27 May, 2015

5 TIPS to Help Prepare your Succulent Garden for Winter

Winter is fast approaching, and as the cold and the rain begin to rear their ugly heads, we all have concerns on how our arid dwelling plants will cope in these conditions. Well fear no more - Here are 5 important tips to help see your succulents through the Winter season:

1. Sunlight:

In the Garden: Make sure your succulents are getting enough light. Remember, Winter has far less daylight hours than the rest of the year, and overlying tree branches can reduce the amount of light your garden receives.

Try to prune these tree branches back as much as you can to increase the amount of light.

In Pots: If possible, relocate your potted succulents to a position where they can receive a significant amount of light over Winter.

2. Soil:

In the Garden: Check that your soil is free draining. This is so important. I cannot stress this enough. With all the rain that will be soaking the soil over Winter, it is important that the majority of it can freely run away from the immediate area.

To help improve the drainage of clay like soils, add Gypsum, a product that helps break down and loosen clay. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging to add it to the soil. Mix it through your soil and water in thoroughly.

In Pots: Check that your potting mix hasn't collapsed. Collapsed potting mix can create a perched water table at the bottom of the pot, and this causes the water to not be able to drain.

If this is the case, remove the lower collapsed potting mix and replace with new fresh cactus and succulent potting mix. Place feet under the pot so that the water can freely drain.

3. Pruning:

In the Garden: Avoid pruning through the Winter months. This creates a wound on the plant, where infections can set in and rot your succulents.

In Pots: This rule applies to potted succulents too.

4. Protection:

In the Garden: Mulch the garden bed to keep the soil warm. This will protect the surface roots from the cold and frosts. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the base of your succulent, as this can cause rot.

Place large rocks and masonry statues next to your succulent to help radiate heat and keep the temperature immediately around your plants warm. This is great in frost areas.

In Pots: Protect cold sensitive plants like Sanseveria and any tropical succulents by placing them under cover. Cacti should also be under cover for the Winter period. Add a layer of stones or pebbles to your pots to help keep the soil warm.

5. Water:

In the Garden: Turn off your reticulation. A silly point to mention, but it is easy to forget to disable automated systems over Winter. Not to mention you risk getting a $100 fine from the Water Corporation if you use your sprinklers from the 1st June to the 31st August and are located in either Perth, Mandurah or some parts of South West WA.

In Pots: Reduce watering your succulents over Winter as the water evaporation rate of the soil reduces significantly during this period. You can tell if your succulents will need watering by burying your finger in the soil. If it is dry, water it.

Hopefully these tips will help prepare your succulents for the cold and rainy season, and keep them looking great for the next few months to come.