The sweet saturation of succulents

jbryanGrowing, How-To3 Comments

You may have noticed a trend in the floral focus I’ve had for the past couple months….I have been hinting not-so-subtly about my all-encompassing love for succulents ever since I got great books for Christmas, gave another great book, got a killer gift card, and found a website or two that sells succulents online.

And, it seems I am not the only one who’s more than a little focused on this category of indoor and outdoor grower. Check out this recent article in The Washington Post, called a “Guide to Growing A Succulent Garden.” It supplies a ton of valuable tips and pointers when it comes to getting started on your own collection of succulents. So, read up, bite the bullet and get going!

I have been trying to get this succulent post published for a long time and between figuring out my angle, making my succulents grow into something concrete, and crossing my fingers with the weather (which we all know is never predictable and always does what you don’t want it to), the weeks have tacked on. Mea culpa, but let’s get down to it now.

When I heard that my sister was coming up to visit for the weekend (back in January!), who happens to be a succulent expert, I knew that the time to act on the trend, obsession, and love was RIGHT THEN! Want to give a big thank you shout out to my sister, Kathy, the succulent sensai, who mentored me through this process and provided lots of succulent babies for this project, too.

Like I mentioned above, I received some great books at the holidays on succulents, my sister found a great online resource for buying them, and I got an itch to not just grow succulents but to be super crafty and make something unique. Once I saw all of the bits and pieces and kinds of succulents that we were able to purchase online (more about that later), I knew what I wanted to do to showcase all the different varieties of succulents we had received. A wreath!

Now, you may be asking yourself, how the heck do you get succulents to stay in a wreath, how to do support a living wreath, how long does it take for the succulents to root, etc. Don’t worry, we will touch on all of these points below.

I won’t lie has taken a long time to come together. I found the idea surfing around on Pinterest, and was instantly hooked. The idea stuck in my brain and I ordered two moss wreath forms, as the directions had instructed. Before I knew it, there were two wreath forms soaking in my sink full of water, just waiting to have succulents tucked into it.

Where to buy succulents online

But first, let’s talk about where you can buy bulk amounts of succulents online so that you get a nice variety without breaking the bank. Because let’s be honest–these little beauties can add up quickly. Especially when you need 50+ cuttings for a couple of wreaths.

We bought ours from The Succulent Source and we chose the “Luck of the Draw” assortment of succulents. Basically, this means that we got a large sample of cuttings that is a mixed bag of whatever clippings they have at the time you order. It guarantees variety and because you are helping them clear out their cuttings, they cost less than properly potted varietals.

This place was by far the most reasonably priced succulent resource on the web. We split a box for $50 and got tons of kinds to choose from.

Do you have to condition them?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: By the time the succulents get to you, they will be conditioned already, as the shipping time gives them the few days they need to “grow a callous” on the cut edge. Once a succulent has that, it is ready for planting and rooting.

The Succulent Source shipped our succulents wrapped in newspaper, by priority mail. They can stay that way until you are ready to work with them…we waited up to a week with no issues.

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How do you get them into the wreath?

First things first: When you do a traditional wreath (think of the one’s we did in North Carolina and at Monticello around Christmas), you are arranging with the wreath already hung on a stand, so you can see what it will look like as you go. But, with succulents, you arrange with the wreath flat on the table. You do this so the succulents aren’t fighting gravity as they try to root and connect to the wreath. By letting it lay flat for a couple of weeks before hanging it vertically, you give them the time to get in there and stay solid.

The basic method for getting them to root is fairly simple. We used a wooden skewer (think kebabs) and created little holes and divets in the form, to place the bits and pieces of succulents and secure them into the wreath. It took a little trial and error, and more than a few of the stems took a nose dive to the counter before we completely figured out how to do it properly.

Here is what I started with wayyyy back in January, its a bare moss wreath form that you soak in water, then you poke holes in it and stick little bits and pieces of succulents in so they can root and grow.

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After the poking and prodding, and trying different things, here is what my wreath looked like when I planted it in February, with all the little bits.

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Kind of sad, but you could spend a lot more money than I did, and plant full sized plants, and get instant gratification, but by my calculations that would have cost close to $100 to do. For this version, the bits and pieces ran about $20 for two wreathes, and we planted the leftovers so we can add those to the wreathes to fill in, down the line.

Want to know how much of a difference time makes? Look no further. Here is the same wreath (on the right) in mid-April, along with my sister’s version (on the left):

As you can see, some of the cuttings took, and some not as much, but, since we have these cuttings growing too, we can fill in the wreath at no extra cost!

And that concludes the first and longest project number one with succulents for me. It will spend its summer sunning on the back deck and growing more lush and full. We will be sure to report back on its progress and show any updates as we fill in with the cuttings and make it look more full and beautiful.

jbryanThe sweet saturation of succulents
  • Andrea Kennedy

    Such a great idea! I’ve been wanting to try something with succulents and I might just give this a go. What is under the moss, i.e. what type of wreath form is the moss mounted on?

  • Julie Edwards Bryan

    Hi Andrea, the miss is wrapped around a metal wreath form that has a chain for hanging and little legs that keep it off the wall when vertical and the surface when horizontal. I bought the form with the moss together on EBay. Have fun!

  • Julie Edwards Bryan

    Sorry for the typo “miss” not miss!