How does Your Garden Grow?

Growing succulents in a container

Growing succulents in a container

Louise Grabell

Planning for Thanksgiving? Forget that—now is the perfect time to plan for all those garden upheavals, additions, rock re-settlements and whatever else has been on your mind since the summer.

It’s also a good time to take care of your succulents (those weird-looking plants in a pot somewhere around the house) because they will be awakening from their dormancy and preparing for winter/early spring blooms.

Rather than telling you about agaves, those awesome succulents in your front yard, I’d like to focus on succulents like jade, echeveria, haworthia, aloe and the like. These types of plants should be container-grown, unless you have a nice, mostly shady area to plant them in the ground. The north-facing side of your home would work quite well. The thing is that these plants are not that tall or as demonstrative as an agave, so if you can plant them in beautiful pots, they will be more attractive. Furthermore, these succulents are not cold/frost-hardy like the familiar agave. Having them in containers makes it easy to bring them inside when winter arrives. The soil you use should be loose and friable (homework: look that up!) so that there is good drainage and plenty of pore space for air. This will prevent bacterial diseases and general rot. Our native soil will actually drown most succulents.

Select containers that fit the size of the plant. Over-potting (planting in a pot that is too large) may cause root rot since a large pot dries out more slowly than a smaller one. As far as watering is concerned, it is best to water well and then wait until the top one inch of soil is dried. I water my succulents once each week (if I remember!) and that seems to be sufficient. Remember: succulents store water so they do quite well even in our very hot temperatures with weekly watering. Of course, my plants are not in the sun, ever! The leaves of most succulents are very sensitive to sunlight and will easily burn, turn brown and possibly get infected. (Cactus are succulents, but not a subject of this article.) Fertilization in winter is ideal for pot-grown succulents as this will enhance flower production and general plant growth.

The second Master Gardener Community Lecture for this season is on Thursday, November 17 in the East Ballroom of the MountainView Clubhouse. The lecturer is Ms. Julie Strom of the Pima County Parks and Recreation Environmental Education Office. The title of her presentation is Living With Urban Wildlife. Your Master Gardeners invite you to visit their new website: for all up to date information and events for our community. Garden questions? You can reach our very own Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 407-6459. Your phone call will be forwarded to a Master Gardener Volunteer who will assist you in the solution of your problem. Your SaddleBrooke/SaddleBrooke Ranch Master Gardener Volunteers are here all year round to assist with any plant or landscaping problem.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.