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Succulents - They Make a Striking Container Garden!

If you love creating container gardens for your patio or pool deck, try something different this year - use Succulents!

If you’ve been reading my garden blogs, you might notice that I’m a little crazy about Succulents.  For the past few years the popularity of Succulents has gone through the roof!  They began cropping up at more and more flower shops and nurseries. 

Missouri Botanical garden enlarged the space devoted to Succulents, Cactus and Air Plants.  Baisch & Skinner, Bowood Farm and even Home Depot carry them as well.  Yes, indeed- the Succulent market is booming!

Where, exactly, are they turning up?  The answer is: EVERYWHERE! 

One of my previous blogs was:   Another blog described how to create .  If you enjoy browsing Pinterest for gardening and decorating ideas, you’ll see lots of ways to use Succulents. 

A contemporary and creative way to use them outdoors is in containers.  They’re so simple to care for- in nature they’re at home in the desert, so St. Louis summers are a perfect fit.  My gardening buddy, George, was eager to create some Succulent containers to decorate his patio and I was more than willing to go on a shopping trip and assist in assembling some containers.  Succulents are trendy, easy to care for, and an excellent replacement for those dated containers of Geraniums, Mariglods and Vinca vine.

George had many containers and we planned to fill about half of them with Succulents.  We found some attractive and colorful ceramic urns and bowls at Home Goods and Summer Winds.  The containers at Home Goods were really inexpensive.  A large, forest green ceramic container was only $29.95.  It has a wide opening and is about 12” tall.  Perfect for Succulents since they don’t have deep root systems.

A trip to Bowood Farm a few weeks ago really got us excited about filling some containers with Succulents.  They had an unusual Sansevieria (commonly known as “Mother-in-Law Tongue”) that was variegated and very spikey.  Each “leaf” was actually a thin cylinder about the width of a wooden dowel.  I tried to find the unusual cultivar online, but I had no luck identifying it. 

After we bought 2 of the Sansevieria, each about a foot tall, we grouped them with various other succulents.  Bowood had such a huge selection it was hard not to take everything home!   After finding some large, grey Echeveria, a few different types of Aloe and the Sansevieria, it was time to bid Bowood adieu and head back to West County.

Planting day was lots of fun and super easy.  We gathered all the Succulents that we purchased on our numerous shopping trips, grouping together those we thought would “play well” with each other.  We used regular potting soil, but we could have added some sand and gravel to the mix if we had it.  Either way, they’ll thrive in containers on your patio or pool deck regardless of additions you might make to your potting soil.

Assembling a Succulent container is just like constructing any other container.  You need a “Pillar,” “Thriller,” and “Spiller.”  Basically, you want something tall and exciting, something that will fill out the space and add some body to the creation, and a spiller. 

We used a really eye-catching plant for the spiller.  The common name is “String of Pearls” and it’s one of my favorites.  It really does look like strands of pea-green pearls.  They are slow growing, so be patient.  The pillar plant we used in a few of the containers was the unusual Sansevieria we picked up at Bowood.  We had a large, colorful variety of Echeveria for the fillers. 

After a little tweaking, the first container was finished.  Wanting to congratulate ourselves on a job well done, we broke out some popsicles and deemed our first creation to be stupendous. 

After our minor diversion, it was off to filling more containers.  One after the other, we slammed through the planting.  One of the containers was small and a lovely burgundy color. We had the perfect Succulent to fill it- the grey color has a hint of burgundy, looking as if they were made for each other.

In less than an hour, we had filled all of George’s containers.  They were truly one of a kind.  Striking, manly and colorful all at the same time.  Not to mention easy to care for.  These guys can go days without water and never miss a beat.  So, next time you’re thinking about planting some containers, think about Succulents.  They’re carefree, colorful and a real conversation starter.

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