Spectacular succulents

The cold intensifies the colour of succulents, especially red kalanchoe, glowing yellow and orange crassula ‘Campfire ‘and Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’.

Mix them with other water-wise plants for splashes of colour, use lower growers as edgings or in containers. Care is minimal, just a little water every second week.

Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’

Crassula campfire planted with aloes and silvery senecio.

As a colourful filler, edging plant and groundcover, few plants can match the effect of Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’, especially in winter when its leaves turn an intense golden-red. It contrasts well with silvery-leafed succulents and complements other red, yellow or lime-green succulents.

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Plant in full sun to partial shade in soil that drains well. Plants in shadier positions will have lime green, rather than red leaves. Fertilise with a controlled release fertiliser in spring or work compost into the soil twice a year.

Water once every two weeks in summer or when the soil is dry. Reduce to once a month in winter. Spikes of white flowers are produced in summer. Cut off the flowers to conserve the plant’s energy, or prune and replant after flowering.

Did you know? Plants can survive in dry areas or during extended droughts because they photosynthesise at night, which minimises evaporation. Stem and root rotting can result from over watering and poor drainage.

Kalanchoe sexangularis

Kalanchoe sexangularis planted with aloes and water wise flowers.

The bright ruby-red, lobed leaves of Kalanchoe sexangularis add vivid colour to water-wise gardens in winter. This fast-growing ever green shrublet, is frost hardy and drought tolerant. The weight of the leaves gives the plant a low growth habit, so that it acts as a ground cover. No other succulent has this intense leaf colour, making it a real asset in the garden.

Plants do best in full sun, which brings out the foliage colour. Plant in soil that drains well and don’t over-water. Encourage lush new growth by cutting back older stems or hard pruning when the plant becomes untidy. It flowers in winter, producing long stems carrying small yellow flowers that attract insects and birds.

Make the most of its intense colour by mass planting, in swathes or blocks. It contrasts well with grey-foliage plants like indigenous wild garlic, Bulbinella, Senecio varieties, Cotyledon orbiculata and Crassula multicava (Fairy crassula).  It can be used in mixed beds with water-wise annuals and perennials, rockeries, and in containers.

Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’

: Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’ mixed with aeonium.

Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’ has fiery red and yellow tips in winter. wowed gardeners It is drought tolerant, low maintenance, resilient and versatile. It can grow into a tree or kept at knee height. Its only drawback is the white sap, which can be an irritant.

How to grow: plant in full sun in well drained, lightly composted soil. Plants can also cope with rocky outcrops and sloping embankments as well as sandy soil, which makes plants suitable for coastal gardens.  Water once every two weeks in summer, letting the soil dry out before watering. To encourage the growth of young plants, plant in composted soil and feed with a liquid fertiliser.

this versatile plant thrives in beds that receive hot afternoon sun. It is useful as a form plant or as a focal point; clipped as a medium high hedge or allowed to grow taller as a screen or windbreak. In smaller gardens it can be trimmed into a medium-high shrub. It grows well in containers.

Did you know: Tiny flowers (which most people don’t notice) are produced in early summer which attract butterflies and insects. To attract nesting and roosting birds, a dense planting of ‘Firesticks’ will provide good nesting sites.


Article and images supplied by Alice Coetzee. 

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