Décor & Gardening
Succulent gardens for small spaces
If you live in a particularly small space, then a garden of cacti and succulents is perfect for you as you don’t need to buy much gardening equipment and weeding is minimal. A big plus is that you can recycle items from around the house for planters. Add some plant life both indoors and outdoors and show off your collection in a gorgeous display. Not only are succulents fairly hardy, but care is easy and they will live even if you forget to water from from time to time.
Method for potting
The initial set up requires a bit of effort, but after that it’s just easy maintenance
You will need
A pot with a hole in it
Fresh damp garden soil
- Make sure the pot has a hole in the bottom and can drain water away easily. If your pot doesn’t have one, create one. Succulents like well drained soil to prevent stem rot and they don’t require a bowl or plate of water to sit in, unless it is shallow.
- Fill about 1/3 of the bottom of the pot with pebbles, rocks or gravel, spaced out a bit. I recommend that you use these larger rocks as they help water drain away more easily and protect plant roots from rotting. Next, make the soil mixture…
- Mix some fertiliser into the soil (instructions about how much and where to put it are usually on the packet). Whether in the form of slow-release capsules on the top of the soil, a bag of blood and bone mixed in with the soil or some other type of fertiliser is up to you. They all work to promote growth, just like plant vitamins!
- Add sand to the soil. Sand is not essential, but does help to make succulents have a more natural environment.
The soil mixture should be light and fluffy, or crumbly, with lots of oxygen mixed in.
- Put the soil mixture into the pot, on top of the rock/pebble/gravel formation and make a hole deep enough for your succulent to be planted. The plant should sit about 1cm above where the roots begin.
- Take the succulent out of its existing container or garden and “tickle” its roots to stimulate them. A small bit of soil from the previous container can be left on.
- Plant the succulent in the hole and put the soil around the plant. Pat down somewhat firmly. Add any decorative sand/river pebbles/glass pebbles/rocks if you like, although these aren’t essential, on the top of the soil.
Decorative rocks can be useful in helping control soil erosion through over watering, so if you are a bit keen, use them on top as well as the bottom of the pot.
Pebbles and rocks can also add some great contrasting colours to the design.
- Water the succulent on the leaves/petals and check that after dampening the soil (with a pretend “rain”), there is enough soil left to cover 1cm of the stem.
Do not water directly onto the stem or soil as this causes soil erosion around the root system and can be devastating.
Always water from the top onto the leaves/petals or alternatively, spray the whole plant that is above ground using a spray bottle.
You should water enough that the soil under the plant is wet, but not floating in puddles. Soil should absorb the water well
- Your succulent garden is now finished! Find a nice place that has a little to a lot of sunlight and position the potted plant suitably.
For best results, water once a day for the next 3 days (this is called “watering in”) although its not important as long as you water when you first plant. For more information about maintaining succulent gardens, read the maintenance section below.
Caring For & Maintaining Your Succulent Garden
Do not water your succulent garden in winter if you get any rainfall, as this will rot the plant.
Protect your succulents from frost. Larger succulents will be fine for a day or two of frost, with only a few discoloured leaves to show for it.
Seedling sized succulents need protection or they will die.
Bring them inside for a few days, or put them near other vegetation or a compost heap (which give off warming gases).
In summer, take care to move the succulents to a shady area if it is over 35 degrees Celsius on consecutive days. Especially if they are kept near bricks or concrete, which reflect heat onto the plant.
The best way to do this in a low maintenance way is to move your collection somewhere a bit shadier for the summer.
Mornings in the sun tend to be OK, but afternoons should be shaded as this is when the heat of the day will burn your plants. You’ll be able to tell because the succulent leaves will turn black and die.
If succulents are kept outdoors, watering is minimal, depending on the rainfall of your climate. Obviously, if plants look thirsty or sick, water them!
Indoor plants do well if lightly watered once a week to once a month, depending on the size of the plant. You’ll figure it out because they’ll look thirsty and sick without water. Spraying the leaves with a spray bottle of water is a great way to keep the leaves colourful.