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  • Writer's pictureKassi Kuppinger

How to Grow Succulents in Pots and Containers

Succulent plants make for such cute, trendy, and eye-catching decorations indoors or outdoors. However, many preassembled succulent planters tend to be rather costly, and assembling such succulent gardens can seem intricate and difficult to do on your own. We are here to help shed light on how easy it can be to create a succulent garden of your own! We are going to walk through how to create a decorative succulent pot, different things you should consider before getting started, tools and supplies you may need, as well as quick tips and tricks to help you plant like a pro!

Grow Succulents in Pots and Containers

Considerations Before Starting a Succulent Container Garden

Succulents Require Lots of Sun!

If you are considering planting a succulent container garden, first consider the sun exposure in the location you have in mind. Most succulents are desert plants and require lots of direct sunlight. If succulents don’t get enough sun, they will not maintain their short, stubby, and fat growth habit that makes them so cute and attractive. Instead, they will get ‘leggy’, meaning that their stems will start to grow longer with more spaced-out leaves. They do this because they are searching for more sunlight, and they will become long, stringy, and fragile, losing the cute and compact growth that makes this style of planter sought after in the first place. So, for best results, find a spot for your succulent pot that receives a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight. The more sun your succulents get, the happier they will be and the better they will grow!

Pick The Right Soil

Picking the right soil is paramount in keeping your succulents happy and healthy. Since they are desert plants, they need a rocky, sandy soil that drains quickly and does not hold onto excessive water. Planting your succulents in a normal potting mix will often lead to your succulent plants rotting, as there is too much moisture in the soil for their soft leaves to handle. Succulents, similar to cacti, do not need a lot of water since they soak up all the moisture they need from periodic waterings and store it in their leaves to use as needed. In fact, did you know that overwatering is one of the main reasons why succulents die? You will know if your succulents need more water than they are receiving if their leaves start to get wrinkly or shriveled. This means that the plant is not getting enough water to store in its leaves, and it may need slightly more frequent waterings. Just remember, it is easier to recover an underwatered plant than it is to try to save a plant that has been overwatered!

Choose The Right Container

Picking the right container can also help your succulent garden thrive. Succulents have very shallow root systems, so they can tolerate, and even prefer, shallow containers and containers that allow water to drain freely. Planting your succulents in a container that doesn’t have a drainage hole will cause water to collect in the bottom of the container, creating a moist environment that could lead to your succulents rotting and dying. Similarly, using a container that is really deep can cause water to sit in the soil beneath the reach of the roots. Since the roots are not able to access this water, it can take much longer to dry out, potentially creating a situation where your plant may begin to rot due to excessive moisture. Using a terra cotta pot is also recommended over using a ceramic or plastic container. This is because the terra cotta is porous and will absorb some of the excess water that your succulent plants do not use, helping avoid any chance of rot. Plastic or ceramic pots are not porous like terra cotta, so they will not serve this function. Succulent plants can be quite forgiving and can tolerate a wide range of containers, so even if you use a container that isn’t ideal, just be sure to adjust your care habits to suit the container. Overall, the two most important factors will be to ensure that the correct soil is used in tandem with a container that allows for good drainage. If these two criteria are met, you are likely to maintain happy plants!

Make Sure to Choose Plants That Are Compatible!

As we said above, most succulent plants require as much sun as they can get. However, there are some succulent varieties that cannot tolerate the intensity of direct sun exposure, and if they are placed in full sun for too long, they may become scorched or sustain burn damage that is irreversible. So, when selecting the succulents you want in your succulent garden, make sure to read the tag carefully, do your research beforehand, or consult with one of our experienced plant professionals for recommendations on plants that will pair well together.

Tools & Succulents You Need to Get

Succulents can be delicate, so employing certain tools to help you get them planted can make the difference between a frustrating planting experience or an experience that is fun and enjoyable. We will also make some suggestions for succulent varieties that are good for different conditions to help you formulate a plan for your planter. Many of these tools are extremely helpful and are also things that you can find within your home!

Tools & Succulents You Need to Get

Tools And Materials You Will Need to Plant Your Succulent Garden:

Succulents We Recommend For FULL SUN

How to Plant Succulents in Containers

How to Plant Succulents in Containers

1. Plan Out How You Want to Arrange Your Succulents

One of the fun things about succulents is, since they have such small root systems, you can cram a ton of different varieties into the same pot for a full and diverse look! Once you have your succulents picked out, come up with a plan for how you would like to arrange them in your container.

2. Add A Base Layer of Soil to the Bottom of Your Container

Fill up your container within a couple of inches of the top. You may need to add or take away some of your cactus soil depending on the size/style of your container, but starting with a base layer is helpful

3. Place Your Succulents Where You Want Them

This is where your tweezers and butterknife may come in handy. Since succulent gardens often involve several succulents planted close to each other, your tweezers can help with the placement of your plants and can even help to hold them in place while you fill in the space around them with soil. The butterknife is also helpful for creating a little hole to place your succulent in or moving your cactus soil around to help stabilize your plants. When organizing your succulents, keep in mind which plants have an upward growth habit versus a trailing growth habit and place tall plants towards the center and low-growing or trailing plants towards the edges.

4. Use Your Spoon to Fill in Around the Plants with Cactus Soil

Here is where the spoon will come in very handy. Use it to help shovel your cactus soil around the base of your plants. Fill in any gaps as best as you can, and make sure to use enough cactus soil so that the roots of your succulents are sufficiently covered and the plants are stable. You can also use your tweezers or butterknife to help push soil into small spaces around the base of your plants.

5. Gently Pat the Sides of Your Container to Help the Soil Settle

Once you have all of your succulents planted in the container and sufficiently surrounded with cactus soil, gently tap the sides of your container or pick your container up and gently tap the base against the table or surface you are working on. This will help the cactus soil settle and may expose areas that need to be filled in with additional cactus soil.

6. Clean Any Soil/Rocks from the Surface of Your Plants

Once you have finished adding soil to your container, it can be helpful to use a soft-bristled brush or syringe filled with water to help clean any dirt or rocks from the leaves or crevices of your succulents. You can even use your tweezers to help remove any larger rocks from any unwanted areas without damaging the plants.

7. Add Decorative Rocks to the Surface of Your Succulent Garden

Your Succulent Garden

This is not a requirement, but it can be the perfect finishing touch to add a bit of personality, add contrast, or bring more color. If you choose to complete this extra step, simply find a pretty decorative bag of rocks, marbles, sand, or whatever else suits your fancy, and cover the top layer of soil so that none of your cactus soil is visible. And if you really want to have some fun, pick out some cute figurines to add to the magic of it all!

8. Water Your Container Until any Excess Water Begins to Drain out the Bottom

Lastly, give your succulent garden a good drench! Water it until water begins to drain freely from the bottom of the container. With this last step, your succulent garden is finished and is ready for you to enjoy! Make sure to place it in a warm and sunny spot either in your home or outdoors on your patio. The amount of sun/heat that your planter is exposed to will determine how much you may need to water your container. If it is outdoors on a sunny patio, it may need water once per week. If it is indoors in a moderately sunny spot, it may only need to be watered once per month. Start slowly with watering, and if you begin to notice shriveled or wrinkly leaves, slowly and incrementally increase the amount you are watering until the leaves appear plump once more! Be careful not to shock your plants by soaking them with too much water too often, as this will lead to rotting plants.

Have Any Questions About How to Plant and Grow A Successful Succulent Garden?

While succulents really are easy to care for, they can be hard to get the hang of, and they definitely have many different needs than most houseplants or outdoor annual or perennial plants. So, if you are interested in creating a succulent garden of your own but are running into some issues or have more questions on how to start, let us know! We are more than happy to help you figure out the best plants for your situation and can help you pick out the right materials to ensure that your succulents remain happy and healthy!

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