Asian garden inspiration: DIY succulents in a stone bowl

succulents in stone bowl

Here is the inspiration for the project: the entry garden of our a house our friends rented in Sri Lanka during their trip around the world. The bowl of flowers in water near the front entry attracts positive energy and luck.

sri lanka entry garden

sri lanka flower bowl

A bowl of flowers in water near my front entry will only attract raccoons and my thirsty labrador retriever, so I tried for a similar effect with succulents. I selected a couple of varieties of Dudleya with rosettes similar to the white flowers with their pointed petals and planted them in concrete bowls from Vietnam which I bought at Filoli’s annual plant sale. Here are similar planters at Terrain.

Dudleyas are the easiest succulents, you just plant them. To start a new plant, just snap a rosette off at the stem and stick it in the dirt. They’ll even root and form a new rosette from a single leaf. They are much more fragile than Echevaria so handle them carefully.

succulents in concrete bowl tended.wordpress.comsucculents in concrete bowl

Here is the finished result on my porch.

succulents in a concrete bowl


Succulents in vintage wood crates

succulents in wood crate

Here is a beautiful way to display succulents: fill a vintage wood crate with a variety of succulents in small pots (spotted at Emily Joubert Home and Garden). This would also make a pretty holiday display, filled with small pots of lavender and rosemary. Indoors, you could line the bottom of the crate with a plastic tray.

succulents in wood crate

Succulent inspiration at Emily Joubert Home and Garden

succulent ideas

Emily Joubert Home and Garden is a small but perfect shop in Woodside, California. The patio is absolutely beautiful. Every inch is packed with great ideas and unique, carefully selected items. This display is full of succulents, stone containers, and objects that would work equally well indoors or out.

succulent ideas

These seemingly disparate items work together to informal and relaxing effect because there is a definite method to the mix: natural materials, neutral tones, worn surfaces, slightly rustic objects. Even the succulent forms and colors are grouped together.

succulent ideas

If you do stop by, give yourself enough time to enjoy the overall effect and then take everything in down to the last perfect detail.

Yet more succulent-container combinations

mixed dudleyas

These are Dudleyas. I love the mix of forms, all in varying shades of silver, and the way the silver is set off by the white ceramic pot. Dudleyas are super easy to root from just a leaf. Just lay a leave on top of loose potting soil, keep the soil a little moist, and bam! roots and leaves. You can also just break off a rosette and replant.


Sedum in a turquoise ceramic pot I bought at an estate sale. For this pot, I like plants that spill over its squat, round form. When your sedum gets a little leggy like this one, just cut off the ones that don’t look good at the base of each stem. Trim the stem close to the leaves and tuck it back in your pot.


Haworthia growing in another estate sale find. This combination gives me a southwest/70s/midcentury vibe. Haworthia is a slow grower, but eventually it will get big enough for you to divide and repot. With this one, I have NOT had luck snapping off a rosette and replanting it.


Echeveria ‘Jade Point’ in a red ceramic pot. I like the chunky forms of both the succulent and the pot, and the red tips of the leaves with the red ceramic.

DIY gold dipped succulent pots

gold dipped succulent pots tended.wordpress.comgold dipped succulent pots tended.wordpress.comgold dipped succulent pots tended.wordpress.comgold dipped succulent pots

My very sweet in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary today, surrounded by family and friends. For the centerpieces/table decorations, I made these gold dipped terra cotta pots full of succulents.

Succulents were born to be party plants. They don’t wilt in the heat, they don’t need to be watered just before the event, they don’t drop leaves and petals on the table, and they make adorable favors for guests to take home. Succulents have great staying power, so you can make these a few days ahead of time.

Here is the how-to:

  1. 1 gallon of gold paint. I used Martha Stewart Gold Base from Home Depot. It’s a soft, pretty, non-garish gold.
  2. Dip the pots right into the paint. Vary the angles and how deep you dip. These are 4″ pots.
  3. Set the pots on wax paper to dry.
  4. Finish with one or two coats of clear lacquer or polyurethane inside and out. Coat the painted portion of the outside, and the entire inside stopping about one inch down from the rim. I skipped this step this time around and my paint did bubble a little after I watered the pots.
  5. Fill with dirt and mixed succulents. I stuck to six kinds of succuents. I varied the pots to make them more interesting, but limiting the number of succulent types made a harmonious overall group.
  6. Lightly water.

gold dipped succulent pots tended.wordpress.comgold dipped succulent pots

gold dipped succulent pots tended.wordpress.comgold dipped succulent pots

My biggest worry was that the raccoons would destroy the pots during the night. Which they have very happily done before. I placed all of the pots very close together on top of the table, hoping they’d be discouraged by the lack of space and potential for everything to come crashing down on them. The pots made it safely through the night.

Simple, easy succulent containers

succulent containers

Here is a cute group of succulents in terra cotta and handmade ceramic pots. The grouping works well because the pots are all natural tones including some soft blue greens that echo the blue green of the plants and the handmade ceramics emphasize the sculptural quality of the plants. The succulents are all different types of echeveria (I especially love the luminous white/silver) so the forms are variations on a single theme. I like to plant one type of succulent per container, and just rearrange the containers when I want a new combination.

Buy your succulents in the tiny 2″ pots so you can afford to try tons of varieties. They will grow quickly and give you plenty of babies along the way. I don’t do anything special – I give them the cheapest potting soil, full or part sun, and weekly water. Ceramics can get pricey so if your mother doesn’t go through a ceramics phase, you can get fantastic ceramic pots at estate sales, garage sales, or flea markets.

kalanchoe container

This is one Kalanchoe pumila. Believe it or not, this started out as a single plant in a little tiny pot (this planter is about 1.5’x3′ to give you an idea of the size). It grows like crazy and if you want more, just break off a piece and plant it. I love this one because it gives a full, lush look of a something leafy but only needs to be watered once a week (or less).

A succulent garden

agave, kalanchoe and echeveria

Agave, Kalanchoe luciae ‘Flapjack’, Echeveria ‘Afterglow’, and Baby Jade (also called Elephant Food or Portulacaria afra). Here, the Agave is used as a focal point and the other succulents are planted in drifts. I love this treatment and it really shows off the beauty and uniformity of their forms.

Make sure you really want an Agave before you put it in the ground, because it will grow to be a big, heavy, thorny monster. It’s beautiful, easy to grow, and hard to kill. They tolerate most soils, including heavy clay. Although they don’t need much water, they will happily survive a wet California winter without rotting.

Kalanchoe will rot if it’s overwatered. It dies after flowering, but its offsets will regrow in its place. It will die back from frost, but usually regrows. If you’re planting this one in the ground, you may want to amend your soil a bit so that it’s got some drainage.

Echeveria and Portulacaria are pretty straightforward. Interestingly, Portulacaria is native to South Africa and is being used for habitat restoration. It’s not a true jade (Crassula) but the cuttings root just as easily.