Recipe for Succulent Success
Along with great food and excellent services, locally owned restaurants have created a relaxing ambiance with versatile succulent hanging baskets and containers.
By Jennifer Schamber
[This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener July/August 2017 issue.]
Along with great food and excellent service, locally-owned restaurants like Billy G’s in Kirkwood, Joey B’s in Manchester, and the Corner Pub & Grill in Valley Park, have perfected the recipe of a wonderful dining experience by creating relaxing ambiance for their guests on their outdoor patios. A highlight of these spaces is the usage of large, tough and versatile succulent hanging baskets and containers. These popular and busy restaurants need plants that require low maintenance (don’t need deadheading and constant watering) and aren’t messy (nobody wants to have to pick petunias out of their soup!)
These interesting and stylish baskets also serve as conversation pieces, as they are very much trending on websites like Pinterest and Houzz. Practical and sophisticated, succulent plants are being seen in bride’s bouquets, planted in centerpiece bowls and serving as place markers at wedding receptions, taking the place of traditional flowers. The lure of succulents for brides is not only their beauty, but the cuttings can be given to friends and family as gifts that can last forever, unlike short-lived cut flowers. If perennial succulents are used, they can be rooted and replanted in the garden. Most perennial succulents, like Hen & Chicks (Sempervivum) and many sedums can survive outdoors in containers, provided the pot has good drainage. Overall, succulents are the secret ingredient to great spaces and special occasions.
Succulent Planter Recipe
Container with good drainage Potting mix specially formulated for succulents and cacti
An assortment of succulents with contrasting colors, texture and form (consider using hardy succulents, many will overwinter outdoors in containers)
Optional: pebbles or moss for topdressing
Fill container with potting mix and arrange the plants in desired formation. Place larger growing plants toward the center (the thrillers), the medium-sized plants (fillers) around those, and the low trailers (spillers) around the edge. Place contrasting colors and textures next to each other. If displaying indoors, a drain hole isn’t necessary, but special attention must be given to not overwater. A pipette is a useful tool to help prevent overwatering. Place the pot in a well-lit room or outdoors in sun or shade. If a succulent container has been indoors during the winter, allow it to acclimate to the outdoors before placing in direct sun to avoid sun scorch. Bring indoors before the first prediction of freezing temperatures or frost (above 40°F is preferred by most tropical succulents). Allow potting mix to dry slightly between waterings to avoid root rot. If plants are indoors, lightly water every two weeks, outdoor water needs vary by location and weather conditions, but weekly watering or twice weekly may be sufficient.
Top Succulent Plant Picks:
Other popular succulents for containers include Echeveria, Variegated Jade (Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’.
Jennifer Schamber is the general manager of Greenscape Gardens in west St. Louis County, Missouri. She is a past president of the Landscape & Nursery Association of Greater St. Louis and past vice president of the Horticulture Co-op of Metro St. Louis. Greenscape Gardens is the national 2015 winner of Today’s Garden Center Magazine’s Revolutionary 100 Award.