Heat-Savvy Desert Plants

Fill a simple container with great-looking succulents to create a low-maintenance display.
Ellen Ruoff Riley

It's amazing how some folks hang on to their cool, crisp look even when temperatures hover on sizzle. In the garden world, succulents own that no-sweat, bring-on-the-heat persona. This broad family of drought-tolerant plants includes sedums, hen and chicks, and other echeverias. They offer super-simple care and style that's hard to beat. Plant a container such as this one outdoors for a beautiful look that will last until frost.

Set It Up
Succulents don't require deep soil, so a wide, shallow dish is a great container choice. Fill it three-quarters full of potting mix, and cover the top with 3 cups of gravel. Blend them thoroughly, and then moisten with water.

Planting
Remove the plants from their containers, and place the largest one on one side of the pot. Surround it with other plants; let creeping types trail over the edge. Cluster similar shapes together for a well-designed arrangement.

Fast Finish
Sprinkle dark-colored aquarium gravel around each plant so all exposed soil is covered. Place the container in full or partial sun, and water it every other day (less if the pot is in a shady spot).

Shopping List

  • 1 (10-inch-wide) clay dish
  • 6 (4-inch-wide) pots of succulents: Choose an assortment of sizes and types, including a few to trail over the container's edge.
  • Potting Soil
  • Gravel: 3 cups of pea gravel or aquarium gravel to mix with potting soil and 1 bag of aquarium gravel in a dark color to finish the container.

 

This article is from the August 2005 issue of Southern Living.