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Vermont Garden Journal: Succulents

While all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti.

With the darker days of November upon us, this gardener's attention turns to indoor houseplants. One of the hottest trends in gardening is growing succulents. Succulents have thick leaves, stems or roots for water storage. There is a wide variety of succulents to grow and most are virtually indestructible! But don't get confused. While all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. True cactus have what's called an areole. It looks like a patch of cotton from which spines, flowers, and roots grow. While succulents may have spines, they don't have aeroles.

While succulents do flower, they're mostly grown for their colorful leaves. We all know common succulents, such as jade plants and aloe, there are many other types. Hens and chicks is a common outdoor plant, but can also be grown as a houseplant., too. They feature low growing clusters of flowerlike rosettes with rounded edges in a variety of shades and colors. The mother plant produces lots of offspring identical to the parent. The panda plant has thick, fuzzy, blue-gray leaves tipped with soft, rust-color hairs. This slow growing plant rarely needs pruning. Burros tail, on the other hand, is a cascading succulent best grown in a hanging basket. The small tails of blue-green leaves cascade up to 3 feet long.  Grow succulents in a brightly lit window. They like our dry winters and cool night time temperatures that dip into the 50Fs. Pot them in shallow containers filled with well drained potting soil. Water sparingly in winter, letting the soil dry out between waterings. This may mean watering only once a month. Save your fertilizing and heavier watering for spring and summer.

And now for this week's tip, protect broadleafed evergreens such as pieris and rhododendrons with burlap. It's best to create a burlap wind screen. If the burlap touches the leaves, it can wick moisture away from them and cause even more damage. Instead, drive 4 stakes around your plant, run chicken wire around the stakes and attached burlap to the wire.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about vermicomposting. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Broadcast on Friday, November 14, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

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Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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