Irish Independent Weekend Magazine | 28 February 2015
One of my all time favourite plants is the succulent Echeveria agavoides. It is such flawless plant, with shiny, spiky leaves and a really glowing, shiny green. Often it also has a little pinky-red tip at the end of the leaves which give it an added hint of colour. It is a great plant for any type of well draining container and has pretty dainty flower stems in the summer.
Terracotta pots are ideal containers for succulents as the plants which are native to dry desert areas in Africa and South America, like dry, earthy conditions. The material is instantly recognizable and is an ancient one-archaeologists discovered pieces of terracotta in excavations of Mojengo-daro, Pakistan dating to 3000-1500 BC! It has been used for anything from sculpture to roof shingles but most people recognize it for its use as planters and flower pots. From an aesthetic point of view the colour and texture is perfect for these lovely low-maintenance plants and allow the elegant simplicity of the plants to really shine. Particularly in this planter, where there are many varieties being combined to create a bigger picture.
When combining succulents in a container, much like a garden scheme, I like to plant the plants in drifts. This informal way of planting makes the whole scheme look like it has grown organically, in a non-structured fashion. A swathe of striped Haworthia gives way to a mound of moonstone and Aeonium and Crassula ovata ‘trees’ to give height. The combination is totally up to you and you can have great fun with the textures and colours of the plants to create your own miniature landscape.
Succulents are fantastic plants for the lazy gardener. People who love a bit of green in their space but don’t want the maintenance that goes along with it will love the easy to care for plants. They are really great for combining in planters and generally need very little soil. Personally, I would find it hard to pick my favourite succulent but the Echeveria is definitely up there. The plant that is native to Mexico is so visually beautiful to look at, so perfect in its flower like form and yet so simple to care for. The Echeveria agavoides also has some really pretty, pale flower spires which float above the plant and the fact that it keeps producing new baby plants is very rewarding.
Care: This Echeveria is ridiculously easy to maintain. As with all the succulents in my February theme, the phrase ‘If in doubt don’t water’ is key. I have had a few Echeverias in a collection of old copper pots on a window cill for ages and I admit that I often forget about them. They look perfect with the least amount of care. They like a sunny spot and direct sunlight will aid flowering. In winter they actually need to ‘rest’ and generally need no watering at all. If you are lucky and the plants are happy they will need to be divided every now and then as they tend to produce new plants at the base of the old plant. Carefully take these off and repot. What a perfect gift!
For a really great selection of succulents have a look at Johnstown Garden centre. You can even order them online through their mail order catalogue on their site at johnstowngardencentre.ie
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