I recently received a grant to make a relatively small vertical succulent display where I work. I've been trying to figure out exactly what I want it to look like. Should it integrate art, or just succulents? If art, what kind? Succulent walls are becoming very popular, after all, and I want something a little different from the norm. I'd especially like to emphasize texture.After consulting with the good folks at Succulent Gardens in Castroville, I decided that I needed to experiment before buying anything major. So I spent a small portion of my budget on test materials and test plants. I started with a 12" x 12" square redwood frame designed for exactly this purpose.
Then I started to put my plants in:
As you can see above, I started right away with some plants not typically used in vertical gardens (with good reason, perhaps, but that remains to be seen). Specifically, I started with a few different kinds of crested echeverias. I tried to choose ones with the shortest, widest stems possible. Then, with a nice clean knife... I sliced them like cucumbers. In case you're wondering whether it was terrible to CUT a beautiful crested echeveria, the answer is a resounding yes. But I've heard that as long as you have some stem and root on each piece, the crests will re-root. No idea whether this is true, but I guess I'll find out. I arranged the crested slices to form a squiggly line, which I ended with some Mexican setosa. As you might also notice, I tried two aeonium tabuliforme... we'll see. If they work, it's going to look awesome.
Next, I started filling in the corners. At the top, miscellaneous echeveria cuttings. This is what most people use for vertical gardening--and for good reason. They're bold and root quickly and look great. But I've never been one to make things easy for myself...
What are those green bits in the bottom center, you ask? Haworthia. Two different kinds: cymbiformis and a dark green one that didn't come labeled but was busting out of its 2-inch pot. Retusa, maybe? Anyway, I broke these up into small enough pieces to poke through the wire. I have no idea whether their roots will grow quickly enough to hold them in vertically, but that's what makes this particular frame "experimental," no?
As you can see, I added some other things, too: many sempervivums, mostly quite small (sempervivum tectorum on the lower right), as well as some more echeverias and on the far left, in the middle, two kinds of delosperma: spalmanthoides and congestum. I should have gotten more of both, but I wanted to see how they worked before getting too many of them. I've had good luck with delosperma spalmanthoides before, but they haven't been very fast growers for me in the past. Anyone know where I can get a whole big bunch of it?
Another little experiment: a bunch of Sedum spathulifolium "Cape Blanco." These seem to be really awesome at filling in gaps, and were more fun to use than I'd expected. Some are rooted, some not so much. But they're pretty good growers, in my experience, so I'm hoping that after a couple of months, they'll all root firmly enough not to fall out when they go vertical.
Then it was time to fill in the rest. I did this primarily with sempervivums, since I had quite a lot of those, but I threw in some surprises, too: a grapetopetalum, a grapetoveria "silver star," some weird unidentified sedum that kept falling apart on me, and some anacampseros (which I really like and have barely worked with, but it seems to be getting more popular). Several of the plants I used were rooted, which meant that I had to spend quite a bit of time easing the roots through the wire (and often thinning them a little first).
Here's the final product:
What do you think?
This was a useful exercise in that it helped me figure out a few succs I definitely want to work with and a few I definitely don't. But I guess the key points will be (1) who survives; (2) who roots quickly enough to hold itself in?
My problem is that I should wait about two months before I try to take this vertical... But I'd like to start the rest of the project sooner than that. Any ideas about how these might work? Have any of you other succ-ers tried to use haworthias or sedums or delosperma or anything crested in your vertical gardens?