Aloe polyphylla. Photo: Stan Shebs
Succulents grow in almost all parts of the world, apart from the Arctic and
the Antarctic regions. However some of the richest areas for Succulents are
South Africa and Madagascar.
Consider the beautifully arranged Aloe polyphylla, known as the ‘Spiral
Aloe’ which has a rosette of foliage spiralling either clockwise or
anti-clockwise and perfect for pot culture, even in cooler climates and light
shady conditions. This plant, when larger will provide you with some
attractive orange tubular flowers atop the upright flower stem.
Echeveria’s and Aeonium’s are also succulents with have a rosette
growth habit. The former generally a short, stumpy, fleshy
‘cabbage’ like effect and with foliage coming in many colours from
light pale blue, to maroon, to silvery-grey to pale yellow and a long flower
stalk with orange to red small flowers.
Aeonium’s come from the Canary Islands and have a more upright nature,
with their crowns resembling succulent rose flowers. These plants can be seen
in some suburban gardens usually in a bronzy-green appearance or light green.
The most beautiful of Aeonium’s in my opinion is Aeonium
‘Schwarztkopf’, which has very dark maroon almost black leaves
when grown in full sun.
These two groups of plants, although not directly related grow at their best
in well-drained soil in full sun but with some fairly regular irrigation and
As we are becoming more conscious of being waterwise, these plants provide a
great purpose of living colour, shape and texture to any garden, patio,
balcony or container and yet their maintenance is minute compared to the more
traditional groups of plants we grow. Planting a bed of different succulents
grouped together and finished off with some sandy red gravel mulch looks
JOBS FOR DECEMBER
Trim back any Cottage garden plants like Marguerites, to encourage and
stimulate new fresh growth and more blooms, and give them a treat of liquid
If you plan to create a tropical style garden using palms, Cycads,
Alocasia, Philodendrons and Cordylines, consider positioning them in more
sheltered parts of the garden out of the midday sun and strong winds. Dig in
plenty of organic matter like well-rotted manure or compost prior to planting,
then provide and abundance of watering in the early evenings. You will soon
have you own bit of paradise!
Monitor pests in vegetables, fruit trees and garden ornamentals for
caterpillars, aphids and other sap sucking or leaf eating insects and spray
with a Pyrethrum based insecticide which is more organic.
Patio tubs and containers will benefits from a fortnightly application of
liquid fertilizer like Phostrogen or Miracle Gro. Remember to water tubs first
before feeding, and never feed in full sun.