Monday, March 23, 2009

Metamorphosis of my Succulent Tank

I've been prepping a 4 foot long stock tank to hold some of my succulents for the past month. The first job, besides drilling holes into the bottom, was to fill it with the right kind of soil. Since we get so much rain here (that is, compared to low rainfall areas where these plants typically grow), I wanted to be sure the soil was well drained. I couldn't just go buy several bags of cactus soil because the only cactus soil I could find here was in tiny expensive bags. And I needed alot! So I ended up making my own (thanks to Pam for helping me figure out what to include). It took quite a few bags of landscape soil, paver sand, poultry grit, and gravel, as well as a large wheelbarrow and a strong back. But I think it'll work.

The original intention of this tank was to have a place for my "Big Mama" (that's what I call her) variegated Agave. My husband and I were tired of moving such a large plant to shelter when the weather turned too cold. I knew that if I had it in lean enough soil, it might make it through below freezing weather. Here's a photo of the plant.

The bad news is that it turns out "Big Mama" was just too big to fit properly in the tank. She would have taken up half the tank. So I ended up playing around with various plants I had until I found a combination I liked (more on where "Big Mama" will end up in a subsequent post). Because the soil was so easy to work with, I was able to just plop plants in and move them around. Here are some of the combos I played around with.

And here's the finished product.

From left to right I've got "Son of Big Mama" variegated Agave, Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) behind it, Aeonium arboreum v. atropurpureum ‘Zwartzkopf’ (common name Black Rose), Bunny Ears cactus (I think; it wasn't labelled), Coral Reef Chinese Sedum in front of the cactus, Hens and Chicks, Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima), Sedum spathulifolium ‘Capo Blanco’, and an unknown succulent from a friend. I'm not sure if the Aeonium will survive the winter but it made it in a pot that I accidently left outside a number of times when I shouldn't. I hope it doesn't get too overgrown too fast but you never know with that Agave!


  1. Looks great! Do you need any more Feather Grass? I know where it grows like a weed, in my yard!

  2. I want one of those containers! Where did you get it?

  3. Bravo! That is just stunning!

  4. What a cool idea to use such tub for succulents! Will wait for its picture in summer time!

  5. Brian - uh no, I don't need anymore feather grass! ;-) It's been self seeding in my gravel too.

    Brenda - I got the stock tank at my local feed store.

    Nat and Tatyana - thank you!

  6. That is an adorable landscape - a real desert in miniature!

    I can't wait to see where 'Big Mama' finally settles.

    Chloe M.

  7. Nice job, Jean! It looks great. Is that an Agave desmettiana? I'm trying a few of those in my garden now. Jenny at Rock Rose tells me she has to protect hers in the winter or they'll croak, but her Austin garden gets colder than mine. I'm hoping mine will pull through a hard freeze, but we didn't get one this year so who knows.

  8. Hi Pam, thanks. I don't know for sure what kind of Agave it is. It seems like these days many of the plants I buy are not labelled. This one didn't have a label so I call it a variegated agave. In the summer the yellow striping is a bit more pronounced. I do wonder about the viability of it during the winter. If it doesn't work out then I'll get another one that's hardier. It'll be kind of fun to try new plant combos in there anyway!


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