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Horticulture News and Tips

(A monthly horticulture column from the CF NEWS)


Come March I'm chomping at the bit to get outside and get my hands dirty. By this time I find that having read every plant catalogue I could get my hands on no longer satiates my gardening desires, so I turn to the very diverse group of plants known as succulents to help keep these desires at bay. Succulents are a vast group of plants that have gained in popularity over the past decade. Their flowers can be quite lovely but it's their strikingly unusual foliage that draws you in. And what interesting foliage it is. The overall forms of these plants run the gamut from spike like to those with a rosette form to a variety that resembles a string of pearls! The textures range from smooth to fuzzy and the colors from nearly white to blue, yellow, red, purple every shade of green and many combinations thereof. They have a uniqueness unto themselves that is not found in other parts of the plant world.

The current trend is to utilize these differences in groupings. The solitary Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) I grew when first married some 30+ years ago still has its merits but it is these groupings that fascinate me now. The smooth blue elongated leaves of Senecio mandraliscae (Blue Chalk Sticks) combined with the fuzzy gray, brown edged leaves of Kalanchoe tomentosa (Chocolate Soldier Panda Plant) with the rosette shape of any of the Echeverias (Hens and Chicks) thrown in and you have the basis for a beautiful planter. The diversity of these plants makes it easy for anyone to create a grouping of their own personal preference, and I've never met a grouping I didn't like. The mixed plantings have become so popular they even have their own category at plant shows. Especially gaining in popularity with the younger crowd, I've seen them incorporated into wedding bouquets and centerpieces. Individually planted in mini tin pails we used them last summer as favors at my daughter's wedding.

Even though they are easy to grow the one problem to watch out for is they will do poorly if the soil is too rich in organic matter. They prefer a lean well drained porous soil that water will run straight through. A 50/50 combination of potting mix and sharp sand will do the trick.
Inexpensive and readily found in the trade, endless combinations can easily be made. A great place for inspiration is The CT Cactus and Succulent Society's Annual Show which will be held on April 1, 2017 at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury. See for yourself the endless varieties. A picture is worth a thousand words.

* Liz Rinaldi
Horticulture Chair












"In the Garden"
(Monthly horticulture tips for gardeners)


  • Time to plant the vegetable garden
  • Tend and enjoy your roses!
  • Use organic fertilizer
  • Use watering can so foliage won't get wet
  • Remove leaves with fungus or black spot immediately
  • Plant garlic, chives and rue near to ward off Japanese beetles
  • Stake tall perennials


  • Stake tomatoes and beans
  • Tend newly planted perennials


  • Decide the plants you have enjoyed
  • Tie a colored ribbon around ones you'd like to give another home
  • Stop deadheading plants with good seed heads for the birds to feed on in winter


  • Put down compost and/or organic fertilizer
  • Take cuttings of impatiens, coleus or begonias for flowers in your home all winter
  • Prepare houseplants to bring inside
  • Do this when outside & inside temperatures are the same
  • Check and spray for insects
  • Select bulbs for fall planting


Copyright © The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc.
Last updated
March 2, 2017