Saturday, February 25, 2012

Whipping up a batch of succulent magic

After exposing my tendency to amass plants in yesterday’s post, I decided to make productive use of my collection and whip up a couple of new succulent bowls. While this doesn’t reduce the number of plants I have, it makes maintenance easier because I don’t have to hand-water quite so many small pots which dry out very quickly in hot weather.

Ingredients: Two bowls I had sitting around, a bunch of succulents, a bag of Black Gold Cactus Mix, and Osmocote Plus 6-month time release fertilizer for a bit of nutrition.

Recipe: Fill bowls with soil, sprinkle in some fertilizer, add plants, done.

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I picked succulents with a variety of colors and textures
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To my own surprise, I ended up using all of these plants
                                                                                                                                           
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I often make my own succulent mix (read this post to find out how) but I didn’t have any coir left so I decided to do the next best thing: Black Gold Cactus Mix. Unlike some succulent mixes that contain peat (which I hate because it’s almost impossible to rewet), this product is 40-50% pumice and drains exceptionally well. I also add a sprinkling of Osmocote Plus slow release fertilizer for nutrition. While most succulents aren’t greedy feeders, a bit of fertilizer does result in nicer plants.
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Good stuff in this cactus mix!

The result of my efforts, while pleasing, doesn’t make you go wow quite yet. I’m hoping by the time summer rolls around these plants will have filled in nicely. It’s always a fine line between stuffing too many plants in a bowl and not enough. I left a little bit of room for some trailing sedums which will add a vertical counterpoint to the round shapes of the rosettes. Surprisingly, my collection is very light on trailing plants so I need to buy some first.

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The green pencil-like stems sticking out of the ground are a Euphorbia leucodendron
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Red bowl from a different perspective
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I love how the apple green of the aeonium contrasts with the purple of the echeveria (middle) and Graptopetalum pentandrum (right)
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The variegated plant in the foreground is an Aeonium decorum 'Sunburst'

I was very surprised to see how many pots I managed to empty. Two of these went in the ground, but all the others were planted in these two bowls. It was very satisfying to see so much progress!

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More pots mean more room for new plants—just kidding!

The two bowls are now on top of the fence next to the front porch. While matching bowls would have looked more uniform and elegant, everything about our garden is eclectic and traditional style is definitely not what I’m going for.

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Next order of business: Clean and rearrange the display stand
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Bowl #1
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Bowl #2
The bamboo on the right is Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’)

6 comments:

  1. Oh Wow! Those are really great bowls and I love your choices and combinations. I'm becoming more and more interested in Cactii after following your & Alan's blogs.

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    1. That's great to hear! What I love most about succulents, aside from their beautiful shapes, is how little attention they need. A little water now and then, that's it.

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  2. It's such a good feeling to get rid of dozens of small pots, isn't it? Yours look fantastic! One question though: are those placed where they can be best enjoyed? They're smaller plants so are best viewed up-close -- which is why I like that you lined your walkway with pots (at least temporarily).

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    1. Yes!!! I want to get rid of many more small pots. Keeping them watered is so difficult.

      As for the location of these two pots, I can walk right up to them. In fact, since they're on top of the 4 ft fence, I can look at the plants from a great viewing angle. If I could, I'd line the entire fence with potted plants, but they tend to get blown off when the wind kinds up (a regular occurrence here).

      I have a feeling I'll have the walkway lined with pots for a long time to come, but I'll reserve it for special plants, not just the latest purchases.

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  3. Great combinations! One of the things I like about succulents is that you can get really creative with them, planting different types together to make an interesting combo (and display). And you can vary the arrangement often too without risking killing the plants as they're so tough!

    It's satisfying to get rid of small pots and just have a few in the end :)

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  4. Before you know it those succulents will fill out the bowls and you won't see any dirt! I think it's good to start with some space otherwise they have nowhere to go!

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