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Michelle’s Containers in California

Pairing bromeliads and succulents yields great container combinations

containers in California
Aechmea 'Aztec Gold' (in the bromeliad family) and sedums (succulents). Using cuttings to create container vignettes—less money, more plants!

Today’s photos are from Michelle Derviss in Novato, California.

She says, “I’ve been a member of the San Francisco Bromeliad Society for several years. Like many garden clubs, we meet once a month and have a rousing plant swap, a plant raffle table, and a guest speaker. I have built my collection of bromeliads from the generosity of other bromeliad club members who have divided and propagated their plants by seed. I have paired some of my bromeliads with succulents. Together, the two distinctively different families of plants make a good marriage due to their similar water, light, and temperature needs.

“Most of the succulents that I used in these pots are from garden cuttings. I like the ease of simply taking a cutting, waiting a day or so for the cutting to heal over, and then poking it into the soil. Truth be told, sometimes I don’t even wait for the cut to heal over and stick the cutting directly in the soil, and I have rarely lost a plant. I feel the strong upright strappy forms of the bromeliads lend themselves well to the rounded shapes and colors of the succulents.”

table top container with various succulents
Bromeliad and a variety of succulents (aeoniums, sedums). The bromeliad came from the San Francisco Bromeliad Club raffle table, and the succulents were from cuttings from the garden.
various succulent plants in a head container
Achemea ‘Wes Schilling’ and Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
container full of colorful succulents
Succulents—aeoniums and echeverias. All were cuttings.


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View Comments


  1. Deanneart 06/26/2012

    These are really great! Nice combinations

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/26/2012

    These definitely evoke a smile of delight. They provide lots of textual interest and, in their subtle way, invite a closer look. I didn't realize the secret behind rooting succulents...certainly sounds easy peasy and I have no excuse not to give it a try. I recently stopped in a local nursery and they had a wonderful display of succulent crammed containers for sale. The fun part was that there was no duplication of container or arrangement. They ranged from a dainty teacup to a galvanized metal horse trough. Someone on the staff had a lot of fun shopping at yard sales and estate auctions and snapping up anything cheap that could have a drainage hole drilled in it and hold soil.

  3. cwheat000 06/26/2012

    You are truely talented, Michelle. Any of theses containers could win the Fine Gardening container photo contest. I hope you have entered.

  4. annek 06/26/2012

    So imaginative! I'm going out this morning to play with the succulents. (Enjoyed the name of your 'Garden Porn' husband teases me about having 'plant sex' whenever I spend time in my garden)

  5. tractor1 06/26/2012

    Succulents and bromiliads are some of my favorite plants, I think because they are the ancients, like my ginkgos and dawn redwoods. I used to have a collection of potted plants, I like cacti too, but alas I can no longer have them with cats. Michelle's arrangents are lovely, I especially like that last one. Thank you for sharing.

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/26/2012

    So floral, and not a flower in sight! A delightful combination of textures and colors. I am with Annek regarding the blog name. That's what my wife calls my online plant shopping and perusing...Very similar the the California gardeners that call themselves 'hortisexuals'!

  7. rion 06/26/2012

    I love your containers! I would sure like to find something similiar to the woman's head container. Can you say where you found her? :-]

  8. sheilaschultz 06/26/2012

    I've loved Michelle's designs for quite a while now, she is so talented. As a matter of fact I copied one this year, it is beautifully simple... Aeonium Zwartkop, Parrot's beak and Panda Plant. Thanks Michelle!

  9. perenniallycrazy 06/27/2012

    Bromeliads and succulents are a match made in heaven. Bromeliads make stunning thrillers in these containers. I so love this post - fabulous colors, textures and composition. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to seeing more of Michelle's creations for I am certain there are more.

  10. TeriCA 06/27/2012

    Thank you so much to both Michelle's!!! I was wondering what extraordinary thing we could do with my client's backyard pots. Now I know!!!

  11. Deziner 06/27/2012

    A big thank you to all that took the time to comment. I appreciate the kind words.
    And to Michelle Gervais at Fine Gardening, thanks for your support and generous spirit.
    To rion, who asked about the 'pot head' planter. I take a relaxing evening ceramics class at my local community college and made this pot head planter a year or so ago.
    It's a fun way to spend the evening and every now and then I make something that doesn't expode in the kiln firing !

    Again, thanks for all your kind words. Gardeners are the nicest people.

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