Succulents for Utah

By Cynthia Bee, Conservation Garden Park

The succulent plant craze has been in full swing for a number of years with no sign of slowing—and why should it?  Succulents are fleshy-leaved plants that are colorful, drought-tolerant, evergreen, adaptable, and can be used in all sorts of fun projects. Growing succulents is kind of like growing your own craft supplies!  Heck, succulent container gardens have become so popular that mine was stolen right off my front porch! Luckily, succulents can also work well in your landscape where aficionados have to work a little harder to help themselves to the bounty you’ve grown.

Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves and can send out new roots anywhere along their stems. If you can’t find the varieties you want as rooted plants, you can propagate them by clipping pieces and literally throwing them where you want them. As long as a succulent is watered, it will send out new roots and grow. While many of the more popular succulents have to be grown as annuals in Utah (or overwintered as houseplants in windows with full sun), there are several varieties of succulents that are hardy enough to use outdoors all year. Below are the best hardy succulents for Utah landscapes.

Sedum. (Sedum sp.) Arguably the most popular succulent grown in Utah. There are dozens of varieties that come in shades of green, yellow, burgundy and gray. Some Sedums are groundcovers that create tight mats of year-round foliage, but others can boast different leaf textures from soft and spiny to tiny and rounded. Sedums can grow anywhere from a few inches to the taller upright sedums that can be found in 18-inch tall clumps. Consider planting a mix of several types in the same area to create a colorful patchwork with year-round interest.

Hens & Chicks. (Sempervivum sp.) Hens and chicks are rosette shaped plants in shades of green and red—though new breeding is expanding the color palate. The “hen” is the central rosette and “chicks” are the new baby plants that form at the base of the rosette hen. After the rosette hen blooms, it will die out and new chicks will take its place. This succulent can be packed into tight spaces to provide interest and to form a mat so dense that weeds can rarely penetrate.

Ice Plant. (Delosperma sp.) Ice plants come in very short varieties that are just an inch or two tall or in taller versions that grow up to six inches in height. The foliage is a plain, fleshy olive green that’s fairly nondescript until the bloom happens. Then Ice plant blooms will completely cover the foliage in retina-burning shades of neon magenta, red, and orange. There are also softer-toned colors of lavender, pink and white. Ice plants are a great choice for rock walls, park strips and other dry, hot spaces with little water. Many ice plants will rebloom in late summer too.

Grow succulents in your landscape or use them to create all sorts of unique container gardens.  We grow lots of interesting succulents at the Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan. Stop in to check them out in the Succulent Garden or see succulents mixed with other interesting plants throughout our six-acre garden. http://conservationgardenpark.org.

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