Plants that anyone can grow

Last updated 05:00 23/08/2014
Jason Hodges
EASY TO GROW: Succulents are a good choice for those who are missing 'green fingers'.

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Some of the real stars in my garden this winter have been the succulents, plants like agaves, flapjacks and sedums. They are growing in popularity every year, have amazing geometrical shapes and unusual colours, as well as being low maintenance and require less water than other plants.

If you neglect succulents chances are they will be fine. But plant them in the right soil, give them a drink and feed and they will be show-stoppingly beautiful for you. Looked after they grow faster and produce pups more regularly, which means plants for free.

Propagating succulents is easy to do. You can take pups from certain species, a stem cutting, or even grow new plants from just one leaf!

Succulents that form rosettes, such as echeverias, can benefit from being beheaded. When you see your plants getting tall and leggy chop their heads off. The removed head will take quickly in sandy soil and the remaining plant will produce pups that can be divided later on.

Making plants from pups is the easiest way to produce new plants.

I love agaves. They're expensive but that's because they are difficult to maintain in nurseries with their fleshy leaves. They produce small pups that grow from the mother plant, you can cut them off with a bread knife or just twist them off. These can usually be planted straight into the garden.

Growing succulents from just a leaf is like the story of the fish and the loaf of bread.

You can make hundreds of plants from one plant simply by separating the leaves. It's important you get the base of the leaf, that's where the new growth will come from. All you have to do is lay them on top of the potting mix. I like to do lots at one time, it's a guarantee that you will get some plants and if you have great success you can share and swap them with others.

Within weeks you should see growth at the base of the leaf. If the roots are on the upside simply turn the leaf towards the soil.

Treat them like seedlings when they start to grow. I like to give them a little morning sun and water them with Charlie Carp to promote the root system and feed them at the same time.

One of my favourite things to do with a succulent is place it in a glass jar like a living bunch of flowers or sculpture. It will last up to a year in a vase of water that is regularly cleaned. It's a great way to show kids what goes on below the soil for a plant to grow. The easiest way to do this is dig up a young plant that is growing in the ground and wash the soil off.

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Succulents are a great way to garden on the cheap and are good for kids and beginner gardeners.

Next time you're walking around your neighbourhood keep your eyes open for succulents. I'm not encouraging stealing but look for broken-off branches or leaves.

Knock on the door and ask for a cutting, maybe offer to return with some of the crop or swap some plants you already have.

Succulents have come a long way from being grown in styrofoam boxes. They are some of the trendiest plants being used by garden designers right now. So be a trendsetter, get out in the garden this weekend and start planting.

- Sydney Morning Herald


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