Over the years, I’ve made a tradition of both putting together a new succulent window box idea every spring, and posting about it here. Since planting up this year’s box a few months ago, I’ve been taking photos as a prelude to a write-up here. But just when I begin to write, something in the box changes and I convince myself the box is even better and requires new photos. Now that I have broken my digital camera and am in gear purgatory I will just have to settle for the last batch of images and write this thing up already.
Sun-loving and exceptionally drought-tolerant succulents are just about the only plants that can survive the growing season slugging it out in a window box on my painfully hot and dry fire escape. I grow sun loving plants in larger containers on the fire escape as well but the succulents are the only plants that can withstand a day or more without attention and a long drink of water. They are hardy too, some like the ‘Goldmoss Stonecrop’ have been living in the same box for four seasons straight surviving straight through our cold, sporadic city winters. Many assume that because succulents are easy that they are also boring yet mine put on a good show, growing, draping, evolving with the seasons, changing colours, and eventually producing wacky alien-like flower forms.
From the Front (Photographed in May):
Clockwise from right front: Goldmoss Stonecrop (Sedum acre), Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, Sedum spurium Probably ‘Red Carpet’ , Sempervivum ‘Pacific Sexy’, Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’, Sedum sieboldii
- Regular potting mix with about 1/4 sand added. The other 3/4 can be straight up potting mix with an addition of compost if you like. Succulents need good drainage so a little sand helps. If your spot is really hot and dries out quickly you can forego the sand and just go with a well-draining potting soil.
- Window Box – This one cost about $15 and was purchased at Ikea several years ago. This kind of galvanized metal container is much more popular and easier to find these days. Make sure to poke holes in the bottom with a large nail if holes are not provided. Succulents require good drainage or they will rot.
- Plants – Most of these plants cost about $1.99-2.99 with the exception of the wildly expensive sempervivum coming in at $7.99. My cost for this box was $16 which is a bit higher than previous years which tended to come in at around $12. or under.
- Gravel or Decorative Rocks – Make a great succulent container mulch. Mulch prevents soil erosion, holds in some moisture, and just plain looks good. Rocks are cheap and reusable. You can also try aquarium gravel, marbles, broken pottery, or beach glass.
From the Front (Photographed in June):
- The wildly expensive Sempervivum ‘Pacific Sexy’ seems to be the only plant having a hard time this year.
From the Side:
Close-up on Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’: