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Succulent plants are becoming increasingly popular, said Kim Bonastia, manager of Signal Mountain Nursery on Hubbard Road.

"They resemble living sculptures and [they offer] the benefits of low maintenance and low water use," Bonastia said.

People display the plants in a variety of ways - in dish gardens, suspended on walls, in picture frames, topiaries, wreaths and centerpieces for indoor and outdoor use.

"Crate & Barrel is carrying them as centerpieces," Bonastia said.

Succulents, she said, are "sustainable, durable and low-maintenance. The varying colors, textures and style are a great hit."

FIVE TIPS

1 Light exposure: Make sure succulents have full sun to part shade. The more the sun, she said, the better the color on the foliage.

2 Watering: Do not overwater. Allow soil to almost dry completely between waterings.

3 Soil: Use a good-quality "soil-less" soil. Soil-less soil, according to www.hydro-gardens.com, is a method of growing plants without soil.

4 Recommended varieties: Some of the succulents recommended by Signal Mountain Nursery are: Aeonium Tip Top with dark burgundy leaves that gather in dense clusters and form an overall pyramid shape; Dyckia Hybrid Burgundy Ice with smooth, deep burgundy leaves that have spiky white margins; Echeveria Nodulosa with zebra striped burgundy markings; Sedum Coppertone with lemon yellow and sunlit copper foliage; Echeveria Black Prince with deep maroon foliage and green centers; and Kalanchoe Thyrisifolia with paddle-shaped leaves that turn red in the sun.

5 Planting pointer: Mix them with hardy succulents (not listed) for different textures.

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