NO-SWEAT WAYS TO SPRUCE UP YOUR SPACE WITH SUCCULENTS

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With the blossoming of spring usually follows the desire to brighten up our living and work spaces with some greenery. The prospect however, can seem daunting to those who are short on time or space and can’t be bothered with plants that require high maintenance. If this strikes a chord with you, then perhaps succulents are the perfect answer. Living in Montana, we have an extremely short growing season so indoor plants are the best way to go. Being somewhat “green thumb” challenged myself, I have managed to kill a variety of lovely house and office plants by not having enough time to really nurture them. So the idea of succulents really appealed to me. I gave it a try last year and am happy to report that they have convinced me that they are a great way to bring a little life to my indoor spaces even in the depths of winter! They give a great return on minimal input. So for those of you interested in giving it a try, following are some basic guidelines to get you started. Basic items needed for a succulent garden: Potting Soil – Preferably a Cacti and Succulent potting soil as it maintains good drainage Any potting container with a hole in it for drainage Small river rocks (can be purchased at most crafting stores) Selection of small succulents Instructions for Potting: If you are potting inside the house, set out some newspaper on a flat surface for working. Have your potting soil, containers, plants, river rocks and a spoon for getting the soil in the containers. Make sure the containers have a hole in the bottom. While succulents are low maintenance they can get root rot if not planted in containers and soil that allow for good drainage. Fill the container one third from the bottom with the river rocks as this will help with drainage. Add the soil on top and make a hole in the middle of the soil large enough to fit the succulent. The Cacti and Succulent soil is best as it has fertilizer and sand already mixed in which will help provide optimal nutrients and draining for the succulent. This is available at most nurseries or home improvement stores. If, however, you cannot find it then regular potting soil with sand mixed well in will also work. Take the succulent out of its nursery container and lightly crumble the bottom area to loosen the roots. Use a light touch so as not to tear the roots. Plant firmly in the soil and use the spoon to add a bit of soil around the top to make sure it is well planted. If planting multiple succulents in the same pot you can put them quite close to one another as they are slow growing. Lightly water around the plant so that the soil is damp but not soaking. (succulents do not like to sit in puddles of water). Now you can add a little more soil on top or you can decorate with more pebbles, decorative sand or even tiny seashells if you want to give a really polished look. Voila! You are ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Find a well-lit spot to place your succulent. A window sill, table or desk top is great so long as it is in a well-lit area. Water once per week without completely soaking and just make sure the soil is still draining well. As long as they are getting light and not exposed to extreme temperatures (hot or cold) they live quite happily. For extremely dry climates they do respond well to a mist from a water sprayer from time to time. Feel free to be as creative as you wish. You can pot them individually in small containers like old tea cups, bowls, metal buckets or you can mix several types in larger containers. I like to position several small planters together to create a lovely clustered look. The key is to choose ones of differing heights and colors to put together for the greatest aesthetic, and this should also be kept in mind when planting groups in one larger container. As they grow you can easily trim them either by hand or with small garden sheers. They are slow growers so trimming is low maintenance. You will be able to tell when it’s time to re-pot your succulents when they get droopy or dry and crisp even with watering, or when they start to look too large for their pot and are hanging over the pot to a point that it is difficult to get water on the soil. At this point, just follow the same directions for potting, but choose a larger container to give them room to grow. In places like Montana, with extremely cold winters, indoors is the best place for your succulent garden. However, for those of you living in more moderate climates year round, you can also consider keeping them outdoors where they can get a good mix of sun and shade. This opens you up to the possibility of larger containers and larger succulents that make your garden or doorstep look lovely with minimal effort. Succulents are a wonderful gift idea for friends or co-workers. At most locations the cost for succulents runs between $2.00-$7.00 making them an affordable gift for you or for your friends. You are only limited by your own imagination. #SPRING2018

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