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Surreal Garden Design

Garden Design At Night

We wanted to share with you one of our fantastic designed garden rooms. This was a collaboration ...

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Garden Design At Night

We wanted to share with you one of our fantastic designed garden rooms. This was a collaboration between our new in house designer maker Mark Lea and Surreal Succulents.

The garden/yard was a small space and it was a challenge to fit in all the clients’ demands, as they needed it to be practical as an entertaining space as well as showcasing their plants. With the current design it was hard to use the space for entertaining more than a few people. After a consultation with the client it was important to house an area for seating, cooking BBQ’s and evening relaxing in the summer time. Using CAD (computer aided designs) we were able to create the layout of the space.

Mark came up with the idea of having large raised planted beds, which would incorporate seating. The seating would connect the space together and make great viewing platforms for all the chosen planted succulents. You would then be able to get a close up view of how fantastically architectural the structures of the succulent plants can be. These beds would also provide the perfect growing conditions that succulents need to thrive.

With the design being so geometric and such a small space, Mark decided to use a contemporary tile design to give the space a modern feel and break up the straight lines of the raised beds. This looked great on the CAD rendering and the client was happy with the design.

The space was cleared and construction began, foundations were laid and the walls and raised beds were constructed. The raised beds were then rendered and painted to give the space a nice contrast. The walls were painted a light grey to make the space nice and light without reflecting or absorbing the natural light. These colours contrasted the red cedar wood that would be used for the capping and benches.

Being a contemporary designer Mark wanted to use some of his digital craft skills to add a narrative to the garden. The client would often talk about how his pet cats loved to use the space and was surprised by the amount of animals his cats would catch even though it wasn’t a rural location. This gave Mark the idea to add this story into the garden, choosing to place hidden footprints on the top of the raised beds and benches to tell the story of all the animals lurking out there that might not often be seen. Mark used a laser cutter to engrave these into the surface of the wood with a process known as Rasta engraving. The laser burns into the surface of the wood and leaves the effect of the footprints.

The garden room was planted up using a number of Surreal Succulents’ favourite plants. The garden was designed and planted with low maintenance in mind. There were some existing plants that the client wanted to keep in the space including a palm and fern tree. It was great using these as it gave the garden height in the planting while the succulents were establishing themselves. We used Surreal Succulents’ favourite varieties such as Aeonium Pomegranate, Aeonuim Red Edge, Aeonium ‘Velour’ as feature plants, these we complimented with contrasting Aeonium SunburstEcheveria Elegans, Echeveria Glauca and sempervivums

These varieties of succulents were used for their range of great contrasting colours and their striking architectural structures. The bespoke benches with etchings were then made and fitted. These connected the space and really show the clever design that made the space practical, meeting the client’s wishes. Every bench was under lit with colour changing LED’s so at night the mood of the space could easily be changed and controlled.

One year on

The design for the space has really worked and can now comfortably house 10 plus guests. The client was very satisfied with the end result saying their house feels like it has an extra room added despite being their garden/yard. They were especially pleased with the way you can even enjoy the garden over the winter as the succulents look amazing all year round unlike a lot of flowering perennials which lose their flowers and leaves. With the clever use of design in the space, it feels so much bigger and roomy. The succulents in the garden are happy and looking fantastic, they have certainly grown in just over a year. We hope you enjoy looking through the images and are inspired by how small spaces can be used.

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Ordering from Surreal Succulents

Succulents Boxed up for shipping

How our succulents are packed and posted for safe delivery across the world.

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Succulents Boxed up for shipping

Here at Surreal Succulents we thought it would be helpful to write a guide on the correct way to enjoy and get the most out of your succulent plants when placing an order.

Surreal Succulents are able to post orders all over the world, if you are outside of the EU we can even obtain phytosanitary certification for export. This shows our plants are healthy and safe to be shipped to your country, bug free.

In some countries, such as  America, we can already ship up to 12 plants without certification.

Surreal Succulents has new stock coming back online from week to week especially in the growing season so it’s always worth keeping an eye on the site to see if your favourites or dream succulent has come back online for ordering. After you place an order you will receive a confirmation email

Then our skilled trained Surreal Succulents team will go and hand pick every plant. They will pick the largest and most importantly healthiest plant for your order. The plants are then de-soiled, as we believe this is the healthiest way to ship your plants. Shipping bare root also allows us to give the plant a root inspection. Posting this way is cheaper as its lighter to ship to your door saving you money.

We then print a horticultural label and your plant is carefully wrapped in soft tissue paper and the labels taped to the outside for identification. We then pack the plants with more tissue paper into its shipping box so it can handle the journey to your door.

Once you receive your order carefully unwrap your plants and admire your beautiful new succulents for your collection.

Pot your succulents up and give them a good watering please see our “How to care for succulents guide” for the best way to do this.

The next thing to consider is your plants might have been in a dark box for several days, especially international orders. For best practice we advise potting your succulents up in a 9cm or 1 litre pot and placing them in a position so they will not receive intense bright direct sunshine between 11:00 and 15:00. Your plants will need to reacclimatise themselves so we would recommend airing on the side of caution and allowing your succulents to adjust like this for 7 to 10 days. If indoors simply place near a window and acclimatise it in the same way.

You will notice your plants will pick up very quickly this way and will show their stunning bright vibrant beauty as they adjust to the sunlight again. This simply allows them to adjust to their new environments gradually so you ensure a smooth transition. After 7 to 10 days you can now place your new succulents in their desired location and please admire and enjoy them for years to come.

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Hardiness zones

Aloe Succulent in Cold

Overview of out green, amber and red hardiness zones for protecting succulents from low temperatures.

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Aloe Succulent in Cold

In the hardiness zone category we have decided to use a traffic light system to help you choose and understand the requirements for your succulents. This will help you understand where to place your succulents in a suitable location and what time of year to protect them or bring them in for the winter.




Green zone -2°C / 28°F and below

These type of succulents will tolerate below freezing temperatures, they should happily live outdoors here in the UK all year round but will not like being continually soaking wet during winter so ensure good drainage at all times.

Amber zone -2°C / 28°F

These type of succulents will live outdoors all summer but you need to watch them when temperatures approach freezing. These succulents will not like being kept soaking wet during winter or colder months so ensure good drainage at all times. When temperatures approach freezing you would want to protect them with horticultural fleeces or bring them in for these cold spells.

Red zone +4°C / 39°F

These type of succulents will live outdoors all summer but you will need to treat these succulents as tender. When temperatures drop for the colder winter months you would want to ensure they stay above 4 degrees for them to survive.

For more care advice please read the How to care for succulents guide in our advice and inspiration section.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about orders, shipping and the condition your succulents will arrive in.

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1. Can I visit the nursery?
Come and visit us at Tremenheere Nursery, located at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens near Penzance. Read more about our nursery here.

2. What size are succulents do you have for sale?
We sell plants which are grown in pots ranging from 6cm upto 9L for specific specimin plants. Most of the plants are grown in 6 or 7cm pots, perfect for posting at this size. They are robust specimens, established at their size, ready to be potted up. (Please note the plants are shipped bare root and pots are not included). For more information view our Ordering from Surreal Succulents article.

3. Do you ship Worldwide?
We do ship worldwide (outside the UK) on completion of phytosanitary certification, for which extra charges apply. You will need to ensure that you have any relevant import permits (applies to most countries outside of the EU) – please check with the appropriate authorities in your country. You may have to pay a steep customs charge for your plants to make it to you successfully. We are working to reduce these.

4. How soon will I receive my plants?
Our website orders are despatched within 2-3 working days of receipt at the Nursery. Note that during cold spells plants cannot be dispatched because they could suffer damage in transit. Orders will be sent out as soon as temperatures rise above freezing. Orders may also be delayed over public holidays to avoid excessive length of time in transit.

Our website orders are despatched within 2-3 working days of receipt at the nursery. During cold spells, we protect orders with our heavy-duty horticultural fleece, if you find temperatures lower than -10°C, please let us know and we can arrange for your order to be delayed.

Orders may also be delayed over public holidays to avoid excessive length of time in transit.

5. What are your postage costs?

UK (Royal Mail Tracked)
1-4 items – £4.50
5 items or more – £2.25
Orders over £40 worth of products (excluding postage) – FREE

Channel Islands (Tracked)
1-4 items – £4.95
5 items or more – £3.95
Orders over £50 worth of products (excluding postage) – FREE

EU (Tracked Air Mail)
Tracked 1-10 items – £7.25
Tracked 11 items or more – £6.25
Orders over £80 worth of products (excluding postage) – FREE

Rest of the World (International Tracked)
1-7 items – £11.25
8-20 items – £14.25
21 items or more – £12.25
Orders over £135 worth of products (excluding postage)– FREE

6. What is your refund policy?
Customers are usually delighted with our goods and service, but if a mistake does occur, please let us know, and we will do all we can to put things right for you, politely and professionally. Please see our shipping & returns pages for further details.

7. Is online shopping safe?
Our online shop accepts payment through PayPal and Opayo to protect your payment information. All sensitive data will be encrypted before leaving your computer. When you go to the checkout page to complete an order you can check for yourself that the encryption is working by looking for the padlock icon in your web browser’s status bar at the bottom of your screen. We do not store any of your card details.

8. How will my plants be delivered?
We send your plants to you bare-rooted, with most of the soil removed from the roots, and carefully wrapped in tissue paper. The plants travel happily this way, and postal charges are kept to a minimum. Each plant is individually wrapped and labelled. On receiving your plants they should be potted up as described on our growing advice page.

9. Will my plants be like the plants in the photograph?

Sometimes when your plants arrive they may not appear to be a true likeness of the plant in the website photograph. Our photographs are taken of the plants at their most colourful and attractive in dry conditions and high light levels. Rest assured that succulents vary in appearance through the year and will resemble the photo when grown on and at the right time of year (usually summer).

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The Royal Cornwall Show 2017

Royal Cornwall Show - 1

Details of our award winning stand at this years Royal Cornwall Show.

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Royal Cornwall Show - 1

In 2017 we wanted to create a show stand with a difference. So we collaborated with designer maker Mark Lea to create a new look and display to show case our succulents and plants.

We worked together to come up with a design that was practical for the show environment but most of all to give our plants and succulents the theatre they deserve. Having a display where the plants are in a tapering like fashion really shows off their natural beauty and as we discovered, this made our stand very tactile. It was lovely watching everyone come and admire and even stroke the plants as if they couldn’t believe they were real, especially the Aeonium tabuliforme.

We used digital technology such as CAD design and CNC routing to design and make our stand. This was a great way to work as we could incorporate our logos and plants into the design. It also showed how an Aeonium tabuliforme naturally lives and generally survives better when planted at an angle. We explained this to everyone visiting the stand.

We really loved showcasing our plants in the display garden just next to our sale stand. The visitors couldn’t believe how architectural and diverse the growing structures in these amazing plants were.

We chose a range of plants that were hardy below freezing such as Aeonium ‘Ice warrior’ and the impressive giant Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’. This was one of the visitor’s favourites, as it was in full flower showing off its spectacular bright yellow flowering spike. We also took Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and Aeonium tabuliforme as these are plants can be grown in partial shade conditions, normally found in the gardens by shady walls.

We had many of our show plants looking their best and we were so proud that many had come into flower for the show. The team really worked hard to achieve this and we think it really showed. The Aeonium glandulosum, Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’ and Aeonium spathulatum were really a sight to see.

We were so happy when we received a silver medal for our show garden

We would like to thank you all for your kind comments these are greatly received We can’t wait till next year to see you all again. Please visit our shows and events page to find out when we are displaying at flower shows.

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How to Care for Your Succulents

Group of Succulents

Our expert guide to help you to plant, pot and water your succulents successfully indoors and out.

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Group of Succulents

Pots and planting

When selecting the right pot and soil mix for your succulents its very important to consider where the succulents will be grown.

Choose a pot with a drainage hole if you can’t control the watering (outdoors).

Use a small layer of gravel or grit in the bottom of the pot so your succulents won’t be sitting in water. It is recommended to water your succulents in after planting to help settle their roots.

Soil mix

We recommend using a standard general multipurpose compost mix or a John Innes number 2 (sandy soil mix) and adding 30% to 40% by volume of drainage media in the form of sand, grit or our favourite perlite. This will give you a free draining soil mix which is very important for the health of your succulents. Our Succulent Compost Mix is perfectly designed for our succulents.

Soil recipe Percentage Parts
Compost 60% to 70% 6 to 7 parts
Grit, perlite, sand or a blend of all three 30% to 40% 3 to 4 parts

Without proper drainage, your succulents might suffer from root rot and struggle, especially in the winter months. Always make sure your drainage holes don’t become blocked.

Having proper drainage gives you the desert like conditions that succulents need to thrive. Most succulents will love bright light and airy conditions, but some will love shady conditions. Knowing your succulent requirements is crucial when selecting placement and compatibility.

Unlike other plants and due to their waxy leathery leaves, succulents can tolerate very windy conditions and still be very happy.

There are even many succulents that can survive in low temperatures below freezing if free draining conditions are met. This can normally be found on vertical free draining walls, rockery beds, or a windy dry part of the garden.


Over watering is the most common cause of succulent problems. Dependant on where you are going to keep your succulents depends on how often you need to water them.

Keeping outside

If keeping your succulents outside, you can probably get away with never watering your plants here in the UK. The rain every few weeks in the summer should be sufficient to give your plants enough water. Succulents store a high percentage of their water in their leaves and stems so they don’t need to be in continuous wet soil to draw up moisture like other plants. In fact, you will find that allowing the soil to dry out in between watering will make your colours more vibrant and stronger, giving you a hardier stronger succulent.

Keeping indoors or under glass

When keeping your succulents indoors it is best to allow for the soil to become dry in between waterings. When you do decide to water, it is best to soak them, this will replicate a torrential down pour (heavy rain shower). Little and often is not a good idea. You want your succulents to reach its roots out and develop a strong, robust root system trying to find nutrients and moisture. Achieving this will give you a much hardier and stronger plant.

Depending on the inside temperatures, you might water once a month or once a week. If your house has central heating turned on, then you may find your pots drying out faster. The best way to tell if it is dry is to pick up the pot and try to get a feel by the weight of the pot to figure out if it needs water.

This might sound completely different to keeping normal plants but we believe this is what makes succulents a joy to keep as they are very low maintenance plants. The more you leave them alone the more they will reward you with growth rates and stunning colours and form. We often get asked how do our succulents have such good colours and it is because we keep our succulents in this way.

For example, the Aeonium Glandulosum commonly known as disc houseleek, can be a lush green colour but when kept in dry conditions it can turn a deep vibrant red.  This plant will also change colour before flowering.

If your colours are looking washed out and not as vibrant, it might be worth cutting back on your watering regime or simply not potting your plants on. Once your succulents start competing for water and nutrients you will often find the colours will become naturally enhanced simply because you are replicating their natural dry conditions.  Often people think that you need more water and feed to enhance the colours but it’s often the opposite. In fact, less is more for these fascinating plants.

Light levels

Selecting a plant for the right conditions you have at home is crucial. You might find that you get odd growing formations know as reaching. This can simply be because you’re not providing enough natural light for the plant you have chosen.  Haworthias are great indoor plants suited to lower light conditions but at the same time can tolerate high light conditions. Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and Aeonium tabuliforme (dinner plate) are a good choice for shady conditions, but will often fade or yellow out and even suffer from leaf burn if light conditions are too strong. Some Aeoniums would be green in colour if they were not receiving enough light to produce their dark leaf pigments. This is often found in the winter months when light levels are lower.  You need to monitor to see if your succulents are growing with the right growth formation and vibrant colours for which they are known.

Growth rates

To ensure you’re getting good growth rates from your succulents we normally recommend that you refresh your soil every year. If planted in pots this can be easily achieved. If outside permanently planted in the ground, we recommend feeding with a general all-purpose plant food.

If you want to slow growth rates down, then simply leave your soil to run out of nutrients. This will stop your plants growing as fast, it can be several months before the plant will run out of nutrients and become detrimental to it’s health. It will happily survive, as these plants originate from low nutrient deserts like conditions with little rainfall, so they are well adapted to be without.


The main growing season for Aeoniums is in spring and especially in the autumn. This is because the temperature and light levels are favourable for this type of succulent. This type of succulent will often go dormant in the summer, this can be seen when the growing rosettes draw in to a closed tighter leaf formation and often outer leaves will dry up and drop off. When this happens this type of succulent will happily live off of its own nutrients and water stored in its leaves and stem. They are in a dormant state and will not accept water from its root system. This is normal, so don’t try to over water this type of succulent during the hot summer months. You will see the rosettes and leaves open up when it has come out of dormancy and now requires watering again.


Echeverias are a type of succulent that displays a wide variety of colours and sizes. From tight compact clump forming varieties to surreal shaped leafy giants. Their colours can range from green, pink, red, purple, blue, black, brown and even white with often multi colour leaves in one specimen. Examples such as Echeveria subsessilis, Echeveria setosa var. deminuta or Echeveria colorata ‘Desert Harmony’.

Echeverias will grow from spring right through till autumn. During the winter months they will go dormant as the temperature drops beneath 10oc. Below these temperature they will appreciate being on the dry side. Remove any dead leaves and sparingly water these succulents until spring or temperatures warm up. Make sure the roots are dry before watering during this period.

For more impressive growth rates and healthier succulents for the winter, we re-pot with a higher nutrient based compost. You can even add a 3-month slow release fertilizer in mid spring to the standard mix above. This will encourage new off sets and plenty of flowers. The overall health will then be much stronger heading into the winter months.