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Growing succulents

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Echeveria
Echeveria

They’re easy, exotic-looking and fashionable, unfortunately

I’ve been growing succulents (and cacti) since the heady days of the Tyneside Summer Exhibition, where I bought my first Aloe (A. humilis) in the mid-1970s.

This year’s been ideal for them – warm and dry. It’s fine to put the tender varieties outside in the summer, they relish the fresh air in a dry, sunny spot.

When you consider the definition of a succulent is a plant with fleshy leaves that can store water and is drought tolerant, you’ll realise how vast your choice is.

One problem with succulents is that plants with the same family can vary widely in how hardy they are.

Find out your plant’s cold tolerance

Make sure you check with your supplier how much cold your chosen plant can tolerate.

Succulents fall into two rough camps – the hardy varieties that hail mostly from harsh environments, often mountainous, growing on scree slopes or very thin soil.

You’ll find examples of this type in the alpines selection of garden centres – mostly Sempervivum, Echeveria, Sedum, Jovibarba and Orostachys.

You’ll also find some of the desert succulents (mainly Agaves and Aloes) that are frost hardy, too.

Great plants for beginners

They’re the ultimate plants for beginners or lazy gardeners, indoors or out – as long as they’re in gritty, free-draining soil and avoid winter wet at all costs – they will rot.

The second category is the tender succulents – again, some Agaves and Aloes, Echeveria, Crassula, Kalanchoe, Sedums and Senecio.

They’re stunning as houseplants, in conservatories or to add an exotic touch to a patio in pots during the summer.

That’s enough rabbiting on… here are a couple of galleries showing how my succulents are doing this year.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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