Starting a dish garden - help!

(Zone 6a)

I always (last 3 months, since I started to collect them) wanted a succulents dish garden, but being a novice not sure what I can/can't put together. So, here is the list of what I have, most of them are in 2.5" pots.
1. Aloe Grosby prolific, 2. Aloe variegata, 3. Hawortia attenuata (4" pot), 4. Graptopetallum bellum, 5. Echeveria purporotum, 6. Pachiveria (4" pot), 7. Portulacaria Afra variegata (3.5" pot), 8. Kalanchoe marmorata, 9. Aeonium, 10. Grassula Green Pagoda variegated.
I would like to make two/three arrangements out of all the above. Also, what do you think about making kind of a dividers in the dish, so I can put plants with different watering schedule in the same dish?
Thanks!!!

Kamloops, BC(Zone 4b)

Dear Vera,

The New World Crassulaceae (Graptopetalum, Echeveria, and intergenetic cross Pachyveria) should do well together, as should the kalanchoe, aeonium and haworthia. Methinks the A. variegata should be by itself, as it likes a bit more dry than the others. Ditto for the Partulacaria. I haven't seen the Aloe Grosby before - sounds like a hybrid, which should do well in any of the bowls you make - hybrids are (IMLE) easier to grow than parents can be.

I think the divider idea is worth a try, but you should group the plants according to like cultural requirements, thereby neagating the need for a Berlin Wall amongst your succulents.

Valley Village, CA

Aloe Vera, remember the size of the bowl you are planning to use, group 3-5-7 plants, add a bit of interest like drift wood or intereting small rocks, making sure they go with the surrounding plants, not just plopped on top as an after thought. Plant the rocks about 1/3 down, then add the top dressing. Add a bit of Sedum (any plant) the topples over the sides. Follow Jeffs advise it is sound, like the rock of Gibralter.
I would not use deviders, all the water still travels to the bottom of the pot and they will all share if they are good neighbors.
Dishgardens, love making them. I use red volcanic gravel and make a stream out of pebbles for my top dressing. Have fun.
Jeff, good to see you on this forum, love you too. Crasulady

Thousand Oaks, CA

I have some Aloe Crosby... same as Aloe Grosby??.. it's a small, prolifically suckering hybrid Aloe that should do OK with the others... but A variegata has overtaken most of the other plants in my few attempts at 'dishes' (actually I used strawberry pots)- gets much larger than the rest. The Portulacaria afra variegata will eventually swarm over the others, too... but it is a slow form of that species so it'll be a while. Sounds fun.

Olympia, WA

you know honestly i just stick whatever i have randomly together. sometimes they togethere because i bought them at the same time or i had a small cutting and there was room in the pot. and they all are doing fine. you might want to think about their shape and the way they grow though. i have to move a few succulents around because i planted a prickly ball of something next to it and the spines are poking the succulent leaves.
although i try to keep hardcore desert cactus with each other and jungle cactus with other jungle cactus. one needs to dry out the other needs to stay moist. if i get it mixed up i simply pull it out and stick it in another pot and then replace the hole with something else.
one of the reasons i really love succulents and cactus is for the most part they are very forgiving.
good luck.

Valley Village, CA

Have any of you ever heard of spoon gardens, well in one area of our country it is done, and shown, or course these are very miniature and glued into place. They are tempory, using little snips of this and that, and finished with glued in top dressing, for instance, dung of termites. It is an interesting experiment just to see how small they can get. These of course will not grow roots. I also use shells, volcanic rock, anything that will hold a plant is fair game. Let us know your ideas. Norma

(Zone 4b)

Bob, how's about some Aloe Stills and some Aloe Nash to go with your Crosby/Grosby? Ack. I'm funnier in the afternoon.

Norma, I LOVE your idea about the shell - I have a bunch of different barrel cacti that I'm propagating as we speak. Once they root, I know where their home will be! It's not "Mexico", but it sure sounds funky. Thanks for the great idea!

pisces girl

Valley Village, CA

If you use shells for the gardens, remember how small they are compaired to the roots of the plants. Keep the plants in size, miniatures, slow growers, all shade or all sun plants. I have mixed species, cactus with Crassula pruniosa, or Crassula pubescens which duplicates the grasses of the deserts, it adds the texture and color for interest. Don't use pebbles for desert gardens, unless for the stream.
Try also using a cup and saucer for a garden. Be sure to drill a hole in the cup. Again, use genetic miniature species.

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