June 2021: Summer Succulents
by Michael Kerkes, CPH, Co-Owner of Crazy Hill Garden & Botanical, published as the column “Ramblings of a Crazy Gardener” in the North Bay Review
Welcome to June, the month when the days grow the longest. The sun warms the soil and the garden goes into overdrive. The long days are a great time to plant beautiful and interesting succulents. This group of drought tolerant plants brings rewards with the hot summer days.
These amazing plants are fantastic both in containers and in the ground. Their low water requirements and small root systems make them very easy to work with. Succulents come in so many shapes, colors, and textures it boggles the mind. The geometric kaleidoscope of Sempervivums (Hens and Chicks) create a great display. The rounded, lush leaves of Sedums can provide an unreal contrast to the pointed leaves of Agaves. This opens up opportunity for a whole lot of fun.
Here are a few of my favorite succulents to play with:
Sempervivum marmoreum is a beautiful mahogany color; Sempervivum arachnoideum has a magical spider web-like texture; and don’t pass up Sempervivum heuffelii ‘Gold Bug’, which is a glowing yellow-gold color. I could go on and on with this group.
Sedums! An even larger group of succulents with an impressive range of colors and textures in their foliage and flowers. Whole books have been written on these plants and their seemingly endless wonders. I will try to narrow it down a bit.
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ has a delightful and curiously grey, chalky foliage that pairs well with lime greens and reds while Sedum spurium dazzles with its red foliage. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more colorful Sedum spurium ‘Tricolor’ is a show-stopper with white and green foliage and tinges of pink on the margin.
If it’s blooms you want there is nothing quite like the Ice Plants (Delosperma). These mat-forming, evergreen succulents have whimsical, daisy-like blooms in a shocking array of colors. Delosperma x ‘Delmara Fuchsia’ has electric fuchsia colored flowers that ride above the small, fleshy, pebble-like leaflets.
Make sure your soil is sharply draining. These plants, while drought tolerant, can handle a fair amount of water but they do not like to sit in it. Give them every ounce of sunlight you can and they should do fine. You can get creative and tuck succulents into rock walls, hollow spaces in tree stumps, or turn broken pots on their side and have your sedums “spill out” of the containers.
Most importantly... Have fun!