Mad about Pots!
Pots and succulents - they go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Bonnie and Clyde, like milk and cookies ... you get the idea. Succulent's low water requirements, striking appearance, and tolerance to absent minded owners make them perfect companions to a handsome pot. Here's a few shots of my favorite pots from around the yard. Enjoy!
Above in the gray pot is a medium sized Aloe wickensii which was languishing in a 2 gallon, plastic pot for a year or more before being moved to it's new, more spacious home. It has since grown half again in size and may reach as much as 3 feet tall. Even with a top dressing of rock mulch the soil shrinks and pulls away from the inside of the pot by roughly 1/4 inch during the summer months. I don't have a regular watering schedule for these bigger, glazed pots - they get water when I remember which is usually once or twice a month during the warmer part of the year and zero watering the rest of the year.
Pictured above is Agave Blue Flame' which has been in this location about four years. This is one of my very favorite Agave's because of it's eloquent leaf shape. It currently has produced several offsets growing happily just out of view. This corner of the yard is looking a little neglected but luckily the plants don't seem to care.
I just have not found a good plant for this pot yet and at 4 1/2 feet tall I don't enjoy moving it around unless there's a good reason.
Dramatically different plants shapes can end up balancing one another.
This Agave attenuata variegata came as an offset from a friends yard. It's probably tripled in size over the last few years. The long, trailing, Graptopetalum paraguayense were looking a bit tired before being moved to their new home. In other circumstances I'd trim the Graptopetalum but in this case I really like how they trail over the edge of the pot like some escaping sea creature.
A single, big, beefy Aloe makes a strong statement.
If you're not crazy about a pot - cut a hole in the bottom and bury it in the ground.
Clay pots lose water more quickly than their glazed cousins and frankly the cheaper ones just are not as attractive. The pot above sits in a narrow planting strip along a tall fence so I used it to elevate a Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' out of the ground. Since I wasn't crazy about this pot I didn't feel bad about cutting out the bottom. Now I'll never need to worry about replanting. I'm hoping this specimen will grow to at least 8 feet to cover more of the fence.
Pair similar plants both inside and outside a pot for continuity.
Good compositions can be made from a contrasting variety of heights, shapes, textures and colors.
It's tough to see the outline of the tallest plant (Senecio anteuphorbium aka "Swizzle Sticks") in the pot above but it's form sets it apart from the usual Agave or Aloe shape. Also of note is the Kalanchoe luciae commonly known as a paddle plant.
Small pots with a little specimen plant are fun to appreciate up close.
This little plant was a gift from the owner of Rojas Succulents and Cacti when I visited a few years ago. It is an Echeveria although I don't remember which variety. I believe it is one of her own creation which was meant to resemble a rose. I left it unplanted for at least year and was afraid it had been too long but luckily she recovered soon after being re-potted.
Sometimes a big, empty pot is perfect for that awkward corner.
Sunny indoor spots need a pot too!
We searched awhile until finding a pot that was the right shape and had an finished indoor quality. Like most plants this Euphorbia esculenta really took off once it had more soil and regular water.
Broad, bowl shaped pots are excellent for displaying 'hen and chicks'
'Semps' (sempervivums) are so cool but most that I've grown are just not fans of our yards all day direct sun. I've taken to keeping them in pots and finding a spot with some nice filtered light. At this point my favorite is 'Sempervivum tectorum 'Royanum' because it's a combination of tough and beautiful but there are soooo many sempervivum's and I've only grown a few dozen so that opinion could change.
A tall pot in a corner makes for a dramatic background.
This pot heats up so much that it's killed more than one plant. I was glad when the Agave chiapensis pictured above seemed to thrive especially because it looks tropical when compared to the typical Agave. The fence in the background is made from salvaged redwood 2"x6" dimensional deck lumber which I milled down by 1/4 on each side to get rid of the mold and brown paint. What I've realized is that having a nice background only helps to offset plants. The large Agave camperi aka 'Popcorn Aloe' in the front has been in the ground for one year and seems very happy in our climate. I'd like to buy more next time I go down to San Diego - although this one seems to have a dozen pups around the edges so maybe that's my new source of plants.
My takeaway from using pots in the garden ... when you see a pot you like just buy it - don't worry about exactly when and where it will be used. If your beautiful pot stays empty for 12 months it doesn't really matter; someday you will find that perfect companion plant and spot in your yard.