Need a planter for a hot, sunny windowsill, and don’t want to worry about it drying out? Try a mix of drought-resistant succulent plants. Succulent plants include cacti, but are not always cacti. The word comes from the Latin word succus meaning juice. Succulents are xerophilus, meaning they’ve adapted to very dry growing conditions. A succulent’s smooth, fleshy leaves serve as reservoirs of water. They come in an astonishing array of varieties, with leaf variations that range from soft and velvety to hard and spiky. Planting several varieties together in a planter makes a great display. Even outdoors in the summer, you can leave succulents to bask in the blazing sun giving you time to water your more thirsty specimens. They are a great choice for weekend places that get watered only occasionally, or hard to reach locations. Got a sunny window indoors that faces west or south? A succulent planter will love it, even tolerating a cool or chilly location.
A pot of succulents is perfect for beginning gardeners, especially children who tend to love their unusual shapes. The only caution with these fleshy creatures is over watering. They need to be watered thoroughly, but allowed to completely dry out between waterings, and never left to stand in water. Very few waterings are required in winter.
I have a beautiful, fairly small terra cotta planter that tended to dry out in about two seconds when I planted it with regular annuals, even tough geraniums (Pelargoniums). Terra Cotta is porous clay, allowing water to evaporate through the sides, as well as the top, making it tough for a plant that is not drought resistant. When I saw the planter above filled with sedums and other succulents at the Montreal Botanical Gardens, I realized I needed a new approach with my small terra cotta planter. This summer, it will be filled with succulents. I’m going to start collecting them now.