Succulent plants are those specimens that are able to inhabit arid regions and store moisture within their cells. They differ from your regular garden-patch-variety-plants because everything about them treats water as a precious resource that they don’t take for granted. Their foliage, root system and even flowers – to some extent – minimize their consumption of moisture.

From a practical viewpoint these plants make sense. But, gardeners aren’t into just growing plants for the sake of practicality. There are so many other factors that need to be considered before a plant “gets a guernsey” in our gardens.

Fortunately succulent plants aren’t a “one-hit-wonder”. They are so incredibly diverse in colour, shape, form, texture and blooms that to omit them from your garden is almost sacrilege.

The question then becomes, can a garden exist with ONLY succulent plants?

The answer is a hearty YES. Consider many garden styles that stick to a certain type of plant type; cottage gardens, topiary gardens and bonsai gardens as examples. These themed gardens work well by reducing the type of plants incorporated and a garden full of succulent plants – a xeriscape garden – is defintely a great option.

Apart from the apparent water-saving resources the advantages of succulents are far deeper. Consider these;

  • They can grow in containers as well as they can in garden soil.
  • The number of varieties: groundcovers, perennials, larger tree types etc. offer gardeners a wealth of diversity
  • Shape, texture and colour contrasts. Succulent plants can exhibit all three in each specimen and be wildly different than any other plant.

How would you start a garden of succulent plants?

The first step would be to prepare the soil to be a well-drained sandy loam. If your soil is currently a clay variety then adding some dolomite to break this up and mixing it with some river sand will improve its appeal to succulents. You won’t need to add any compost to the soil and fertilisers should be kept to a minimum. If you plan to grow your succulents in containers instead of directly in the soil then make sure your potting mix is free-draining.

Most succulent plants are sun-lovers so removing any large trees or impingements on their sun requirements will also go a long way to keeping them happy. While some do survive in partial shade, very few will exist in full-shade.

The next step is planting your succulents out. As with most perennials succulent plants will need some room to spread. However, unlike most perennials, succulents aren’t easy to prune to keep their shape so the distance between them may need to be greater than what you would normally allow a perennial.

The final step is mulching them. I tend to steer away from feeding mulches around succulent plants and would opt for a more robust option such as pebbles or gravel. This type of mulch won’t inhibit the drainage that you’ve already achieved and will also help contextualize these plants into your garden.

List of succulent plant ideas

This is not the first time I’ve talked about succulent plants at GTNI so if you’re after some more specific plant information you can check out these links;

Obviously this is only a few of the myriad of species available to gardeners today. Fortunately, most local nurseries now have sections of their floorspace devoted to these gorgeous succulent plants so start looking for some today.