Succulents are easy to look after and require little attention, so they make the perfect plants for novice gardeners. There are so many lovely shapes and sizes to choose from that you will probably have quite a collection in no time at all. A pretty way to display succulents is in colorful cups and pots, either grouped together on shelves or clustered on a tabletop.

Small Summer Gardens

Small Summer Gardens


Selection of cups, pots, and jugs in pretty pastel colors

Coarse gravel

Potting mix

Fine gravel


A selection of small succulents, such as (from left to right on each shelf):

Top shelf: Sedum pluricaule (stonecrop), Oreocereus trollii (old man of the Andes), and Crassula ovata (jade plant) Upper central shelf: Echeveria ‘Purple Pearl’, Sedum burrito (baby donkey’s tail), and Echeveria pulidonis (Pulido’s echeveria)

Lower central shelf: Sedum album ‘Green Ice’ (white stonecrop), Crassula arborescens (silver jade plant), and Senecio rowleyanus (string of beads)

Bottom shelf: Trichodiadema densum (desert rose) and Mammillaria spinosissima (spiny pincushion cactus)

1 Put some coarse gravel in the bottom of each pot to help break up the potting mix a little.

2 Add a small amount of potting mix to the bottom of the pots. Take the first plant from its plastic pot and loosen the rootball a little.

3 Place the plant in one of the pots and press down quite firmly to anchor it in place.

4 Add more potting mix to the pot if necessary to fill any gaps and level off the surface. Ensure the potting mix is sitting just under the rim of the pot so there will be room for a gravel top-dressing. Plant the other pots in the same way.

5 Add a good handful of fine gravel to cover the surface of the potting mix in each pot. This helps to conserve water and adds a nice finishing touch as well. Water the pots sparingly, leaving the potting mix to almost dry out before watering again.

This is just one of the 35 projects that feature in my book, Small Summer Gardens, from tiny terracotta pots packed with pretty flowers to large tubs that create the effect of an herbaceous border. There are ideas for both indoor and outdoor gardening, as well as sections on edible gardening and foliage displays.

Project extracted from Small Summer Gardens by Emma Hardy, published by CICO Books and out now. Available to buy from all good book retailers.