Euphorbia 'firesticks'  (1024x768)

Euphorbia 'firesticks'

  The myriad of unusual leaf and stem structures of the many varieties of succulents make them an ideal plant for the garden designer who is seeking a unique ornamental.  Succulents have long been admired for their interesting forms, textures, flowers and colors.

There are over 50 plant families that are considered succulents, including agave, cactus, aloe, yucca, sedum, sempervivum, and euphorbia. Succulents are able to thrive in dry, arid climates because they have thick, fleshy leaves, stems and/or roots that allow them to retain water.

Growing succulents in Florida can be a challenge because the counterpart to our dry season is the wet season, making it difficult to sustain the dry growing conditions that succulents require.  For that reason many people prefer to grow succulents in containers that can be moved when the rainy season starts.

Whether growing succulents in containers or in the ground, they require well-drained, porous soil.  Use a soil mixture that includes mostly coarse sand or crushed lava and very little woody or organic matter.  Most succulent varieties need at least a half day to a full day of sunlight although they will appreciate shade or some protection from the hot afternoon sun.  Allow the soil to slightly dry out between watering.  Fertilize them regularly with a high quality fertilizer that contains micro-nutrients.

The euphorbia milii ‘crown of thorns’ is one of our favorite succulents, particularly the Thai hybrids with their large leaves and flowers that bloom year round.  Other favored succulents are the kalanchoe ‘fantastic’, euphorbia ‘firesticks’, senicio ‘blue chalk’, various aloes, agave, echeverias and sedums.  The many varieties within the succulent plant families are popular with collectors because each one has a unique and distinctive appearance.

Kalanchoe 'fantastic' has colorful, mottled leaves.

Kalanchoe 'fantastic'

The Thai crown of thorns blooms year round.

Euphorbia milii 'crown of thorns' Thai hybrid