Home Tip Tuesday: Create a Succulent Garden that Wows

Succulents offer color, texture and architectural variety.

Low maintenance and big beauty, that magical combination explains the explosion of interest in succulent gardens over the last few years. Plants that were once relegated to the shady part of Grandma’s yard are now the trendiest things in pots. Like living sculptures, succulents provide color, texture and architectural variety in almost any part of the garden. From tall and prickly to tiny and soft, these plants are a dream come true for inexperienced gardeners, innovative gardeners and dedicated black thumbs.

Succulents require little water so are well-suited for drought-tolerant landscapes and forgetful gardeners. Once established, some types can go weeks without watering. They’re not fussy about soil either, as long as it drains well: in fact, most succulents grow happily in a mix of sand and rock. Their easy care makes them perfect for tucking into any number of unusual containers; from old shoes to hand-blown art glass bowls. You can literally create a succulent garden almost anywhere and in almost anything.

Plan Your Succulent Garden
The wide variety of succulents available makes it easy to plan an attractive garden, but it also means you need to make a plan. Too many different colors or shapes—and there are many—can end up looking a bit hodge-podge. Whether you’re planting in a container or directly in the ground, consider these ideas for an easy care succulent garden:

•  Pick a focal plant. Surrounding a larger specimen with smaller succulents makes a bold statement. For even more visual impact, use plants with contrasting colors such as a mature agave in cool blue surrounded by creeping red sedum.

•  Pair succulents with landscape stones—and little else. Highlight the interesting architectural shapes of succulents with a minimalist garden that mimics the plants’ natural environment.

•  Check the sunlight needs to make sure all the plants you want are suitable for the same site. Most succulents will grow in partial shade, but some, like Kalonchoe, wither in hot sun.

•  Repeat a theme. Choose one type of succulent, such as Hens and Chicks, and fill an odd number of clay pots with different sizes of that one style.

•  Go vertical. Their low-water requirements allow crafty gardens to use succulents in all shapes and sizes of container, including those that hang on the wall. For a super-simple wall garden, build a shallow box (no more than 2 inches deep) to your specifications. Fill the box with sphagnum moss and a little bit of sand. Staple chicken wire over the top of the box. Poke small succulents into the openings of the wire until you’ve created a solid mass of plants. Take the wall piece down for watering.

However you plan you succulent garden, remember: these little beauties are like potato chips. You won't stop at just one.

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