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Saucy Succulents Exposed

I hoped the title might get your attention because succulents are a wonderful and extremely eco-friendly addition to any garden or planter, and, if you don't already, you should know more about them.

Ahmanson Estate Planter

In addition, I just completed designing several large planters for the Ahmanson estate property featured in December's "Notes & News", showing off the magnificesnt holiday lights Justin Howard, of Flaming Flower Productions, designed – winning "best in show" from the Hancock Park Homeowners Association.

A Colorful Answer To Going Green

Besides creating colorful planters, as you will see by these photographs, I have included a couple of shots of a front yard I designed using nothing but succulents.

While ripping out a lawn and planting succulents does require a certain up-front expense, in the long run you can save thousands of dollars in water bills, many man-hours of tending, as well as tens of thousands of gallons of water – a great savings for both your pocketbook and environment. 

And, remember, as water becomes more and more of a commodity, the cost of keeping your grass green will soar! So why not do something positive for your bank account and our planet and consider replacing your lawn, or at least a portion of it, with succulents? They have the power to turn an ordinary view into a rich and colorful landscape! For more information on all that's available in "going green" check out my web page, Sustainable Landscape Design.

Ahmanson Estate Planter
Ahmanson Estate Planter
Ahmanson Estate Planter
Ahmanson Estate Planter

Succulents are easy to work with, require very little maintenance and, of course, a minimum of water. If you're not ready to make a major commitment to the succulent way of life, then buy several species from your local garden store and build your own miniature garden. Believe me, succulents grow on you.

Garden Consultation

If you'd like to set up a phone consultation or arrange a site inspection of your garden, now is the time to give a call (323-461-6556) or email me. In addition to my work as a landscape designer and contractor, I love giving advice and have provided garden consultations to any number of folks with great results.

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Ruth Smith - Sage Wellness


Succulents are booming in popularity for two simple reasons: they are beautiful and nearly indestructible.

Technically, a succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. These plants have adapted to survive arid conditions throughout the world, from Africa to the deserts of North America. Fortunately for us, this adaptive mechanism has resulted in an incredible variety of interesting leaf forms and plant shapes, including paddle leaves, tight rosettes, and bushy or trailing columns of teardrop leaves.

As a group, succulents include some of the most well-known plants, such as the aloe and agave, and many almost unknown plants. Cacti are a unique subset of the succulent group. Succulents make excellent display plants in dish gardens.


Succulents prefer bright light, such as found on a south-facing window. Watch the leaves for indications that the light level is correct. An underlit succulent will begin to stretch, with an elongated stem and widely spaced leaves. This condition is known as etoliation. The solution is to provide better light and prune the plant back to its original shape. Many kinds of succulents will thrive outdoors in the summer.


Succulents are much more cold-tolerant than many people assume, down to even 40ºF. Ideally, succulents prefer daytime temperatures between 70ºF and about 85ºF and nighttime temperatures between 50ºF and 55ºF.


Succulents should be watered generously in the summer. The potting mix should be allowed to dry between waterings, but do not underwater. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Overwatering and ensuing plant rot is the single most common cause of plant failure. A succulent should never be allowed to sit in water. The following are signs of under- or overwatering:

Potting Soils:

Succulents should be potted in a fast-draining mixture that's designed for cacti and succulents. If you don't have access to a specialized mix, considering modifying a normal potting mix with an inorganic agent like perlite to increase aeration and drainage. These plants generally have shallow roots that form a dense mat just under the soil surface.


During the summer growing season, fertilizer as you would with other houseplants. Stop fertilizing entirely during the winter.


For more information on Succulents please check out the website,, which is the resource for this material or the Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society.

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