Succulent garden design is appropriate for warm, temperate and even cold season locations. In cold climates, it is not always possible to have a succulent garden outside, but you can grow them indoors in containers. Learn a little about how to plan an outdoor succulent garden and bring some fun shapes and textures to your landscape.
Succulent Garden Design
Succulents are generally drought tolerant plants that have thick leaves where they store moisture. Although succulent plants are very tolerant of dry conditions, they do need water, especially during the growing season.
Succulent garden design should consider the location, soil type, configuration, moisture level, and the types of plants. Some succulents are more drought tolerant than others. Do a little research on the wide variety of succulent shapes and sizes before starting a succulent garden outside.
For instance, cacti are succulents and hold water in their stems and pads. Other types of succulents are not spiny but have swollen leaves with a myriad of growth habits. There are spreading or drooping types, such as burro’s tail; spiky, wide plants like agave; or tall, columned varieties such as old man’s cactus. Plan the design with enough space for the plants to fill in as they grow.
Succulent Outdoor Plants
Growing a succulent garden outside starts with plant choices. If you are a novice, begin with plants that are easy and foolproof. Sedum and sempervivum are easy to grow and adaptable to bright, sunny locations or even slightly dappled areas.
Whatever types of plants you choose, succulents need well-drained soil. They can thrive in cracks and crevasses, rockeries and sandy or gritty soils. Succulents in cool season areas will do best in containers that are brought indoors for the winter.
Try some kalanchoe, aloe, echeveria and aeonium. Have fun with the unique sizes, shapes and textures of these plants. Use succulent outdoor plants as part of a xeriscape area of the garden, to conserve water and provide interest and color.
How to Plan an Outdoor Succulent Garden
When you’ve chosen your plants and are ready for planting, you will need to know how to plan an outdoor succulent garden. Choose a sunny location and plot the space you want to fill.
Check the soil conditions and drainage by digging a hole at least 1 foot (0.3 m.) deep and filling it with water. If the water drains within a half hour, the soil is sufficiently porous. If not, simply mix in 3 inches (7.5 cm.) of sand or other gritty material to increase the texture and drainage.
Use taller specimens at the center of the area and spreading species at the edges or dotted among the larger plants as ground cover.
Top the area with a layer of pebbles or small rocks to act as mulch. This will help prevent weeds and conserves moisture while allowing evaporation of excess water.
Care of Succulent Garden Plants
Succulent plants tolerate periods of dryness, but should receive regular water during the growing season. When soil is dry a couple of inches down, water deeply and then let the soil dry out again between waterings.
The most common problem with succulents is rot. Keeping the stems out of the soil and providing drying periods between irrigation will help prevent this. Also, water from the base of the plant to keep leaves dry.
Watch for insect pests and combat them with sprays of water and horticultural soap spray.
Remove dead stems and offsets during the care of succulent garden plants. Offsets are easy to start as a completely new plant. Put them in a well-drained potting mix and care for them until roots are full and healthy, then plant them in a new area of the garden.
Landscaping Garden Design With Succulents
Watering restrictions and high maintenance costs are driving the trend towards low-water, low-maintenance gardens. In fact, many people are either doing away with lawns and flowerbeds or keeping these water guzzlers to a minimum. Succulents are a great choice for drought-resistant gardens because they can withstand infrequent watering and extended dry spells. There's also no shortage of design possibilities since these plants come in all sorts of interesting forms, colors, and textures.
Succulent Garden Design
Fill your yard with the eye-catching beauty of succulents. Count on these easy-care plants for a stunning landscape.
Indulge in beauty without big maintenance requirements by creating a succulent garden design. These water-wise plants boast a wide range of leaf colors and forms, from common cacti to lesser known Graptoveria hybrids. Succulent garden designs bring drama to any setting, with their unusual plant forms. Crafting a succulent garden design is akin to creating living sculpture.
Succulents possess modified leaves designed to conserve water. These leaf adaptations result in striking plant textures. Water-conserving leaves vary from leafless cactus spines, to fat and fleshy water-hoarding paddles, to pudgy beads or fingers. Many succulents form a rosette of foliage, which makes an unusual textural addition to a garden.
Hen-and-chickens (Sempervivum tectorum) and Spanish bayonet (Yucca filamentosa) are two of the most well-known landscape succulents across all regions. Their leaf shapes and plant forms reflect the variety you can find in succulents, from small toe-tickling rosettes to shoulder-high mounds.
One of the most effective ways to create a succulent garden design is to blend these quirky plants with rocks. Succulents and stones go together like peanut butter and jelly. Showcase succulents against a backdrop of rocks, or tuck them between and behind rocks. If stones have shallow depressions that hold soil, tuck succulents into that spot for a head-turning planting. Use rock mulch in succulent garden designs to retain heat around plants and enhance drainage.
Succulents demand well-drained soil. The quickest way to kill a succulent is to plant it where soil stays soggy in winter. Add berms and mounds to your succulent garden design to provide the drainage these plants crave. Use stones to help build elevation into your landscape, and you’ll instantly have a natural-looking setting for succulents.
These water-storing plants come in a variety of sizes, from tiny plants best showcased in containers to showstopping large-scale beauties that can easily form a focal point in a planting bed. Select succulents with a size that’s in scale with your garden space. You’ll purchase most of the larger plants at smaller, affordable sizes, so make sure you plan your succulent garden design with mature plant sizes in mind.
A beautiful and goof-proof way to spotlight succulents is to surround a larger, anchor plant, such as a large agave or barrel cactus, with smaller succulents, such as ground cover blue chalksticks (Senecio serpens) or Echeverias. You can also paint a landscape using ground-hugging succulents that unfurl leaves in various hues, like Sempervivums.
Include container gardens in your succulent garden design. Containers provide the perfect space for showcasing some of the smallest succulents, many of which have outstanding foliage color or texture. If you garden in a region where succulents cannot be left outdoors year-round, choose containers that are easily shifted to protected or indoor overwintering locations. Succulents pair very naturally with the stone look of hypertufa pots.
Research any succulents you plan to add to your garden. Not all of them thrive in full sun, especially in Southwestern regions. Many, including Haworthias, Echeverias and Kalanchoes achieve best growth in bright shade and may actually burn in full sun. Check with a local succulent nursery to discover the best choices for your yard.
Be selective about containers.
The containers you plant your succulents in can make or break how well your indoor garden grows. "Any container that has drainage will work, but terra cotta pots are often recommended for first time succulent parents," McCann explains. "They are porous and contribute to good drainage, which is necessary for this group of plants."
According to Le, selecting the appropriate size of container for your succulent is also crucial. "Make sure the container is not too big for your plant, because it will increase the chance of overwatering and make it harder for the roots to develop." A general rule of thumb is to pick a pot that is about 10-percent bigger than the size of the succulent at the surface.