Katherine Davis is a local gardening enthusiast with a particular speciality – succulents! Her passion began in 2018 when she received a little succulent from her mum. After some research, she was fascinated with how many varieties there are. ‘My collection grew from there’ Katherine recalled. During the COVID lockdowns her collection rapidly increased, and she now proudly cares for over a thousand little succulents!
Succulents come in all sorts of colours, shapes, and sizes. It depends on the variety. One of the tallest succulents in the world is a cactus known as Cereus Peruvians, which can grow up to 380cm tall, meanwhile one of the smallest succulents is known as Sedum Pellucida, or, Little Missy, which can spread over large spaces – but it has very tiny leaves!
Succulents require different forms of care. Katherine gives her plants all different soils based on how much moisture they like. For a great allrounder succulent soil recipe, use one-part perlite or pumice, two parts sand for drainage and two parts organic matter for nutrients. It works a charm!
Additionally, sunlight and water are important to be mindful of. Katherine likes to put shade cloth over her succulents to protect them from the harsh sun during summertime as the plants can get burnt. In April and May the UV levels drop so she can take away the shade cloth. Katherine likes to water her succulents almost every day in summer, however in winter, the plants do not require much water as succulents go dormant and preserve their energy for spring.
One of Katherine’s favourite succulents is known as the Lovely Rose or its scientific name, Echeveria. A lot of people may be fond of these succulents because they look like miniature roses. In winter, this plant will transform from a pale olive green to a playful pink or a lavender purple. When the temperature drops, echeverias become stressed which causes their colour change. It is quite interesting that the plant is at its prettiest when it is undergoing stress – wouldn’t that be nice if we were the same!
Gardening is not always sunshine and succulents, it can be dangerous! Katherine suffered two beestings in the last week from walking around without shoes on. She has dropped pots on her feet and has also been spiked by her infamous Monkey Tail cactus. She joked, ‘I wouldn’t recommend walking around the garden barefoot anymore!’.
Despite the potential injuries, its safe to say that tending a garden – specifically a succulent garden – is a calm and fascinating activity.
Why don’t you give it a try!
Sometimes a succulent will have unique patterns such as stripes, dots, or a peculiar colour variation. This is known as variegation, and it occurs when a genetic mutation in the plant causes a different production of chlorophyll in the plant’s cells.
All leaves on any plant have chlorophyll in them, it’s a green pigment that’s used by the plant to absorb light and make energy through photosynthesis. But when chlorophyll and other pigments such as carotenoid (yellow to orange) or anthocyanin (red to purple) are unevenly distributed, it creates variegation!