We’re not used to so much rain here in Southern CA. One series of storms has followed another. I’ve been gleefully gathering buckets of fresh rainwater for my potted plants. Could the drought finally be over? Well, no. It’ll take hundreds of years for underground aquifers to refill. The snowpack isn’t adequate for our future water supply. On the bright side, our gardens are looking glorious. Even those with mainly drought-tolerant plants. But when is rain TOO much rain? When plants sit in low spots that fill with water, and the roots drown. Otherwise, if drainage is adequate, there shouldn’t be a problem. Yes, even with succulents.
Now that there’s a break between storms, assess what needs doing. How is your garden draining? Are there standing water or erosion issues? Have pots filled with water that should be dumped before mosquitos find it and breed? I moved my potted succulents out from under the eaves before the last storm. Now they’re well soaked and ready to be put back.
Check your home’s basement. Mine used to have an inch or two of standing water whenever the ground became saturated during storms. A few years ago, a friend suggested a simple solution: Coat the concrete blocks that form the basement’s walls with a special paint that prevents seepage. Worked great. Any home improvement store carries it.
Even if you can’t do anything right now about rivulets throughout your garden, it’s likely they’ll get deeper with more rainfall. Or maybe you have standing water (puddles that don’t drain away). French drains, a layer of gravel or mulch, or diversion channels may be in order. When the weather clears, such issues are easy to forget. Take photos as reminders and address the problems before the next round of storms.
Now’s a good time to accumulate plants you want to add to your garden. Rain-soaked ground is soft and easy to dig. Early spring is the best time to establish new plants, after all danger of frost has passed (here in Southern CA, that’s usually by Valentine’s Day, but you may want to wait until March just in case). Plants will take off in spring and won’t have to contend with summer heat while putting down roots. And if your garden is like mine, when the soil dries, it’s as hard as concrete.
What to do about succulents that have rotted? They may be salvageable if there’s still firm tissue (cut above the rotten area and replant the cutting). This and other concerns are addressed in my new YouTube video, Oh No! Something’s Wrong with My Succulent!