Succulent vertical planter
By: Garden Gate staff
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Start your own succulent wall planter
Wall planters are the hottest thing in container gardening. Here’s how to plant up your own. Start with the supplies at left. Look for or build a frame that’s 1½ to 2 inches deep, which is deep enough to accommodate the roots and also hold enough potting mix so you don’t have to water all the time. Make sure there are drainage holes in the back. This one has a transparent plastic back with several ¼-inch holes in the center. A piece of ½-inch hardware cloth on the front is the right size for getting the potting mix inside and small enough it doesn’t fall out.
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Fill the frame
Succulents grow best in a quick-draining potting mix so they don’t rot. Use a bag of commercial cactus mix or make your own by mixing a third each of potting soil, ¼- or ⅜-inch lava rock and perlite or pumice. If it’s dry, use a spray bottle to mist the mix and provide a little moisture to cut down on the dust.
Put the potting mix into the frame through the hardware cloth, stopping every so often and give it a shake to settle it in. As the frame gets fuller you’ll need to push the potting mix in with your fingertips to make sure all the corners are filled and the mix is flush with the hardware cloth.
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Plant it up
Succulents with roots aren’t a practical choice for this project — cuttings work best. Place a piece of the succulent, whether it’s a leaf or a rosette, so the base makes contact with the potting mix. Place cuttings about ¼ inch apart to provide some space for new growth and allow air circulation to avoid fungal disease.
The key to making a planter like this look great is choosing a variety of different foliage colors and shapes. This container includes hen and chicks (Sempervivum hybrid) and echeverias (Echeveria spp. and hybrids).
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There’s no need for water or plant food at this time; just provide a place for the frame to lay flat for several weeks in a spot that gets bright light but isn’t in the hot sun. Hen and chicks are quick to root — two to three weeks. Others, such as echeverias, can take up to six weeks. A gentle tug will tell you if plants are rooted. Or tip the box a bit and see if any of them move. Once they’re growing, give the frame a good soak, let it drain and you’re ready to hang it on the fence or wall.