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For The Garden

Shade-Loving Succulents

Author: Lori A. Johnson
Issue: April, 2018, Page 126
FOX TAIL AGAVE
(Agave attenuata)


BLOOMS: Yellow; infrequent

SIZE: 4-5'H by 6-8'W

SOIL: Well-drained

ELEVATION: Low

LIGHT: Full or partial shade

WATER NEEDS: Low

MAINTENANCE: Fox tail agave is drought-tolerant once established but performs best when supplemented with water during the hottest parts of summer or when grown
in containers.

ATTRACTS: Bees, birds

NOTE: This spineless agave blooms once at the end of its life cycle by sending up a 5- to 10-foot-high flower stalk that arches toward the ground, giving it the common names of fox tail, lion’s tail or swan’s neck agave.

WHY WE LIKE IT: This beautiful soft green agave is one of few varieties that is both toothless and spineless, making it safe for use along walkways or in yards with pets or small children.




ELEPHANT FOOD
(Portulacaria afra)


BLOOMS: Lavender; summer

SIZE: 8-12'H by 4-6'W

SOIL: Well-drained

ELEVATION: Low

LIGHT: Full or partial shade

WATER NEEDS: Low

MAINTENANCE: Requires little to no supplemental irrigation and can be maintained at the desired size with occasional pruning, from a shrub to a small tree.

ATTRACTS: Bees

NOTE: Native to South Africa, this plant is a favorite food of domestic and wild animals, such as cattle, ostriches and its namesake, elephants. It’s also a favorite of tortoises.

WHY WE LIKE IT: An attractive accent for succulent gardens, elephant food can also be used in mixed containers, hanging baskets and even as a bonsai specimen. If kept relatively dry in the winter, it will produce tiny lavender flowers the following summer.




photo courtesy Felixion
SOAP ALOE
(Aloe maculata)


BLOOMS: Orange; spring/summer

SIZE: 12-24"H by 12-36"W

SOIL: Well-drained

ELEVATION: Low

LIGHT: Full sun to shade

WATER NEEDS: Low

MAINTENANCE: Very little maintenance is required; just remove offsets any spent flower spikes as preferred.

ATTRACTS: Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds

NOTE: Care should be taken when handling, as the leaf margins have sharp thorns. As such, it may not be suitable for planting near walkways.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Soap aloe makes a beautiful addition to rock gardens and xeriscapes. Its spotted leaves range in color from red to green, depending on light conditions. Unlike flowers on many other aloes, the blooms are flat-topped and range from red to orange to yellow.




photo courtesy Grant Meyer
GASTERALOE ‘GREEN ICE’
(x Gasteraloe ‘Green Ice’)


BLOOMS: Coral/cream; winter

SIZE: 6-12"H by 6-12"W

SOIL: Well-drained

ELEVATION: Low

LIGHT: Full to partial shade

WATER NEEDS: Low

MAINTENANCE: These low-maintenance plants prefer slightly moist soil in summer; in winter they should be watered only when the soil is completely dry.

ATTRACTS: Bees, hummingbirds

NOTE: These slow-growing succulents are notable for their smooth, spotted and striped leaves that don’t quite form a full rosette.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Gasteraloes make excellent additions to container gardens along with other compact succulents and can even be grown indoors with sufficient indirect sunlight. The midwinter blooms grow side by side on a single stem, with each varying in color from a creamy green to coral.    

Other Favorites: Tiger aloe (Aloe saponaria), jade plant (Crassula ovata), donkey tail (Sedum morganianum), string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), spider agave (Agave bracetosa), Gasteria spp., Haworthia spp., Kalanchoe spp.
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