allowing the excess water to evaporate.
If you live in a zone where the temperature gets too cold or too hot, you should consider planting some of your succulents in a pot or container garden. Doing this will allow you to easily move them indoors as soon as the weather gets too harsh for the plants.
Just ensure that there’s a hole on the bottom of the pot or container that you are using to avoid overwatering your succulent. You can also consider adding rocks at the bottom to promote better drainage for your plants.
Additionally, if you plan to put more than one succulent in the pot or container, make sure that there’s at least 1-inch space between each plant to give them enough room to grow to their full potential.
Like what was mentioned above, not all succulents are the same. Some varieties can store water for longer periods, like cactus and those that cannot tolerate full sun exposure. So it is best to do a little research first before executing your garden and group them according to their watering and lighting requirements to avoid problems such as root rot, sunburn, leggy succulents, etc. For smaller succulents like Echeveria, Crassula & Sedum, make sure to space them apart at least 1-2 inches from each other so they have room to grow to their best potential and produce babies. Overcrowding may cause your succulents to fight for room to grow and become leggy.
Caring for your succulent garden plants
Potted outdoor succulents or even the ones planted in the ground rarely needs watering. However, if you live in an area where it is unusually hot or dry, check in with your plants. If you see that the leaves have already shriveled or the soil appears dusty, then it is your indication that they need a good drink of water.
<Succulent garden at Succulents Box>
Root rot is the most common problem you'll encounter when taking care of succulents, but this can be avoided by completely soaking the soil of your succulents once every 1 to 2 weeks (depending on the climate around your area).
If you are not sure when you can safely give your succulents a good soak of water, you can check the wetness of the soil using a moisture stick. You can also use your finger by sticking it into the soil to feel if the top 2-inches are already dry or not before giving them another drink.
Succulents require a lot of light to thrive. However, intense sunlight may easily cause sunburn, resulting in browning or spotted leaves. Ideally, the most suitable area outdoors is a spot where your succulent can get at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight and a bit of shade during the scorching sun in the afternoon or the intense heat of a summer day. However, if you see your succulents, especially potted ones, start to stretch out with a lot of spaces between the leaves, consider moving them to a different location where they can get more sunlight, as it is most likely an indication that they are not getting enough sunlight.
Outdoor succulents have the ability to get some of the nutrients they need from the soil, so they usually do not need to be fertilized. But they do still need to be fed to help enhance their health and vigor.
Do this by applying a low-balanced soluble fertilizer, such as an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 formula dissolved in a gallon of water during Spring to boost growth and Fall, right before a rainstorm. For most succulents, use half the amount of fertilizer recommended on the package. For example, half tablespoon 10-10-10 fertilizer if the label suggests using a tablespoon per gallon of water. For tropical succulents that require more frequent watering, like the Christmas cactus, use only one-quarter amount of the fertilizer.
To learn more about fertilizing your succulents, you may refer to this article here.
Again, succulents need good draining soil. When planting in the ground, make sure that the soil drains well and is not in a low spot that would stay wet for long periods, or else, you may risk them to get root rot. If you have clay soil, it's recommended that you put at least 5 inch of new succulent soil on top of the existing clay soil to provide the best growing condition for your succulent. Clay soil is hard and doesn't absorb or drain water very well so the delicate succulent roots won't be able to grow well and may rot. Another way is to improve the existing soil by adding lots of perlite or pumice to improve drainage.
<Succulent garden at Succulents Box>
For potted succulents, you may either buy a cactus or succulent soil or make your own by incorporating equal parts of equal part pumice or perlite, potting soil, and sand.
Growing succulents outdoors doesn't need much attention compared to indoor ones. However, newly bought succulents are usually grown in greenhouses, which protects them from extreme weather. So before you plant your succulents in your garden after slowly acclimating them to outdoor conditions before planting them in the ground.
To do this, you simply need to set them in a partial shade or shade first, then gradually introduce your plants to the strong late spring and summer sun over a few weeks. You can either put greenhouse shade nets on them or give them shade using a white umbrella.
In areas where the temperature tends to drop below 20 degrees, on the other hand, planting succulents outdoors is not recommended. Keep in mind that not all succulents can handle chilly weather, so it is best to grow them in containers or pots where you can easily bring them indoors when it gets too cold to protect them.
So, are you ready to start making your own garden but don't have enough succulents yet? Check out our shop! We have an extensive selection of succulents perfect for outdoor planting. Plus, we will deliver them right to your doorstep!
See more about How to grow & care for Sedum Plants
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