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Succulents, Popular Water-Wise Plants, Also Act As Wildfire Barrier

October 9, 2017 1:49 p.m.

Succulents, Popular Water-Wise Plants, Also Act As Wildfire Barrier


Debra Lee Baldwin, author, "Designing with Succulents"

Related Story: Succulents, Popular Water-Wise Plants, Also Act As Wildfire Barrier


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The thick plant that store water are Succulents. Succulents are big business in Seneca County. In 2016, the growers produced $83 million worth of Succulents. To find out why they are in such demand, we turn to Debra author of three books. Welcome to the program.

Thank you so much for having me.

For long time people in Southern California levitated toward grasses and flowering plants. When did the move toward gardening of Succulents take off?
It is a combination of things. The drought a lot of attention to plans that are less watered and Succulents are plants that withstand drought by storing water. They are an obvious thing and then here we are in the 21st century with you harvest being introduced all the time and many plants that are suitable for a guardian. They were not known in the middle of the 20th century. So greater and more interesting varieties and availability of the water thing and a growing sophistication on the part of the Gording public.

You must still run into people who think going water Wise means putting in lots of cactus. I wonder if you can give us an idea of the range of the variety of Succulents and the colors and what they look like.

The word that I think surprises people is lush. You can have a lush green landscape planted with Succulents and combine them with numerous other ornamental holy . Ideally you would go into one direction and cut way back on how much water you are using. These are leafy holy and some look like green roses. They come in wonderful colors. They come in colors that range from blue to pink to purple into shades of green and even a dark burgundy. That is just one. Then you have the range of trees, there is tiny little fine Succulents. There's everything in between and people are usually familiar with the Jade plant. They are beautiful and those with unusual shape leaves. Now I told you the trees, shrubs, you can have a whole guardian.

Debra, are there principles for designing with Succulents and which plans go together?

It comes down to the design. Specific to Succulents you want to play on those colors and shapes. I think it comes back down to two me things contrast and repetition. Planted collectors have a hard time with the whole repetition thing because they want one of every plant. A good landscape designer knows repetition will pull the eye through the landscape and it is soothing and interesting almost like a musical composition. You hear the same notes over and over but then to add interest you have contrast so you might have a barrel cactus up against a boulder and immediately you have a smoothness of the boulder and fuzziness of the cactus and that is the contrast and texture.

You just mentioned about placement of Succulents with other water Wise holy. Had you know which work best together?

A lot of it comes down to the water requirements. The more you know about the plans, the more you understand that. Sunlight plays a part. There are succulents that are not going to be happy and full sun. A lot come from some tropical areas and some really will just scorch, if you put them out in full sun. It is a cultivation of requirements. Here in San Diego with our clay like soil amending the soil is important.

The Wehbi propagate from cutting make the plans for proof.

It they are so easy to start. If you ever started a geranium then you have an idea on how easy it is to start a succulent. If you have a succulent with the stem and there are leaves, you are going to get new growth from the top of the stem is where the new leaves form. Then farther down the stem, you are going to have the older leaves and they will with her and try and fall off. -- Weather -- wither and dry and fall off. Whenever you expose the tissue on a cutting, stick that in the ground and if it stands up, you are good.

Easy as that.

I am afraid so.

San Diego also has to contend with the risk of fire. Apparently Succulents can help protect your property from burning.

Look at this paddle cactus. I brought in a cactus pad as big as an of inmate that is almost an inch in width. That is all juicy. If we were to carve into that, we would see a thick gooey center. You throw this on the ground and it will route in our climate. Over time, it will form a thicket and a wonder for -- wonderful wildfire barrier.

Kent Way three will be speaking about all of this at 5:30 PM tonight at the San Diego articulture Society meeting . Her book is called Designing with Succulents and I've been speaking with Debra Lee Baldwin. Thank you so much.

Thank you for having me .