Outdoor Succulent Designing and Planting Tips

In this video Laura shows and talks about some of her outdoor succulent designing.  People can have strong opinions about what makes a beautiful succulent arrangement or design.  There are a few basic design elements, however, that will make a big difference in how your succulents are displayed.  There are hundreds of different types of succulents that do well indoors or in outdoor landscaping.

Hi it’s Laura Eubanks from Design For Serenity reporting from Carlsbad, California, with your succulent tip of the day.   I haven’t touched this little presentation of succulents since I installed them a couple of years ago.  I mean take a look at this.   Surely you can see what a hot mess it is.  Look at this long trunk.  I see dirt; you know how I feel about that.

The client said it best when we were doing a walk through the garden before I started maintenance.  She pointed at this and she said, “It doesn’t look intentional” and I thought that sums it up perfectly.  It has merits.  Of course, they’re succulents, of course they’re gorgeous, but it no longer looks intentional.  So, if you have areas in your garden that you could say that about I’m going to show you how to handle it.

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Designing Outdoor Succulent Arrangements

Now you can see that I’ve pulled a lot of the plant material out, but I’ve left some of it intact.  This I like.  This part of the arrangement looks pretty doesn’t it?  It’s not leggy.  It looks it looks beautiful.  So, you don’t have to necessarily pull everything out.  Use your eye.  Use your own discretion.

Now what about the stuff that I did pull out?  Now all of you collectors are going to lose your minds and probably send me death threats when you see what I’m going to do with this crest.   Look at this.  Grab the petal of Paraguayans crest.  Now when I planted this in this spot two and a half years ago, or whenever I did it, it was not crested.  It is now crested.

Collectors love these here in California.  In Carlsbad this is a very common.  Plants do this here all the time.  Remember I’m not a collector.  I’m a designer and this is a designer’s garden.  So we have common plants that we’ve used in uncommon ways.  We pull them out of the ground.  We cut them up.  We put them back.  We’re pretty cavalier about it.  So don’t be mad at me and don’t say anything nasty but I am going to cut the stem of this crest.  So, you collectors might want to avert your gaze here.

Now what I did effectively is I made it shorter.   I don’t want it sticking up in the air.  I want this to lay flush on the ground like so.  See, it’s almost like a wreath isn’t it now that it is just tucked right around the base of the ground.  Now what’s going to happen is where I cut, just like any other succulent, roots will form.  It will take off again in time but I wanted to change the presentation of that plant.

Outdoor Succulent Designing Made Easy

Now this one, this one didn’t crest but look at all of the babies on the stem.  Isn’t that cute? I like to save the little guys for uses when I’m making succulent or botanical jewelry or making real small cute little arrangements.  So I do covet the little tiny baby guys and I do keep those for other uses.  But I don’t want this big Christmas tree so again I’m gonna cut the stem and I’m going to set this back on the ground.

Many of you asked don’t you need to harden off the stem first?  Don’t you need to let it callus?  Here in San Diego, Carlsbad, specifically in April, no I don’t.  This is not going to rot.  This soil is – it’s just damp.  It’s not wet.  It’s not going to be a problem.  If you live in areas where you’re concerned about precipitation, irrigation, wet or bog soil, then you can take your settings and put them in the garage for a few days until you see a callus over the wounds.  Here in San Diego we don’t really need to do that.

Remember what I always say – I don’t like to see dirt.  So I want to make sure that as we’re looking down on this arrangement that we don’t see any gaps.  So, I’m going to take one of these wonderful Graptosedum ‘California Sunsets’.   Look at that color; isn’t that beautifully stressed?  And I see I left a little more stem on this one because I want it to stick up a little.  Now I didn’t dig a hole.  If the stem meets the soil or there’s soil somewhere in the vicinity, you’re fine.  If your succulent stands up you’ve done your job.  We don’t necessarily need to plant it.  It’s going to harden off and root into that soil.   It will figure it out without me having to dig a hole. [Some great close-up photos of Graptosedum ‘California Sunsets’can be found here.]

A great choice for outdoor succulent designing is the Graptosedum ‘California Sunsets’.

Beautiful Graptosedum ‘California Sunsets’ for outdoor succulent designs.

Chuck another one in right here where I see a gap.  Yeah, see this isn’t even close to the soil; doesn’t matter.  What will happen, this plant will stretch more.  It’ll turn more of a kind of a mauve color and it’ll throw off air roots and get the moisture and precipitation that it needs without ever having to make contact with the soil.

Now this is a cute little circle but I’m not really about circles.   I want this arrangement to work its way out a little bit and this is where the artist or the designer in you comes forth.  You have to use your eye.  If it looks good – it is good.

When to Make Succulent Designs

Now the best time to work so cavalierly with succulents is in the cooler months in the winter, the late fall, the early spring.  The very, very hottest parts of summer probably not the best time to work with these plants as cuttings because they may very well burn.  So now’s the time to get out in your gardens and start in and pull out those succulents.  Cut them up.  Don’t be shy.  Be brave.  You can do it. Tear in, mess around with your arrangements until you can step back and say “I’m proud of that.”  “That looks really good.”  And then you’ve made art.

This has been Laura Eubanks reporting from Carlsbad, California, with your succulent tip of the day.

Our Summary:  The video gave some great outdoor succulent designs and maintenance tips that can be applied for every type of succulent plant including cactus.  Designing a great looking succulent garden is pointless if you are not also able to care for it.

There are many cactus and other different succulent plants that look well growing together.  There is no reason to hesitate planting succulents outdoors.  Be creative and willing to experiment and you will find the joy in growing succulents.

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