The problems I had this summer trying to keep my more sensitive plants out of the rain and direct sun motivated me to take on a big project for a grandma. In the end, I got it all done with the help of a younger woman Monica.
We changed a weedy fenced in area into a shade room with shell floor, gutters, a large carport shelter, step shelves and a rain barrel. I am celebrating putting my plants in it today.
Put together your own unique succulent arrangement by bring your container or choosing from my containers and plants. Bring your questions , creativity and about $15 to pay for items you buy. Sundays after the monthly carport sales from 1 -3. Allow about 40 min. Reservations Required. An low-key, affordable, outdoor activity.
Most people start succulent collecting by putting them in pots with drain holes on lanais or window sills. They worry that Florida rain will harm the plants since there is so much talk about not overwatering. In nature, most succulents get their water from rainfall but probably not as much rain as we have here. Also most of them are naturally accustomed to direct sunlight. Therefore, they do very well in Florida provided that the soil does not hold too much water. We can build mounds and change the existing soil to better draining soil with bagged palm/cactus soil, perlite, and grit or fine gravel. We can be conscious of the fact that some such as jade, peperomia, senecio, and some others do better in partial shade. Most succulents such as kalanchoe, echeveria, haworthia, portulaca, graptopelum and many others love the sunshine and do fine in our rainy weather. They grow larger, change colors and truely thrive. You can leave valuable plants in larger pots so that if we have a frost you can bring them in. When you first put them outside, they might get brown spots due to sunburn. The best time to transition them to the outdoors is during our winter months. If the brown sun burn gets bad, move them to the shade. If it’s minor, leave them there and they will adapt. When it hasn’t rained in a week they need a good watering with the hose. Mulch or stones help trap the moisture a little so it is beneficial to top your garden. You should check your garden every week to see what clues different plants are giving you about how they like their environment. Once in a while you might lose one, but in general you will be amazed at how well they do in the ground in Florida.
After learning about garden totems, I have constructed about 10 succulent centerpieces.
They are all sturdy plant stands that could be used in a garden, patio or lanai and a few with specific low light plants could be used indoors near a window. I am very excited about this new idea which showcases succulents in a taller attractive vessel made of ceramics and glassware. I have used my succulent mix and made holes to insure good drainage. I chose various rooted plants that complement the style, shape, and size of the basin. These will be ready for the March 5 and 6th carport sale priced from $20 – $30.
Euphorbia are mostly cactus like succulents with white sap that can irritate skin and even cause blindness. Use gloves when handling them and clean up sap with alcohol , not water.
Included in this group are crown of thorns, pencil cactus, Madagascar palm, and many that look like cacti. Many smaller euphorbia can be grown indoors and many are very rare and expensive. Others prefer outdoors and can grow very large. There are 1000 different types of euphorbia.
I am one of many who started collecting succulents in the last two years and I have gotten into it deeply. With a lot of work and money invested , I have tried to learn what it takes to have healthy succulents in Florida year-round. Succulents generally come from hot, dry climates and they have evolved to store water through periods of drought in the leaves, stems, or roots. Did you know that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti?
Florida has temperatures that range easily from 95 F in the summer to 30 F occasionally in the winter. We have a lot of rain mostly in the summer months. We can not assume that all succulents need the same conditions because they come from many different environments. Some such as hens and chicks are used to cold dry climates, so they are harder to maintain here in hot, humid, rainy Florida. Most of the thirty plus types I have collected grow well in Florida. I keep many of them in a carport which is like a porch, lanai or windowsill in terms of lighting. They get indirect light most of the day. Some types such as ghost plant, kalanchoe, and
echeveria get leggy under those conditions. When I have put these same plants out in full sunlight, they have suffered sunburn at first, but then adapt and grow fuller, stronger and bigger with time.
Just as porous soil is important for pots, it is also important when we want to plant succulents in the garden. The same goes for good drainage which help prevent root and leaf rot. My garden succulents did not even mind the days of rain that we had this last summer because the excess water quickly drained away. For my outdoor potted plants, I watered them once a week if it hadn’t rained and I gave them a shade cloth during the hottest months and took it off in October.
Winter has presented a different set of concerns. Most succulents can tolerate temperatures down to 35 F for an evening or two, but freezing temperatures can kill many very quickly. When we had a cold snap in early December with expected temperatures of 40, I wrapped my desert rose in tablecloths, covered some planters with sheets, and put tarps which I had cut to size over outdoors bookshelves. I have read that the plastic should not touch the plants and cloth is a better insulator. I brought inside a lot of baby plants and my kalanchoe and hoya. I used to water all my carport succulents except the cacti and hens and chicks once a week with the hose. For these winter months, I have cut back to about every 10 days.
After that first cold snap, I also changed part of my carport into a green room with clear plastic tarps and plastic, magnetic closure doors which are sold for construction projects. I have a 120 sq. ft area 90% enclosed so there is still air flow, but the wind and cold are kept out well. I compared temperature readings on cold nights and it seems my green room stays about 10 F warmer than the outdoors. It was an easy DIY project. I have moved many of my plants inside on plastic shelves and when a cold night is forecast, I can bring many more inside on the floor. They are receiving a little less light with the clear plastic walls and winter days are shorter also, so I set up two garage LED lights that I shine on the shelves about 10 hrs. a day. My plants might survive a few cold nights without my intervention. For the small amount of time and money I put into this project, I have more peace of mind and hopefully will lose fewer plants.
I meet a lot of people at my sales that seem very nervous about caring for their succulents. I have learned that succulents are tough, forgiving, and communicative. If the leaves are shriveling, they need water. If the stems are leggy, they need more light. If leaves are turning brown and soggy, they need help fast to get their roots out of wet soil and dry off. If they change colors, they are responding to lighting conditions and temperature changes which is a natural process for them. Enjoy the reds and purples winter weather causes and the richer colors that summer sunlight produces. If ever part of the plant dies, cut that off and replant what is healthy. When you buy succulents, make note of the conditions that they were used to and make changes gradually. Check that the pot has drain holes and that the soil is light and loose. Succulents can be repotted, divided, trimmed, and beheaded and they will grow back. Just be patient. They are not in a hurry, but they are experts at survival.
Adenium ex. Desert rose will not tolerate below 45 F;
Agave – no problem;
Aloe- brief frost OK;
Crassula ex Jade -will not tolerate frost;
Echeveria – no problem;
Euphorbia ex Christmas cactus- will not tolerate frost;
Gasteria – will not tolerate frost;
Gratoveria – brief frost OK;
Haworthia – will not tolerate frost;
Hoya – will not tolerate frost;
Huernia- ex life saver – will not tolerate frost;
Kalanchoe – damaged at 40 F and below;
Portulaca- will not tolerate frost;
Portulacaria ex Elephant bush – will not tolerate frost;
Sanseviera ex- snake plant -will not tolerate frost;
Sedum – ex – light frost OK;
Sempervivum –Ex. hens and chicks – no problem;
Senecio – Ex strings of bananas etc – will not tolerate frost;
Stapelia- Ex starfish – will not tolerate frost;
Yucca- no problem;
from The Practical Illustrated Guide to Growing Cactus and Succulents by Miles Anderson
Based on this I am bringing in my desert rose and all my kalanchoe tonight. I am also buying plastic clear tarps ( Walmart) to enclose my carport where I can move things in case of colder nights. If it really freezes, most of my plants will have to come inside. I have 300+ so I hope that doesn’t happen. Chris
Senecio is a genus with many different succulents ranging in appearance from straight stick-like plants such as the beacon plant to strings of pearls to larger short stemmed bushes. The smaller ones are mostly slow growing and tend to be more expensive. They tolerate a range of lighting conditions, are prone to rot easily, and cannot tolerate frost. The best way to propagate is by cuttings.
Sempervivumcommonly called ” hens and chicks” is another succulent which forms small tight rosettes. They tolerate a wide range of lighting from bright sunlight to indoors but since they hug the ground ,they are very prone to rot if the soil stays too very prone to rot if the soil stays too wet. They tolerate below freezing temperatures. Cobweb houseleek is an interesting sempervivum. After a few years they flower once and die but they regularly produce many pups or chicks which can be separated.