Succulent Container Gardens
Well, after being in hiding for way too long, spring finally made its appearance a couple weeks ago, which means that (among other things) it’s time to PLANT ALL THE THINGS! This past weekend, I tried my hand at something that I have not had great success with in years past: Succulents. Last year, in my post about making your own terrarium, I ranted at length about all of the open containers that are mislabeled as terrariums. I have nothing against this delightful little container gardens; to the contrary, I quite enjoy them (I only take issue with calling them something they are decidedly not). They are easy to assemble, and are a great way to showcase succulents and other drought-hardy plants that eschew damp environments.
As always, I try to make your lives easier by sharing these little jewels of wisdom with you. But only when projects turn out well so that you think I’m wildly successful in all my endeavors. In this post, I’ll show you what supplies you need. Then I’ll give you skinnied-down instructions on how to assemble your succulent container garden. Finally, I’ll provide a couple of hints to help you care for your plants. Go ahead and open my Project Terrarium post in another tab; it’ll come in handy.
What You Need
Like terrariums, these container gardens are pretty straightforward. You’ll need:
- An open-topped glass container with a wide mouth. Goblet-style containers work especially well, as do wide, shallow containers. My grandma gave me this one, which makes it even cooler. Tip: Check thrift stores and discount stores like Home Goods and TJMaxx for the best deals.
- A variety of succulent plants. Some popular ones include: Aloe, Sedum, Sempervivum (hens ‘n’ chicks), and Echeveria (of which there are many types).
- Cactus soil (it drains water quickly)
- Pea gravel, activated charcoal, and dried sphagnum moss (optional but highly recommended)
Get Your Container Gardening On
Now that you have everything together, assembling your succulent garden is fairly straightforward:
- Add layers of gravel, charcoal, and sphagnum moss as described in Project Terrarium. Strictly speaking, these aren’t necessary, but because you are dealing with plants that are easily over-watered, you want to facilitate as much drainage as possible. So, if you don’t do this and your plants rot, don’t say you weren’t warned.
- Now, add a few inches of cactus soil, making sure the surface of the soil is level with the widest part of the container. This will allow you maximum surface area for planting.
- Next, plant your succulents in the soil. Take your time to arrange them the way you like before tucking soil in around the roots. Some pieces might break off of the plants; just stick them in the soil and they might root.
- Use a spray bottle to water the plants until the soil is damp. Resist the urge to over-water!
- Finally, use a damp paper towel (not Windex!) to wipe off the inside and outside of the glass, and set it in a place where it will get full sun during the day.
Caring for Your Succulent Garden
Congratulations, you’ve built your very own succulent container garden! Now how do you take care of it?
- Water your garden about once a week, or when the soil is dry. Avoid completely saturating the soil, though.
- Keep your plants in bright, but not direct, sunlight. If your plants start to look faded, burned, or stressed, move the container to a place with less direct sunlight. Similarly, if your plants begin to grow toward the light or look “leggy,” consider moving them into more direct light.
- Repot your plants as they begin to multiply or outgrow the container.
So, tell me: Have you planted a succulent container garden? What plants worked best for you? Where do you keep your garden?