I’ve been a succulent enthusiast since the start. They are easy to care for, can be crammed into small spaces, and they come in a wide range of alien-like forms. What’s not to love? While I have always grown a great many of them, moving out of my old apartment and into a very dry house has really brought my succulent problem to another level. I am no longer able to keep African violets, tropicals, and other humidity-loving plants thriving here, and once I had figured that out, I simply got rid of the plants that couldn’t cope and replaced them with even more succulents. And since many succulents don’t need big pots, I crammed even more in still.
Late last winter I interviewed succulent enthusiast and grower Katherine Tracey of Avant Gardens and caught Succulent Fever, the Sequel. Suddenly the one million tender succulents overwintering in my office and basement simply would not do. We must have MORE, I say! So I went out and made sure that this year I had at least two million hundred-fifty (as the grade-schooler next door says) succulents to drag indoors come fall, a painful chore that I shall be forced to face any minute now.
This is the dilemma we succulent addicts living in cooler climates face. We could stick with the hardy succulents, but by god, there are just too many gorgeous tender plants to covet. I know I will be cursing myself in the coming weeks as I drag pot upon endless pot up and down stairs, but until then I have enjoyed the bigger, super-fabulous succulent pots I allowed myself to create this year. For a few months I was able to look out at lush containers full of tender succulents in all sorts of wild forms and imagine that I lived in California where they can keep these colourful jewels outdoors year round.
I will show you more containers over time, however I thought I would start with this beautiful, wide, terra cotta window box (scored for just a few dollars at a thrift store) full of tender echeveria, graptoveria (a hybrid of echeveria and graptopetalum), and one other trailing purple succulent that I have been unable to identify. The fact that I have been unable to identify many of the plants in this box or their specific varieties was one reason why I’ve neglected to post about it. I’d love to tell you exactly which combination of plants I have growing here, especially the cream and green variegated one that I’m sure many of you will love. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find succulents that are misidentified or not identified at all. I spent quite some time combing through my books trying to identify these varieties, but I was never certain enough to confidently list names here. Even the variegated plant has me stumped. It could be a an echeveria or an aeonium, I just don’t feel confident to say. If you have some suspicions I’d love to hear what they are in the comments, especially about the purple plant that I have never seen before.
If you’d like to see a few more succulent window boxes, there are a number that I created over the years while gardening on the roof. Succulents were some of the only plants that thrived in a metal pot on a very hot and exposed black metal fire escape, although you will see in the photos that I stuck almost exclusively to hardy succulents that could be overwintered outside.
Click through to my interview with Katharine Tracey for some of her tips for growing succulents in pots.