Between the scorching summer sun and extended vacations, it’s probably not a surprise when your outdoor plants start looking like they need a little love. Instead of paying the neighbor kids to keep your vegetation hydrated every time you hit the beach, rethink your landscape scheme to require less maintenance and be more sun tolerant and more in line with your carefree summer attitude.
The right plant picks can stand extended sunlight and a little neglect. Now you can save your plant guilt for ice cream!
For extra-hot outdoor conditions, extended vacations or people who just can’t seem to keep a plant alive, succulents are a fantastic choice. Most survive quite well in full sun and require at least one to two hours per day of full sun. For larger planters or spaces that call for a taller plant, consider using American aloe or Parry Agave.
Aloe, scilla, gasteria and haworthia are a few examples of succulents that thrive in the hot, bright summer sun. If you’re looking to increase the beauty of your outdoor scape, consider planting flowering Autumn Joy — which not only is pretty in its own right but also attracts butterflies.
Succulents tend to need less water than most other outdoor plants. But be wary when using terra-cotta pots — they tend to dry out most quickly. To see if your plants need to be watered, place your finger a centimeter or two below the soil. If it’s moist, no water is needed.
More fuss-free ways to garden
by Sandy Koepke
Remember, many succulents thrive on neglect. Always err on the side of underwatering, not overwatering. If they look a little limp, then it’s time to water.
Note: Some succulents are frost tender and may need a cover in cold weather.
If you’re really worried about your outdoor plants, a crate like this one does double duty. It looks great hanging on your wall, and you can always pull it down and take it with you. For succulents that do double duty, consider planting edible succulents.Yuccas, aloe vera, prickly pear and night-blooming cereus are all tasty varieties.
If succulents aren’t your thing, many green shrubs make for clean, easy-to-maintain outdoor planters. Boxwoods, for example, require afternoon shade and need to be pruned but require watering only every seven to 10 days — more often if you’re having a scorcher.
Ornamental grasses are another good low-maintenance option for outdoor planters. They need to be cut back only once a year in the spring and, after the first year of growth, require very little water. They tend to thrive in areas of full sunlight.
An outdoor scape like this one, where plants are divided into separate pots, is easy to maintain. When one plant begins to look a little wilty or in need of replacing, it’s no problem to simply remove one without disturbing the others.
Topiaries are a simple way to keep your outdoor planters looking fresh. For a burst of energy during parties or special events, a brightly colored perennial around the base adds pizazz.