Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Succulents can play aesthetic and practical roles in the landscape. Here are some ideas for these wonderful plants.
Cacti and succulents possess so much charm. These are very stylish plants that are very much in demand. They lend a sophisticated and fashionable look to a setting. Of al the plant groups, these are very trendy and popular at the present time. In many ways I would consider them boutique or connoisseur plants for those who will only accept the best of what nature has to offer.
These are often used as accents in outdoor gardens. They can be hung anywhere you need a focal point. Place them on outdoor walls and doors, or set in the center of a patio table as a living centerpiece. For living wreaths, the aeoniums, sempervivums, and low growing sedums are often used.
Topiaries can be created by various methods. The one used for succulents involves starting with a metal frame, which is stuffed with moss and potting soil. Then the succulents are inserted into openings in the topiary frame with the roots going into the potting soil. The most common succulent topiaries are often shaped like animals, such as turtles or birds. These topiaries are living sculptures, and should be treated much as you would a living succulent wreath by watering them as needed. Occasionally the more vigorous succulents might need trimming so that the topiary retains the original shape.
For topiaries you can create many fanciful shapes. I have seen basket-shaped ones in which the entire outer surface and the handles are covered with low growing succulents. Even a birdbath or fountain can serve as the basis for a succulent topiary. For the edges of the bird bath or fountain, use succulents with trailing stems. You can also use stone or concrete head-shaped sculptures as a topiary base.
In addition to standard topiary forms you can also use the special pyramidal planting frames. These are used to create large tower-like plantings for either indoors or outdoors. For a pleasing design, arrange the plants by flower or foliage color for the best effect. When the vertical plantings are mature, they resemble a rounded column.