The heat is on! We are well into our Texas summer, with the temperature index sitting above a 100 for the past few weeks now. When it’s that hot outside there’s one family of plant that’s thriving, and that is succulents. So with that in mind we thought to create a short guide that will inspire you to come on by, pick out some plants, some soil, a planter or two and get to work making your own desert oasis!
As with all things Great Outdoors we want to empower you with knowledge that will help you enjoy your plants for a long, long time. Integral to this is knowing how to pot your plants. Container sizes, soil types, positioning and several other factors all contribute to the longevity of your succulents. We want to ensure they thrive in their new home.
For the most part planting succulents is pretty straightforward, but this article will focus on a few tips that aren’t very well known, but make a big difference all the same.
Firstly you will need the basics: some succulents, a container with a good drainage hole, succulent soil and some gravel. Here are some pointers to potting a succulent – set some gravel into your planter (enough that excess water drains out without taking your soil with it), fill the pot partially with soil, set your succulent and cover the roots with more soil. With that out of the way let’s take a look at some tips that will ensure the health and success of your new planter.
Plant above the rim
A very common mistake people make when planting succulents is placing the plants too deep inside the pot. We don’t mean the roots, we mean the plant itself. In order to stay healthy, the succulents need to sit above the rim of the planter. If your soil is below the rim of the pot, water can easily pool up. The leaves inside the pot will eventually rot and that can cause problems. Succulents also enjoy good airflow and will benefit from being unobstructed by the planter rim. So don’t just put the roots in an empty pot and cover it with soil, give the plant a base to sit on. So the soil goes to the top of the pot and the succulents are above.
Tight or Not?
People often ask us how much space needs to be between the various succulents in their arrangement. The answer is… it depends. When planting succulents close together they grow slower so they maintain the original design of the arrangement better. It can be trickier to water them when they are this close together. This can be the way to go if you’re designing the arrangement as a gift, for an event or if you have a specific aesthetic in mind. You can leave a little space between your succulents and they’ll grow quicker (although they are slow growers in general) and over time they’ll fill in. This is a great option if you’d like for your plants to get bigger or reproduce on their own more easily. Spacing out your plants will also encourage them to produce new babies. If you are just starting out with succulents we’d recommend taking the slightly spaced out approach. When there is space between the plants it’s easier to water them properly. There is also better airflow, so the soil will dry out quicker, and quick drying soil makes for happy succulents! However bear in mind that you don’t want the succulents too far apart, or in a pot that is significantly larger than they are. Too much space will cause the succulents to focus on producing roots rather than getting larger. As a rule of thumb we would say that 1/2 an inch to 1 inch is a good space between plants.
Let succulents hang over the edge of your pot
This is a design tip rather than a necessity for healthy succulents. To make your arrangement a little more interesting, place some succulents so they hang over the edge of your pot. You can use trailing succulents (such as “String of Pearls”) that actually hang over the side of the pot, or just let the leaves of your rosette cover the edge of the pot.
Add some height
While we are on the topic of design… another great way to make your arrangement interesting is to add a taller succulent to the mix. Then you can add some succulents around it, with your trailing succulents mentioned above. We utilize this concept when creating our own planters and it’s a great recipe for creating an eye-catching arrangement. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you’re looking for a great way to make a statement, this is a good place to start.
Use a top dressing and pot feet
This is a step most people skip over but be sure to finish off your arrangement by using a top dressing. Your design will look more professional, and often the choice of top dressing in contrast with the plants themselves offers another design element for you to enjoy. Top dressing is not essential to the wellness of your succulents but rounds out the look of a planter.
Is your arrangement going to live outside? If so we encourage the use of pot feet, to give your plants better airflow.