Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Upcycled Vertical Succulent Garden

I got inspired three years ago by a vertical garden that appeared to be constructed on a lab-frame. Since I am a chemist, this appealed to me.  I was also interested in the drip system that appeared to be integrated into the lab-frame.  Unfortunately, the cost of such a large lab-frame is about a thousand dollars.  What I happened to have laying around the house instead was a baby-gate that we used to train our dog to stay out of the kitchen.  I also had a neighbor that loved laundry soap because she was a seamstress and clothing-maker (fashion designer).  I started keeping the old detergent bottles and other jugs to be repurposed for my vertical container garden.

At first, I tried to grow herbs, but without the irrigation system I quickly learned that the herbs did not survive.  Also my dear husband said that he would NOT under any circumstances eat anything grown in an old detergent bottle.  He felt it would be unsafe for human consumption.

As the time passed, I added a bottom row of bleach bottles.  I started to put the little succulent cuttings that fell off my other plants into these containers and some took root.  I gave up on the vertical herb garden idea.  I have not addressed the water delivery system, with the exception that the bottles are lined up on top of each other so that if I water the top row, the water trickles down into the second row, and so on.

At first I used rope to tie the bottles to the gate, but now I use colorful neon zip-ties.  Either way, there are non-biodegradable petroleum-based materials involved (plastic, nylon) since using hemp rope in the back garden resulted in many plants falling down.  Too biodegradable.  Also, the milk containers were an unstable situation.  Over time, they started breaking off so severely that they no longer supported the plant(s) contained within them.

Now I have nearly every container with a different succulent:
  • Top row (left to right): Graptopetalum paraguayense, Crassula pellucida, Crassula argentea 'Variegata', Crassula argentea, Kalanchoe longiflora, Sedum clavatum
  • Middle row (left to right): Crassula argentea, Crassula tetragona, Echeveria compressicaulis, Sedum pachyphyllum, Crassula perforata
  • Bottom row (left to right): Sedum adolphii, Crassula tetragona, Echeveria subsessilis, Crassula argentea, and a Gasteria x Aloe hybrid called 'Green Gold'
I have learned so much about taxonomy and classification from working with these plants.  My best advice is to be patient.  It has taken 3 years to get to this point.  Every time I pass a beautiful succulent in someone else's garden, I'm tempted to break off a clone, but I know how upset it makes me when things disappear from my garden, so I walk on by appreciatively.

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