More and more folks out here in California are turning off their fountains in efforts to conserve water, and are ultimately left with an empty fountain. Not necessarily an eye-sore, but definitely a bummer! Whether this is the case for you, or perhaps you have a broken fountain – or maybe you are someone who is just tired of dealing with fountain maintenance – Chances are, planting it with succulents has maybe, probably, hopefully crossed your mind! Because succulent fountains have become a pretty popular out here on the west coast, and has sparked a craze amongst succulent lovers world wide. WooHoo!
We decided to do a quicky DIY tutorial to give you some tips on planting your own succulent fountain. So whether you have a fountain, found one, or are going to buy a new one like we did for this client’s project, follow our tips below to plant up a tiered masterpiece of your own.
What you’ll need:
- Succulent plants
- Tape or a piece of plastic
- Plastic Sheeting (optional)
- Stones (optional)
Selecting your plants:
We suggest you collect a wide variety of succulents for this project. Vary the sizes, textures, and colors of the plants so that you can create a visually intriguing arrangement. For this project we used different kinds of Aloe’s, Echeveria’s, Crassula’s, and Sedum’s, in shades of pink, green, and light blue.
And because you are planting a fountain, it only makes sense to try an make it look like water is flowing over the tiers. We recommend finding a couple different types of trailing or hanging plants to drape over the edges to create this waterfall effect.
If the tiers of your fountain are close together like ours were, we’d suggest finding a delicate trailing sedum for the top tier, or top tiers, so that over time these hanging plants don’t overpower, or grow into the lower tiers. If your tiers are farther apart, or at least for the bottom most tier, feel free to go for the larger, longer hanging plants like Donkey Tail Sedum, or fish hook senecio, etc. without having to worry about these growing into or cover up the lower tiers.
Placing your fountain:
When selecting the right location for your fountain, of course you want to choose an area that is a focal point in your space. But when it comes plant success, we suggest a spot that is in very bright, indirect light for most of the day, or one that receives 2-4 hours direct sun per day. This way your plants will receive adequate light and won’t stretch, or pale in color. Think of those bright pretty colors that succulents have as a really nice suntan. Too much shade and your plant will become pale, showing muted blue/green shades, and eventually stretch reaching for more light. Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot, you are ready to plant!
Steps for planting your fountain:
Step 1. Remove, and/or cover, any pump equipment, electrical lines, or lights.
If you aren’t going to use this fountain as a water feature again in the future, then this step doesn’t matter too much, and you can just add soil right over any hardware. Otherwise, go ahead and remove or coverup any equipment to ensure protection.
Step 2. Cover any holes or cracks in your fountain with tape or a piece of plastic.
This is just to make sure that overtime your soil doesn’t slowly run out of your plumbing hole in the center of your container when you water, and lower your soil level.
Step 2.5 (Optional) – Line the inner surface of your fountain with plastic sheeting.
If you think you will want to use your fountain as a water feature again one day, we’d recommend protecting the inner surface of your fountain by laying down plastic sheeting around the whole interior. Just cut the plastic to shape, cover the inner surface, and then disguise it with soil! You could even just use an outdoor trash bag for this. If you aren’t going to make a water feature out of your fountain again in the future, just go ahead and skip this step.
We planted this fountain knowing it would never be used as a water feature, so we did not lay down any plastic in ours.
3. Add your soil.
We like to use succulent soil whenever possible, and just fill the fountain tiers until they are almost full. You want to keep the soil level below any dips in the tiers, again so your soil doesn’t run out when watered. This soil is our favorite go-to. You can also purchase it in a larger quantity on Amazon Prime here.
Step 4. Start with your statement plant.
It is always a good idea to start with your largest, most attractive, statement plant and work from there. This plant should have a little height to it, and really draw the eye. We chose to use a clump of Pink Blush Aloe right in the center of our top tier, and built up a mound with the soil so the center plant would sit a little higher than the plants that will surround it.
Step 5. Add the other large plants.
After you have planted your statement plant, the next step is to add your next largest plants. We chose to repeat the Pink Blush Aloe in the bottom tier to tie the whole arrangement together and then also trickled in Aloe Brevifolia. Placing your largest plants towards the back of your tier helps ensure design longevity as your plants grow overtime. In other words, you won’t have to worry about larger plants growing taller in front of smaller ones, distorting the overall look of your design. We alternated our two different types of Aloe’s around the entire base tier and then trickled in some Crinkle Leaf Crassula Plant, or Adromischus Cristatus, as a filler.
Step 6. Fill with your remaining succulents.
After all your larger plants are in, continue to work your way around the fountain, adding your lower growing echeveria’s and filler plants.
Step 7. Add your hanging plants.
Finishing by planting your hanging plants all around the outer rim of your tiers. Remember, slower growing, more delicate draping plants for the top tier are best, and then larger, longer ones for lower tiers.
We chose to use Sweet Pea Sedum for our top tier and Burro’s Tail Sedum for our bottom tier.
Step 8. (Optional) Add your favorite stones or pebbles to cover any exposed soil.
For a more polished look, cover all exposed soil with stones. We recommend using larger stones, so that when you water your fountain there will be no displacement, again to ensure design longevity. If you were to use tiny pebbles, chances are, when you water your arrangement those pebbles are just going to move all around and mix in with your soil – not very pretty overtime.
Complete the project by dusting off any loose soil from your plants and the edge of your container, give it a good watering, and enjoy your new masterpiece!!
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