Using succulents in the garden design

reddingJuly 5, 2011

Okay, we touched briefly on some sedum in other topics, and a bit about cactus, but have not addressed succulent plants in general. Some of them are really tough and most are fire retardant as well. If our climate is going to continue to do rude things to our garden plans, maybe these are things to consider?

I happened to run across the delosperma cooperi (iceplant) on a CA wildflower site. It has a blazing fuchsia bloom that's much like the intense color seen on the beach cliffs of Southern CA, BUT it is also cold hardy. It doesn't seem to care if it gets hit with snow or ice, and can take extreme summer heat and very low water. I've tried it out in those conditions and had it survive just fine. it didn't spread as quickly as I'd have liked, but otherwise it was fine.

The ground cover sedum that I've had best success with is brevifolium, but it does not seem to be nearly as vigorous here as it was in CA. There, it could reach 6" high with regular water, and went creeping out into a gravel drive with zero care. I've seen it creep over big rocks where it had nothing but a thin coating of dust to cling to, and absolutely no water. Maybe I've just not given it time to really get established here. It also withstands snow and ice as well as it does intense heat. I've used it as a living mulch to shade the soil in a rose bed. The tiny hair-like roots don't seem to interfere with anything else.

The big sedums were never flashy for me as they are in the photos you see in the garden catalogs. They didn't do much at all, but I've never tried growing them here in OK. Autumn Joy was no joy at all when it came time to bloom. Does anyone have any recommendations for things they have tried?


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Autumn joy is usually successful here. I like blue spruce sedum and one of these days I'd like to try other similar species. Red yucca and other yuccas do well. Portulaca is a popular annual.

We need to keep in mind that although we may be hot and dry into the next year, we are predicted to oscillate back to normal and some of these plants, if not planted in well draining soil, will drown when the rains return.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 11:35PM
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I completely agree about the drainage. I don't think I'd want to try any of them in clay soil. I was thinking of some of the really hot and dry areas at the front of my flower bed.
I nearly always have annual portulaca, and the past two years have also used pots of the ornamental purslane. It's so showy, even if it wants to close up in the afternoon heat.

What I've found with the tiny brevifolium is that it does not seem to care if it gets a lot of water, and will happily sit under several feet of snow for a couple of months in winter without any noticeable effect. I've grown it in areas that have gotten 90 solid days of rain without a letup, and it still keeps going, but extended hot and dry periods of several months don't seem to kill it either. The roots are so tiny that they look like hairs, but it's one tough little plant.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 1:14PM
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I will take any sedum anybody offers me. That's why I don't know their names. I have found them to be incredibly resilient and forgiving. I like how they make nice fat mounds of green, and I don't really care about their blooms. I am thinking about making a variety of sedum the main feature of one end of my perennial bed that is at the end of the soaker hose so never quite gets enough water. I like how I can happily dig up a chunk to give somebody because it will always fill right back in.

I also like ornamental pursulane, it is one of the few annuals I buy every year. I have a very pretty one right now I got on sale at Atwoods and cut way back, & it is blooming again, very pretty pink and white large bloom, reminded me of apple blossoms. My very favorite is Tequila Sunrise, but I didn't find any this year.

I haven't had much luck with brevifolium, or any small-leaved sedum. Lack of attention on my part no doubt.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:35PM
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