Succulents & Herbs - Perfect Companion Plants!
Plant Herbs and Succulents Together
Whether you love succulents, or herbs are more your thing, you know that mixing the varieties you plant is so much more satisfying that growing just a single herb or individual succulent alone. The contrast and compliment of colors, sizes and textures is more than half the fun!
Have you even considered planting succulents and herbs together? If not, you really should!
Many culinary herbs used in the kitchen are very drought tolerant once they are established, and most like loads of light, and they grow well in containers without a lot of fuss or fertilizer. In other words, their cultural and care needs are very similar to most succulents! When you mix herbs and succulents, you have an array of new colors and textures available to your creative side. And herbs are often quite fragrant, and that savory scent is a nice addition to a pot of mixed succulents. And the succulents will keep your planting looking full and lush even as you use the herbs.
Whether you are planting a mixed container, or are adding herbs or succulents to your landscape, these two groups of plants make great companions for one another.
The spiky foliage of rosemary compliments the many shapes of succulent plants. And the soft, fuzzy leaves of sage contrasts beautifully with the smooth leaves of some succulents, while echoing the furriness of others, (think kalanchoe silver panda).
Tricks to Watering Succulents and Herbs
Although some established herbs can be as tolerant of drought as the toughest succulent, typically they are planted in the ground, and given a bit more moisture as they acclimate. When you plant your container of mixed succulents and herbs, plan on giving your herbs a bit more water than the succulents will need. There are a couple of tricks to doing so that will make this easy for you.
You will need:
- 1 container will drain hole(s)
- Assorted succulent plants
- A variety of herb plants
- Cactus potting mix
- Regular potting mix
Set some of the cactus mix aside. Make a 50/50 mix of the potting mix and the remaining cactus mix. This is the soil you will use for your herb plants.
Fill the bottom half of the container with straight cactus mix. Set the succulents and herbs on the soil, and play with the arrangement of your plants until you know how you want them planted. Then start with the succulents. Plant them using straight succulent mix, and firm up the soil as though they were the only plants for the container. Level the cactus mix.
Next, remove the cactus mix from the places for the herbs. Do this one plant at a time. Back fill the herb plants with the 50/50 cactus and potting mix.
Firm the soil around all of your plants. Once you are satisfied with the planting, water it in well.
You now have a mixed succulent and herb container that will hold a bit more water around the roots of your herbs that it will for the succulents! Each time you water your container, about once a week, the herbs' soil will retain a bit more water for the herb plants to use while the succulents will not be burdened with excess moisture, and both will remain happy and healthy! :)
I love the way this turned out. It will only grow fuller, more lush and more beautiful with time! I used large echeveria with a pale, silvery sheen and the barest of pink blushes on the largest one. The silvery, fuzzy foliage of the sage, and the spiky rosemary are naturals for this combination. I confess, the purple basil is not an ideal addition to a mixed succulents and herbs planter, as the basil will want a bit more water than most herbs do. But look at that fabulous deep, dark purple color - it is a gorgeous accent for the echeveria. How to resist it?
Clearly - I couldn't! So, another trick for the watering. A couple of ice cubes set on the soil right beside the purple basil a few times each week neatly handles the greater water demands of the basil. As the ice gradually melts, releasing water just in that spot for the basil's roots to get an extra drink between weekly waterings for the entire container.
If accommodating the basil seems like too much fuss - stick to this list of water wise herbs for your succulent partners:
List of Herbs as Good Companions for Succulent Plants
If you stick to the herbs on this list for mixing with your succulents, the water needs will be well met by incorporating pockets of cactus mix blended with the potting soil as described above.
What do you think? Will you be incorporating succulents and herbs together in the same container planting? I would love to know - and if you would share photos - that would be terrific! :)
- Kathleen McCarthy