Indoor dish garden
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Dish Gardens Bring Gardening Inside for the Winter

“Dish Gardens Bring Gardening Inside for the Winter” is the headline of a recent Associated Press* succulent story. Reporter Dean Fosdick interviewed me because, as he writes, “indoor gardens, with their miniature, low-maintenance plants, thrive in small spaces, and that makes them a natural fit for succulents.”

Indoor dish garden

Indoor dish garden

Quotes from the article:

— “Thanks to their intriguing forms and ease of care, succulents are replacing African violets as the plants of choice for indoor gardens,” said Debra Lee Baldwin, author of “Designing With Succulents” (Timber Press, revised second edition).
— “For a windowsill, a pot that fits into your cupped hands is perfect.”
— “If using a tall or deep container, fill it half full with empty plastic water bottles, tightly capped. You won’t waste soil that the plants don’t need and that might even compromise their health by holding moisture that causes rot. Plus the pot will weigh less.”
— Much of the fun in growing succulents is their adaptability, Baldwin said. “Give them adequate light, good air circulation and fast-draining soil and you can grow succulents in a pair of socks.”
Why I put plastic bottles in big pots
Any of those might be a launching point for an article, but perhaps the most useful is the empty-bottle idea. I use plastic bottles to make large pots lighter before I add potting soil. It makes pots easier to carry, cuts down on the amount of soil needed, and is better for shallow-rooted succulents. Before I plant any tall or large pot, I half-fill it with… [continue reading].
*The Associated Press is a US-based news agency headquartered in NYC. The article appeared in the Washington Post and other media.

Related Info on This Site:

How to grow indoors
About Debra page. Widely known as the “Queen of Succulents,” Debra Lee Baldwin is the award-winning garden photojournalist who launched worldwide interest in succulents in 2007 with…[Continue reading]
Go to TV, Radio and Media. Here you’ll find excerpts and links to a few of many media articles and interviews in which Debra Lee Baldwin is featured and quoted as an expert on succulents and their design uses. Included are book reviews, radio, podcasts, TV news, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, KPBS… [Continue reading]
Books by Debra Lee Baldwin
Why I put plastic bottles in big pots
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Use Plastic Bottles for Lighter Pots

I use plastic bottles to make large pots lighter before I add potting soil. It makes pots easier to carry, cuts down on the amount of soil needed, and is better for shallow-rooted succulents. Before I plant any tall or large pot, I half-fill it with tightly capped empty water bottles.
Why I put plastic bottles in big pots
Good design and aesthetics dictate that large spaces need large pots. They make a “wow” statement in any garden, patio, entryway or sunroom. Pots that aren’t in scale with a big space can be visually lost or add clutter.

Problem is, if you fill a big pot with soil, you might not be able to move it, especially after you water it. And if succulents sit atop soil that never dries, roots may rot. My solution, a result of trial-and-error, also works for window boxes.

Kalanchoe luciae

To make my deep window boxes less heavy, there’s a layer of plastic bottles beneath the soil.

Mistakes to avoid

— Initially I tried placing a succulent, still in its nursery pot, inside a tall glazed pot. The plastic rim showed, which looked tacky. I tried the nursery plant in a different large pot. The plastic pot dropped too far inside, making the succulent look like it was hiding. Not to mention I hoped to put more than one succulent in the focal-point pot. I considered half-filling it with rocks, but being denser, they’re even heavier than soil. As for lightweight organic matter, like chipped wood, it makes the soil level sink as it decomposes.
— I tried keeping the lower half of a large pot empty by using a pot saucer as a shelf inside it. It was tricky to find a saucer that fit and would rest where I wanted it to (about a foot below the rim). Plus it needed a drainage hole.
— Next I tried filling the bottom half of a large pot with styrofoam packing peanuts. Later, when I emptied the pot to reuse it, I discovered that wet soil plus styrofoam equals a sodden mess that’s no fun to dispose of.
— I also tried dumping clean items from my recycling bin into a hefty pot, but discovered that bottles and crushed cans hold soil and water—an anaerobic mix that becomes a microbial soup. Even bubble wrap, when stuffed into a pot, forms nondraining pockets.

My cheap and easy answer

I fill large pots half full with empty plastic water bottles, tightly capped. As far as roots are concerned, bottles are the same as rocks. Yet empty plastic water bottles don’t weigh anything. Some soil does fall into gaps, so it’s a good idea to pour pumice into the pot prior to adding potting soil. Pumice, a lightweight volcanic rock, absorbs excess moisture. Make sure bottles are tightly capped, so inside them is only air and the weight of the soil won’t make them collapse.
Use bottles to make pots weigh less
Empty water bottles make big pots weigh less, save on soil, prevent soggy roots, and are easy to remove when emptying the pot. Simply hose them off before returning them to your recycling bin.

Use Plastic Bottles for Lighter Pots
Step-by-step [see the video]

— Assemble your materials: Pot, plants or cuttings, empty plastic water bottles, potting soil, pumice.
— Place empty bottles in the pot to midlevel, or to about 12 inches from the rim.
— Add enough pumice to nearly cover the bottles.
Use bottles to make pots lighter
— Remove plant/s from nursery pot/s and arrange in pot.
— Add soil so the crown of the plant (where roots meet stem) is a bit lower than the rim.
     OR, if planting cuttings, simply insert them in the soil.
— Move pot to its new location. Protect flooring from drips if need be. Water lightly to settle roots.
— After a week or so, insert a wood chopstick several inches into the soil to check its dryness. If the stick comes out clean, add water until it flows out the drain hole.

Related Info on This Site:

Showcase succulents in large pots

Use pumice to make pots lighter
Books by Debra Lee Baldwin
Gallery of large pots of succulents
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Showcase Succulents in Large Pots

For a dramatic, memorable enhancement to a garden or patio, showcase succulents in large pots. Big containers are both sculptural and eye-catching. Add succulents and you have a dynamic, ever-changing display as plants grow and seasons shift. Examples here are from my own garden and others I admire. Find more great ideas for succulents in large pots in my books, in particular Succulent Container Gardens and Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.).

Gallery of large pots of succulents

A nonfunctioning fountain planted with string-of-pearls and Dasylirion whipplei is at the end of an entry walkway adjacent to the front door.

 

Gallery of large pots of succulents

Big red pots planted with dasylirions add height and color contrast. The trio create a centerpiece for a rectangular bed of assorted ice plants. The pots also serve to relieve the eye in the midst of a lot of fine-textured plants.

 

Gallery of large pots of succulents

A series of knee-high pots planted with Agave ferox borders a walkway and contrasts with a coral wall. Beneath the pots, a topdressing of rocks and gravel provide texture and continuity.

 

Large pots in the garden

Large pots are an investment, but well worth it. This one, planted with Sedum burrito cuttings several years ago, is a surefire conversation piece. The homeowner sees it from inside her home and whenever she uses her patio.

 

Gallery of large pots of succulents

A sloped poolside planting includes succulents in large pots that stand out and add interest to a colorful assortment of succulents.

 

Gallery of large pots of succulents

Big pots needn’t be upright. This one, spilling Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, lends whimsy to a garden and a suggestion of motion. This is also a great way to utilize a cracked or damaged pot.

 

Large pots in the garden

Red glaze on a pot in my garden repeats the upthrusting lines of a red aloe nearby.

 

Gallery of large pots of succulents

A rectangular pot fills wall space and adds a welcoming presence at the entry to Jeanne Meadow’s garden. She planted it with aeoniums, aloes and trailing Portulacaria afra ‘Minima’.

 

Gallery of large succulent pots

A red pot containing a variegated sansevieria makes a clean-lined statement in the side garden of a contemporary home. Rounded river rock covers bare dirt and provides contrasting texture.

 

Gallery of large succulent pots

A pot in my garden adds height and interest to a terrace overflowing with succulents. I planted the pot with lampranthus, sedum, Othonna capensis and a variegated yucca.

 

Gallery of large succulent pots

In a patio in downtown Carmel, CA, a large pot with overgrown Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ creates a photo op and focal point.

 

Large pots in the garden

This large unplanted pot serves as a sculptural element in Patrick Anderson’s garden. Its rounded lines contrast with spiky agaves nearby, and their orange leaf margins repeat its terra-cotta color.

Related Info on This Site:

Use plastic bottles for lighter pots

On My YouTube Channel:

Video how to make large pots lighter

 

Books by Debra Lee Baldwin

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Succulent Centerpieces

Succulent centerpieces last months and look good long after the occasion you made them for. Shown here are ideas for tabletops, floral-style arrangements, groupings and more. Follow the links for additional info and how-to help.

Succulent centerpiece

Above: Jeanne Meadow of Fallbrook, CA, keeps this succulent centerpiece on her patio table. Jeanne’s is one of the featured gardens in Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.). This photo also appears as a black-and-white line drawing in my Sensational Succulents coloring book. It’s an example of the floral-style succulent arrangements shown in my books, notably Succulent Container Gardens.

Succulent centerpiece

Above: This pedestal-pot succulent centerpiece is by CW Designs (formerly Chicweed). See how to make it in my online article: DIY Floral-Style Succulent Centerpiece.

Succulent centerpiece

You can watch me make this centerpiece in a repurposed berry bowl in my online Craftsy Class, “Stunning Succulent Arrangements.” Use this link to take my Craftsy class (all seven lessons) at 50% of the regular enrollment price—$20 instead of $40. I also feature the same berry bowl, filled with colorful succulent cuttings, in my YouTube video, Succulents in Silver.

Succulent centerpiece

To make this unusual centerpiece for my patio, I combined a curved glass tube and a wrought-iron stand (both thrift store finds) with colorful clusters of succulents, then added bird seed. Watch birds enjoying it (and thereby turning it into a piece of kinetic art) in my video: Succulent Bird Feeder Centerpiece. If you’d like to see how I repurpose objects for bird feeders, go to Creative Bird Feeder Materials & How-To.

Succulent centerpiece

Groupings of similar objects make simple, appealing tabletop decorations. Here, sempervivums look like they’re in white baskets, but—as explained on page 36 of Succulent Container Gardensthey’re actually in cast-concrete pots. Glossy silver balls repeat the muted hues of the pots and contrast with their texture.

Succulent centerpiece bouquet

I made these bouquets for the launch party of my book, Succulents Simplifiedwhich has the same plants on the cover. Marbles serve as ballast and I made faux stems from bamboo skewers. The vases hold water to keep the aloe flowers fresh. Learn more in my article, Create a Bouquet of Succulent Cuttings and in my online Craftsy Class, Stunning Succulent Arrangements. 

Succulent centerpiece

This dramatic succulent centerpiece features a crested euphorbia. See how it came together in my online article Succulent White-Pot Pairings, and in my YouTube video, How to Pair Succulents with White Pots.

 

Related info on this site:

 

Undersea succulent clamshell planter
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Plant an Undersea Succulent Clamshell

Undersea Succulent Clamshell Planter

Succulents that resemble coral-reef flora lend themselves to containers that immerse the viewer in an undersea experience. This succulent clamshell planter sits atop lava rocks near my home’s entry. It’s semi-shaded by Texas privet, the trunks of which frame the arrangement and repeat the upright lines of Senecio anteuphorbium. Certain succulents (the senecio, the aloe at left and the Medusa euphorbia) came from the original arrangement, which I made several years ago, but most are new. Those that had outgrown the planter—notably Crassula ‘Gollum’ and other jades—found homes in the garden.

Here’s my list of plants and materials, along with my method and how to care for the arrangement once completed. This goes with my YouTube video, DIY Undersea Succulent Clamshell. Have fun!

Undersea Succulent Clamshell planter

Plants: Below are what I used, but there are so many succulents that suggest tidepool flora. Feel free to make substitutions. See “Marine Life Look-Alikes” on page 101 of Designing with Succulents (2nd ed)

Aloes that look like starfish (4 or 5, various sizes). I used Aloe maculata and in 3-inch pots, the dwarf species A. ‘Christmas Sleigh’, A. ‘Pink Blush’ and A. ‘Snow Storm’.

A Medusa euphorbia. I used E. flanaganii.

Euphorbia anoplia (Tanzanian zipper plant). Mine was in an 8-inch pot.

Fenestraria aurantiaca (baby toes), two in 3-inch pots

Crassula lycopodioides (C. muscosa, watch chain), three in 3-inch pots

Senecio anteuphorbium (swizzle sticks) for height

A tillandsia (air plant)

Materials: (links go to Amazon):

Clam shell, 25″ x 16.5″ x 8.5″ around $110 (planted ones go for $300 or more)*

Pumice, 2 qts. around $15

Potting soil, 4-qt. bag, around $10

Optional:

Rocks to anchor the rootball of the tall senecio

Soft artist’s brush for removing spilled soil from plants

Chopstick for settling roots (or use the pointed end of the artist’s brush)

Joyce Chen (or similar) kitchen scissors for delicate pruning

White or gray-white sand (not beach sand)

Seashells, crushed shells, pebbles and/or lava rock

DIY Method:

Fill clamshell 1/3 full of pumice. Start with your largest plants. If you’re using a tall senecio with a small rootball, as I did, anchor the roots with rocks so it doesn’t tip over. Add potting soil and press firmly to surround and secure rootballs. As you compose the arrangement:

— Keep in mind it should look as though the succulents were undersea flora and fauna inhabiting a coral reef.

— Rotate plants outward so they’re facing the viewer.

— Place tall plants in the back. Put small ones in front and use as filler.

— Use plants and their root balls, shells, chunks of coral and/or rocks to retain soil in the clamshell’s U-shaped dips.

Caring for your composition:

To make it last and look good for years, place it in bright shade where it’ll get only a few hours of sun daily, ideally early morning or late afternoon. Water the plants lightly once a week in summer and once a month (or not at all) in winter.

Err on the dry side. This is a nondraining container, so don’t let it sit out in the rain or get watered by automatic irrigation. Although the pumice in the bottom will absorb moisture, it’s not a substitute for drainage. If the arrangement gets flooded, tip it slightly so water drains out.

Keep it tidy: Deadhead spent flowers, peel or snip off dry lower leaves, and remove debris that may fall onto or into the plants.

*How much will it cost?

Undersea-themed succulent-planted clamshell

This succulent-planted clamshell at Roger’s Gardens is priced at $300. If you DIY, expect to pay about half that—less if you use cuttings.

Related Info on This Site:

A succulent mermaid's garden

Succulent Mermaid's Garden

 

DIY Succulent Driftwood Designs

Related Videos on my YouTube channel:

Mermaid Succulent Garden

See how succulents combine with bromeliads and outdoor art in this undersea-themed “mermaid’s garden.” The owner/designer is Nancy Englund, president of the Laguna Beach Garden Club.

 

Undersea succulent planter

Succulents that resemble coral-reef flora lend themselves to containers that immerse the viewer in an undersea experience. [See story above.]

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Succulent White-Pot Pairings

White pots are a simple, effective way to display your prized succulents and cacti. Here I’ve paired colorful, geometric cacti and sculptural succulent euphorbias with an assortment of white-glazed containers. Solo or in groupings, succulent white-pot pairings would look good on your patio, deck, entryway or sunroom. Watch the 4-min. companion video: Succulent White-Pot Pairings.

#1 Euphorbia lactea variegata, crested

I usually start with a project’s largest item and work my way down, so the design flows from the biggest, most prominent element. The first plant I chose at Oasis Water Efficient Gardens (a succulent specialty nursery near me owned by Altman Plants) was a white-variegated crested euphorbia. Its coloration repeats that of the largest container, and the plant’s spiky texture contrasts with the pot’s smooth finish. The euphorbia is in scale with the pot…not too large or small. That’s important aesthetically and practically—the arrangement will look the same for years (crested plants grow slowly).

#2 Euphorbia leucodendron (cats’ tails)

I repeated the horizontal lines of the pot with the upright lines of a cylindrical cats’ tails succulent. Wherever you put it, the euphorbia provides a strong vertical element. The nursery plant had more stems than I needed, but because they were a half a dozen rooted cuttings, they easily pulled apart.

#3 Echinocereus rigidissimus rubrispius (“Red-headed Irishman”)

The pink of the crested euphorbia led me to select this magenta echinocereus (which also has white in its spines), but those at the nursery weren’t large enough to fill the bowl-shaped pot. Cross-hatching in the pot repeated patterns in the echinocereus and I liked the cactus’ clean lines, so I decided to combine several. Doing so emphasizes and repeats pleasing circles; and having five rosy, radiating starbursts creates design interest.

Compositions like these look unfinished if soil shows, so we concealed it with a topdressing of white crushed rock and white stones.

Production assistant Pat Roach pours white crushed rock

4. Melocactus azureus. 

I’d rather not put a succulent in a pot that’s deeper than the plant is tall because roots may rot in soil that stays moist. But this blue melocactus was a perfect match for our last and smallest pot. In the video you’ll see me pour pumice down the inside of the pot; that’s to absorb excess moisture. The resulting plant-pot combo showcases the plant’s geometric shape and looks good with the rest of the planted white pots, too.

Related Info on This Site:

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Succulent Windowsill Pots DIY

In this Succulent Windowsill Pots DIY, you’ll find out how to make a quick, colorful, succulent windowsill garden. Sunbathing helps succulents maintain their symmetry and color, and whenever you look out your window or work at a countertop or sink nearby, you’ll see and enjoy them.

My six little windowsill succulents

These six pots, each 3-inches in diameter, come as a set on Amazon (about $16). Their rainbow colors makes them fun and easy to combine with succulents. I added crushed glass topdressings because glass and sunlight are made for each other…just like sun and succulents.

Other multipot sets work equally well…for example:

Materials:

Four to six 3-inch decorative pots.
Four to six succulents in 2-inch nursery pots. Numerous varieties and even cuttings will work. I chose Adromischus cristatus, Sedeveria ‘Lilac Mist’, Sedeveria ‘Letizia’, Senecio haworthii, Sedum nussbaumerianum, and Sedum adolphi. All are from Altman Plants’ retail nursery north of San Diego, Oasis Water Efficient Gardens.

Pumice or potting soil (“cactus mix”) to finish filling the pots.
White or neutral-colored sand (but not beach sand—too salty), available at craft stores and online.
Window screen or paper towels cut in six 2-inch squares.
Crushed glass topdressing (optional), available from craft stores, floral suppliers and online.

Method:

Cover drain hole with a square of window screen or paper towel so soil doesn’t fall out.
Gently slide the plant out of its nursery pot and place in its new pot.
Remove 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil from top or bottom so root ball stays below the rim.
Spoon pumice or potting soil between rootball and pot.
Tap the pot and gently press on the soil to anchor the roots.
Add a layer of sand to conceal pumice and soil. The sand also will fill gaps and keep the glass topdressing’s color true.
Add topdressing. I chose colors that echo the glaze on the pots, but fewer or just one color also would look good.

Succulent windowsill pots

Care:

Water lightly and infrequently—1/4 to 1/2 cup per pot weekly in summer, less in winter. Aim to keep soil barely moist, never soggy.
If your windowsill might be damaged by moisture, move the pots to the sink when watering. Let drain thoroughly before replacing.
If stem succulents stretch or rosette succulents flatten, they probably need more light. However, the sun’s ultraviolet rays, when magnified by untreated window glass, can burn plant leaves. If this is a concern, add a sheer curtain or move the plants farther from the glass.
Keep in mind that south-facing windows typically get the most sun and north-facing the least.
It’s normal for succulents to get leggy over time. After four to six months or whenever you tire of looking at stems that have growth only on the tips, take cuttings and replant.

Also see my DIY video ~

Related info on this site:


Succulent Basics, Must-Do’s and FAQs

Let me guide you through the essentials of growing succulents successfully: water, light, soil, fertilizer and more. If all this is new to you… [Continue reading]

Also on my YouTube channel: 

Create a Colorful Succulent Terrarium


 

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Succulent Desk Buddies, DIY

“Desk buddies” are succulents that look good on your desk and require almost no care. They’re cute and classy, and visitors invariably ask about them. All you have to do is dribble water on them twice a month (which also keeps them dusted).

Here for your enjoyment is a step-by-step DIY project for creating a sparkling trio of succulent desk buddies. Watch my corresponding YouTube video.

I chose haworthias for my desk buddies because they do great in terrariums. These small succulents from South Africa are rosette-shaped and shades of green sometimes variegated with cream or white. Certain species have translucent tissue and veining. Most haworthias prefer bright shade, grow no more than 4 or 5 inches in height and diameter, and offset to form mounding colonies. Outdoors, they need protection from sun scorch and frost.

Recently I brought home several haworthias in 2.5-inch nursery pots to create a trio of desk buddies, inspired by Altman Plants’ collection with the same name. Another great online source is Mountain Crest Gardens.

Plants*

Haworthia fasciata hybrid. Similar to H. attenuata (zebra plant), the rosettes have stiff, upright, pointed leaves that appear sharp but aren’t.

Haworthia emelyae. Each leaf forms a fat triangle that curves up and outward. Leaf tops are translucent and veined. Similar to H. retusa.

Haworthia cymbiformis. Similar to H. retusa and H. emelyae, but offsets are more clumping.

Design

I wanted a simple, sophisticated trio that would showcase the plants, so I went with glass spheres. These have a clean, fresh look and won’t leave water spots on tabletops. (Lack of draingage is not a problem. If that seems counterintuitive, see How to Water Succulents.) I didn’t want any dirt to show, so I concealed roots beneath layers of sand. You might add pebbles, beads or even buttons, but keep in mind that as sand sifts through and past them, bigger items work their way to the surface.

Materials

— 3 glass globe candle holders, each 4 inches in diameter. I found these at Michael’s (by Ashland). Similar ones are available from Amazon: Libbey Bubble Ball Glass Bowl Set of 12 (4.3-inch), $29.99, eligible for Prime 

Pumice (crushed white volcanic rock), one to two ounces per container

— Several colors of sand. I chose light earth tones because subtle variations are best when seen up close. You might also consider colors that harmonize with furnishings or accessories. Cautions: Bright sand can call excessive attention to itself and overshadow the succulents. Don’t use beach sand, which contains salts, or sand that’s green because it’ll suggest algae.

Craft stores sell small bags of colored sand, but the selection is hit-or-miss. If you collect your own sand from the wild, sift out impurities and microwave it 60 seconds or so to kill microbes and weed seeds. If you want extra colored sand for other projects, I found these on Amazon (July, 2018): 

— Bowl or bucket of water for swishing soil off roots (optional).

— Soft artist’s brush for cleaning sand off leaves.

Method

— Slide plants out of their nursery pots, gently remove as much soil as possible, and swish the roots in water (optional). If some soil clings to them, that’s fine, just so it won’t be visible through the glass.

— Dip roots into pumice so it clings to them (optional). Add a couple of spoonfuls of pumice to the bottom of the globe and set the roots atop it. The plant might rest below the rim, suggesting a terrarium. If leaves are at mid-rim or slightly higher, the container will suggest a flower pot.

— Pour in different colors of sand to create layers. Experiment with tipping the globe to achieve curved or sloping lines. Avoid getting sand on leaves because you’ll have to clean it off.

— Tap the container gently to settle sand around roots.

— Think it could look better? Simply start over (remove contents, clean the glass). When you’re satisfied, gently brush grains of sand from the leaves.

— Use a squirt bottle to further cleanse the leaves and settle the roots. Avoid soaking the sand.

Care

— Dribble a little water (no more than an ounce, less if humidity is high) on each plant every couple of weeks or so. Hold the globe so you can see where the water goes (wet sand will appear darker). Aim to moisten the center, not the sides.

— Give haworthias as much bright light as possible but no direct sunlight. Sun may burn the leaves and cause algae to grow in damp sand.

— Over time, lower leaves may wither and dry, which is normal; snip and remove them with scissors and tweezers.

— If you don’t like the haworthias’ spindly blooms, you have my permission to pinch them off.

— Watch for pests such as aphids and mealybugs. Should they put in an appearance, spray with 70% Isopropyl alcohol.

— No fertilizer needed.

*Trying to accurately ID Haworthia species and cultivars is frustrating, to say the least. There are innumerable hybrids, and it takes an expert to tell them apart, especially when growing conditions may shorten or elongate leaves, or cause rosettes to have a flatter shape or greater or lesser variegation.  Fortunately all have similar cultivation requirements, so if you see one you like, chances are it’ll do well for you, whatever the heck its name may be. 

Related Info

On this site ~

Here are the essentials for growing succulents successfully: water, light, soil, fertilizer and more. If all this is new to you… [Continue reading]

On my YouTube channel ~

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Make a Low-Light, “Scooped from the Garden” Succulent Arrangement

This succulent dish garden is perfect for a bright-shade location, such as indoors near a window. It makes a great gift, and all its components are readily available. Owner Jeanne Meadow displays it on her covered patio and waters it minimally (once a week in warm weather, once a month in cool).

Design by Megan Boone of Nature’s Containers, Temecula, CA, for Jeanne Meadow. 

You’ll need:

One rectangular 9×12 bonsai pot  (available at garden centers or online). A matte-finish, earth-toned container helps suggest that the composition came straight from the garden.

Cover the pot’s drain holes with pebbles or squares of screen so soil doesn’t fall out. Fill the pot nearly to the top with succulent potting soil and add:

Upper right corner: Aloe nobilis ‘Variegata’ rosette. Variegates like less sun and tend stay smaller than their solid-green cousins.

Lower right: A green sempervivum. This one’s fuzzy texture makes leaf edges look outlined with white.

Lower middle: Haworthia attenuata (zebra plant). It has intriguing raised white ridges and repeats the fountainlike shape of other plants.

Lower left: A  Sempervivum arachnoideum (cobweb houseleek) cluster fills the corner, repeats the solo sempervivum, and offers interesting texture accented with white.

Upper left: Gasteria bicolor. A little sun will bring out the red in its leaves. Its sculptural and its whitish dots serve as a subtle counterpoint to white on other plants.

Upper middle: A peperomia provides contrasting texture and serves as filler. Without it, the composition would be too regimented—less loose and natural. Any similarly sized and shaped succulent, such as Othonna capensis, will work as well.

Rocks: These three from Jeanne’s collection are varying sizes and shapes, are interesting in their own right, and are in scale with the plants. They also create planting pockets, making it possible to vary the elevation slightly.

Topdressing: By covering bare dirt, crushed rock gives a finished look and helps hold in soil moisture. And in keeping with the natural theme, this warm-toned gravel appears to have crumbled from the larger rocks.

Note that the gasteria is in bloom, but this isn’t about flowers. It showcases foliage, texture and form, as any good succulent container garden should!

Related Info:

See more of Megan Boone’s designs on my website.

Topdressings for succulent pots

YouTube: Learn more about Jeanne’s rocks and topdressings

Find additional succulent container ideas on my Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Jeanne’s garden is also featured in my book, Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.).

Get Tips from a Top Succulent Container Garden Designer (Melissa Teisl).


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Megan Boone’s Vintage Succulent Containers

IMG_3996_annotated_resizedMegan Boone of Nature Containers Vintage Garden Art designs in three dimensions, using cast-off objects to showcase succulents and vice-versa. As exemplified by the pick above, Megan brings elegance and whimsy to her artistry by reinterpreting the forms and lines of utilitarian objects. I love how the aloe perfectly repeats the shape and color of the rusty metal, and also emphasizes its arc.

IMG_3974_annotated_resized

The Temecula, CA, artist has teamed up with nearby Water Wise Yard Design & Decor to enhance their outdoor showroom with one-of-a-kind container gardens.  Those shown here are just a sample; Megan’s continually coming up with something new made from something old.

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Megan told me that her choice of stacked crassulas (Crassula perforata, above) coincidentally echoed the wire basket handle. Perhaps, but talented designers often do things subliminally.

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Hm. What ARE these containers? They look familiar but I can’t quite place them.

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Doesn’t the wheel below suggest a succulent wreath? Note the texture of the metal and how Megan left some of it unplanted to show the criss-cross pattern.

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I’m not normally a fan of shoes planted with succulents, but the boot below spoke to me. The lines, proportions and colors really work.

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Love this planted teakettle, too. The crassulas suggest steam; the senecio, flowing water.

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Wouldn’t the wood palettes below and the planted window frame make great vertical accents for a garden or patio? They could also serve as privacy screens.IMG_3915annotated_resized

 

I couldn’t resist showing you Leroy, Megan’s bloodhound. The velvet-eared puppy hangs out with her at work, regarding her with soulful eyes. Clearly Leroy knows that his coppery coat contrasts beautifully with Senecio mandraliscae. Perhaps he’s her muse.

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Related info on this site:

Make a Succulent Dish Garden for Indoors. Design by Megan Boone for Jeanne Meadow.
Tips from a Top Container Garden Designer (Melissa Teisl’s designs)