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Growing Succulents

A sunny window, a little water, and good drainage - requirements for an ideal houseplant. Succulents, whose fleshy tissues conserve moisture, look lush and come in a variety of shapes and colors, yet are remarkably easy to maintain. Members of the cactus family, succulents will actually thrive on neglect and surprise you with their vitality.

Succulent Success

Succulents add extra interest to any windowsill and make lovely centerpieces on the dinner table. Plant several in a wide, shallow planter to create a miniature garden. Use individual plants as favors at a shower or luncheon. Add name cards and they do double duty, marking each guest's place at the table.

When caring for succulents, consider the following. (If you are giving them as gifts, attach care instructions.)

1. Use a smaller rather than larger pot for succulents. Smaller is better for controlling moisture.

2. Add coarse sand or gravel to potting mix to provide good drainage.

3. Water when soil is dry to the touch and/or when plant surfaces begin to wrinkle.

4. Fertilize once in the spring and again after flowering.

5. Be careful with succulents kept outdoors. Succulents need lots of sun, but not necessarily excessive heat. Potted succulents can become waterlogged outside and can suffer in humid climates.

6. Repot once a year or when potting medium begins to "cake".

7. If plant tissues swell and split, you are watering too much (which can also cause roots to rot).

8. If the succulent "etiolates" (elongates and turns light green), it is not receiving enough light.


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