Welcome to the world of succulents! Come travel with me in this world of irresistible and stunning plants. Let us discuss how to plant succulents in pots and artistic ideas to make it even more delightful.
As commonly identified, succulents are hardy plants with fleshy leaves and stems that function as water retention structures for these plants. But we may wonder why is it for these plants alone. This is because, the natural habitat of these plants is a place with rocky soil, high temperature and low rainfall or even more simply – a desert, an unattended place with water just from dew and mist.
Wild things are always beautiful and so are these succulents with exquisite shapes, cute appearance and pleasing colours. Thanks to the thoughts of the person on how to plant succulents in a pot which gave rise to the practice of growing as ornamentals in fun and decorative ways.
Before discussing on how to plant succulents in a pot, let us know about the factors to consider before planting.
Succulents are indeed hardy plants, but it is not that easy to grow them. Mimicking their natural habitat and creating a balance between temperature, light, watering, humidity and soil is the key to growing these succulents successfully. Let me give you certain thumb rules to follow on how to plant succulents in a pot
When discussing on how to plant succulents in a pot, choosing the container is an important aspect to consider. This is because it plays a crucial role in the growth and survival of the succulent. Major factors to look for in selecting a container are listed below.
Size of the Container
For a plumpy and healthy succulent, choosing a pot in the right size is mandatory.
- Small pots are cute, but they may not hold much soil to support the roots and not have enough space for the plant to grow
- Large pots on the other hand have more space, but it will encourage the growth of roots more than shoot development and the succulent will remain stunted.
As a rule of thumb, the succulent when planted in a pot, should have about half an inch of space from the edge of the pot. To be more specific, the size of the pot must be 8% to 10% larger than the size of the succulent. A succulent of 3 inches in size planted in a pot of 3.5 inches will be ideal.
Material of the Container
The beauty of succulents lies in the fact that they can fit in almost any type of container in any shape and size. Be it your unused teacup, an old metal tin, a broken pot or a vessel, a wooden box or a plastic bowl, your succulents would fit in. Knowing how to plant succulents in a pot lies in finding the right fit.
There are lots of materials to choose from when selecting a container for your succulent. Let me give you an idea about a few commonly available materials for you to choose from.
|Material of the Container
|Stunning natural lookBreathable and keeps soil coolNeeds airflow and sunlight to avoid decomposition
|Commonly availableBreathable and keeps soil coolProne to damage when knocked
|Provide a sophisticated lookRetains heat and is not breathableSuited for indoor planting
|Provides a rustic and vintage lookNot breathable and traps more heatHighly prone to rusting
|Gives a classy lookModerately breathableHeavy but highly durable
|It is fun and comes in various sizes, shapes and coloursNot breathableSuited for indoors
Drainage holes are very important when it comes to choosing a container for your succulents. This is because succulents generally need well-drained soil and just the right amount of water for their growth. A mindful watering and drainage holes together can make this possible. So, while choosing a container, make sure that the container has a drainage hole.
A common question is how to plant succulents in pots without drainage holes and the simple answer is to keep a watch on the watering
Selecting Planting Materials
By this time you would be wondering how to plant succulent seeds in pots. Do succulents grow from seeds? How to plant succulents in a pot? What is the planting material to grow succulents? Let me answer you. Succulents grow from vegetative parts of the plants like leaves or stems and cuttings are used for growing new plants. It is a unique feature of these plants where new plants can be grown from just a single leaf!
- The leaf should be healthy without any infection by pests or diseases.
- Carefully remove a leaf and place it on top of the growing medium
- Provide shade, watering by misting or sprays and humid conditions for root development
- New roots will develop in 4 weeks and shoot in 8 weeks for planting
On the other hand, if you are buying a plant from a nursery, make sure it is not damaged and the leaves are firm and not droopy or pale.
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Grouping or not is important in knowing how to plant succulents in pots. Grouping 2 or more succulents is a prevalent practice but it depends on the growth and dormant period of the plant.
Plant’s growth period
Succulents have phases in their life cycle where they grow actively at certain times and become dormant during others. This is mostly decided by the seasons and the temperatures that prevail during those times. During the active period, the plant produces new leaves and flowering shoots. While in the dormant period, the plant stops all of its growth activities and some even shed their leaves too. This is because, at times of extreme weather, the plant stops its metabolism and uses that energy to survive harsh climates.
The succulents, based on their growth period, are classified into two,
- Winter dormant – Active in the summer season and dormant in the winter season. Plants like Agave, Echeveria, Adenium, Sempervivums and Hoya are dormant during winter.
- Summer dormant – Active in the winter season and dormant in the summer season. Crassula, Sedum, Senecio, Kalanchoe and Haworthia go dormant in the summer season
When plants with similar factors are grouped, maintenance will be easy and plants can survive better. Also, do not forget about the size of the plant and container while grouping.
Knowing how to plant succulents in a pot starts with getting to know about the growing medium required for them. A well-drained medium is all that a succulent requires. As they are fleshy by themselves, water logging or clogging will lead to the rotting of the roots.
For planting succulents in pots, the most commonly used medium is made up of the following.
- 2 parts of Soil – to provide nutrients and hold the plant
- 2 parts of Sand – to provide coarse texture and aeration
- 1 part of Perlite – for water retention
- A handful of Gravel – for water drainage and topping up.
Place a few pieces of gravel on the bottom of the container. Mix the soil sand and perlite well and fill up the container to its rim. After planting, top up with the rest of the gravel. Here perlite can be replaced with pumice and topping up can be done with pebbles to make it aesthetic.
Steps for Planting Succulents in Pots | How To Plant Succulents In Pots
Once the growing medium is ready follow these steps with care. If you have grown a plant from a leaf, then transplanting should be done after 10 weeks which will ensure the full development of roots and shoots.
Step – 1 – Removal from Nursery Medium
Gently remove the plant from the nursery pot by loosening the soil without damaging the roots. This step is important as it needs to be done gently and carefully. Nurseries usually grow the succulents in small poly bags or plastic pots with loamy soil which are highly temporary and transplanting them to a permanent container is a must. Using a brush or by hand, remove excess soil sticking to the roots.
Step – 2 – Planting in New Medium
Once the new growing medium with a mixture of soil, sand, perlite and gravel is made ready, fill the container to its full content. Maybe half an inch or one inch of space can be allowed. Make a hole in the new soil and place the plant in it. The plant should be seen above the rim of the pot.
Step – 3 – Topping Up
Once the succulent is planted in the growing medium, cover the hole with soil and level up. If needed add more soil. Then, topping up with gravel or pebbles can be done. This will provide certain benefits like,
- Enough drainage for water
- Hold the soil in place by preventing erosion
- Add aesthetics
Step – 4 – Additional
If you are grouping 2 or more plants, then these are things you should consider.
- Decide on the arrangement first as repeated replacement may disturb the roots
- Start from the bigger plants first and finally to the smaller fillers
- Provide enough space for all plants. Remember not to overcrowd!
Growth Needs For Succulents In Pots
Now that we have discussed the steps on how to plant succulents in a pot let us discuss about the conditions needed for them to grow. All plants need adequate water, light, temperature and humidity for their growth and being aware of these factors is crucial in knowing how to plant succulents in pots. I will tell you certain thumb rules to follow.
Water once in a week if placed outdoors and once in 10 days if placed indoors. Topsoil and a few inches below should be bone dry when watering. If leaves start to wrinkle or they tend to give in when pressed, water them—water by spraying or misting.
It is one of the main factors that will impact the growth. Bright natural light for 6 hours a day will ensure the beautiful rosette development. In the absence of light, they tend to be etiolated and appear thin and leggy
A temperature range of 10⁰C to 30⁰C is optimum for the succulents to exhibit lustrous growth. They can also tolerate higher or lower temperatures, but prolonged exposure will affect their growth. In harsh summers or winters, move them indoors or to a shady-covered place to protect them.
Humidity should be on the lower side for the succulents an ideal range is from 30% to 40%. High humidity will lead to leaf rot or fungal infections. In case of high humidity, provide more air movement and lessen the watering frequency.
Options and Ideas
My friend asked me, how to plant succulents in animal-shaped pots. Animal-shaped pots? I wondered. Yes, today the container options are enormous and for such small plants, there are even more. The slow growth rate and the very minimal requirement of space for roots and shoots gave way to such abundant options. Below are the various trends available on how to plant succulents in pots.
- Single succulents in small tea cups
- Grouping 2 or more succulents in a container
- Planting succulents in hanging pots
- Combining two or more pots one above the other and planting more than 4 to 5 succulents
- Planting succulents in photo frames as a portrait
- Fairy garden setup by mimicking various garden elements with succulents
- Using unused vintage urns, chairs, bird baths, tree logs etc.
An example of how to plant succulents in pots by grouping, I would choose the following plants,
- Kalanchoe, Ogre’s ears and Zebra cactus as thriller plants (summer dormant)
- Hens and chicks and Houseleeks as filler plants (winter dormant).
- String of pearls and Fish hooks as spiller plants (summer dormant)
- Planted in a large pot with drainage holes
- Watering once in 10 days by spraying or misting
- Providing bright light for 6 hours a day
If you ask me how to plant different types of succulent in large pots, then I recommend you choose the plants that require similar growth conditions. Maintaining the balance between the size of plants and the environmental factors is the key.
Sticking to the rules on how to plant succulents in a pot is always good, but experimenting is more fun. So go ahead and experiment with your favourite ideas with your favourite succulents. Even the sky is not the limit!