I did an article for the current Northern Gardener magazine on succulents and the many choices available these days. If you go to the homepage of the site, you can click on the read a sample article link and check it out. As always happily happens, when I research a topic, I get bit by its bug. I love the limitless varieties of succulents available and the many textures, colors, and forms. I admire their hardy dispositions and self-sufficiency. I have started to sprinkle my garden with them, wherever I can find a sunny little nook or cranny.
Succulents are perfect for garden crafts, as they take root readily and tough it out through a transition period when most plants would faint. This is why you see the beautiful succulent wreaths around here and there. Martha Stewart, maven of all wreath-making, has taken her turn at them. I took mine with a table-top wreath, so to speak. Consider this patio table living centerpiece for your outdoor space. This design also works with an umbrella. Sedums love sun, so make sure the dish will get plenty during the day.
Planting the dish was easy. Figuring out how to design it so that the patio table umbrella could live in its center was the design challenge. I took a 16″ plastic saucer for a pot, purchased at my local Bachman’s. The high sides and inner raised ridge (a happy accident) were perfect. I cut a hole in the center with a box-cutter utility knife and drilled numerous drainage holes. The center wall is created by taking the plastic container that holds bulk blank CDs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and cutting out the bottom with the box-cutter and trimming it to the height of the walls. The center is held in place by the planting mix.
To add extra drainage (succulents love moisture but demand good drainage) I layered the bottom with broken terra cotta (save your cracked pots). For a planting mix I took a store-bought mixture designed for cacti and added some of my own sand and a little gravel from the driveway to make a really well-draining mix. Time for the fun to begin.
Depending on the succulents you have in your garden, you wouldn’t need to purchase a thing. That said a couple of specimen succulents, various echeverias in this dish, do add some nice focal pops. Another option is to purchase a few creeping sedums for your yard and steal some cuttings for your container. Sedums love sun, so keep this in mind.
I popped off a few rosettes from existing mother hen and chicks (sempervivums) and included them, nestling them into the soil. Most will have some devloping roots already in place. I snipped off 3-4″ inch cuttings of several varieties of sedum including: ‘Blue Spruce,’ ‘Angelina,’ ‘Red Dragon,’ ‘Bertram Anderson,’ ‘Baily Gold,’ and ‘Variegatum.’ I dipped each cutting in a little rooting hormone (available at most garden centers). I took a dried ornamental grass stem, and using it as my poking tool, “pre-drilled” a planting hole for the succulent, and maneuvered the cutting into the hole. I continued until the dish was full. This is the fun and creative part of the project. Strive for a nice blend of colors and textures, looking for the contrast in the different varieties. ‘Angelina’ adds a nice pop of color next to all the varieties.
Water you dish everyday, especially the first few weeks as it is establishing, making sure it drains well. Adding some colorful rocks, marbles, trinkets and baubles is fun and adds a nice, personal touch. Overwintering remains to be seen. Any non-hardy succulents could be lifted and brought indoors for the winter and my sense is you could sink the container into the ground, cover it with some leaves, and the plants would make it fine through the winter. You could also disassemble it and incorporate the newly formed plants into the garden by mid September or so.
Step into the sedum world with this container. It ‘s prefect for any garden, big or small.