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Succulents Optimal For Sacramento Gardens

Succulent featured at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory. Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio


If you're looking to keep your garden green through the winter, some plants will do it better than others. A type of plant known as a succulent is ideal for this climate. Succulents can weather cooler temperatures in the winter and hot days in the summer.

Various succulents ready for planting at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory. Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

Ernesto Sandoval, the collections manager for the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory, is responsible for several of the exotic succulent gardens on the UC Davis campus.

He points to a blue-green spiny plant with blade-like leaves about two feet long called aloe comosa. Some parts of the succulent have withered pink tips.

“When you don’t over water them, they stress out and they get this beautiful tan on them,” says Sandoval.

He says the aloe plant has received very little water during the last four years of drought.

Succulents are unique in that they store water in their leaves, and they bloom annually. 

The best-known succulents are cactus, many of which thrive in Mediterranean climates like the Sacramento Valley.

“We have that long summer drought, between four and six months long, and these plants can survive that summer drought with very little to no supplemental water," says Sandoval. 

CACTUS 3A cactus at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory. Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

Plus, they can withstand the region's winters.

Sandoval recommends planting succulents outside.

“In general, desert plants make terrible houseplants because they’re adapted to high, light desert environments," says Sandoval.

He says they'll do best in well-drained organic soil.

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