Get hooked on succulents

Not all low-water plants are created equal. Some are low water, some are very low, and some are almost none. While many grasses, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees are classified as low, succulents are in the sweet spot of very low to almost none.

A striking case study is revealed in the 3 stages of our gardens’ water wise transformation. As succulents proved to be winners in both consumption and aesthetics, we increased varieties almost tenfold and eliminated thirstier and less appealing types. Today the majority of our 1-acre gardens’ real estate is devoted to succulents with 137 varieties and over two thousand plants.

The table below shows this evolution. In 2012 and 2013, local experts upgraded our new home’s neglected landscaping with all new plants and irrigation. Then early 2014’s rationing hit and I mutated from grateful transplant to, as Marilee Kuhlmann calls it, “water manager for our property.” That led to removal of 9,000 square feet of grass, reengineered irrigation, and other big hitters. After that blitz, from 2015 on plants and care were materially refined as we mined successes and moved on from letdowns.

Succulent type and counts of varieties in each stage
Stage 1 in 2012-2013: Beautify and repair derelict landscaping with all new plants & all new irrigation Stage 2 in 2014: Halve water use through active management, lawn conversions, & reengineered irrigation Stage 3 in 2015-2017: Further cut water use and add interest by refinement of plant choices and processes
Agaves

5

7

29

Aloes

5

8

24

Echeverias

0

2

15

Aeoniums

0

1

8

Euphorbias

1

1

12

Graptopetulum, crassula, senecio, kalanchoe

1

1

18

Beschornia, dasylirion, yucca, furcraea, beaucarnea, hesperaloe

1

1

14

Cacti

0

0

17

TOTALS

14

21

137

It’s undeniably good to get hooked on succulents. As testimony to lack of thirst, we put no irrigation on our cacti, yuccas, euphorbias, crassulas, and furcraeas or on most of our echeverias. And we remove drip irrigation on most of our agaves and aloes after one year. As testimony to beauty and diversity, check out the sidebar’s photos and My plants for our current varieties.