Wednesday | May 04, 2016
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Super succulents

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Part of the appeal of succulents is how many things you can do with them. The design options never stop.

Their compact nature and tolerance of a wide range of growing conditions makes them perfect for building wreaths, popping in the smallest spots imaginable, bringing them inside for short spells and pairing with plants that are not their kind.

I remember my revelation 20 years ago when I saw a garden full of succulents paired with coleus in Newport Beach, Calif. Until then, I hadn’t thought of succulents as anything but a dry conditions plant.

It turns out that succulents, unlike their cactus cousins, would really rather have water and a bit of shade during the hottest part of the day. However, the fact they store water in their plump leaves allows them to go longer without it than most other plants.

Remember that plants in small spots have less soil around their roots to keep them hydrated. You’ll need to watch for water stress. Don’t overwater succulents, but do keep them evenly moist during warm weather.

And while you water succulents in small spaces more, remember that you’re washing nutrients away more quickly than with a plant in the ground. A regular weak feed of something organic can keep these plants happy in challenging situations.

Speaking of challenging, you might try this fast and easy succulent project: succulent cork magnets for your refrigerator. It’s not challenging to make, but it is the smallest possible living condition I can imagine for a succulent to live in.

Drill out the center of a variety of wine corks. Use a glue gun to attach a short flat magnet on one side.

Once dry, fill the drilled out area of the cork with moist peat moss, make a center hole with a barbeque skewer and plant a long-stemmed tiny succulent in the mix up to its neck.

You can finish the cork magnet with a tiny bit of green moss to preserve moisture in the peat moss.

Give as hostess gifts, make a fun favor for wedding parties, or you can use them in your home office to keep notes handy.

Other ideas for succulents

c Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar, Calif., plants succulents in its stair risers, and the plants couldn’t be happier there.

c Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach uses succulents to make a lady’s purse.

c Landscape designer Molly Wood in Costa Mesa, Calif., plants giant seashells with succulents for her coastal clients.

c While the Juicy Leaf in Los Angeles gets more modern, arranging them in layers of gravel in glass cache pots.

c Vertical Garden Solutions in Escondido, Calif., has created plantable Fiori Cylinders for going vertical in small spaces.