Seven secrets for growing stunning succulents

The second week of June is not too late to plant some food. You can visit the garden center for potted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants that can be transplanted into a sunny spot of your garden and you will still harvest the home-grown goodness this summer.

Mid-June is also the time of year when hanging baskets and container gardens are in need of more fertilizer. If you want annuals like petunias, fuchsias and lobelias to continue with the big blooming show all summer you must keep them supplied with nutrients and water. If you have failed at this task or do not want the responsibility of daily deadheading, watering and feeding then consider growing sedums and succulents.

Succulents and sedums are plants that store moisture in their fleshy leaves and need very little soil as they are not heavy feeders. The huge popularity of these low-care plants has made new varieties easy to find at local nurseries and garden centers. You can even find tender varieties in the houseplant section of nurseries. If you cannot attend the class I’ll be giving this week all about sedums and succulents, then here are some tips for growing succulents in our climate.

Here are seven secrets of growing succulents in Western Washington:

1. Add perlite to the potting soil. Sedums and succulents need really good drainage and it rains here — a lot. Perlite is a natural white stone that adds air and drainage. Most potting soils will already contain perlite but if you add more perlite to regular potting soil you add more drainage and make your succulents very happy. Two-thirds potting soil and one-third perlite is about right.

2. Allow the plants to dry out between watering, then just mist or very lightly water the plants. This means a pot of succulents exposed to rain may need watering once a month in August and September — or less in June and July. Go on vacation and don’t worry.

3. Do not use a large or deep container for sedums or succulents. These plants have shallow roots. Too much soil with no roots will hold moisture that can rot the plants.

4. Full sun is great, but these plants do well in partial sun and some (such as sedum Angelina and hens and chicks) do fine in almost full shade.

5. Do not over feed. Don’t fertilizer at all if your succulents look fine. Use a slow-release plant food at half strength if your sedums have been in the same container for several years and look weary.

6. Short roots mean you can get creative with your planting. Pot hens and checks and sedum Angelina in an old purse. Make a succulent wreath or ball of sedums to hang from a tree. A wire frame, moss and a bit of soil is all they need. (Come to class June 13 at Windmill to learn more.)

7. Move your fancy tender succulents indoors for the winter. Then, don’t water them much. Echeverias, chalky fingers, string of pearls, and fire sticks are all names of exotic looking succulents that can be overwintered as houseplants. A bright window and very little water is all they need.

Write to Marianne Binetti at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022.

For more gardening information, go to

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.

More in Life

Photo courtesy of Kelsie Gardner
                                Kelsie and her mom participating in a previous Teal and Toe walk.
Girl Scout raises ovarian cancer awareness and receives Gold Award

The Renton local received her Gold Award last year for her efforts

Summer bloomers can’t handle our winter weather

Cut back your summer-blooming annuals or just pull them and toss into the compost pile

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains wasabi

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

You’ll want to read ‘Dracul’ with the lights on

It was just a little scratch. You wouldn’t have even noticed it,… Continue reading

Get your home winter ready

PSE offers a checklist for the end of Daylight Saving Time

Photo courtesy of Renton Schools Foundation
                                Campbell Hill Elementary student Adrian and Honey Dew Elementary student Isaac look at the billboard featuring them that thanks Walker’s Renton Subaru and Toyota of Renton for their support of Renton Schools Foundation.
Billboard of thanks includes two local students

The Renton School’s Foundation celebrated another year with Toyota of Renton and… Continue reading

Plants in pots, shrubs in tubs solve outdoor problems

Planting hardy, woody shrubs into large containers can help solve a tubful of landscape problems.

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains venom

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

Prep trees for winter with the “Fall Five”

In autumn, trees demand attention with their tinted maroon, orange and bronze… Continue reading

This book will help you talk about death with loved ones

There’s plenty of food for all. You can see that, and it… Continue reading

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains octopi hearts

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

‘November Road’ is the nail-biter you’ve been looking for

Catch me, if you can! And the chase began, one of you… Continue reading