Succulent Container Gardens
By Debra Lee Baldwin
With their colorful leaves, sculptural shapes, and simple care, succulents are beautiful yet forgiving plants for pots. If grown in containers, these dry-climate jewels — which include but are not limited to cacti — can be brought indoors in winter and so can thrive anywhere in the world.
In this inspiring compendium, the popular author of Designing with Succulents provides everything beginners and experienced gardeners need to know to create stunning container displays of exceptionally waterwise plants. The extensive palette includes delicate sedums, frilly echeverias, cascading senecios, edgy agaves, and fat-trunked beaucarneas, to name just a few. Easy-to-follow, expert tips explain soil mixes, overwintering, propagation, and more.
Define your individual style as you effectively combine patterns, colors, textures, and forms. Discover how top designers interpret the dramatic options, in ideas ranging from exquisite plant-and-pot combinations to extraordinary topiaries and bonsai. Expand your repertoire with plump-leaved plants that resemble pebbles, stars, and undersea creatures. Short on space? Create vertical gardens and hanging baskets, and use daisylike rosettes in wall displays.
Each of the more than 300 photographs offers an inspiring idea. A-to-Z descriptions cover 350 of the best succulents, plus companion plants. Whether your goal is a gorgeous potted garden for a sunny windowsill or outdoor living area — or simply making great gifts — this is a comprehensive primer for creating vibrant, living works of art.
An excerpt from the book,
Potting Mixes: What the Experts Use
It seems every succulent collector or nursery owner has a preferred potting mix. Some examples:
A former CSSA president in New Jersey combines three parts commercial potting mix that is high in bark or horticultural coir with two parts pumice and one part calcined clay.
A specialist in succulent bonsai recommends a mix of one part compost, one part coir, one part loam, and four parts pumice or perlite.
A designer of succulent topiaries and wreaths uses no soil but rather inserts cuttings into tightly packed sphagnum moss.
A kalanchoe collector’s preferred mix is 50 percent pumice, 25 percent loam, and 25 percent decomposed granite sand.
A haworthia grower mixes equal parts grit or plaster sand, pumice, and peat-free commercial potting soil.
A collector who owns a wide range of succulents says it does not matter what base is used, so long as one-third to one-half of the final mix is pumice.
An article in the CSSA newsletter recommends that at least half the mix consist of “an air-trapping substance” such as perlite, pumice, or calcined clay.
A lithops collector’s mix is “more white than brown”: one third commercial potting soil with twigs removed, and two-thirds perlite or pumice. He also may add decomposed granite “to help toughen the plants.”
A nursery owner who sells at shows prefers an easy-to-rewet mix of half-and-half coir and perlite.
A cactus and succulent nursery in New Mexico recommends three parts soilless potting mix, one part coarse sand, and one part volcanic scoria, perlite, crushed gravel, or crushed limestone.
A designer at a Denver nursery mixes half-and-half potting soil and poultry grit (crushed granite).
A cactus and succulent show judge, emphasizing the importance of oxygen for roots, recommends not adding vermiculite, because it compacts.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin is an award-winning writer and editor based in Southern California. She has written hundreds of feature articles and columns about architecture, homes, gardens, landscaping and interior design, and people who have made significant contributions to our culture.
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin wrote Designing with Succulents in addition to Succulent Container Gardens. She is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and major gardening magazines. Debra’s specialty is showing how top designers use these architectural, waterwise, low-maintenance plants in a wide variety of creative, eye-catching applications.
Debra has presented at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, the Denver Botanic Garden, and major flower shows in Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco, to name a few of many prestigious venues. Her own garden near San Diego has been featured in Sunset, Better Homes & Gardens, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and other publications.
Succulents, which store water in fleshy leaves and stems to survive periods of drought, offer spectacular blooms and foliage of every color — including cherry red, sky blue, and purple-black. In her books and presentations, Debra introduces various types of succulents, discusses their care, describes what makes each interesting and unique, and explains how to create lovely, low-water gardens and containers. With Debra’s expert guidance, you’ll soon discover how to use these easy-care, sculptural plants to beautifully express your personal style.
Succulent Container Gardens
By Debra Lee Baldwin
Hardcover, 248 pages, $29.95