Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
When choosing companion plants for cacti and succulents, consider some of the hardy perennials. These are good choices for many areas of the country.
Russian sage is adapted to poor soils, particularly alkaline ones. It is also tolerant of salt spray. These sturdy, tough perennials are hardy to zone five. Some species reach four feet in height. They have attractive, gray, scented foliage. Some are native to the Himalayas and Asia, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and India. About seven species are in cultivation.
These are deciduous, and can be cut to the ground before the new gardening season begins in the spring. Some species are bushy with tall stems. They have spectacular mint-like spikes of blue blossoms. These appear from late summer until a hard freeze. There are a number of improved cultivars available.
Lavenders are adapted to dry, rocky situations. They reach their best potential when grown in a reasonably fertile, light soil. But, they will tolerate poor soils as well. They’re native to the Mediterranean, Asia, and Africa. There are many kinds of lavenders in cultivation. Their hardiness and size can vary greatly. Typically, they’re less than three feet high. Some are hardy to zone five.
On the whole wet soils are harmful to lavenders just as they are to cacti and succulents. Lavenders can develop root rot and other diseases under such conditions. Like many plants with gray foliage, lavender is tolerant of dry conditions. All parts of the plants are highly scented. English lavenders are only suited to cold climates.
Also called hare’s ear and bupleurum, these perennials are native to dry, rocky places. They include evergreens and semi-evergreens. They’re suited to rock gardens and stone walls. These are native mostly to Africa and Europe. Members of the carrot and parsley family, there are several species in cultivation. Other species are either perennials or shrubs. The height and hardiness can vary. One is known as shrubby hare’s ear, and is hardy to zone seven. It can reach eight feet in height.
One species is commonly grown as an annual and used for cut flowers. This plant is in fact a short-lived perennial. Hardy to zone three, it is about a foot tall.