Gardeners often focus on planting things in the ground or in pots that rest well below eye level, yet there is a wide (tall?) world of verdant, pendant possibility that lives above us in the form of hanging plants.
Particular varieties thrive from lofty perches, succulent plants such as string of bananas and Sedum ‘Burrito’. It’s enough to make one hungry! Hanging succulents also excel as “spiller” plants in dish gardens. It’s hard for us to imagine potting more than two or three planter arrangements without using at least one spiller. They do especially well in bright kitchens, sun rooms, and other living spaces, making them some of the best succulents to treat as houseplants.
Many of these cascading gems are green. Green is an emotionally invigorating hue said to embody the rebirth and renewal of spring. That’s a lot to put on a color’s shoulders, but we garden enthusiasts of emerald hearts can’t help but feel an abiding affection for a color so intrinsically linked to a love of nature. Hence, we know that adding greenery at home can have a rejuvenating effect. Imagine coming home absolutely un-fabulously frazzled from work or emerging from your home office space, only to lay your eyes on lush, succulent, leafy greenery. Ahh. We feel refreshed already.
With cascading, dreadlock-like stems that can reach 3 feet and plump, densely packed foliage, this ‘Burrito’ has powdery-green/blue-green leaves that turn brighter with sunlight. Mmm — part of that description has us thinking about a different kind of burrito. (Appetite is strong with this one.) The precise origins of Sedum ‘Burrito’ are a mystery…ooh, intrigue!…as it is said to have never been documented in the wild. But, boy, it sure is adored in human habitats.
Treat the Sedum version well and you just might get pink-red blossoms on the ends of those “locks.”
Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls)
Senecio rowleyanus has pendant stems to 3 feet or more with unusual round leaves that give the impression of beads, peas, or pearls. String of pearls is a superb subject for a hanging basket and can be in the house in a bright, airy room or outside on a protected patio. Consider hanging several to create a sense of verdant greenery. Unless you’re on the coast, keep this one out of direct sun (and even there, keep exposure to only morning sun). But also watch that its soil doesn’t get soggy. If so, you’ll have rotten pearls on your hands. Or hair (if it’s hanging from above). Bone dry for long isn’t good either, however.
When its round leaves are backlit by bright light, the translucent narrow little “windows” (there for aiding in photosynthesis) light up like little lasers. The same goes for the next two “string of” plants.
Senecio radicans (string of bananas)
The stems of Senecio radicans have banana-shaped emerald-green leaves with fascinating translucent windows that aid in photosynthesis too. Those windows are to photosynthesis what the flux capacitor is to time travel. We’re pretty sure Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown would agree with us. The flowers are like tiny white pom-poms and are fragrant (cinnamon-y or clove-like). Quickly forms plush hanging baskets. Hang a bunch to create a sense of lush (succulent) greenery. Consider pairing the plant in separate pots or even together with other trailing succulents. Thrives in a bright room or with morning sun on a patio.
Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’
Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’ (rainbow elephant bush) grows more laterally compared to the prior three, but it’s still an excellent choice for hanging baskets. Its creamy yellow/green leaves play off the trailing green senecios quite nicely. It’s known in part as rainbow elephant bush because elephants munch on it, and other forms of the species, in habitat, even aiding in propagation when they trample on and break the mahogany red stems. Like with hanging baskets, it’s a must-have as a dish garden spiller or filler, and it’s one of the classiest succulent plants we’ve come across. Hang it by a sunny window or slider where the incoming light will provide a nice glow effect on the foliage.
Senecio peregrinus (string of dolphins)
We’re going back to the Senecio genus to talk a bit about a variety that’s taken the succulent world by storm the past few years…or by pod. And that is the plant known as string of dolphins or dolphin necklace. Believe it or not (and you should!), the leaves resemble dolphins. Stem after stem of playful dolphins, the undisputed greatest living marine mammal…well, they’re dolphinately up there. (We’ll be here all week.) Give this one bright, indirect light and don’t let it dry out too much. Use a container that is just a bit larger than the plant, as dolphin plants thrive in slightly crowded conditions…like lovely little pods of dolphins.
So far we’ve focused on green hanging succulents, but here’s one that expresses beautiful pinks, roses, and purples, especially when given plenty of bright (but not punishing) light. The green, lemony cream and pink leaves of calico kitten blush a beautiful rose-lilac in drought or cold. This multicolored creeper is a go-to accent for hanging baskets and dish gardens, serving as an eye-catching contrast to rose-shaped succulents such as echeverias as well as upright growers. Lovely in a hanging basket or for spilling over the sides of a rock wall or along a dry creek bed. Tuck into the nooks and crannies of a waterwise garden where frost is not a concern.
Ceropegia woodii ‘Variegata’(keepsake hearts or string of hearts)
Staying on the “not just green” tip, the cream, green and pink-margined Ceropegia woodii ‘Variegata’ is an incredibly beloved form. Easy to be when your leaves are shaped like hearts, right? If you can find one, you can grow it indoors near a window. The stems sport a purply hue. Another interesting facet is the production of tubers under the ground and at the base.
Other wonderful trailing succulents include Cotyledon pendens, Sedum morganianum (possibly a parent of Sedum ‘Burrito’), Senecio ‘String of Raindrops’ (believed to be a string of pearls hybrid), Senecio herreianus (string of beads, among other names), Dischidia nummularia (string of nickels), and Othonna capensis (little pickles).
View the collection of hanging succulents at shopaltmanplants.com here. For wholesale, visit cactusshop.com.
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By Stacey Hirvela, Proven Winners ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners ColorChoice®
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