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Desert Gardening: Succulent Container Gardens

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Lowe's Desert gardening contributor Scott Calhoun shows how to put together vibrant succulent containers that are easy to maintain in the Southwest.

A well-filled container using a silver-purple color scheme.

When planting a container, you're often advised to choose three different types of plants: thrillers, fillers and spillers. It's a good rule of thumb, although for me, succulent pots are often great with thrillers, thrillers and thrillers. That is I feel that one bold species can work well on its own.

Succulents are exciting; they're like gardening with tiny colorful sculptures. In the photo above, a silver-blue cycad is the centerpiece surrounded by purple heart, trailing fishhook plant and the mounding silver rosettes of ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense). One thing to keep in mind is that in the desert areas of the Southwest, nearly all these succulent containers need at least a half day of shade - which happens to be exactly what many patio areas get.

A well-filled container using a silver-purple color scheme.

If the first combination appears too complex for you, try a more spartan version, as shown. In this container a snakelike slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus) grows next to colorful rosettes of Echeveria hybrids such as Graptoveria 'Opalina'. Eventually burro tails (Sedum morganianum) trail down the sides. You can find all these in the well-stocked succulent section of most Lowe's nurseries. In this pot tidy gravel mulch covers the spaces between the plants.

 

A well-filled container using a silver-purple color scheme.

If all these combinations still look too involved, consider using just one bold plant in a handsome pot. It's the equivalent of a one-dish meal.

A variation on the theme in the second photo, the blue-and-white pot above has a silver-blue version of slipper plant, mixed with a green elephant food (Portulacaria afra) and more ghost plant and Echeveria hybrids.

See more Desert Gardening Articles.

You can watch my video on "monopotting" here.