My obsession with succulents

My obsession with succulents

"Why do you like those ugly things?" 

This is what my mom used to ask me when I was a child oo-ing and aw-ing over these strange, pre-historic plants. They always felt very architectural and sculptural. Cut to a few decades later and now my mom a fellow succulent lover. Just in time, as they now seem to be "popular", as my middle school children would say. So, I'd love to introduce you to a few of the popular friends.

This planter is an old balinese bull whose head fell off! The mirror behind is an old chinese shutter found at the Alameda Flea market. Did I mention that it's my favorite place on the planet. I glued a mirror to the back of the shutter to create a little outdoor installation.

This planter is an old balinese bull whose head fell off! The mirror behind is an old chinese shutter found at the Alameda Flea market. Did I mention that it's my favorite place on the planet. I glued a mirror to the back of the shutter to create a little outdoor installation.

I found this little guy at Home Depot and I am in love. I call this my Dr. Seuss plant. I just think he is fabulous.

I found this little guy at Home Depot and I am in love. I call this my Dr. Seuss plant. I just think he is fabulous.

These are a set of planters that flank my front door. Once I saw them, I just had to have them even thought they were out of my budget. I got them at my favorite undercover nursery here in San Jose called Green Design. The place is sublime.

These are a set of planters that flank my front door. Once I saw them, I just had to have them even thought they were out of my budget. I got them at my favorite undercover nursery here in San Jose called Green Design. The place is sublime.

Here's what happens to those rosettes when you let them go. They grow up to be these beautiful big yellow blooms.

Here's what happens to those rosettes when you let them go. They grow up to be these beautiful big yellow blooms.

I've toted this guy around with me from move to move. He's a little worse for the wear but still hanging on.

I've toted this guy around with me from move to move. He's a little worse for the wear but still hanging on.

This was a planter that I planted for a good friend of mine who had the container already. Its a salvaged drain gutter!!!

This was a planter that I planted for a good friend of mine who had the container already. Its a salvaged drain gutter!!!

This is a birch log that has been hollowed out. I've now taken to grabbing pieces of birch tree that people put out on the street on green waste day.

This is a birch log that has been hollowed out. I've now taken to grabbing pieces of birch tree that people put out on the street on green waste day.

Pure beauty.

Pure beauty.

For some reason, I find this so beautiful, it hurts.

For some reason, I find this so beautiful, it hurts.

This is my beloved vertical garden. Lance and I made it, through trial and error. I think we'd do it differently next time but sure is fun eye candy.

This is my beloved vertical garden. Lance and I made it, through trial and error. I think we'd do it differently next time but sure is fun eye candy.

My pride and joy. A reclaimed wooden palette. This is right outside my kitchen window so I get to gaze at it fondly as I do dishes (which is all the time).

My pride and joy. A reclaimed wooden palette. This is right outside my kitchen window so I get to gaze at it fondly as I do dishes (which is all the time).


WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHICH ARE YOUR FAVORITES? 
I'D LOVE TO HEAR.

TIPS FOR PLANTING SUCCULENTS

First of all, let me tell you that if I can do this, so can YOU! succulents can be planted blindly and need very little attention. This website, Succulents & Sunshine, is a great resource.

PURCHASING

I prefer to buy succulents at a nursery in a 5 gallon pot. These are significantly more cost effective than buying them individually. And you can use them in one large pot or a few smaller ones. And if the worst thing in the world is that you don't have an arrangement for them, just hold on to them.

I prefer to support smaller nurseries and succulent-only nurseries but you can always purchase them through Amazon or at Home Depot or Lowe's. In fact I think Costco is even carrying them seasonally. 

 

SUCCULENT NURSERIES IN THE BAY AREA

Succulent Gardens, Moss Landing (North of Monterey)
This is my favorite place ever (and a great reason to go to Moss Landing). It is the Disneyland of succulents. You just won't believe it. It looks like you'd need a wholesale license but you don't.

Hwy 92 Succulents, Half Moon Bay
Super cute place. Easy to find. Privately owned.

Halfmoon Bay Nursery, Half Moon Bay
I haven't been but I hear its divine. Although you may need to bring a friend with a wholesale license. I don't think they sell to the general public.

ALTERNATIVE TO PURCHASinG : STEALING SUCCULENTS

I can't go on a walk without finding a succulent to snap off. It's bad. My kids see it in my eyes way before the deed happens and they all yell in unison "mom!" Sigh. Here's my rationalization: These things grow like weeds. No one will miss the rosette that I snap off and I am continuing the succulent race elsewhere! This is an article on the act of snapping with a funny title. And here's another article on propogating and planting succulents from Apartment Therapy.

 

PLANTING (works for purchased or snapped)

1. Snap a rosette from the plant, leaving a couple inches of stem attached.
2. Set the cutting aside in a dry, protected place, out of direct sun, until the cut end dries and seals (three days to a week).
3. Stick it in the ground! "They" say you need to purchase cactus soil, but you don't. Regular potting soil works just great. And usually there is a bag around. 
4. Make sure the vessel can drain otherwise the plants will get too wet and rot.

 

PLANTING STRATEGIES

The one thing I have found is that they are like-minded. Meaning, they like to hang around the same kind of plant. I'm just kidding. But they look much better when they are clustered together in similar color formations. This one is done is sort of a rainbow formation but that's not necessary.  Here's another one that's a bit more random (below).

CARING FOR YOUR NEW FOUND FRIENDS

Even thought they are hard to kill, I've done it. So here's my advice:

- Make sure they are in indirect sun (yes, that's right) or a sunny place that also gets shade. Even though these seem like desert-loving plants, they also dry out quickly. I've had the best luck with partial sun. 

- Water thoroughly once a week. For indoor plants, it may be necessary to also spray them with water between weekly waterings. You'll know if they are thriving. Then just keep doing that!

 

I HOPE MY OBSESSION WILL SOON BECOME YOURS. 

WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?


My obsession with succulents