If you have a green thumb or just love having plants around your home, then you know how rewarding it is to watch them grow into beautiful specimens — even more so when they’re all grown from seeds.
One way to keep your garden flourishing year after year is by planting your favorite flowers alongside other plants for maximum color contrast. Another is to take advantage of companion planting, where certain plants benefit each other through their shared natural defenses against pests and diseases.
And what about growing multiple varieties of one type of plant together? That’s right, some people actually stick their favourite succulents (the leafy shrubs) in with others for aesthetic reasons only. They may not care much about the advantages of this practice, but there are definitely benefits if you go about it properly.
Here’s everything you need to know about which succulents can be planted together, why you should consider doing so, and how to make sure it goes as planned.
Can Different Types Of Succulents Be Planted Together?
You betcha! Succulents come in many shapes, sizes, colors, textures, growth rates, water needs, etc., and most thrive under similar conditions. So long as the root systems aren’t competing with each another, you’ll find no problem putting any variety next to any other.
The best part is that they don’t require sunlight throughout the day like regular houseplants do. Instead, they prefer being left undisturbed until enough energy has been absorbed from their food source to kickstart photosynthesis. This means that while you might not see immediate results, these beauties will eventually start producing oxygen and nutrients without needing a lot of attention on your end.
Once again, since they absorb carbon dioxide during the night, the amount of light required won’t hurt the leaves either. You can continue using artificial lighting during the daytime once the roots begin absorbing sufficient amounts of CO2. The same applies to watering too, though depending on the season, you may need to increase the frequency.
So yes, you really can mix up several varieties of succulents, provided they are compatible with the climate conditions in your area. If you live somewhere tropical, try sticking your faves along side cacti, ferns, bamboo, or something else native to your region. For example, if you live in Canada, place your agaves beside mint, thyme, oregano, rosemary, lavender, sage, basil, chamomile, catnip, anise hyssop, scented geranium, lemongrass, calendula, lemon balm, borage, coriander, plectranthus, tarragon, peppermint, nasturtium, sweet marjoram, dill, holy Basil, curry plant, comfrey, echinacea, feverfew, fennel, garlic chives, ginger, goldenrod, hollyhock, jasmine, kalanchoe, lantana camara, lovage, mallow, petunia, verbena, yarrow, zinnias, roses…and so forth.
In warmer climates, such as Southern California, combine succulents with desert natives like saguaros, prickly pear cactus, ocotillo, creosote bush, ironweed, and mesquite trees. In colder areas, use plants that can withstand harsh winters, including aloes, hostas, heather bells, camellias, artemisia, astilbe, helleborus, peonies, crocus, pansies, snowdrops, tulips, cyclamen, and amaryllis bulbs.
As mentioned earlier, you can also plant your favourite flowering annuals among the foliage to create colourful displays at minimal effort. But remember that blooming perennials require ample sun exposure, whereas those that flower annually can survive shady locations. Also, never forget that the colour combinations you choose depend largely upon your personal preferences. Don’t feel bound by rules. Experiment often to discover new looks and colours that work well for you.
What To Plant Multiple Succulents In?
Succulent gardens tend to be quite small unless you buy large pots, and keeping them alive requires less maintenance than traditional non-succulent ones. However, because they lack strong stems or thick trunks, they are prone to drying out faster. Therefore, proper irrigation is crucial, especially in hot seasons. It helps to add moisture directly to the soil whenever possible. Watering medium-sized plants every two days or so would suffice. Smaller kinds could receive daily doses.
It’s also important to note that potting soils contain very little nutrition compared to living vegetation. As a result, fertilizing your collection isn’t necessary as long as its diet includes plenty of organic matter. A good idea is to sprinkle compost over the top before covering it with mulch or bark chips. Or simply fill the container halfway with loose material, cover it completely, and let nature run wild.
Maximizing Space Usage
To maximize space usage, grouping your plants accordingly doesn’t necessarily mean placing them close to each other. There are lots of creative ways you can arrange yours. Here are three popular options:
1. Mix ’em up
For maximum visual appeal, spread them across the available space. Place taller ones toward the back, mid-height objects towards the front, and shorter specimens in between.
This approach works particularly well with tall containers. Try arranging the tallest specimen(s) first, followed by smaller ones, ending with the shortest ones. By creating depth within the arrangement, you’ll help viewers focus on the centre.
When planning this layout, think about the direction the eyes travel when viewing the display. Tallest things always draw our gaze upward, while shorter specimens usually catch our eye due to their height relative to the ground. Accordingly, we typically shift our view upwards and down respectively when walking past rows of different heights.
2. Group by function
Planting multiple succulents based on specific functions makes sense for maximizing interior spaces. Let’s say you’ve got four identical rectangular planters sitting beside each other. Arrange the larger specimens closest to the window, the medium-size ones farther away, and the smallest ones farthest yet. Now switch their placement vertically. Top off the bottom row with short plants, middle ones get the second row, followed by longer ones on the third row. Finally, finish off the fourth row with medium-sized plants.
3. Create focal points
A simple trick for adding interest to arrangements is to position select specimens in the foreground instead of background corners. Focus on a single element, whether it’s a particular species, size, texture, shape, colour, or combination thereof. Then build layers of greenery around it to complement the appearance.
Another option involves taking inspiration from nature itself. Some plants naturally attract beneficial insects such as bees and hoverflies. Take advantage of this phenomenon by strategically positioning some specimens near such bugs’ favoured habitats.
4. Play around with scale
Small pots packed full of lush flora are visually pleasing, but often impractical. Consider buying larger containers instead and filling them half-way with gravel or rocks before covering them with moss. Alternatively, you can opt for square planter boxes filled with gravel and covered with moss, spruce needles, fir branches, or pinecones. Whatever materials you decide to use, ensure they blend seamlessly with the environment.
5. Opt for vertical gardening
Vertical planters provide extra storage capacity and allow you to bring plants closer to eye level. Simply pick multiples of the same species and line them up one behind the other to form neat columns. Fill the gaps between each column with stones or sand. Make sure the plants stay moist but not wet.
6. Organize according to structure
There’s nothing better than seeing fresh greenery dangling over a table edge. When you have multiple pots lined up horizontally, follow the contours of the surface by bringing the lowermost plants higher up. You can also stagger them to give them greater prominence. Additionally, it’s worth considering spacing plants according to the width of the border or frame surrounding them.
7. Go horizontal
While vertical arrangements lend themselves perfectly to indoor settings, they’re not ideal outside. Why not turn them upside down and enjoy a cool display of succulents hanging from the ceiling? Just grab some rope and attach the pots to hooks. Ensure that you haven’t forgotten anything below, otherwise you risk damaging floors, furniture, and possibly yourself.
8. Be mindful of neighbours
Don’t fall prey to the temptation of hiding unattractive parts of your succulent garden. Remember, aesthetics count. Even if you leave them uncovered, they still produce heat and consume juice, so you must maintain adequate hydration levels. Your neighbour’s enjoyment shouldn’t dictate your design choices. Keep your decorating style clean and neutral.