Succulent topiary tree
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Six New Holiday Designs to Inspire You

To inspire and entertain you, I’ve selected six new, never-seen-before holiday design ideas featuring succulents. Do consider each as a launching point for your creativity, and feel free to share them with friends. I’d love it if you’d post photos of what you come up with on Instagram or Facebook, and tag me @DebraLBaldwin. Regardless, have fun and enjoy!Succulent topiary tree
Sempervivum topiary tree.
This is a riff on my 2017 topiary tree. I love hens-and-chicks but only recently have grown them successfully year-round. The concept for this year’s mini-tree was one by Margee Rader in my book, Succulent Container Gardens. I used nearly 50 assorted Sempervivum heuffelii (hew-FEL-ee-eye) hybrids in 2-inch pots from Mountain Crest Gardens. When the holidays are over, they’ll join my other “heuffs” in the garden. (Most semps don’t like our hot summers here in Southern CA but so far, heuffs–which used to be classified as Jovibarba–are doing well.) See my materials list for a topiary tree. Succulent pine cone ornaments
Ready-made succulent ornaments.
Speaking of Mountain Crest Gardens, the succulent pine-cone ornaments they introduced this year are a super deal. The set of three includes six sempervivums atop sequoia cones (each 3-inches tall by 1.5-inches wide) for $10. So that means you get six semps that you can wiggle off and plant after the holidays for under $2 each! Be sure to check out MCG’s other fetching succulent ornaments too.

Crassula tetragona Christmas tree

Mini succulent Christmas tree. This desktop tree is 8 inches tall with a 4-inch-wide base. To make glass balls appear to hang from branches, I held the three-stemmed cutting upside-down, dotted the leaves with white glue, then added beads. A small, shallow container makes the cutting look proportionally large and treelike. A glass jar lid sort of looks like ice, but any container will do including a flowerpot. A small floral frog (a flower holder made of metal pins) holds the cutting upright, and white sand with blue sparkles hides the frog and suggests snow.

Succulents Lit for the Holidays
Succulent garden of lights.
Every year Sabine Hildebrand of  Weidner’s Gardens nursery in Encinitas, CA, decorates her own garden with holiday lights. In December night falls by 5:00, so Sabine and husband Rob enjoy their glowing garden for hours every evening. She keeps the design simple—no colored or twinkling lights—to showcase the plants’ shapes and colors. There’s not much difference in decorating succulents instead of shrubs, Sabine says. “Do it late in the afternoon so you can see the results as it’s getting dark. Then rearrange the strings of lights as necessary.” See more in my new YouTube video: Sabine’s Holiday Succulent Garden.

Cactus decorated with lights

Ferocactus glaucescens in a gold-painted terra-cotta pot glows with mini lights.

Barrel cactus aglow. Inspired by Sabine’s garden, I added tiny lights to a ferocactus to create a holiday centerpiece for the patio table outside my kitchen and dining room windows. The plant’s translucent spines shine, making an intriguing display. See how to make it, step-by-step, on my website and in my latest DIY video: Decorate a Cactus with Holiday Lights. I also painted the pot to match the gold of the spines, and to make the combo look good during the day as well as at night. [Continue reading]

Cactus pad Christmas tree

Cactus pad Christmas tree.  Jim Sudal’s cactus-pad holiday tree reinterprets the traditional fir, and is perfect for the dry, hot Southwest. Like Jim, many residents of Phoenix (and well beyond) have stands of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica), a succulent iconic to the region. About 250 cactus pads from Jim’s garden cover a 7-foot-tall cone that he and friend Mark Faulkner assembled on an iron frame wrapped with poultry fencing. “We wore special gloves called Thorn Armor that did their best to protect our hands,” Jim says. [Continue reading]

Wonder why I didn’t include succulent wreaths? Well, there are so many gorgeous ones, I created a Pinterest page for the best of the best! 

Related Info on This Site:

Succulent Topiary Tree


Cactus Pad Holiday Tree


Decorate a cactus w lights


Books by Debra Lee Baldwin

Cactus decorated with lights
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Decorate a Cactus with Holiday Lights, Step-by-Step

These DIY step-by-step instructions correspond to my YouTube video: Decorate a Cactus with Holiday Lights

Inspired by my friend Sabine’s holiday succulent garden, I decided to light up a succulent of my own. The resulting potted ferocactus is the holiday centerpiece for a patio table visible from my kitchen and dining room. The plant’s translucent spines glow when light shines through them, creating a fascinating display. I painted the pot to match the gold of the spines so the tabletop display would look good during the day as well as at night.

Cactus decorated with lights

Ferocactus glaucescens in a gold-painted, terra-cotta pot glows with mini lights.

Here’s how I did it, step-by-step.

If you’re decorating an in-ground cactus or one that’s already in a pot, skip to #7.

Cactus with holiday lights

My ferocactus is shaped like a pumpkin and is 7 inches in diameter (including spines).

Step #1: Select a spherical, long-spined cactus from the nursery. I chose Ferocactus glaucescens because its spines are quite long, and I like the plant’s blue-green color. In retrospect, I would have counted the number of ribs and gotten a barrel cactus with 10. This one has 12—two more than the number of lights in the package. But most arrangements are viewed mainly from one side, so the “dark” side is in the back, along with the battery pack.

Step #2: Choose a pot or container that’s in scale with the plant. I went with a new terra-cotta pot because I wanted something clean and simple that would elevate the plant, and that I could paint the same gold as the spines.

Decorate a cactus for Christmas

Tools and materials include long handled tweezers, a soft brush, a wood chopstick, mini lights, kitchen scissors, gold stones, floral pins, a disposable paintbrush, gold paint and water sealant.

Step #3: Head for the craft store. At my local Michael’s, I bought gold “patio paint,” a disposable brush, floral (“greening”) pins, and battery-operated lights. I already had a wood chopstick, a can of Thompson’s Water Seal, long-handled tweezers and the kitchen scissors I use for gardening.

Step #4: Paint the outside and inner rim of the pot with outdoor craft paint and spray the inside with the waterproofing sealer.

Step #5: Gauge the size of the plant’s rootball in relation to the shape and depth of the pot. Add soil (I simply used pumice—up to you) if you’ll need filler for the bottom. Otherwise you risk plopping the plant into the container and finding it sits too high or too low. Which means picking up the !@#$% porcupine again.

Step #6: Extract the plant from its nursery pot and plop it into the new pot. This is tricky. You can’t touch the plant, and I didn’t want to dump it out because that might get soil on it that would be difficult to remove or worse, break spines. I also didn’t want to pull on a heavy plant and risk detaching it from its roots. So I cut the plastic pot away from the rootball, using the kitchen scissors, resulting in a plant-plus-rootball I still needed to get into the pot. I knew garden gloves were useless with spines like those, so I improvised with a long-handled bathroom brush and tightly crumpled newspaper. Using them to push against it, lifted the plant. (Memo to self: Get a second bathroom brush.)

Step #7: Settle the plant in the pot. I adjusted it a bit using the bathroom brush and newspaper, then pushed down on the soil along the rim with the tips of my long-handled tweezers.

Step #8: Turn on the mini-lights to make sure they work. Start with the light on the end of the string and, using the long-handled tweezers, tuck it between two ribs, under the lowest spines. Use floral pins to secure the wires and conceal them. Remember they’re there when it comes time to remove the lights or repot the plant. The pins will rust in the soil and… Step #8.5: Get a tetanus shot.

Decorate a cactus for Christmas

Gold rocks are $14 for 1.65-lb jar. Small pebbles would work as well.

Step #9: Add topdressing. I used gold rocks that I found online. Wait a week to water it. Cactus roots really shouldn’t be watered immediately after planting because broken roots are more vulnerable to rot.

Step #10: Place it where you can see it at night. Take photos and post them on Instagram or Facebook and tag me @DebraLBaldwin. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Decorate a cactus with holiday lights

This is how the cactus looks after dark.


And at anytime, it looks like a snowflake.

Watch me make it on YouTube: Decorate a Cactus with Holiday Lights DIY

Decorate a cactus with holiday lights

Related Info on This Site:

Succulent Topiary Tree

Succulent wreath how-to

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:


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Succulent-Topped Pumpkin Design Ideas

This gallery of succulent-topped pumpkin design ideas are mostly by Laura Eubanks of Design for Serenity, who pioneered the concept in 2011. It caught on immediately, becoming as popular for fall decor as wreaths are for the holidays. After several years of making pumpkins for sale, Laura now devotes her time to designing in-ground gardens.

Laura Eubanks during a photo shoot for Country Gardens magazine

Pumpkin How-To

Succulent-topped pumpkins by Laura exhibit her pioneering moss-and-glue method, which I describe in detail in my book, Succulents Simplified. Laura and I also made a video that shows how she does it.

Basically, she coats the top of the pumpkin with spray glue, adds moss, then hot-glues succulent cuttings and seed pods to the moss. Incredibly, the hot glue doesn’t harm the succulents, which root through the dried glue into the moss. The arrangement lasts for months—until early spring usually, at which time the pumpkin finally collapses and the plants can go into the garden. The pumpkin will rot much sooner if pierced or cut, so avoid doing that.

Use these examples to inspire your own creativity and designs. Have fun!


This may be my favorite, despite not including succulents!

Additional ideas by various designers:

I’ll post more pumpkin photos as I run across interesting, eye-catching and innovative ones, so be sure to check back. — Debra

Related info on this site:

Books by Debra Lee Baldwin

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


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.]


How to Make a Succulent-Decorated Hat and More

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Notice how succulent rosettes contrast beautifully with Cathy Leiss’ auburn hair? She’s a little shy (ha).

Here’s how to make a succulent-decorated hat and more, with design ideas from attendees at succulent events.

Wearing succulents at succulent-themed events is a great ice-breaker. Everyone wants a photo of you. The easiest way to attach succulents to a hat brim, visor, hair ornament or bracelet is with the moss-and-glue method pioneered by San Diego garden designer Laura Eubanks, who first used it to attach succulent cuttings to pumpkins. (As seen in Succulents Simplified, pp.150-155 and the video we made.)

Succulent hair ornament

I’m wearing a butterfly hair ornament made by Laura Eubanks for a photo shoot. She used tiny sedum rosettes and string-of-pearls.

Here’s how:

1. Assemble your materials: a hot-glue gun, a hat or other wearable, dry moss (from any craft store), and succulent cuttings.
2. Glue moss to the area you’ll cover with cuttings. Like a moss-filled succulent wreath, this gives the cuttings something to root into.
3. Hot-glue cuttings to the moss. Wondering why they don’t cook? So do I! You can’t touch hot glue without getting burned, but—go figure—cuttings are fine.
4. Cuttings eventually send roots right through the glue into the moss, so treat the hat as you would a topiary or wreath: Store in bright shade and spritz occasionally.

See the video. 

Design ideas

These are from earlier events: the Succulent Extravaganza at Succulent Gardens nursery near San Francisco (this year, Sept. 28-29), and the Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals nursery near San Diego (coming up April 12-13, 2019):

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Laura Balaoro of San Jose, CA, founder of the Succulent Fanatics Facebook group, is known for her succulent chapeaux. In fact, she and I collaborated on an article for a national magazine showing how she does it. Above: Yellow-orange Sedum angelina contrasts with purple echeverias and Sedum ‘Blue Spruce’. Suggesting a ribbon is the trailing succulent: variegated rosary vine (Ceropegia woodii ‘Variegata’).

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Laura decorates hats to match her colorful outfits.

Above: Laura used bell-shaped cotyledon blooms to add a bright complementary color to another turquoise hat.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Laura’s sea-themed hat includes a tillandsia, shells and even some sand. Nice earrings, too.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

For friend Jeanne Eige’s ball cap, Laura used Sedum angelina to repeat embroidered poppy leaves.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Above: I added Aeonum ‘Kiwi’ rosettes to the center of a hat’s bow, echoed the orange in the rosettes with a flower from a dwarf aloe that happened to be in bloom (to go with my jacket), and added string-of-pearls as a cascader. No glue or moss—pins hold everything in place.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Los Angeles landscape designer Shirley Kost-Haskell can be counted on to decorate a hat or visor with succulents, and earrings too. Find blank earrings suitable for moss-and-gluing at craft stores and online.

Succulent decorated hats and art-to-wear

Above: Where lines intersect at the back of Nancy Pedersen’s hat, she placed a red aeonium rosette and surrounded it with smaller cuttings. Btw, try not to touch aeoniums when you design with them—they mar easily, something not evident until the next day (as I explain in a short video, “Aeonium Leaves, What You Need to Know.”)

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Above: Design by Deana Rae McMillion for Lydia Dunaway, who came to the Succulent Celebration from Florida.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Deana Rae McMillion added dried flowers and fresh succulent blooms for bright bits of color.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Candy Suter of Roseville near Sacramento does lovely hat-band bouquets. At one event, a fellow attendee asked if she could buy Candy’s hat. Surprised and flattered, she sold it to her.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Carrie Goode from Arizona placed Graptopetalum paraguayense on her hat. This is one succulent that the leaves pop off the stems easily, so working with them takes a delicate touch.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Susan Morse of Vista, CA creates lavish hats. This one features a purple-pink echeveria (E. ‘Perle von Nurnberg’) and ice plant flowers. The flowers close in dim light—which was probably the case when Susan glued them to her hat. Smart of her to know they’d open in full sun!

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

And here’s Susan wearing a succulent-decorated headband.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Succulents stay fresh without water because they draw on moisture in their leaves. The downside is this makes them heavy, but Jen Golden of Brisbane, CA, is smiling regardless. Notice her succulent pendant, too. Blank pendants suitable for moss-and-gluing are available at craft stores and online.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Designer Katie Christensen glued tiny succulent rosettes, flowers and shells to a hair clip.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

Katie also taught a class at Weidner’s Gardens on succulent art-to-wear. This is a bracelet from the class. Watch the DIY on my YouTube channel: “Fashion Wearable Succulents for Weddings, Gifts and Garden Events.” 

You probably don’t want to take the time and trouble to make a succulent lei, but I just had to show you this one, a memorable gift from the Honolulu Garden Club.

Guess what? String-of-pearls makes a miserable necklace. Its little spherical leaves each have a tiny point that’ll irritate your skin. After doing this selfie, I was happy to take it off.

Fabulous fakes

The downside to using fresh floral material—even succulents—is that they don’t last forever. If you get a couple of weeks out of them, you’re doing good. It’s not that succulent cuttings wither and die, but rather that they get leggy. New growth elongates the rosette, and lower leaves dry and fall off. Cuttings can be salvaged (even reused), but you’ll need to pull them off the decorated object and start over.

So why not use faux succulents instead?

Plastic string-of-pearls are available online for around $10. 

Sculpey succulents on a visor

For this year’s Succulent Celebration, I fashioned succulents out of oven-bake modeling clay and hot-glued them to my visor. No moss needed, and they’ll last the life of the hat. See the video: DIY Sculpey Succulent: Striped Agave (3:15).

Sculpey succulents on a headband

I glued faux succulent rosettes to a headband and added them to succulent crowns for book-table guests to wear for selfies. Below is Hannah Eubanks, Laura E’s daughter. Both will be at Succulent Extravaganza 2018, where Laura is presenting. (She’s wonderfully knowledgeable and entertaining. Watch for an interview in an upcoming newsletter.) If you’re a fan, delight Laura by wearing one of her Hot Mess ball caps or visors—with or without succulents attached.

Succulent-decorated hats and art-to-wear

I’ve yet to see a succulent buckle, nose ring, belt, or bunny ears. Maybe you’ll be the first? Send me photos!


Related info on this site:

See my Pinterest board: Succulent Hats, Crafts and Art-to-Wear

Related videos on my YouTube channel:

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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:


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.


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


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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Buy and Shop for Succulents Online

Wondering how to buy and shop for succulents online?

For sempervivums, haworthias and other cold-climate or indoor succulents, I recommend Mountain Crest Gardens. Update: They recently introduced a highly competitive “Ultimate Succulent Sampler Tray” with 50 varieties in 2-inch containers.

The succulents in my YouTube videos and design projects mostly come from the largest grower of cacti and succulents in the US: Altman Plants—specifically their retail nursery north of San Diego, Oasis Water Efficient Gardens. Recently Altman became an Amazon vendor offering multi-succulent packs.*

Although I get a tiny commission from Amazon for orders that originate from links on my site, I’ve hesitated to recommend any of their succulent vendors…until now.

Succulents in 2.5-inch diameter nursery pots are your best deal; expect to pay double for bigger specimens in 3.5-inch pots. The difference is six months to a year’s growth.

1. Flowering Succulent Collection – 2.5″ – 12 Pack

This is Altman’s larger of two echeveria assortments. Use it to make a Gift Basket of Echeverias. Be sure to see my article: All About Echeverias: Succulent Roses That Last.

2. Flowering Succulent Collection – 3.5″ – 6 Pack

For container gardening tips and ideas for echeverias, see my post: Perfect Succulent Art-Pot Pairings and my book, Succulent Container Gardens.

3. Kids Succulent Collection

Succulents are perfect for getting kids into gardening, and you have to love the names: kitten paws, Shreck’s ears, panda plant, ‘Chocolate Soldier’, cobweb houseleek and zebra plant. Enjoy my posts: Succulents + Kids = Great Summer Memories and LA’s Kids Day Features Succulents. 

4. Windowsill and Indoor Succulent Collection, 8 Pack, 2.5″

Haworthias and dwarf aloes prefer low-light conditions. Jade will tolerate them, but will lose red on its leaf tips. See my posts, How to Keep Succulents Happy Indoors and How to Grow Tender Succulents in Northerly Climates as well as my book, Succulents Simplified pp. 138-143 and the corresponding video Make a Low-Light Succulent Dish Garden.

5. Desk Buddy Succulent Collection – 2.5″ – 4 Pack

The description says, “product mix may contain Aloe ‘Minibelle’, Aloe nobilis, Aloe zanzibarica, Gasteria varieties, Haworthia fasciata (zebra plant), Rhipsalis capilliformis, Rhipsalis cassutha, or Rhipsalis salicornioides.” Rhipsalis (top right and lower left) makes a good filler, trailer and hanging-basket plant.

6. Texture Succulent Collection – 2.5″ – 4 Pack 

“Depending on availability, product mix may contain Echeveria ‘FO-42’, Gasteria sp., Haworthia fasciata (zebra plant), Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’, and Kalanchoe tomentosa (panda plant).” Good with collectible pots. For design ideas, see my post: “Perfect Succulent Art-Pot Pairings.”

7. Assorted Succulent Tray – 2.5″ – 32 Pack

Use assorted succulent collections to make succulent bouquets, fill vintage and repurposed containers, for a succulent color wheel centerpiece, my online Stunning Succulent Arrangements class, and designs and projects in my books, Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplifed.

8. Assorted Succulent Tray – 3.5″ – 18 Pack

“Depending on availability, product mix may include a selection of Aeonium, Aloe, Crassula, Echeveria, Kalanchoe, and Sedum varieties.”

9. Assorted Cacti Tray – 2.5″ – 32 Pack

See my posts: Is Cactus the New Black?, Create a Cactus Curio Box, and I Come Out as a Cactus Lover.

10. Assorted Cacti Tray – 18 Pack, 3.5″

Be sure to see the cactus section of Designing with Succulents, 2nd ed., pp. 192-201.


*If you’re looking for solos or specific kinds, order through a specialty nursery near you, shop at CSSA shows, or Google the plant’s name to get mail-order sources. If you specifically want succulents grown by Altman, check the garden sections of big box stores or Altman’s online shop.


Succulents + Kids = Great Summer Memories

Here’s how to make wonderful memories: This summer, introduce a child to collecting and growing succulents. The people I’ve interviewed as a garden photojournalist often credit a parent, grandparent, neighbor or friend for igniting their interest in plants and gardening.

So, who was it for you, that savvy grown-up you won’t forget? For me, it was my father, who reveled in the natural world. I assumed all dads could identify constellations, understood bugs and seeds, knew what kind of a snake we’d found, and could de-tick a dog. His knowledge of Southern California’s flora, fauna, ecology and geology significantly enriched my life. (So when my 9-year-old grandson comes this summer, Grandma’s going off the grid!)

Succulents—the closest things to plastic in the plant kingdom—are perfect for kids, and no organization understands this better than the Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society. The LACSS hosts “Kids Day” every year as part of their Drought Tolerant Plant Festival (the second weekend in June at the Sepulveda Garden Center, a park in Encino). To see how fun, educational and entertaining Kids Day is, enjoy this video I made one year…or better yet, experience it yourself. Succulent-related activities include a potting bar at which children select plants, and with the help of LACSS volunteers, pot them up. “They’re so proud of what they make,” organizer Kathleen Misko told me. “They take care of their succulents all year and bring them back to show us.”

Ten ideas, projects and destinations for your kids’ succulent summer ~

— Plant a toy truck with succulents. This one, by Tom Jesch of Waterwise Botanicals nursery, suggests a four-wheeler found in the desert.

— Attend a C&SS show. Kids love goofy-looking plants, and cactus-and-succulent shows typically have hundreds on display. Here’s a cheerful example.

Also at shows, vendors sell collectible succulents and art pots to pair them with. (You may recall that, in my opinion, shopping for pots is half the fun.)

— Create a windowsill succulent garden. These small pots by Keith Kitoi Taylor of the Sacramento C&SS contain gasteraloes and Peperomia graveolens.

— Find containers with personality at second-hand shops, then head to a succulent specialty nursery to pair them with plants. For design ideas, see my book Succulent Container Gardens and watch my video, “Tips for Perfect Succulent Art-Pot Pairings.”

— Visit the Children’s Garden at the Huntington Botanical Gardens near Pasadena. There are so many clever ideas here designed to interest kids in plants and gardening, it deserves its own post. Hm. Should we make a day trip?

— Create an album of wacky (but staged) interactions with succulents. Better yet, make a YouTube video starring your child. (It can be for private viewing if you like.) Send the link to family and friends, and re-watch the video over the years. You might even start a tradition of making a succulent video every summer! Below: Matthew Wong, star of my video series, “Succulent Matters with Matthew,” pretends to sit on a colony-forming deuterocohnia with prickly leaves.

Ages 10 and older:

— Design a dish garden of rocks and succulents that suggests a hiking trail. See my video:

— Craft a bouquet of wired succulent rosettes, and secure the faux stems in layers of colored sand in a glass jar. (No worries, it’s easier than it sounds!) This makes a great gift for Mom, Grandma or a special aunt, friend or neighbor. Watch my video, “How to Wire (Prep) Succulents for Bouquets.” Also see my earlier posts: “Use Colored Sand for Succulent Bouquets”,  “12 Succulent Bouquets to Inspire You,” and “DIY Succulent Bouquet.”

— Do a Succulent Treasure Hunt. Seal dollar bills in zip-lock bags (or use coins) and tuck beneath or near your potted succulents. Hand the child a copy of my book, Succulents Simplified, with Post-its indicating the same plants (find them in the section, “100 Easy-Care Succulents”). For plant suggestions, see the list of “Best succulents for encouraging a child’s interest in gardening” on page 186. Offer an extra dollar for each one the child remembers and can name after the treasure hunt.

Fashion succulents from Sculpey oven-bake clay. Glue dime-sized rosettes to hair clips or use them to make earrings. Watch my video: “DIY Sculpey Succulent: Striped Agave.”

Related info on this site:

LA’s Kids Day Features Succulents
One of the most popular areas of the annual Los Angeles Drought Tolerant Plant Festival is the “Kids Day” section, with fun…[Continue reading]

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…[Continue reading]

Perfect Succulent Art-Pot Pairings
A few simple design principles can take your potted succulents from ho-hum to WOW. Repeat and contrast colors, textures and forms—it’s as simple… [Continue reading]


Let me know what you think. I enjoy hearing from you! — Debra 


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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.


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.

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.


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



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.


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.


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


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.


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)