Hi! My name is Rachel, and I'm addicted to...

...these chub-a-licious plants called succulents.

They're pretty damn cute, and I like to lightly squish their plump leaves between my fingers.

It all started at my college's annual plant sale last month when my mom and I dropped in to look for lonely vegetable plants to adopt. Then I spotted the succulent table and the delightful "Mrs. Giuseppe" variety of Sempervium (aka hens and chicks) caught my eye...

How could you resist a cluster of squeezable flora that looks like mutant rose-cabbages?
Bonus points for the itsy-bitsy clover with heart-shaped leaves.

About twenty minutes and three whole dollars later, I had myself a plant with some serious wow-factor and hopefully something I couldn't kill with my somewhat "black thumb".

A week, some more dollars, and a bit of burning-the-midnight-oil-research later, I had myself a small army of budding succulents... and a problem. Where the heck to put them?

Poor, homeless little chubbies...

Solution: succulent dish garden! Detailed instructions after the jump...

How to Make Your Own Succulent Dish Garden!

Pretty planter - preferably with a drainage hole
Succulents in assorted shapes and sizes (you can find them at your local nursery or garden/hardware store)
Succulent-friendly pourous soil (no joke - these guys are tough, but picky! Look for a bag marked as "cactus/succulent soil")
A handful of flat stones

Your planter can be virtually and size or shape - a pot saucer could even be used if it is more than two inches deep. I'm very lucky to be a short drive away from a mom and pop nursery that also sells beautiful handmade garden pottery, like this little bronzed beauty I brought home (and only fifteen bucks to boot!)! 

Oh, shimmering goodness!

Succulents (especially the hen and chick variety like "Mrs. Giuseppe") can thrive in very little soil as long as there is enough room for adequate drainage. A planter with a drainage hole is ideal, and it is important to position a few flat stones on the bottom to keep the soil from leaking out. An alternative strategy for if you happened to fall for a planter sans hole is to cover the bottom with a thick layer of chunky gravel or pebbles. Apparently, the number one cause of death for succulents is overwatering - aka: wet feet!

A properly leak-free planter...yay!

Now, fill your planter to the top rim with your succulent-friendly soil, keeping in mind that the soil level will drop when watered.

Ready for the green stuff!

Most succulent varieties have teeny-tiny roots, so to make forming a planting hole quick and easy... use a chopstick to burrow into the soil!

Finally, a use for those pesky leftover take-out chopsticks...

If your succulent contains multiple specimens, you might need to break it apart into pieces to fit into your planter.

Itty bitty bit of sedum!
For the rose-shaped semperviums you will only need to separate the "chicks", however for a succulent of the sedum variety (like the one above), you'll need to tug the branches apart. Don't be afraid of using more force than thought necessary to separate them - these little guys are pretty tough.

Hang in there, baby!

To get your custom-sized succulent into the planter, use the chopstick to press the roots into the hole and pack soil tightly around the base of the root. For tricky succulents that have multiples of tiny, surface-dwelling roots, use the chopstick to press them into the soil and firmly pack extra soil on top of them.
♥Important Note: It it vital that the soil is packed firmly around the bottom of the succulent. You don't want to see any exposed root, and the soil level will drop slightly when you water your new succulent garden, so be sure to fill in any exposed spots!

A new home!

Any extra bits that don't make it into your planter can be replanted into the containers the original succulents came in. With a little love, you'll have that little guy back to regular size in no time!
Repeat with your remaining succulents, water until soil is damp and water is no longer dripping from the bottom, and voila! You are now the proud caretaker of your very own succulent garden!

Shh...ignore the random chopstick-hole.

That's better!

Happy gardening!


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