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Top 10 succulents for dry gardens


Baileys Fertiliser


15 January 2018

While succulents have often been referred to as 'Granny Plants' because they are drought tough and so easy to grow, those same virtues make these a clever choice for today's gardens.  While there is estimated to be 50,000 different succulent plant species around the world I have chosen 10 winners for WA conditions to whet your appetite. 

See next week's post  "How to propagate your own succulent plants" using this list as examples of the many ways to reproduce these garden superstars.

- Forever Flower 
- Fire stick plant
- Century Plant 
- Aloe 
- Tree aeonium
- Canary Island Dragon Tree
- Curly House Leek 
- Florists Kalanchoe 
- Blue Chalk Sticks 
- Pink Jelly Beans 

Pink Somona Forever Flower Euphorbia

Forever Flower (Euphorbia millii cv.) pictured left 
This small showy perennial has a reputation for flowering through most of the year. Spiny growth to 20cm. Needs free draining soil or cactus potting mix.  Can grow in full sun, shade or brightly lit indoor spots.

Firestick (Euphorbia tirucalli Rosea) 
A spectacular foliage plant that changes colour across the seasons from yellow to orange and even red stems.  As a pot plant growth can be restricted to under a metre, in the garden it can grow rapidly to 2 or 3 metres in height with a spread to 1.5 metres.  Be careful to avoid contact with the white sap, as it is corrosive.  This is a particularly tough plant able to get by on just available rainfall.  Grows in full sun or indoors as a potted plant.

Agave Atenuata Century Plant Succulent

Century Plant or Swan's Neck Agave (Agave attenuata) pictured left
A soft rosette of blue-green leaves and an indestructible nature make this one of the hottest landscape choices around for succulent gardens.  No bad habits or thorns, which are unusual for this family.  Forms cluster spreading to 2 or 3 metres individual plants can get to about a metre high.  

Aloe including the Aloe-Aloe range
These African plants consist of rosettes of thick leaves from which flower spikes up to a metre in height arise usually in winter and spring making a spectacular show in the garden when there is often not much colour around.  Our native honeyeaters lap up the nectar making the plants a bird mecca.

Canary Island Dragon Plant In Brick Wall Feature

Tree Aeonium (Aeonium arboreum) 
Easy care plants with unusual rosettes of foliage and glorious bright yellow flower cones, which are held up high above the foliage. Grows to 60 cm high and best in full sun. Rather than trim back to rejuvenate make fresh cuttings every year.  See next weeks post for details.  

Canary Island Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco) pictured left  
This is a major landscaping feature tree growing to around 4 metres in height and 5 metres spread, although growing in pots limits their size.  Dramatic blue green strappy foliage and bright orange berries are the two main characterists that hit the eye.  This plant is totally waterwise from a young stage. Potted specimen and can even be taken indoors for extended periods.

Blue Curls House Leek Succulent

Curly House Leek (Echeveria Blue Curls)  pictured left 
This eye-catching foliage feature plant has lots of potential for landscape arrangement and is brilliantly suited to painting living pictures in the tradition of Victorian era gardens.  This plant presents it ruffled foliage much like a cabbage and the individual leaves have a silver-grey base colour with highlights of pink and bronze.  Stunning orange flowers. Height 30cm spread to 40cm.  Good value in bright light full sun or light shade.

Florist's Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) 

This small growing plant has a long flowering season through winter to spring and the colours are little short of amazing, all very bright.  It can be used in bedding designs and works well in light shade as well as a potted colour highlight for sun, shade or indoors.  Drought tough. Trim back after flowers are spent to encourage bushiness and better flowering the following year. 

Blue Chalk Sticks Succulent

Blue Chalk Sticks (Senicio serpens)  pictured left 
A ground cover with silver blue cylindrical leaves. The trailing stems take root as they touch the ground.  White flowers. Grows in both sun and part sun. Height 10 to 15 cm spread 1 metre.

Pink Jelly Beans (Sedum rubrotinctum 'Aurora') 
This small growing succulent plant hails from South Africa and this makes it a good fit for WA conditions.  It tolerates full sun yet can be grown indoors.  Leaves resemble a jellybean in shape and are a bright green colour until summer hits when the leaves turn to a bright pink or even red.  Good value in pots or as ground cover in gardens and loves free draining soils.