Succulents Make Lovely Living Ornaments

Small-size succulents make for some of the most interesting gardening displays these days. Succulents are adaptable to a variety of conditions, and with their thick fleshy leaves and stems they’re known for being drought-tolerant. Succulents are also popular because there are so many different kinds to choose from.

As nice as succulents are in the garden, they look equally at home indoors. Some of my favorite uses for succulents include displaying small-sized planters of mini-succulents, filling a terrarium with a selection of sculptural-looking succulents, and using them to fill a picture frame.

With the holidays approaching, succulents make for striking hostess gifts or an out-of-the-ordinary decorating choice by creating a living wreath.

A wreath made with succulents, like hens and chicks, is especially attractive and an enjoyable DIY project. To get started you’ll need a base, sphagnum moss, potting soil, plants, and some fine-gauge wire (or long pins) to hold the plants in place. You can buy a pre-made base at a craft shop or make your own from chicken wire molded over a donut-shaped plywood base and stapled into place.

Line the form or base with sphagnum moss and fill with potting mix. Start planting by arranging the largest of the plants first, then fill in with smaller succulents.

Press each plant into the soil and then cover the soil with pieces of the moss. Use the fine-gauge wire to wrap around the wreath to hold just the moss in place. Water while the wreath is lying flat. Let the water drain into a sink or tray and keep the wreath flat for a few weeks to allow the plants to root. Then hang it up. To water, take the wreath down and soak it for 10-15 minutes.

Another way to display succulents is by planting them in a miniature-garden to use as a centerpiece that lasts longer than a fresh flower arrangement.

To plant a succulent centerpiece, select a low container of any shape. Just make sure there are holes in the bottom to allow water to drain and have a saucer or tray to catch the excess water.

Succulents are plants that like soil on the dry side, so use a well-draining potting mix to fill the container. A good-quality container potting mix meant for cactus plants will work well for succulents, too.

Select succulents in sizes that are in proportion to the container and the other plants. Look for a variety of shapes and colors that work well together. One larger succulent can be the specimen plant, just like in the landscape.

Place the plants on top of the soil to find a pleasing arrangement before planting. Look at the arrangement from all angles to make sure it’s balanced without any obvious empty spaces. For each plant, dig a small planting hole, remove the plant from its container and place it as deep as it was in its container.

After all the plants are in place, water gently to give the miniature garden a good start. Add any extra decorative touches, such as small stones and miniature garden ornaments similar to those used in fairy gardens.

The best advice for caring for your succulents is to avoid overwatering. Be sure to let the soil in the container dry to several inches before watering. Another care tip is to keep your succulent garden out of direct sunlight to prevent burning the leaves.