Indigenous Nursery News Blog

Succulents and Water Conservation Gardening

Did you know that by planting succulents, you save time, money and water? They also promote greater carbon absorption and require very little maintenance. The days of selecting a dry, barren corner of your garden as the perfect place for a few succulents are long gone; they are now being appreciated for what they are -  the crown jewels of the plant kingdom.

Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery in Muldersdrift, will be hosting a free educational water conservation and succulent display, from 31 March to 30 June, 2012, where the emphasis will be on how to create your own succulent garden / planting.

An information brochure / pamphlet will be available to those visiting the display and their friendly and informative staff will be on hand to assist be on hand to answer questions and to assist people with their gardens.

What are succulents?

‘…the main features of a ‘true succulent are its fleshy storage organs (leaves, stems, roots), which allow the plant to survive dry periods when ground water is no longer available to the roots’. Van Jaarsveld et.al. (2000.8)

South Africa boasts some 30 plant families that have representatives that are either partly or completely succulent. In fact our country is home to more species of succulent (excluding cacti) than any other region of the same size in the rest of the world.

The decorative shapes, colours and textures that we prize our succulents for, are all strategies that the plant has developed to help it combat excessive moisture loss, and indirectly, often to minimise heat absorption in very hot and dry areas. This makes them ideal to include in a garden that is designed to conserve water.

Why plant succulents?

Gardeners are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and value of ecologically sound, water-wise gardening. Succulents can play a valuable part in the ecology of a wildlife friendly garden. Most succulents are pollinated by insects, and attract a host of these little creatures to the garden. In turn, insect eating dragonflies, amphibians, lizards, birds and even some small mammals will often follow. A succulent garden containing rocks, pebbles, drift or dry wood, as well as other plants, provides excellent habitat for these creatures.

Succulents remain radiant even – and especially – during times of drought. When careful attention is paid to species and colour selection in the planning stage, succulents can add interest to any size garden, and will provide intriguing, long lasting flowers throughout most of the year.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, some gardeners may cultivate succulents for medicinal purposes. The juice filled leaves, roots and trunks of many species contain healing properties.

Whatever the reasons for their growing popularity, succulents are among the most useful and strikingly beautiful plants of the Southern African landscape, and they’re more commercially available than ever before.

When is the best time of the year to plant succulents?

Succulents may be planted at any time of the year, although in areas that receive a lot of frost, it may be wise to wait until the dangers of frost are over. 

Provided the species you have chosen are compatible with your garden’s climate, they should be well enough established to survive and thrive.

It is important to consider which rainfall region a succulent occurs in naturally.  Those from the Cape winter rainfall region often require being housed in a pot on a patio so that they do not become waterlogged and rot in Gauteng’s rainy summer months.

All succulents, like any other plant, do require water at some stage. If correctly chosen for your area they are likely to thrive without any additional watering.

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