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Succulent pot houseplant display for winter

Head gardener Benjamin William Pope creates a stylish display that combines succulents that can be brought indoors to keep the fresh-green memories of summer alive once frosts threaten. Photographs Andrew Montgomery

As the winter nights grow longer and temperatures drop, I like to remind myself of the hot summer days spent in the garden or travelling abroad. In this pot display the terracotta holds a rustic warmth that is complemented by the cool, monochromatic planting. Succulents are used throughout the entire display and reference their arid growing conditions, hopefully providing an uplifting contrast to the dark days of winter that will soon be upon us.

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Agata Wierzbicka's illustration of a Dragon Plant

How to achieve the look

Container and composition

The container is a classic, simple shape, importantly it has a wide top that allows for a generous arrangement. Warmth comes from the weathered terracotta, its subtle markings echoed in the mottled foliage of the sansevieria. Its glaucous tones are repeated throughout the planting, emphasising the texture and form of the plants while perfectly complementing the soft terracotta.  Tinges of dark-red detail on some of the foliage highlight the various leaf shapes and bring a warmth to the planting. Mixing bold plants, such as the kalanchoe and sansevieria, with those of a softer texture, such as the sedum and crassula, will provide interesting contrast.

Succulent pot display
© Andrew Montgomery

Plants:

Sansevieria kirkii ‘Silver Blue’, Unusual sansevieria with thick blue-green leaves. 20cm. RHS H1.

Kalanchoe luciae, Large, paddle-shaped leaves. Prefers a sunny frost-free site. 50cm. AGM*. RHS H2.

Succulent pot display

© Andrew Montgomery

Plants:

Crassula rupestris subsp. marnieriana ‘Hottentot’ Succulent with snake-like stem. Best in sun. 15cm. RHS H2†.

Crassula arborescens Branching succulent with flat blue-grey leaves that have a burgundy margin. Prefers sun. 1.2m. RHS H2.

Sedum burrito Low-growing succulent with thick trailing stems. Prefers sun. 1m. RHS H2.

Cultivation and care

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Succulents are relatively slow growing so be generous when planting and select a suitable sized pot that will look full when planted. Fill the pot with a soil-based compost and added grit, then begin to add plants by positioning the largest specimens first, before gently filling in gaps with smaller plants. Add additional potting mix as you go to ensure plants are held firm and secure. Once complete top dress with a grit to prevent soil from splashing on the plants when watering. Use a narrow trowel, or a hori hori, to help ensure you get the potting mix and grit into difficult, hard-to-reach gaps. These are all tender plants that need a frost-free site, so in winter bring indoors to a warm, sunny spot, and water sparingly in winter months.