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Southeast Gardening: Vacation-Proof Container

Summer containers and vacation plans are surprisingly compatible. Succulent plants are drought resistant and sun loving for carefree Southeast summer days.

 A succulent container.

What kind of summer container looks great all season and practically takes care of itself - so you can feel good about getting away on vacation? One filled with succulent plants. The waxy, fleshy leaves of these rosette and trailing plants love sun, heat and dry soil. In fact the worst thing you can do is keep them too moist or put them in the shade.

Begin by choosing a container that complements your planting, as well as the location where it's stationed. Because most succulents are low growing, a shallow bowl or pot works well. If you need a taller pot, select succulents that trail over the edge.

 Amend potting soil for better drainage.

Select a quality potting mix, one that's light and fluffy to assure good drainage. The organic ingredients, such as sphagnum peat moss, will hold a lot of moisture, which normally is good. To be sure your drought-loving succulents don't stay too wet, mix sand, perlite, expanded shale or vermiculite into the potting mix, up to one part potting mix and two parts amendments. The resulting potting mix will be sharply drained.

 Use gravel mulch on the surface of the soil.

Whether you prefer your container to have one type of succulent plant or a variety, chances are they will benefit from gravel mulch, at least initially. When mulched, the soil surface around the plants is dry and reflects light onto the plants. In addition, it looks as it should - a succulent plant growing in dry, graveled soil. Crushed stone, pea gravel and similar materials give your container a finished look, even when newly planted. Then, as the season progresses, plants grow together to make a succulent carpet.

 A recipe for a succulent container.

Tip 1: If the pot is large or made of a heavy material, place it where it will be displayed before planting.

Tip 2: A good reference for container gardening and other garden know-how is the new book Gardening Made Simple by Better Homes and Gardens®.

For more about how I planted this container, check out my video.

See more Southeast Gardening Articles.