A succulent mermaid's garden
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Nancy Englund’s Succulent Mermaid’s Garden

Having a theme for part or all of your garden is certain to spark your creativity. Nancy Englund’s succulent mermaid’s garden “has made going to nurseries more fun,” she says, “because I’m not attracted to every plant. I can narrow it down…you know, to just the weirder ones.”

Admittedly “a big fan of weirdo plants,” Nancy has oddities that make guests look twice. These vary from bromeliads of all sizes (including air plants) to numerous succulents that thrive in her mild, maritime Southern CA climate. Nancy, president of the Laguna Beach Garden Club, says her goal is to create “the feeling that you’re swimming underwater, past fish and seaweed and all the other magical things you would find in a mermaid’s garden.”

Succulent mermaid's garden

Nancy found these faux fish in a floral supply store. With the help of a neighbor, she added rods that secure them into the ground.

When she started her succulent mermaid’s garden several years ago, Nancy chose “plants that had strange shapes or textures, and that looked like underwater plants or sea creatures.” She uses them to “shift you out of the normal” into “an intriguing, freeing change of perspective.” Accessories include weatherproof faux fish, mermaid statuary, ceramic sea stars and chunks of turquoise slag glass.

Below are captioned photos of the main plants shown in the 4-min. video I made when I visited Nancy: Explore a Succulent Mermaid’s Garden. Learn more about any or all of them in my books, in particular Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.). Btw, cordyline, dichondra, tradescantia and bromeliads aren’t succulents, but they make great companion plants because of similar cultivation requirements.

A succulent mermaid's garden

Agave gypsophila

A succulent mermaid's garden

Dyckia sp.

Kalanchoe beharensis (Napoleon’s hat)

A succulent mermaid's garden

Senecio rowleyanus (string-of-pearls)

A succulent mermaid's garden

Kalanchoe schizophylla

A succulent mermaid's garden

Euphorbia flanaganii

A succulent mermaid's garden

Epiphyllum guatemalense

A succulent mermaid's garden

Haworthia turgida, art pot by Susan Aach

A succulent mermaid's garden

Tradescantia sp.

A succulent mermaid's garden

Aeonium tabuliforme and Senecio stapeliaformis in a Susan Aach pot

Succulent mermaid's garden

Aloe striata in bloom alongside other aloes

Succulent mermaid's garden

Deuterocohnia brevifolia

Succulent mermaid's garden

Dichondra argentea

Succulent mermaid's garden

Bromeliads in a Euphorbia tirucalli tree

Succulent mermaid's garden

Lepismium cruciforme

Succulent mermaid's garden

Stapeliads and senecios

Succulent mermaid's garden

Peperomia graveolens

Succulent mermaid's garden

Graptopetalum superbum

Succulent mermaid's garden

Cordyline sp.

Succulent mermaid's garden

Euphorbia leucodendron

Succulent mermaid's garden

Pot by Tentacle Arts


Related Info on This Site:

Undersea succulent clamshell planter

Plant an Undersea Succulent Clamshell 
Succulents that resemble coral-reef flora lend themselves to containers that immerse the viewer in an undersea experience. This succulent clamshell planter sits atop…[Continue reading]

Related Videos:Succulent mermaid garden

See step-by-step how to make this undersea-themed succulent terrarium in my online Craftsy class, “Stunning Succulent Arrangements.”

Explore a Succulent Mermaid’s Garden (4 min.) Discover how succulents combine with bromeliads and outdoor art in Nancy Englund’s undersea-themed “mermaid’s garden.” [See story above.]


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.


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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.]

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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.

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The Secret to Happy Succulents

A happy saguaro in Arizona

Can you grow saguaros in Tucson? You bet! In California, probably not.

The secret to happy succulents is to duplicate their native growing conditions as much as possible. The more you know about where a succulent comes from, the easier you can do this…up to a point. Occasionally (not often) it’s nearly impossible. No matter what you do, saguaros don’t thrive beyond the Sonoran Desert, where they grow like weeds. But most other succulents, regardless of origin, can be accommodated anywhere.

There’s a reason jade (Crassula ovata) is in everyone’s collection.

Some are super easy. Jade, for example, survives under- or over-watering, starts readily from cuttings, seldom gets pests, loves sun but tolerates shade, and will grow indoors or out if protected from freezing temps.

Portulacaria afra ‘Minima’ doesn’t mind desert heat or high humidity.

This may surprise you, but a succulent I’ve seen in gardens from Miami to Honolulu and everywhere in-between—including Phoenix—is from South Africa: elephant’s food (Portulacaria afra).

Sempervivum heuffelii hybrids, largely considered cold-climate succulents, do fine when grown in bright shade in the Southwest. Mine are happy as pot plants.

Haworthias (related to aloes) make terrific terrarium succulents.  This one, from my “Stunning Succulent Arrangements” online Craftsy class, features Haworthia attenuata ‘Variegata’. (Yes you can grow succulents in nondraining containers. This one, on my kitchen counter near a window, gets a mere 1/4 cup of water monthly.)

Windowsill succulents in my office.

Nearly any succulent when small will bask happily on a bright windowsill.

The mild temperatures and drought-rainfall cycles of southern CA replicate regions of Africa, Madagascar and the Canary Islands, where many desirable succulents originate.

Florida and Hawaii may seem to have climates similar to southern CA’s, but succulents see it differently. Where there’s high humidity and summer rainstorms, it can be challenging to grow aeoniumsagavesaloes, dudleyas, echeverias, euphorbias and senecios.

Think about it: Succulents by definition survive dry spells by storing water in fleshy leaves and stems. They’re not set up to handle continually moist conditions. Add cold to that, and the buzzer goes off. The farther north and east you go from coastal CA, the fewer types of succulents you can grow effortlessly in your garden. Read about those you can grow in colder, wetter climates.

Echeverias, from high elevations in Mexico, top the popularity list in terms of resembling roses that never fade. Their rosette forms serve a practical purpose: they funnel rainwater to roots.

From the Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World:

Other succulents from Mexico and Central America such as graptopetalums, pachyphytums, and large-leaved sedums have leaves that pop easily off stems. These tumble down and take root far enough from the parent plant that they don’t compete with it for nutrients.

Like the plump bodies of tadpoles, fat leaves feed juvenile succulents, enabling them to grow and develop without water. The leaf slowly withers as the baby plant drains moisture and nutrients to form its own leaves and roots.

Succulents with ever-lengthening, pendant stems may become bearded with roots as they sniff out soil pockets.

So, how do you make echeverias and their nook-and-cranny relatives happy? Tuck them into niches in rock walls, and let them cascade from terraces, pedestal pots and hanging baskets. Place any fat, fallen leaves atop the soil out of direct sun. (Don’t bury or water them lest they rot.)

Not surprisingly, the easiest succulents to grow throughout the arid Southwest, and that survive with no irrigation other than rainfall once established, are those native to the region: cacti, agaves, dasylirions, yuccas, hesperaloes and beaucarneas. (Those last four don’t have fleshy leaves, but rather store moisture in their stems or cores.)

Consult my books for the best succulents for your area and how to keep them happy. You’ll discover how to use them in all sorts of design applications, from pots and projects to in-ground gardens and landscapes.

Related info on this site:

Succulents for Coastal Southern California Gardens
These thrive in frost-free, low-rainfall regions within several miles of the ocean (i.e. coastal CA from San Diego to Santa Barbara)…[Continue reading]

How to Grow Succulents by Season and Region
Where you live and the time of year make a big difference as to how well your succulents grow and perform, and even which kinds you should choose…[Continue reading]

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Ants in Your Succulents? What to Do

Late summer into fall, Argentine ants like to nest in the root balls of potted plants. Haworthias, aloes (especially dwarf varieties), gasterias and gasteraloes are highly vulnerable. Ants overwinter in the soil and consume the plant’s juicy core. Leaves eventually fall off and the plant dies.

Argentine ants infest a haworthia

The first line of defense is to create a barrier around your pots using ant powder or diatomaceous earth. The latter, available at garden centers and online, is the best “green” solution. (Go to my Useful Tools page for more about it.)

Rinse ants out of the rootballIf an infestation is well underway—ants swarm when you water the pot or tap it on a hard surface—unpot the plant and wash the roots until pests are gone (you may want to wear gloves). Before replanting in fresh soil, place a square of fine-mesh screen in the pot to keep ants from re-entering the drain hole. I know it’s overkill to buy a roll of screen for a single pot, but really, you should be using it in ALL your pots. It’s surprising how quickly you’ll go through it, especially if you repot your plants often. A role isn’t expensive and you can always share it with friends.

Pot in a moat of waterMove the plant to a different location and/or surround it with a moat (ants can’t swim). Add water to a bowl or other shallow container and, to keep the drain hole above water, set the pot atop rocks or gravel. Be vigilant until the weather cools in October.

Mealy bugs on aloe

Ants “farm” other pests for their sweet secretions. The best preventative is good air circulation. Aphids attack new growth, and mealy bugs (shown below) nestle under leaves and in leaf axils. Spray with isopropyl alcohol (70%). Isolate plants you’ve treated, and trash any that are badly infested. Indoor plants are especially susceptible, so run a fan in the room in which you overwinter your succulents. If you find pests on one plant, be sure to check its neighbors.

Also see the “Pest and Damage Control” section of Designing with Succulents, 2nd ed (pp 137-142); the “Pests and Diseases” page of my website, and my YouTube video, “Oh, No! Something’s Wrong with My Succulent!”

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Laura Eubanks’ Top Ten Tips for Succulent Garden Design

Laura Eubanks of Design for Serenity is a celebrity succulent garden designer in Southern California. Her “Succulent Tip of the Day” sent her popularity skyrocketing on social media, and her YouTube channel recently exceeded 4,000,000 views. Here, Laura shares her Top Ten Tips for Succulent Garden Design. The photos are from two videos I made with Laura: “How to Create a Succulent Pocket Garden” (12:36 min.) and  “Succulent Garden Design Secrets” (3:40).

“Whether you’re doing a 5-foot-square garden or five acres, the same techniques apply,” Laura says. Meet Laura and see her in action at the Succulent Extravaganza, Fri-Sat Sept. 28-29 at Succulent Gardens Nursery in Northern CA.

1. Create elevations. Nature isn’t flat. Mimic nature by moving the dirt around to create hills and valleys.

2. Rocks ROCK! Second only to succulents in horticultural awesomeness, well placed rocks, pebbles and boulders can take a succulent garden from good to spectacular.

3. Remember to plant your boulders by creating a cradle in the soil. Sinking your boulders gives the illusion that they’ve been there for a few million years.

4. Connect your succulent pocket plantings by running river rock through the design in ribbons.

5. Choose plants that are zone appropriate and favor your microclimates. When in doubt, ask!

6. Know how they grow. Stage your plants according to size. Taller in the back, groundcovers in front.

7. Got drainage? Succulent thrive in poor soil and will reward benign neglect by deepening in color. Just remember, no matter your soil type, it must drain well.

8. Plant cuttings in cooler months or in a partly sunny or semi-shaded area of the gardens to avoid sunburn.

9. When your succulents get leggy, simply pull them out by the roots, clip stems to desired length, discard roots and reset rosettes in a hole deep enough to stabilize the plant. If your succulent cutting stands up, you’ve done your job!

10. Most importantly, be bold, take risks and be creative! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so plant and design what appeals to you and makes you happy.


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Ten Reasons Why You Really Need Rocks
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Here are a dozen succulent garden design essentials for you to keep in mind as you design and plant your own garden. They’re exemplified by an award-winning succulent garden in…[Continue reading] 


Obtain my comprehensive guide to succulent landscaping, Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.).

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It’s the Succulent Extravaganza!

It’s the Succulent Extravaganza! Every year, this fun and enriching event is the last Friday and Saturday of September, from 8 to 4, at Succulent Gardens Nursery. Location: 2133 Elkhorn Rd., Castroville, CA 95012 (in northern CA near San Francisco, between Carmel and Santa Cruz). Free.

The annual Succulent Extravaganza, started in 2010, is one of the largest succulent-themed events in the world. Attending it is a wonderful opportunity to enlarge your knowledge of succulents, view and acquire gorgeous specimen plants, tour a premier specialty nursery, learn from expert growers and top designers, and mingle with fellow enthusiasts.

Succulent Extravaganza

The Succulent Fanatics, a Facebook group founded by San Jose master gardener Laura Balaoro, host a display table with succulent-themed compositions made by members. It’s a fun gathering spot, and everyone’s welcome whether you’re in the group or not. Because it’s international and has thousands of members, you never know whom you might meet.

Succulent Extravaganza

This dish garden seen on the Succulent Fanatics table, by Danielle Romero, has a sansevieria that emphasizes a lovely red-edged aeonium. Danielle and husband Michael Romero professionally design succulent gardens in the Los Angeles area.

Every year there are new things to see and numerous photo ops…

Succulent extravaganza

For example, who could resist having their photo taken within a special succulent frame?

Succulent Extravaganza

Laura Balaoro is known for decorating her hat or visor with succulents. Discover out how she does it, and get design inspiration to make your own. 

Succulent Extravaganza

This giant succulent heart was the hit of a past Succulent Extravaganza. The event originated when succulent expert Robin Stockwell owned the nursery. He has since retired, and new owners Megan and John Rodkin have continued the Extravaganza tradition with quality plants, displays and photogenic, inspirational ideas.

Succulent Extravaganza

Horticulturist-nurseryman Aaron Ryan’s propagation demonstrations typically have standing room only. Impressed by Aaron’s knowledge, I did a post about it and show his methods in several YouTube videos.

Succulent Extravaganza

Another year, the succulent globe that Robin Stockwell made for the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show was on display. Nothing like it had been done before, and I think you’ll agree it takes vertical gardens to a whole new level! In the foreground, with Robin and wife Sanne looking on, San Diego floral designer Marialuisa Kaprielian demonstrates how to wire succulent rosettes.

Succulent Extravaganza
This may be my favorite Extravaganza photo. A young member of the Rodkin family greets visitors in front of a big succulent spiral made of sedums and sempervivums.

Related info on this site:

Related videos on my YouTube channel:


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: