As the weather patterns have changed, particularly in the Western Cape, we’ve come to appreciate resilient plants like succulents. They come in great variety, are fairly easy to maintain and make beautiful additions to any garden or home. In the #HLArchitectureIssue, we profiled master botanist Dr Ernst van Jaarsveld, who works amid hundreds of potted succulents in the gorgeous gardens of Babylonstoren.
Fortunately, you do not have to be a master botanist to pot your own succulents. Our step-by-step guide will help you get started.
get all your tools
Before you begin, you need to ensure that you have all the tools ready to pot your succulent. In addition to the succulent plant itself (or plants if you are going for a variety), you will need:
- A bowl or container of your choice, with drainage holes
- Mesh tape, a piece of landscape fabric or a coffee filter
- Cactus or succulent potting soil
- Stones, gravel or marbles for decorative purposes
prep your bowl
Your pot needs to have a draining hole, but you don’t want the soil to escape. To prevent this, line the bottom of the pot with mesh tape, a piece of landscape fabric or a coffee filter. This will cover the draining hole and ensure excess water goes out, while keeping the soil in.
Fill up your bowl with the cactus or succulent potting soil. The reason this specific soil is used is because it’s a fast-draining soil that retains little moisture – perfect for succulents. Fill up the bowl almost to the top. You need to ensure that the roots of your succulent are about 1/2 inch below the rim of the container. Make sure there is space for soil plus your decorative stones or gravel when planting.
plant your succulent
Plan the placement of your succulent. Gently remove the succulent from the pot it came in. Try to get rid of as much of the nursery soil the plant came in as you can. Be careful not to damage the roots. If you’re planting a variety of succulents in a big bowl, you may have to break some of the roots for space.
Nestle some of the roots into the soil, so they get a bit of a head start on growth. Then cover the roots and fill up the pot with your soil. You want to leave some space between the top of the soil and top of the pot. Make sure the leaves of the succulent sit completely above the soil, to prevent rotting.
You can leave the the potted succulent as is or you can decorate it a bit. This can be done with stones, gravel or marbles. Lay these on the top of bowl, ensuring you don’t cover the leaves of the succulent. Do not water the newly potted plant for at least two days – this will allow the roots of the succulent to heal.
To read more about the wonders of succulents and Dr van Jaarsveld’s work at Babylonstoren, pick up your copy of #HLDesign – on shelves now.