The summer solstice is upon us, and the perennial yard is brimming with attractive late spring and summer-blooming succulents! These plants can become an excellent addition to the front of a border or a rock garden. All of them are deer-resistant and have very few diseases, making them an easy choice with the correct planting site.
Our Ice Plants (Delosperma cooperi and Delosperma ‘Jewel of the Desert’) come in multiple colors (‘Moonstone’ shown on the left). They typically don’t grow more than a few inches tall. Bees and butterflies love their neon daisy-like blooms that shine brilliantly in the sun. They will stay open from late spring until frost hits. Their rounded leaves are also very lush and attractive. They can control erosion, which is especially useful for damaged areas. Ice Plants are especially useful for some homeowners because their leaves are not toxic to pets. However, it is important to keep them out of wet winter sites.
A great companion to Ice Plants are Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum). ‘Silverine’ seen on the right, appears as a kaleidoscope of red, green, purple, and silver in the landscape. Spikes of pink flowers will appear as the plants mature. They can be placed in dry cracks in a landscape where other plants would not survive. Rosettes have been found in rock crevices, and on roofs! Eventually, the “chicks” will outgrow the main rosette, and can be divided very easily. Hens-and-chicks are especially attractive in containers, borders, and rock gardens.
The Eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) enjoys similar sites to other succulents, and is the only cactus native to Connecticut. Showy yellow flowers and pink fruits appear on top of the fleshy leaves providing various forms of interest throughout the year. Thick gloves are, of course, required when planting this plant, as bristles can be found across the cactus pads. They are especially good in sandy soil near the shore. They are evergreen but deflate slightly in the winter.
These mat-forming succulents can easily become an interesting facet of your landscape planting, and are available in both Newtown and Watertown sales yards! – Julia