Create A Succulent Container Garden
With all the snow we’ve had here in New England this winter, which is still in the process of melting, I’ve been grasping at any opportunity that might make me feel that spring is right around the corner. So I decided to check out the newly re-stocked garden department of one of my favorite home improvement stores. It was good end-of-winter therapy, because I came across a huge assortment of very reasonably priced little succulents. My first thought? Container garden!
I could easily have gone overboard, as there were so many to choose from. But I showed a bit of restraint and selected five distinct plants, a nice bowl-shaped planter and some succulent potting mix. Forgot about any further browsing and went right home to put it all together. It’s really quite simple, rather inexpensive and the results are delightful.
Here’s what you’ll need:
And here’s what you do:
Select a planter that allows for drainage. Succulents planted in an outdoor container with no drainage will fare poorly if you have a rainy spell. A shallow or bowl shaped container works nicely because succulents’ roots do not grow very deep.
Keep in mind that the opening that allows water to drain will also allow your potting mix to spill out, so you’ll need to take care of that bit. I simply put a coffee filter over the drainage hole; it works like a charm.
Fill the bowl about half way with the succulent potting mix. Be sure you’re not using a regular potting blend, succulents like a sandy, gritty growing medium. Some people prefer to make their own mix for succulents. If you’d like to do this, just remember that the most important attribute of a succulent mix is that it must drain well. A typical home mixed blend often includes one-third horticultural-grade sand, one-third compost, and one-third grit. I like to keep it quick and simple, and since I’ve never had any difficulties growing succulents in a commercial mix, I’m OK with using that.
Carefully remove your plants from their pots and arrange them in your container. Lightly press them into the potting mix, just enough so they’ve got a bit of a retaining base to keep them standing. Succulents are surprisingly delicate, so handle them gently.
Use a small trowel or a large spoon to fill the spaces between your plants and around the edges of your container. Be sure you leave no gaps, and add potting mix till it’s level with the top of the soil on the succulents. I’ve never been able to do this without getting plenty of potting mix into the gaps between the leaves. If this happens, just use a soft brush, an inexpensive paint brush for example, to brush the mix back into the container. You can gently blow on the plants to remove any potting mix that may still be left between the leaves.
Tamp down lightly on the potting mix just to firm up the placement of your plants. Water the arrangement just a bit. It’s better that this container garden stay a bit dryer rather than too moist. For the finishing touch, you can use some sort of top dressing. Any kind of small to medium stone works beautifully here, as do gravel or pebbles. You can also try various colors, shapes and sizes of glass dressing.
Although I collect rocks pretty much everywhere I go, my favorites are usually found at the beach. Last summer, my husband and I spent a wonderful couple of days at Misquamicut beach in Rhode Island, where, of course, I spent time combing the beach with my rock bag slung over my shoulder. Those rocks have been stored since then, (separated from rocks I collected elsewhere, of course) and I’ve been waiting for just the right project in which to show them off. They’re just perfect here, don’t you think?