SUCCULENTS & SUNSHINE SOIL GUIDE by Cora Neil

Cassidy Tuttle is the talented photographer, author, and green thumb behind www.succulentsandsunshine.com and the newly released Idiot's Guide to Succulents. (I must say, it's the most beautiful Idiots Guide I've ever laid eyes on!) Cassidy stopped by to share her best tips for creating just the right soil to grow your succulents in. 

Succulents are such fun plants to grow and can be pretty low maintenance. While most people seem to realize that succulents don’t need water as frequently as most plants, they don’t even think about the soil they are planted in. A well draining soil is crucial to maintaining a healthy succulent garden.

There are several bagged potting mixes available at big box stores, but generally these are filled with peat moss and regular potting soil which retains too much water for succulents. An ideal soil mix for succulents will have mostly inorganic materials with somewhat large particles (⅛ - ¼”). Smaller particles cause the soil to be more dense and doesn’t allow for proper drainage.

The following is a mix that works extremely well for succulents:

  • 1 part pine bark fines

  • 1 part crushed granite

  • 1 part turface (or a large particle diatomaceous earth)

Generally these items can be found at a nursery. Turface can actually be found at autoparts stores! It’s used to clean up oil spills and is generally called something like “Oil-dri”. You can also order a pre-mixed bag of this soil mix online from Bonsai Jack, as well as the individual products.

You can also make a mix of your own with similar products. Often people recommend using pumice as a component for succulent soil. Whatever you use, just make sure it drains really well so it dries quickly.

The great thing about planting succulents in Hedge planters is they help encourage the soil to dry out. The coconut liner drains really well and provides for good airflow around the soil which will help it dry out quickly. Succulent roots love having plenty of airflow and the combination of a well draining soil in a Hedge planter will make for happy succulents!

For more information about growing healthy succulents, check out these great ebooks from Succulents and Sunshine .

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LEAF and JUNE by Cora Neil

Brooklyn-based plant designer Lisa Muñoz started gardening as a child alongside her grandparents in her home state of Texas. The name Leaf and June combines Lisa's nickname, Leaf (she loves plants just a little) and her influential maternal grandmother's first name, June.

Lisa (Leaf) has put together an array of magnificent plants and care instructions you might choose for your Hedge planters. I highly recommend you check out her inspirational work infusing plants into New York interiors, bringing urban spaces to life!

zz plant

zz plant

ZZ Plant  Zamioculcas zamifolia
Light: Low to medium
Water: Light to moderate watering once per week. This plant thrives on neglect, so less is more. Yellowing leaves is a sign of over-watering. Browning, crispy leaves is a sign of under-watering.
Temperature:  Average home temperature.

string of pearls & spider plant

string of pearls & spider plant

Spider Plant  Chlorophytum comosum
Light: Medium to Bright
Water: Light to moderate watering once per week. If leaves start to wilt, it’s likely that it needs more water.
Temperature:  Average home temperature.
Habit: Trailing. Prune as often as you’d like. As an added bonus, you can put plantlet clippings in water to root and re-pot.

String of Pearls  Sececio rowleyanus
Light: Bright filtered light.  No direct sun.
Water: Light to moderate watering once every 1 -2 weeks. Allow soil to dry out in between waterings. Less is more with these ladies.  
Temperature:  Average home temperature.
Habit: Trailing. Prune as often as you’d like. You can also put plant clippings in soil for them to root.  

 

birds nest fern

birds nest fern

Birds Nest Fern Asplendium nidus
Light: Medium to bright filtered light. No direct sun.
Water: Light to moderate watering once per week. Be sure to avoid watering into the central rosette as that will cause rotting. Lift the foliage and water the soil surrounding the rosette.  Yellowing fronds are a sign of over-watering.
Temperature:  Average home temperature.

baby rubber plant

baby rubber plant

Baby Rubber Plant Peperomia obtusifolia
Light: Low to medium
Water: Light to moderate watering once per week. Wilting is a sign of not enough water.
Temperature:  Average home temperature.
Habit:  Sprawling.

 

POTTED by Cora Neil

L.A.'s outdoor living gurus at Potted share expert advise on Succulents and Air Plants

SUCCULENTS & AIR PLANTS

An anchor of L.A.'s hip Atwater Village neighborhood since 2004, Potted is a patio & garden lovers dream! Co-owners Annette Gutierrez and Mary Grey have created a shop for design-loving garden enthusiasts – people who want to shop for the outdoor area of their homes with the same choices and style they have for their interiors.

Below, Annette shares her expertise on planting and caring for succulents and air-plants. You can also check out her video tutorial on how to plant succulents here.

MARIAN planter in fig filled with tiny succulents

MARIAN planter in fig filled with tiny succulents

We love succulents and air plants in almost anything, and they are especially suited for the Hedge planters.
— Annette Gutierrez, Potted
mixed variety of succulents

mixed variety of succulents

We plant succulents using a variety that spills (sedums, like Burrow’s Tail or String of Pearls) and then maybe something with a rosette for a bit of bling.  Echeverias work great for this, especially Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ (yes, that’s really it’s name) with its beautiful soft pink blush.  It’s good to know how a succulent will grow before you plant it as they all look cute and perfect when they’re in their 4” containers, but some of them can get very tall and ungainly.  For instance Aeoniums will look very similar to Echeverias when they are small (both have a pretty flower quality), but while Echeverias will stay low, most Aeoniums will get tall and ruin the balance of your planting.  The design of the Hedge planters are so beautiful that you want the plants to compliment it, not cover it up.  Succulents will also make caring for your creation super easy as they have very low water needs. And the coir lining of the planters works great for letting their roots dry out… no fear of overwatering. (But still don’t overwater!) To water, we take our planters over the sink, pour in enough water to thoroughly wet the soil and once it has stopped dripping, hang it back up.  Watering needs vary depending on the temperature in your home, but most likely once every two weeks should be fine.  Check the container at least once a week the first couple of weeks you have it to access it’s needs.  If it looks wet, DON’T WATER IT.  If it’s dried out, go ahead.  Succulents like drying out and then getting a good soak.  If your planter is outside, then just hose it off like all our other plants using the shower head on your hose.  Make sure to place your succulents in a sunny window (inside they will need at least four hours of good sunlight) but note that if it’s too intense, they could burn.  Outside succulents like part sun and some relief from the very hot afternoon sun.  Try putting them next to a larger tree or pot that can offer them some shade.

air plants

air plants

Air Plants (aka Tillandsias) don’t require soil, so we just lay them on top of the coir liners. How easy is that? Obviously you need a larger variety of air plant, say a Xerographica, so it doesn’t get underwhelmed in the planter, but there are plenty of varieties to choose from. To water indoors, we suggest taking the air plant out of the planter and soaking it in a bowl or sink filled with water once every 7-10 days. You want to make sure the plant is completely submerged (they take their nourishment in from their leaves, not from what looks like their roots) for about an hour and left to dry out upside down. Many plants will rot if they sit flat with water pooled in their leaves. If you don’t have time to submerge, you can just run the plant under the tap until it’s thoroughly soaked, but do this occasionally rather than the norm. And don’t forget to dry it out. Outside you can water them with a hose as you would any other plant (there is more humidity outside so they don’t need as much hydration), but be careful if the plant is sitting in a way that water will collect. You may have to turn it on its side to dry. Their normal environment is tree tops where the small plants fall from above and nestle into the crooks of branches, usually on their side, not back. They prefer bright, indirect light but there are some varieties that can tolerate full sun. The grayer the variety, the more sun and less water it can take.