Last weekend Camila, Ascanio and I flew out to SoCal to visit my charming older brother Andres. It was not only Easter weekend (a great travel excuse to be with family), but it was also Andres’ 30th birthday (an even better excuse)!
Underneath bright blue skies, amongst walls covered in fuchsia bougainvillea and in the company of the best siblings, I felt at home. Yes, a few of the San Miguel beers and Magnolia mango popsicles certainly helped transport me back to Asia, but breathing the salty sea air and seeing so much color and happiness put me right at ease.
One of my favorite things I loved about roaming around the streets of Venice Beach was seeing all the beautiful succulents growing not only in planters on front doorsteps, but on sidewalks, brick walls and rooftops. They just seemed to be omnipresent!
So, when I came back to New York, I decided I wanted to take some of my SoCal succulent inspiration and incorporate it into my home. Bring on those Aloe Vera, Pin Cushion Cactus and Echeveria plants!!
BUT I didn’t know the first thing about them! (We don’t have them in hot and humid Manila.) What are succulents really? What type of maintenance do they require? And how can I recreate the beautiful arrangements I was drooling over on the shores of the Pacific?
If you’re wondering these exact things (and more) read further…
What Are Succulents?
Succulents are plants that store water within their foliage. They thrive in hot, dry climates and get moldy and wilted very quickly with high levels of humidity.
How Do I Care For Succulents?
Sun, Glorious Sun: Succulents needs a lot of bright, indirect sun, so don’t hind them in the depths of your basement!
Terracotta Pots: The best way to display succulents is in terracotta pots because terracotta absorbs superfluous water, which means, the plants will not be drowning in too much water. If you prefer to keep an arrangement in a glass container, make sure you add a bottom layer of pebbles and some well draining soil. This is separate the roots from sitting in water.
They Aren’t Sardines: Don’t over crown an arrangement. Think: less is more. The fewer succulents you cram into one vase, the more space they have to breath and to soak up the rays!
How Do I Plant Succulents?
Usually you buy succulents potted in a plastic seedling container.
Fill bottom of planter with pebbles.
Add potting soil.
Plant succulents in loose soil.
Water and give plenty of light.
Fun Fact: Green succulents don’t need as much heat and sun as the colored ones. So, if you’re home is kept cool or if the pot is by a cool windowsill, opt for the green variety.
What Is A Terrarium and Why Shouldn’t Succulents Be In It?
A terrarium is a collection of small plants that are growing in a transparent, sealed container. What is so amazing about a terrarium is that it shows the entire ecosystem of plant life: photosynthesis, respiration and water cycle. The water in the terrarium is constantly recycled, passing from liquid form to gas and back. You can witness all this when condensation begins to form on the glass container and then gets absorbed by the plants once again.
Plants in a terrarium should be ones that love humidity. Many mistakenly create a terrarium using succulents and other dry-climate plants, but that is a huge mistake. They will quickly turn moldy and will then contaminate the other plants by spreading bacteria and other diseases.
To create a terrarium, you should use: small moss, lichens, ferns. begonia, miniature violets and orchids, coleuses and baby tears.