It is hot and humid and plants in the garden are looking sad and beat up. Warm nights mean that they do not get a rest from transpiration – the release of water into the air. Is there anything you can plant that can help the late summer blues? Yes- Succulents. These heat loving plants do not need very much water at all and are perfectly happy in the burning sun.
I had a wonderful mason who decided to build a planter by the side of my house. Unfortunately, it is southwest facing and with the reflection from the tabby foundation of my house, anything I put in there fried. I know that everything gets fried down here – okra, shrimp, oysters, hushpuppies, etc. but I do not like my plants to be fried to a crisp. Finally, I had an “Ah Ha” moment and I bought some succulents Bingo, problem solved.
My Succulent Planter
or They are becoming increasingly easy to find due to their ease of care. Common varieties are Aeonium,Echeveria, Sempervivum, Sedum, Agave, and various types of Cactus. The only succulent that did not winter over was Aloe and it turned into mush at below freezing. The popular Sempervivum (commonly known as hens and chicks) even survived Ohio winters.
There are many interesting containers for succulents – dish shapes, natural stone, driftwood logs - to name a few. Plant them in a mixture heavy with sand and/or vermiculite and cover the top layer with colorful pebbles or shells. I have never fertilized mine and they get all the water they need from the sky. Many of then also bloom!
And speaking of plants that are looking really sad right now—What we call Geraniums, but are really Pelargoniums are down right depressed looking right now. This is normal. Cut them down to the soil level and put them in a shady spot. When the weather gets cooler, fertilize them and set them in the sun. They will re-sprout with new leaves and many flowers.
Stay cool, but it is not too early to check on what is working in your garden and what is not. I have already ordered seeds for next year!