Succulents: A Guide to the Desert’s Playful Perennials

Succulents Feature

From drought-resistant landscapes to beautiful bridal bouquets, succulents are en vogue and trending. These unique desert natives have gained popularity in recent years, not only because of their natural gem-like beauty but their low maintenance care. Their “succulence” comes from their ability to retain water in their stems, roots and leaves, which means they require infrequent watering and can often tolerate neglect — great for those who lack a green thumb. Whether you plan to gift one of these desert beauties or to showcase a few in your home, succulents are a stylish and eco-conscious choice.


Succulent Care


Succulent Care


Succulents are easy to maintain and can thrive both indoors and outdoors with the proper care. Their versatility makes it easy for their beauty to shine in a variety of settings but are most impressive when enjoyed up close. They come in a variety of textures, sizes and color palettes, ranging from gorgeous mint greens to deep, pretty purples and rich reds. Renters and homeowners alike can benefit from incorporating succulents into their green space, patios or even indoor dining tables. Succulents make wonderful stand-alone stunners when placed solo in pots or re-purposed containers or they make great companions to other cacti or water-wise foliage. Succulents require very minimal care. Here are the basics:

  • Light: Direct, bright sunlight is a staple when it comes to succulents, as they are naturally accustomed to desert heat. However, they are also very adaptable and can adjust to lower light settings. If you plan to keep your succulent indoors, a sunny window seat or brightly lit tabletop that gets plenty of natural light is enough for them to thrive.
  • Water: Water your succulents sparingly. Over-watering succulents will cause their leaves to appear puffy and may eventually split open from the bloating. Avoid frequent watering when it comes to succulents and only water them when their well-drained soil has dried up completely, generally every 10 to 14 days. If you feel any moisture in their soil, refrain from watering and wait until the soil has dried to allow air to reach their roots. If the succulents get too soggy from over-watering, they will eventually turn to a soft rot. Plant succulents in pots or containers large enough to give them at least an extra inch of room, which allows for quicker drainage.
  • Soil: Succulents prefer soil that is coarse and fast-draining, such as cactus and succulent potting soil. This sandy, gritty soil can be found at your local garden center or hardware store. It is also very easy to make at home. To make your own succulent soil, combine equal parts compost, sand and a gritty element, such as pumice. This soil can also be used when making terrariums or smaller succulent arrangements.


Succulent Surprises


Succulent Surprises


Succulents make wonderful gifts because they are long lasting and very easy to care for regardless of the recipient’s aptitude for gardening. Curious containers, such as mint tins or teacups make excellent receptacles for quirky, miniature succulent arrangements. These smaller arrangements can be enjoyed on desks, windowsills, kitchens or tabletops and make great hostess or housewarming gifts. The Glass Garden Teardrop Terrarium is also a fun and lively gift if you don’t have time to DIY.


If These (Garden) Walls Could Talk


Succulent Vertical Garden


Vertical gardening can put anyone in the mood for a desert daydream with mesmerizing succulent tapestries. Succulents are just as gorgeous planted or potted as they are hanging vertically as a living wall or wreath. Check out our vertical gardens article here. Prefabricated living succulent art can be pricey but with a lot less money and a little bit of time, you can easily make your own with these DIY instructions and tips. To make your own living succulent art, begin by gathering a few materials:

  • A wooden frame with mesh in the center (such as this succulent frame from Etsy or make your own frame from redwood or cedar 1×3’s, 1/2-inch hardware cloth and a 1/4-inch plywood backing)
  • Succulent cuttings (roughly 120 for a 12’x12′ frame)
  • Soil (cactus and succulent mix that can be purchased or make your own)

Fill the frame with moist soil, shaking it when necessary to ensure the holes of the mesh are completely filled. Once the frame is full of soil, begin by placing succulent cuttings in the holes. Start with the larger succulent cuttings then fill in the surrounding spaces with the smaller cuttings. Not all the spaces will be filled but as your succulent frame matures, the holes will eventually fill themselves in. Keep the succulent frame horizontal with plenty of bright filtered light for about a week to allow roots to form. Once the roots have started to form, water your succulent frame every 7 to 10 days, or when the soil is dry. Within 4 to 12 weeks, the root system will become sturdy enough for the succulent frame to be displayed vertically. Water your succulent frame sparingly by removing the frame from the wall, watering it lightly, then returning it to the wall once the soil has dried.


Playful Patio Perennials


Succulent Perennials


With their unique eye-catching textures and varieties, succulents can perk up any patio. The Desert Scenes Dish Garden will add a pop of color to drab concrete or brick. The leaves from the desert blooms in this bright green dish can be propagated to create more succulents to incorporate into your patio greenery or garden. Succulents will thrive in nearly any container, as long as it has enough drainage for its soil to dry and room for the succulent to grow. Planter boxes, cinder blocks, terracotta pots or even walkways are pleasant places for succulents to flourish.


Succulent Centerpieces


Succulents Centerpieces


A gorgeous succulent centerpiece is a stunning way to display and enjoy your succulents up close. A shallow container, a variety of smaller succulents, one large succulent, and soil is all you need to create an eye-catching tabletop display. Fill the shallow container with soil then place the large succulent in the center. Working your way from the larger succulent, begin placing smaller succulents in the dish. Tuck tiny succulents into the gaps to fill the container completely. Enjoy your succulent centerpiece at your next dinner party or as an everyday delight on your dining table. Make sure the centerpiece receives bright, filtered light and water when necessary.


Succulents To Have and to Hold


Succulents bouquets


If you plan to incorporate succulents into your wedding bouquet, give them new life after you say “I do.” After your big day, re-purpose and replant the succulents from your bouquet into containers around the house. Allow their stems to dry for a few days before planting them in cactus and succulent soil. You and your spouse will be able to enjoy their beauty long past the honeymoon.