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Succulent Designs

encore air date: July 3, 2014

original air date: July 27, 2013

Style up succulents in upcycled containers with Eric Pedley from East Austin Succulents. On tour, visit Austin Cactus and Succulent Society co-founder Bob Barth’s drought-tough gardens and greenhouses where he’s renewing endangered species from around the world.  Daphne Richards’s Pick of the Week is ice plant that actually loves the heat.  See how Trisha Shirey turns succulents into charming floral arrangements.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Succulent and Cactus Garden

Bob Barth’s fascination with cacti and succulents led him to universal explorations. As co-founder of the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society, he changed garden perceptions in his advocacy of these water-wise plants. His passion led to the global botanical community. In multiple greenhouses, he grows plants endangered by habitat loss. From tiny to large, discover some of their secrets of self-preservation and wildlife significance.

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Question of the Week

How can I protect new plants and vegetables when it’s hot?

Give them a sun break with some shade! Even though it’s hot and dry, some of us may need to plant now, especially vegetable gardeners getting ready for fall.  And some summer vegetables need a break from the August sun.

Shading plants also comes in handy when we move a plant in spring and the temperatures soar to the 90s.

Although some plants, like lantana, okra, bird of paradise, succulents, cacti and other truly heat-loving tough guys will not bat an eye if you plant them in mid-summer in Texas, most plants will struggle.

To shade plants, all you need to do is build a simple, even crude shade structure for them, to keep out some of our burning sunlight.  A very easy way to do this is with PVC pipe and shade cloth, both of which are easy to find at home improvement stores and most nurseries.  PVC pipe is relatively easy to cut with a small hand saw, and you can build an A frame and just drape a large piece of shade cloth over the top.

To build a larger shade frame, you can use thin wooden stakes, which can be hammered into the ground relatively easily, and use a staple gun to staple the shade cloth onto them.  Shade cloth comes in different weights, keeping various amounts of light out.  About 30% sun blockage should do the trick.  Make sure that there is plenty of air circulation under the shade structure around your plants.

If you’re protecting a vegetable garden, you may choose to leave the shade on until daytime temperatures fall back down into the 80’s.  Although vegetables can handle more light and you can remove it earlier, once they’re established, the plants will be less stressed in a bit of shade.  Although too much shade will inhibit their ability to fruit, so don’t overdo it.

If you’re simply protecting a landscape plant, especially if you had to move it recently, a few weeks under a bit of shade should do it.  Any rudimentary shade structure will do the trick, so don’t think you need to get too fancy.  But make sure that the wind isn’t going to pick it up and blow it away.

For something that needs protection just for a few weeks, rig up stakes with newspaper, stick in an old umbrella, set a chair over it, or anything that shades them from the harshest angle of sun.

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Plant of the Week

Ice Plant

Ice Plant

Portulaca and Aptenia are both commonly called ice plants. You can also find Delosperma, also called ice plant. Despite their name, these low-water succulents thrive on heat. Aptenia is also known as "hearts and flowers" and as "red apple plant." Both it and Portulaca are very easily grown: Portulaca from seed and Aptenia from cuttings. In fact, if you have a neighbor with Aptenia, ask them if you can break a piece off. Take it home and let it air dry for about an hour, so that the broken surface heals a bit, then put it directly into your landscape and water just a bit. The ground will be covered in no time. Aptenia can make it through normal winters. Portulaca is an annual for us, but grows very quickly when planted in late spring. Both are great for containers and hanging baskets, too.

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