Monday, September 26, 2016

Succulent Gardening: Newbie Edition

About five years ago on a visit to California, I became really intrigued by succulents; it seemed they were growing everywhere and were just so gorgeous.  I've tried growing them here in Texas with limited success, but recently I started reading about them and discovered a few things that I was doing wrong, so I decided to start over, this time only doing indoor gardens.  This was before I went on my latest trip, and I mentioned my plans to Barbara, who immediately led me on a succulent tour of her yard, where she pinched off bits of her plants for me to take home.  Apparently this is a thing for successful succulent owners, as Matt's mother did the same thing when I complimented her on a particular frilly-leafed succulent.
Why yes, that would be the hose I talked about on Friday in my suitcase, along with a container of succulent cuttings as well as a container of air plants.  I just never know what I'll be shopping for/bringing back to Texas when I travel! 

While I was there, Barbara and I went to a few nurseries to ogle the many gorgeous varieties of succulents, and she showed me the specific potting soil that I needed to use, which could be why mine didn't do very well; I didn't know you should use a particular kind of soil (quick draining - the bag actually says it's for cactus and succulents, if you're looking for it).  I came home with ideas swirling in my head for beautiful succulent gardens, but first, I needed to get my little cuttings to grow.  A quick trip to Home Depot for the right kind of potting soil and some little clay pots and saucers, and I was all set.
Now, you have to know that I'm not a gardener at heart; I like plants, sure, but I prefer to be the person to pick them out at the nursery and place them were I want them to be planted...I don't like to dig in the dirt (too many bugs, ick), and if I'm going to get sweaty, I'd rather do that by running than by working outside in the hot and humid weather.  Which is another reason why indoor succulent gardens appealed to me - no bugs, air conditioning...I can handle this.  Here's my newly-planted succulent babies:
I have high hopes for all of these to make it, but especially the red plants - I haven't seen anything in this color in our local garden centers.  The frilly one in the bottom right is the one that came from Matt's mom.

After three weeks, I can see that some of the succulents are, indeed, growing:
The red ones are hanging in there, and the frilly one has a bit of new growth.  A couple of them are noticeably longer - check out the one in the bottom left picture!
In the meantime, we worked on the front bed in our yard and pulled out the pots of succulents:
I took out most of the weeds, but as you can see, they weren't looking great.

I decided to salvage what I could and make an indoor succulent garden.  First though, I needed a container.  In looking online, I could see that all kinds of containers were being used for these indoor gardens - everything from tea cups to large shells to old Tonka trucks - so I shopped in the kitchen sections of some stores and found a cute set of small nesting bowls marked down to $7.00 for all three.  I set up my potting station and carefully went to work:
Yes it's in the kitchen, but I'm a clean-as-you-go cook, so I knew I wouldn't make much of a mess.

It was trickier than I anticipated because the succulents kept breaking off when I was trying to get them into the pots, but in the end, I was pretty pleased with my creations:
It mostly looks how I imagined it would, yay!

One of the tips for doing a succulent garden is to choose "a thriller, a filler, and a spiller" - something tall and bold, something to fill in the lower section, and something that will flow over the sides.  I had neither thrillers nor spillers on hand, but hey - this was a good start.

In the meantime, I'm hoping that my baby succulents will grow and I'll be able to make an additional garden...for now, I'm keeping my eyes open to possible containers - clay pots are fine, but why not use something more unusual?  If I wasn't going to be needing to use them soon, I might have planted the cuttings in my Fiestaware coffee mugs - now wouldn't THAT be a colorful sight on my windowsill?  Hmmm.  Maybe after that shindig, I might just swap out the clay pots with mugs...cup o' succulent, anyone?


  1. These are beautiful! I have a hard time keeping plants alive. I have kept a Basil plant for more than a year now though!! Little successes!

    1. And to that I say CELEBRATE the little successes, especially when it comes to keeping plants alive!

  2. wow, my mom used to love keeping plants. Then she just gave it up. But, these pics are really superb!!!

    1. Thank you - I'm pretty pleased that they are looking good (still).

  3. Those look great! As someone with a brown thumb, I'll be rooting (ha!) for you and your succulents.

  4. Use your Starbucks mugs! Ha! I love your indoor garden and hope they keep growing! I had no idea there were red ones!!! I think it's really neat you got starters from friends - now you can think of them every time you see the plant! :)

  5. These are just adorable! I need these for my fairy garden! Good job "mom" ☺

  6. Egad! I am finally getting a free minute to read this! I love your completed garden. And I laughed a little at the succulents breaking off--as much as I love plants, I am no good with succulents, and I had a terrible time with them breaking off. You have a great collection going there for your next creation.

  7. I've recently developed a fascination with succulents, so I loved this post especially! I haven't actually bought any yet, but I've seen some really cute arrangements I'd like to try. Seeing your success with them makes me want to try them NOW! :)

  8. Wow, I love your pots with succulents.


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