Succulent plants are currently riding the crest of the trend wave, appearing in homes and gardens across the country.
Here we take a look at why they are so fashionable, how to care for succulents and how you can create stunning, on-trend displays for inside or outside your home.
How to Care for Succulents
As with all plants, the line of best practice is to replicate as far as possible their natural growing conditions. Think of the mantra, ‘right plant, right place’.
Originating from hot, arid climes, succulents are actually very low maintenance; they just need light, warmth and minimal water in order to thrive so if you’re not particularly green-fingered, succulents are the perfect choice.
If you consider that succulents are often found in desert regions, it makes sense that they don’t like to be kept for a prolonged period in saturated ground as these aren’t the conditions they would naturally experience.
Our top tip therefore is to use a general-purpose compost mixed with at least one-third horticultural grit; the open nature of the compost allows root development while the grit enables any excess water to drain away easily.
Keep your succulents happy by giving them a good drink once a week during the summer months and then allow the compost to dry out completely before the next watering, which will replicate a period of drought.
Another top tip is to use rainwater if possible – and this applies to all plants, not just succulents – as the minerals in tap water can cause a build-up in the soil and therefore reduce its quality in addition to staining the beautiful foliage.
How to Create Stunning Succulent Displays
The overwhelming majority of succulents prefer to be a sunny spot, which makes them such versatile options. The only note of caution is that, particularly in the more northern areas of the UK, most succulents aren’t winter hardy. This means they don’t like frost and will benefit from protection, either by moving them to a more sheltered position such as against a wall or bringing them inside.
During the winter, many succulents prefer to have no water at all as this enables them to enter a period of dormancy. This form of hibernation helps replenish energy for flowers for the following season, so you really do have to be cruel to be kind when it comes to succulents!
Apart from the bigger, ‘statement’ specimens, succulents are mostly compact and slow-growing which means they can be accommodated almost anywhere.
Practically any vessel can be used to plant up succulents – as long as it can safely be modified by creating a drainage hole to allow water to escape – with old teapots, wellington boots or even old bird cages being great examples of the current ‘repurposing’ trend.
A group of planted-up succulents together, particularly with a theme, makes a for an interesting focal point display that looks great.
You can put an individual, quirky twist into your home or garden – a great excuse not to throw that old biscuit tin away!
Continuing the theme of ‘bringing the outside in’, a terrarium planted up with succulents is perfect to create a contemporary, minimalist interior.
By dressing it with decorative stones, you can add a touch of modern elegance to your home which has the added bonus of protecting succulent leaves from splashback when watering and so avoiding staining the beautiful foliage.
A popular favourite at the moment is to create a miniature ‘fairy garden’ with the small stature of succulents being ideal to replicate a tiny world and additional accessories, such as fairy doors or pathways, are widely available to add that finishing touch.
Another current gardening trend is to utilise the vertical axis within our space. Succulents offer the perfect opportunity to do this either by creating a living roof – in which a shallow planter is fixed to the top of a structure such as a shed, for example – or by a ‘green wall’ where plants are potted up together, usually in a pre-made wall hanger. This is an especially effective trick if you only have a small outdoor area.
The succulent family is wide-ranging with thousands of varieties available so here we provide a list of our favourites to help you choose the right ones for you.
Statement Succulents for the Garden
The Zwartkop (aeonium arboretum) is a plant that likes to be noticed. Also known as ‘the black rose’, the dark burgundy leaves are a perfect rosette shape which can reach up to 20 inches high.
An added bonus is that during the winter, this plant produces stunning yellow flowers to provide interest all year round.
Aloe Vera, or Medicinal Aloe can be grown in a planter in the garden in summer months but is best brought inside in the winter. You probably know the many benefits of this fleshy succulent, so why not grow your own to use on sunburned or irritated skin,, but it’s also thought to relieve constipation and even treat cancer when ingested (though these last two claims have not been scientifically proven).
Smaller Succulents for a Terrarium Display
Hens and Chicks (sempervivum tectorum) is also known as the ‘house leek’ and originates in the mountainous regions of Southern Europe. It is one of the more commonly-known succulents and is recognisable by its small clusters of rosette leaves.
The mother (hen) cluster produces reddish-purple flowers and is mat-forming if left to grow so is ideal for a living roof or great for keeping in a controlled environment such as a terrarium or other planter
The Jade Plant (crassula ovata) is a very popular succulent house plant, and it is also known as the friendship tree, lucky plant, money plant or moneytree. Much of its popularity stems from the low level of care needed; the jade plant requires little water and can survive in most indoor conditions. It is commonly used in the art of Feng Shui and believed to bring luck and wealth to the grower.
Once established as a mature plant, it forms a miniature tree-like structure, with a thick trunk and branches. Leaves are thick, fleshy and opal shaped in a deep, glossy jade green.We here at Planteria Group hope that this guide has provided you with some advice on how to care for succulents and of course some inspiration to create stunning succulent displays of your own.
Our specialism is providing plants and flowers for our Corporate clients, so if you are looking to add terrariums, succulents or plants to your office, hotel or restaurant and if you have any questions or would like to talk to one of our team about our products and services, please take a look at our website or get in touch.