by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Succulents and shallow containers graced the front of garden magazines this season. Succulent plants grow low, especially indoors, and are well suited to growing in low pots. Succulent roots are compact, and the plants are small for easy planting in shallow pots and bowls.
These tough little perennials need little care and minimal water and are easy to grow. They have a style when showing off in a decorative bowl or shallow container. Often used in rock gardens when planted with cacti, yucca, and agaves.
TYPES OF SUCCULENTS
For their first year, any succulent will be fine repotted into a shallow decorative pot. For plants that grow years in the same container, choose varieties that stay small and compact. Local favorites for this type of project are those that grow low. Start with the ever-popular Hens & Chicks, but there are many hardy succulents. Other valuable varieties for this project are Turquoise Tail, Bronze Carpet, and Grape Jelly succulents, to name a few. Each has roots that grow horizontally, perfect for shallow containers and bowls.
These low-growing succulents like being crowded and grow tight together for years of enjoyment. After several years, a large specimen may need to be repotted as they overshadow other plants in the container.
TYPES OF PLANTERS
There are many shallow planters, dishes, or bowls in various shapes, colors, and styles at the garden center. Choose the size that best fits your style. Succulents grow best with at least 6″ inches of soil to grow. Wider pots allow for multiple succulents that create succulent gardens.
Drainage holes are recommended that allow excess water to drain past your succulents’ roots. These are drought-hardy perennials that like dry soil. It is possible to plant without drainage holes to control excess rain from falling on your succulent planter.
Use deeper containers that don’t have drainage holes. This allows excess water to drain past your plant roots. Place small stones on the bottom before adding your Cactus Potting Soil with a layer of charcoal on top of the rocks. This improves drainage and absorbs impurities and odors. This is especially important for indoor planters without proper drainage.
Succulents in any sized pot are best planted directly into Watters Cactus Potting Soil. The soil used should be well aerated and light with exceptional drainage. Most succulents require minimal soil depth. Giant cacti like Pencil Cactus are the rare exception, and even these tall cacti like to be tight at the root level.
SUCCULENT CARE IN SHALLOW PLANTERS
The care is basically the same as for succulents in larger pots. Water succulents in shallow planters more often than those growing in large pots. Succulents are often crowded together for the right look, requiring more frequent water.
The summer planting season is ideal for the heat lovers in the garden, but some outshine others. There are two flowers, two shrubs, and a tree that look their best in July, and they like growing together in the landscape. If you need more color in the summer landscapes, look at Penta and Verbena for blooming colors. Crape Myrtle and Rose of Sharon show off effervescent flowers through the end of the year. The best summer shade tree for these companions is the Prescott Flowering Pear. Each preferred being planted during the warmth of summer.
Until next week, I’ll be helping gardeners design better succulent gardens here at Watters Garden Center.