Here is a simple instructable for Sempervivums planted in quirky containers for the house. Use anything you would like - teapots, cups, bowls, you name it!
Step 1: Gather What You Will Need
1. A selection of items to plant into. What is great about this is that you can use pretty much anything you would like, it doesn't need to have drainage holes. No drainage holes also means no worrying about ruining furniture or window sills with water marks!
Shown in the image are clockwise from L to R, eggshell porcelain vintage Japanese Kutani tea cup, vintage 1980 Muggins mug, vintage stoneware goblet, blown glass bowl, French cider cup.
2. Sempervivums. Also known as Hens and Chicks, and Houseleeks, Sempervivums are great little succulents that are normally found high up on mountain sides clinging to rocks. Being alpines, they don't need much soil and spread by producing offsets (mini versions of themselves). This of course is where the name Hens and Chicks comes from! There are loads of varieties out there, chances are you know someone who has some and if you ask nicely they may give you some of their offsets. Sempervivums are also dought tolerant which means that if you forget to water them occasionally, they won't die! Hooray! They do need some water though, so don't leave them for a couple of months with nothing.
3. Compost. I have used a basic soil less potting compost that I got from the local garden centre. It doesn't need to be anything special. Try to avoid anything specially enriched or moisture retaining as alpines grow best in poor soil (as per how they would grow on a mountainside).
4. Larger pebbles or gravel about 1cm to 3cm in diameter. A few small stones dug from the garden will do. I nicked a handful of gravel from the driveway for this project (shhh don't tell the husband!).
5. Smaller grade gravel, horticultural grit or even chicken grit. This is for mixing with the compost to increase drainage and also for top dressing the pots at the end. If you like bright colours, why not try some glass frit as a topper?
6. Tools. Doesn't need to be much. I used a trowel to scoop my compost and grit, but any container (without holes!) will do, there is also a pic of an old measuring cup which I often use. You will also need something to mix the compost in, an old flowerpot with no holes, an ice cream tub etc. Plastic spoons are useful for filling small pots and for doing the final top dressing without getting gravel EVERYWHERE!
&. Get a Cat! Just kidding! This is Eddie, one half of a mischevious pair of ginger brothers who love to be a part of everything I try and do. He approves of my choice of containers.
Step 2: Start Filling Your Chosen Container
Fill the bottom of your chosen container with a layer of the large pebbles. These are to provide a drainage area in the base of the pot so that the water sits in it like a reservoir and it stops the bottom of the compost staying wet, which is what Sempervivums don't like.
Next mix your compost and small gravel/grit in a ratio of 2 compost to 1 gravel/grit. I have used an old flower pot (without holes!) to mix it in, you can use anything you have to hand - an old ice cream tub etc
Start filling your pot using a spoon to prevent making too much of a mess. Fill most of the way to the top, stop about 1/2 a cm to a cm from the rim.
Press down the compost to firm it up an make sure there are no air pockets.
Step 3: Choosing Your Plants
You can see in the pics that the offsets are still attched to the parent. You can of course plant like this if you wish, as I was filling a few containers I chose to split some babies away.
If you want to split some off, then look for those babies that have begun to develop the thin fibrous white roots of their own. In the third pic you can see the stem that attached them to the adult. Snap this off as it will encourage the offsets to put out lots of new roots.
The last picture shows a larger head with the old stem shriveled.
Step 4: Start Adding the Plants!
Create a hole in the compost for the roots to go. Place the roots into the hole and cover up with compost. Tap down the compost around the plant to make sure there is enough compost around and no air pockets.
As you can see I got compost onto the plants, if you do too, then just brush it off with a soft paint brush. You made need to wait until it is all dry if your plants or compost are damp (mine were).
Step 5: Top Dress and You're Done!
Use a spoon to top dress with the grit/small gravel. Try and get a layer in underneath the lower leaves of the plant, as this help to prevent the base rotting in damp soil.
Final Inspection is complete...!
When it comes to watering, if you have chosen to plant into a container without holes, then err on the more cautious side of watering as of course the water will not be draining away. I water with about 1/3 of a plastic cup every few weeks. No need to be precise. If the compost on top is damp, then there is no need to water. Water when you remember. The plants start to look drier and begin to close up when desperately needing a drink.
I hope this instructable has been useful to you and that you now fill your house with loads of interesting planted Sempervivums!