Succulent Succulent Planters

succulents

Strawberry pots, those multi-pocketed clay or ceramic containers, don’t have to be used just for planting strawberries.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever planted strawberries in mine!  Instead, over the years, mine has been home mostly to herbs or succulents.

Since strawberry pots have shallow cups around the sides of the container they tend to dry out quickly so they make an excellent container for succulents.  Succulents store water in their fleshy leaves because they know at some point during the summer you’re going to forget to water them.  That’s what makes succulents so great, especially for hot patios or decks and ideal for containers.

Succulents are somewhat like cacti, they like it hot during the day, cool at night and not a lot of water.  This makes for a great plant choice for the beginner gardener, the neglectful gardener, the xeroscape gardener and well, pretty much any type of gardener.

There are many types of succulents available, some creep, some mound, some stand up tall and narrow, some short and wide.  The flowers are all very different but for me; I like succulents for their foliage, the fat texture of their leaves and the different colours. Some are tough as nails and can survive outside all year but some are tender and need to be brought indoors to overwinter.

To plant up a succulent strawberry pot, use a well-draining, sandy soil for your succulent container.  I use Get Up & Grow potting mix and I add a little bit more sand to it for extra drainage.  To start, you can either fill the strawberry pot to the top with soil or, what I do is add soil to the first layer of pockets, plant them then add soil to the next layer, etc.

Four inch pots of succulents work best as they’re small enough to fit into the pockets.  Sometimes you need to gently break off some of the root ball or squeeze it to get it into the space.  Don’t worry, most succulents are tough, shallow rooted plants and can put up with a bit of rough handling.  

Continue planting and adding soil until all of the side pockets are done.  Now for the pièce de résistance!  This is where you can splurge on a bigger plant, something that grows a little taller if you’d like, or something with a funky look to it like an aeonium.  You can also continue with whatever theme you had going down below, using one of the plants you used in a pocket, as repeating a pattern has a certain appeal to it.

Once you’ve planted up the top of the strawberry pot gently water the plants in.  Some of the soil may wash out of the sides but don’t worry, that will happen less as the roots fill the space.  Just make sure the plants don’t get dislodged right out of their pocket.  You can add some pebbles on top of the soil to help hold it in.

Succulents do like it on the drier side so don’t treat them like you would your annual containers but you still need to give them a bit of a drink once in a while until they get established, usually once a week during the summer through hot, dry spells.

Succulents aren’t heavy feeders but a light dose of a balanced liquid fertilizer a few times during the growing season will help give them what they need, especially since they’re in a container.

There, you’ve done it!  Easy as pie, or even easier depending on your baking ability.  Now you can try one with herbs!

Shirley Eppler

July 2013

Here are some other ideas for succulent planters.