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Green up living spaces with low-maintenance succulents

MARC BUCKNER

IF YOU keep forgetting to water your indoor plants, then maybe you need to try growing some of the trailing succulents in the Senecio family.

These are perfect for part-shade or indoor situations and need only occasional watering. In winter, you will barely need to water them at all.

They all have long, slender stems that can grow more than 1m long - perfect for hanging baskets or pots on high shelves.

Perhaps the most popular and well-known is string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), which has round leaves that look like green peas (or pearls) along the stems.

String of beans (Senecio radicans) has longer, pointy leaves shaped like beans.

There is another one I like, but I don't know what species it is, so let's just call it by its common name, string of tears. At first glance it looks a lot like string of beans, with slightly rounder, but still pointy leaves.

All have little white flowers in summer, which some people love, but I think they look untidy and usually take them off. However, the blooms do have a lovely nutmeg fragrance so, if you don't mind the look, you can enjoy the scent.

These plants are magnificent for time-poor lovers of indoor plants. Apart from their minimal water needs, they grow slowly, making them ideal as a potted plant as they rarely outgrow their container.

You can make new plants from well-established ones by taking cuttings, or just drape the long strings up and over the potting mix so they grow roots and become new strands.

They grow best in a warm position in early morning sun, filtered light, or bright shade. They will rot if they get too wet and cold in winter, so it's best to keep them a bit dry. Too much water is definitely worse than too little for these plants.

You can use them in a mixed planting with other succulents. Because they do most of the growing hanging over the edges of the container, there is plenty of room for other things to fill out the top. Just make sure you use companions that will enjoy similar conditions - dryish and shady.

I've seen them used to great effect as an underplanting for bromeliads and certain types of orchids.

They appreciate a feed a couple of times during the growing season, but back off completely in winter or they will surely die.

Topics:  gardening indoor plants interior decorating


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