Plants make successful trip from San Diego to GJ

Erin McIntyre brought home these succulents as souvenirs from a trip and they have thrived inside and out of her home.

After spending time inside to adjust to our climate, Erin McIntyre decided to plant this California succulent outside this summer. Foturnately, it thrived.

I like growing souvenirs.

And this year, one of my favorite souvenirs of all-time has become a real showstopper in my yard, proving that you can’t really go wrong with a good succulent.

Some of the little succulents I brought back from a trip to see my friend in San Diego more than a year ago have absolutely thrived, and I’m so glad I brought them home.

Instead of buying ugly magnets or shot glasses or spoons or whatever tchotchke you can imagine that would clutter your house or need dusting, I buy plants on trips whenever possible.

Why would I want some thingamajig when I can grow a souvenir plant I can enjoy? And on this trip I couldn’t resist the tempting array of succulents that thrive in San Diego’s Mediterranean climate.

I got some weird looks, getting on the plane with my box of plants.

One fellow passenger caught my eye, and I gave her an awkward smile.

“Do you take your little friends everywhere?” she asked, in a careful, not-sure-what-age-you-are-mentally, high-pitched tone.

“Well, these are succulents. And I’m taking them home to plant in my yard,” I explained. “We’re just getting acquainted, actually, so I wouldn’t call them friends.”

OK, so I lied. They were my little friends. Almost all plants are my little friends. I mentally apologized just a tiny bit to the aeonium in the box in case it heard me.

The succulents had a successful journey home on the plane, and I planted them inside at first, since I was worried they wouldn’t like our harsh climate. But since they did so well, I decided to plant them together outside in an old whiskey barrel this summer.

Planting them in a container was important as it allowed me to control the amount of water they would receive. I also provided some well-draining soil so the plants wouldn’t get too soggy, which was important.

For the most part, the succulent planter has required only occasional watering. I use the blue chalk sticks (Senecio serpens) as a guide — if they feel full and plump, I don’t water. If they’re starting to look and feel a little mushy and droopy, I water.

The saucer plant (aeonium), blue chalk sticks and Elephant bush (Portalucaria afra) have been good container-mates and tolerate the same amount of water, so that has been a success.

While these plants will not survive the hard frosts that come with a Grand Valley winter, I will definitely find a way to repot them or take cuttings for next year’s arrangement. I can’t imagine my patio without my little succulent friends now.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener and journalist who hosts “Diggin’ the Garden,” the second Wednesday of every month at noon on KAFM 88.1. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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