JF Blooms – A Succulent Hanging Garden DIY12 Min.
Once again we welcome back gardener Stacey Scontras to share her talent with us in JF Blooms. The topic Stacey chose this month is incredibly cool – hanging gardens created using succulents, which Stacey says are easy to grow and beautiful as vertical gardens. Succulents are treated as annuals here in Zone 5, and grow with very little care in the summer heat. Stacey and York, ME gardener Martha Donnell collaborated on this project, they used planters designed to create ‘green walls’ and ‘vertical gardens’ which have replaceable 14″ square coco-liners that group together seamlessly to create a dramatic effect. These container gardens are perfect for your succulents, foliage or annuals. The vertical garden pictured here, along with others created by Martha and Stacey will be installed at the York Harbor Inn.
Step 1. Materials. When choosing your pots ensure that they allow drainage and are secure and well built to hold plant material and moist soil. Look for a container that attaches easily to walls, in order to keep the planter away from direct contact with wood walls you will need to either line the back with plastic or add spacers. If you’re in the DIY mood you can create your own vertical garden with chicken wire, lobster trap wire (aah Maine) or moisture wicking landscape fabric – the internet will help you out, just do a search on DIY vertical planter. For their project, Stacey and Martha used a specially designed container and coco liners with pre-cut holes.
Step 2. Succulents. The key element here is to choose plants with similar cultural needs, succulents have similar light and water requirements, full Sun to part shade. Water as needed. Stacey and Martha recommend these Succulents.
LOTUS maculatus ‘Parrots Beak’ Trailing needlelike silver foliage adds a cool airy texture. Grown for texture, but has unique scarlet flowers that resemble a parrot’s beak- or a crab claw if you’re here in New England.
ECHEVERIA Pulidonis Compact well formed foliage rosettes with red tinged leaf margins.
LAMPRANTHUS blandus ‘Pink Vygie’ Semi-evergreen, spruce colored needle-like foliage. Will trail in containers and will attract pollinators.
CRASSULA coccinea ‘Variegated Fire’ Green and white variegated leaves take on a reddish cast in high light and cool conditions.
ECHERVIA runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’ Clump forming easy growing
CRASSULA platyphylla ‘Burgundy’ Rounded finger like leaves with burgundy margins and tips. Develops burgundy blush in cooler temps.
DICHONDRA argentea aka Kidney Weed Red orange petals have pink tips, yellow throats, and streaks of purple. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
CRASSULA arborescens undulatifolia aka Ripple Jade Compact bright green foliage with rippled edges outlined in dark purple-black.
Step 3. Planting. Martha recommends potting mix for her succulents, especially where the planters are treated as annuals (summer season) she likes that they are made to hold water slightly, and hence require very little watering. But, you can also use special mix formulated cacti and succulents too.
To prepare planter, simply add soil to the bottom of planter to the first tier for planting. Choosing plugs makes installation very easy- and here we used 4” pots and wiggled them into existing planting holes. If you are planting a DIY planter, simply slice fabric to accept plug and/or plant. PRO TIP: There are no roots holding new plant in place- securing plant may be necessary. Here Martha recommends zip ties- but you can also use twine, florist wire or landscape pins- whatever your preference, or on hand.
Placement of plants is where you can get creative. Fill first tier, and then add more soil mix. Plant openings, and repeat again. Here Martha used some trailers at top, and middle to spill and ‘knit together’ plants as ‘cohesive whole’. You can plant symmetrical or asymmetrical- depending upon your outside space. The planters here are asymmetrical.
Prior to hanging, Martha recommends allowing the planter to lay flat while roots develop. Then over the next 2-3 weeks, she slowly puts the planter at an angle, allowing the plants to develop the root system they will need to keep themselves in place. Finally, at about week 3 they are ready for hanging.
Pro Tip: Leave about ¾” above the top of the soil to allow for watering. If hanging more than one planter (this looks amazing as a green wall) don’t plant the edge of the container. Tie off unplanted holes like Martha, or you can also fill the hole with black felt to keep soil from escaping.
Step 4. Maintain and Enjoy. Follow recommendation for the culture required for your choices. These succulents prefer full sun to part shade. Watering a vertical garden is essential for growing success. Succulents prefer to dry out completely between watering. Water plants from the top slowly allowing the water to be absorbed. Water ¾” reservoir at the top filling it and then let water drain into the planter, and water again until dripping slightly.
Who is Stacey Scontras:
Professional Horticulturist, Designer, Master Gardener, member APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers), MELNA (Maine Landscape and Nursery Association), and member AHLP (Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation).
“My love for gardening began in my Grandmother’s garden. Plants and a sense of place bring us pleasure, peace and can provide us with a much-needed pause from our increasingly busy lives. I am honored to be a part of the journey outside.”
Seabury Fine Gardening + Design www.seaburyfinegardening.com
Martha Donnell, Martha Densmore Donnell www.marthadonnell.com/
York Harbor Inn www.yorkharborinn.com/
Pamela Crawford Wall Planter www.kinsmangarden.com/category/Pamela-Crawford-Planters