For those Who Like Things Fuss Free

Radha Prathi, May 8, 2015, DHNS

Crown of thorns, Christmas cactus, jade plant, Queen Victoria agave, snake plant are a few popular options.

EASY GREENS Succulent plants demand very little attention.

Summer can play spoilsport to aspiring gardeners, who are not blessed with a green thumb. Then there are people with plenty of orientation towards greenery, but simply have no space to translate their thoughts into reality. There is only one solution to these problems – gardening with succulent plants. These can grow on very little soil, demand very little water and never say die even if you ignore them for a week or so. Sounds good? Then read on.

Do you already have a well-established garden? If yes, then don’t worry. You can still plant some succulents in the odd disposable articles around the home. These articles can range anywhere from that cracked commode, washbasin or bucket to the odd coffee cup or old bowl of your dinner set. Accentuate single shoes or worn out backpacks with two layers of polythene covers and voila! you have a potential holder for all your succulent plants.
Get to the basics firstOnce your assortment of plant holders is ready, it is time to prepare the soil. Get some regular red soil and some sand and mix them in the proportion of 3:1. Then rummage your cupboard for drugs that have crossed the expiry date and toss them into the soil. Coffee and tea dregs, onion and garlic peels and egg shells can also be thrown in for good measure.
Mix the ingredients together and your soil will be ready. In fact, this mix, popularly known as well-draining soil, can be used as regular potting soil, too. Visit your friends and neighbours who have succulent plants and see if they can spare a little sprig of each variety. Sometimes, even a healthy leaf of the same has the potential to vegetate well.
Planting succulents can prove to be child’s play. Water the soil first and then just poke your finger into the soil and place the cutting or the leaf in it. Water it again minimally and with this, consider the planting to be done. During the first month, water succulents only on alternate days. Succulent plants are used to dry environments, so water them only when the soil is dry.

Considering the fact that you have planted them in unconventional containers with no drainage points, be doubly sure that water does not stagnate otherwise, your plants will start to rot. The other way to circumvent this problem is to toss a few pieces of coal or coconut coir at the bottom of the container before filling it with the prepared soil. The cutting or the leaf will grow new roots in a matter of two weeks. Place the plants in a sunny spot. They can be placed between your regular garden plants or sturdy branches of your trees. Dainty holders with flourishing plants can be placed on office desks, windows and mantelpieces.

More than a plant

Succulents can actually double as home decor material if you invest some time and exercise your creativity. For instance, if the container that holds your succulents has a wide opening, you could arrange sea shells, pebbles or colourful marbles on the exposed soil. This measure will not only retain the moisture in the soil, but also lend a la dee da effect for your plant.

If you are very particular about using organic material, you can use pistachio shells, peanut shells or pieces of coconut shells to cover the soil tastefully. Just in case you prefer to choose the latter option, then make sure that you arrange the said shells after watering your succulents. The shells will become soggy in a couple of days  and can be replaced with another set of shells of your choice.

If you want to create a little landscape using these succulents, pile a number of  natural stones, preferably in the centre of your garden. Toss a bag of prepared soil interspersed with a leaf or two of different varieties of succulents on the structure and allow the soil to settle in the nooks and crannies. This can be achieved with a little watering. As the days pass by, the plants will bear roots and emerge from the crevices between the little rocks. Within a matter of a month or two, the entire mound will be covered with plants of your choice without much ado.

Some succulent options you could look at are crown of thorns, jade plant, pincushion cactus, snake plant, hens-and-chicks, Christmas cactus, sempervivum, and Queen Victoria agave, to name a few popular options. If your plants outgrow the small containers, replace it with a larger one. Fill the surrounding space with some prepared soil and allow the plant to vegetate, enveloping the extra space. Or you can grow another variety of a contrasting nature in the extra space.And when your cup of succulents overflows, enjoy the sweet success.