Shabby chic gardens do not come easy, you have to be creative, hire a good landscaper or embrace imperfection. Nothing quite displays the beauty of succulents than when different varieties are grown in time worn furniture and at one spot in a garden.
Succulents come in different geometric and architectural shapes and their aesthetic is about perfectly mixing them in one pot or location.
Take, for instance, the ‘Echeveria’ with its Mexican splendour sitting side by side with the thimble cactus and the ‘Pacheveria’ in a container or garden.
Teresa Lubano, the owner of a thriving online shop for succulents says if the intention is to have a shabby chic finish, have a ‘clever eye’ so that the pot or garden does not look disorganised.
“When pairing succulents, always consider the spot/base you are planting them and consider that some are prolific while others grow so slowly,” says the proprietor of shopnanjala that has grown over the years to attract big contracts.
Some of the succulents that can be paired perfectly to bring out an artistic form and add glamour include the ‘California Sunset,’ a plant that boasts beautiful colouring with the Sedum ‘Donkey Tail’ which drapes dramatically.
The ‘Springtime’, a slow growing succulent is also a ground cover that can be combined with ‘Calico Kitten’ which is an adorable trailing succulent with colourful, heart shaped leaves in shades of rose, pink, cream and green.
You can even repeat one type of succulent in all pots or spots for a creative colour echo. Below are examples of spots where succulents can be paired;
The size of the pot will determine the types of plants you can mix. While a combination of the ‘Echeveria’, ‘Thimble cactus’ and ‘Pacheveria’ will look awesome in a small pot, the opposite might be the case with the agave.
Agaves are succulents with large rosette of thick, fleshy leaves and short stem. The leaves are normally springing from the roots, hence this might be too much for the small pot.
“Opt for spillers and ground cover types like ‘Crassulaes’ and ‘Sedums’ if your potting is open,” Ms Lubano says.
For a striking effect in the home, Ms Lubano says her favourite is the ‘Sanseverias’ or ‘Cactii’ which add a sculptural effect in any home. Always remember to use top dressing after planting the succulents in the container as this gives it the ‘finished’ look.
While incorporating driftwood in your garden gives it a bit of rustic artistic feel, having succulents grow on it is even more intriguing.
You can put soil in the depressions on the driftwood and grow succulents that have iconic colouration such as the jade plant and combine this with the ‘Echeveria’ varieties.
Ms Lubano explains that bright sunlight brings about varied colouration in succulents.
“For example, a jade plant that lives indoors will have green leaves however when the same plant is placed outside, the tips go a reddish orange, this is also the same for the ‘Sticks of fire’,” she says.
The best example in this class is the gumball machine planter which basically is the work of recycling. The open globe terrarium or the succulents orb also features here.
The best combination of plants to have in these semi closed planters are miniature succulents.
“For example, the zebra cactus (harwothia), thimble cactus or opuntias and echeverias are great as they are slow,” she says.
While the indoor varieties are mainly the ‘hardy succulents’ such as the cactus, ‘Sanseveria’ (snake plant), jade plant and the ‘Harwothias’, the outdoor varieties normally includes echeverias, sedums, sempervivums (hens and chicks) as well as crassulaes.
The outdoor types are normally green coloured and thrive with sun. However to some level, all succulents require sunlight (or bright light) to survive.
Ms Lubano warns against overwatering succulents as they will rot and denying them light as they will wither.
“Starve them. Water sparingly and only one a week or fortnight especially when indoors. Don’t place in dark corners as this part of the house gets the least light. Try windowsills, verandahs and balconies if you want a succulent to last you decades,” she says.
She also warns that some succulents are harmful and one ought to be cautious of species such as the ‘Sticks of Fire’ as the sap if ingested is poisonous.