Last year Surreal Succulents were excited to be exhibiting for the first time at the RHS shows. This was a new challenge for us as we are new to showing plants at this level. We wanted to showcase the colour, texture and form and highlight how well they work in a garden setting together. We came up with a contemporary display garden theme that would suit any small space such as a yard, patio or balcony garden. With of course its’s own Surreal Succulents style.
We decided to design and make some features for our show stand including our bespoke vertical succulent garden, succulent chaise longe and also corten steel planters. With a contemporary designer theme, we wanted to show how you can squeeze lots of plants into a small space. Using existing walls or furniture with space for plants designed into it to take up as little room as possible.
We were delighted to be approached by BBC Gardener’s World as they wanted to do a feature on us preparing for the show and film the final display garden. This was fantastic news for us but the pressure was on.
Mark came up with the design of the vertical garden and succulent chaise lounge. The succulent chaise lounge was inspired by the amazing repetitive patterns found in succulents and the design was certainly surreal. It was a concept piece that is actually comfier than it looks. We planted the head rest with Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ as these grow giant rosettes on the end of large upright stems, these looked like sun parasols. We also mounted multiple Aeonium tabuliforme vertically into the design.
The vertical garden was designed with the idea that if you only have a small wall space you can still enjoy a wonderful colourful succulent garden. We added some laser etched foot prints to make the design more surreal and add a different texture to the show piece. This was planted up with our Echeveria collection and looked amazing.
Our large corten steel bowls were planted up with our Surreal Succulents hybrids and large Echeveria’s from our collection. These were a great edition to the stand, and were a massive hit with the visitors.
We finished the set up with only 10 minutes to spare, It looked amazing and we were so pleased with it. All the features worked well and the colours of the planters and wooden textures went really well with the plants.
The next morning we were met by the BBC producers and it was at this point we received our medal. A silver gilt, we were so happy and delighted as this was our first RHS silver gilt we had ever received. It was so nice to share this experience with the BBC team as they had met us before and filmed at the nursery to cover the feature, they were really rooting for us.
The show opened and we were filmed with the legendary Adam Frost, It was amazing to chat with him before filming. Adam said he had seen our feature covering our nursery and he really enjoyed it.
A short while later we also met Carol Klein who was very popular at the show. The floral Marquee soon filled and the atmosphere was buzzing. It was amazing watching the crowds of people taking pictures selfies and popping their pictures on Facebook and Instagram.
We felt a massive sense of achievement but the best bit was meeting all of you that visited the show. We loved everyone getting inspired by our garden and buying our succulents.
Aloe Polyphylla also commonly known as the Spiral Aloe. The Aloe Polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperature well below freezing making a perfect outdoor year round UK succulent.
The Aloe polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperatures well below freezing. Making it a perfect outdoor all-year-round UK succulent.
The Aloe polyphylla is native to the Maluti mountains of Lesotho which is an area rich in minerals and high levels of winter snowfall, it is also the national plant of Lesotho.
The Aloe polyphylla breaks all the usual rules for keeping succulents. They are an incredibly thirsty and hungry plant that benefits from extra feeding and watering during the growing season. They respond by appreciating air to the root system and not drowning in water. This will cause their roots to rot, slowing down growth rates. To achieve a growing medium that will encourage root development, we use standard multipurpose compost at 55% then we add 35% of perlite and a further 10% grit to the mix. We also add a natural feed e.g. chicken muck.
As the Aloe grows, the bottom leaves of the Aloe polyphylla naturally dry out and die back. This process encourages new roots to develop, old leaves can be removed carefully by hand. When planting this succulent, it will benefit from being planted on a hump or mound. Angling the Aloe will encourage the water to run away from the leaves and to the root system.
To appreciate its beautiful growth form, angle the Aloe in the garden or pot and admire the beautiful spiralling crown.
One of the most unusual features of this Aloe is the fact that it can survive and thrive in temperatures well below freezing.
This succulent has impressive growth rates when happy.
The Aloe polyphylla is a hungry, thirsty plant and best kept outdoors.
The perfect UK outdoor succulent, hardy to -15°C (on mature specimens).
Plant in full sun on a mound and at an angle.
Use a free-draining soil mix and add a natural feed.
For more information view our product page. The Aloe polyphylla is incredibly popular so we can’t guarantee it will always be in stock. Sign-up to our newsletter to be kept up to date when products come back into stock.
One of the most beautiful Aeonium species around, always drawing the attention at shows with it’s fascinating Fibonacci spiral and its compact and almost flat growing form.
The Aeonium tabuliforme is one of the more tender Aeoniums, it grows incredibly well outside but needs protection from frosts or ideally temperatures below 4°c. When planting this Aeonium it is best to slightly angle it so that water can freely run off from the crown (centre of the plant), it can even be planted vertically in walls and rockeries. In nature this plant can be found growing on the side of cliff faces so is well suited for vertical living.
This succulent is a great feature plant and will appreciate some shade but can tolerate full sun when planted at an angle. It also makes a great indoor house plant.
Plant in a good free draining soil mix, we feed our Aeonium tabuliformes in the spring so they can grow and shut down for the winter. Feeding less, leading into the winter months produces a tougher plant that has a higher chance of surviving the winter cold spells.
Use a good free draining soil mix.
Only feed in the spring.
Angle the plant so water can freely drain off from the centre of the plant.
The tabuliforme will tolerate shade making it a great house plant.
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 Sunburst, Echeveria 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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Can I visit the nursery? Come and visit us at Tremenheere Nursery, located at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens near Penzance.
2. What size are succulents you have for sale? We sell plants in pots ranging from 6cm to 9cm (except where otherwise stated), 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 EU) on completion of phytosanitary certification, for which extra charges apply – please contact us if you require one. You will need to ensure that you have any relevant import permits – please check with the appropriate authorities in your country.
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 – £3.25 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, To protect your payment information. Paypal currently has one of the highest protection levels available on the Internet. 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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.