Plus, eco-friendly planter inspiration
For your succulents to thrive they need a pot that’s the right size and full of dry and fertile potting mix. In this post we’ll show you the step-by-step process of planting succulents in pots, and give you the tell-tale signs a succulent needs repotting. And of course, when planting your succulents you want your desert dwellers to look their best. Towards the end of the article you’ll find some of our favorite eco-friendly potting ideas.
When to repot a succulent
When you get your succulent back from the nursery, repot it within the first few days. This is important because some nurseries plant succulents in soil that’s wetter than it should be. Leaving the succulent in these conditions for too long increases the risk of root rot. By moving your plant into a fresh pot with better drainage and a drier potting mixture, it should thrive.
Hopefully, your succulent is a happy little plant that keeps growing. So the next time you need to repot is when it has outgrown its current container. Signs your succulent has outgrown its pot include:
- the roots coming out of the drainage holes
- the top of the plant spilling over the sides of the pot.
Lastly, like any plant, succulents need nutrients to grow. If the potting mixture looks low and dry, the plant has probably used up all the nutrients from the soil. That means it’s time to refill with fresh stuff. Ideally you should repot your succulents every 12 months but be wary of over-handling the plant. If it’s looking happy enough, don’t worry about repotting it. Just top the planter up with fresh soil.
How to plant succulents in pots
Planting succulents in a pot isn’t too difficult. If you’re simply moving the plant from one pot to another you can be done in 10 minutes. But if you’re looking to artistically arrange several succulents in one planter it may take a little longer. Our advice in this case is to do a dry run. Leave the plants in their current containers, and move them around until you find a combination that works.
With this done, it’s time to get planting. Do this outside or on a surface that’s easy to clean.
To plant your succulents you’ll need:
- a pot or container with at least one drainage hole
- a drill or sharp item to make additional holes (optional)
- drainage mesh, window screen or a coffee filter
- potting mix/soil
- sand or gravel
- an old mixing bowl or empty plant pot
- a trowel (optional).
Once you’ve got the bits you need, here’s how to safely move your succulents from one pot to another.
Step 1: Prep the new pot
Succulents prefer dry conditions, so make sure the pot you’re using has at least one drainage hole. If it doesn’t have any, use a drill or sharp object to make one or two drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Next, cut a piece of mesh (or whatever you’re using) large enough to fit inside the pot and cover the holes. This helps excess water drain out without losing any of the much-needed potting mix. Using a pot you can’t put holes in? Then add a generous amount of sand or gravel during the next step.
Step 2: Part fill your pot
If you don’t want dirt under your fingernails, now is the time to pull on your gloves. Things are about to get messy. Using your hands or a trowel, scoop out some soil and place it into your mixing bowl. Add a handful of sand and mix them together. Put a layer of the mixture into the new pot. For pots without drainage holes, put a layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot, then cover it with the potting mix. Fill your planter close to the top, leaving enough space for your succulent.
Pro tip: Pre-mixed potting mix that includes soil, sand, and gravel is available. This is great if you want to save on buying each element separately.
Step 3: Removing and replanting
Hold the edge or top of the succulent with one hand and its pot with the other. Tip it sideways and gently squeeze the pot’s edges. Keep squeezing and wiggling until the plant comes out. Discard the pot if you’re no longer using it, or keep it for future succulent propagation. Next, gently knock off the excess soil. If the roots look bunched up and tangled, tease them out so they can get comfy when they’re in the new pot. You’re now ready to position your succulent. Depending on the size of the succulent, and whether you’re planting lots in the same container, you may decide to put it in the center or off to one side.
Step 4: Fill up and decorate
Once your succulent is in position, cover the roots by adding more potting mixture. To avoid burying the plant too deep, stop adding the potting mixture once it’s level with the existing root ball. This will also minimize the risk of soil overflowing during watering, which causes a mess. Now with your succulent sitting pretty, you can decorate the top of your pot. Gravel and aquarium stones are common choices (and also help with drainage), although you might prefer to use larger stones for an alpine rockery vibe.
Step 5: Water the succulent
After a big move, give your succulent a longer than usual watering, making sure the soil is wet right through. This helps bed it in. Your newly potted succulent shouldn’t need another drink until the soil is completely dry.
Succulent planter inspiration
Now that you know how to safely plant succulents in pots, the next question is what to plant them in.
There are lots of presentation styles you can go for. And because succulents are tough, you can be very creative. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions that look good, are eco-friendly, and are a perfect fit for the size and root system of succulents.
Terrariums are good fun to make and look great if you’re keeping your succulents indoors. Make your own mini desert garden using colored sand and stones to add even more variety. Try looking in second-hand shops and charity stores for old fishbowls and apothecary jars.
Wooden produce boxes/containers
For a more natural look, seek out an unused wooden produce box. For a larger outdoor display you could convert a wooden pallet.
Empty food cans, old tea tins, or even old tin gardening tools can be dressed up and reused as the perfect succulent planter. If you don’t love the look of the tin, get experimental with paint, jute, and twine, or glue on pages from old books.
Old toys and Lego
If there’s unused Lego lying around you could build your own Lego planter. Or if your house is full of toys the kids no longer play with, we love the idea of turning them into mini succulent gardens. Dump trucks, train carriages, and even a trike can be upcycled into trendy planters.
Pots made from plants
If upcycling isn’t your style but you want to avoid ugly plastic pots, then take a look at Ecoforms planters. Made from plant by-products, these neutral colored pots are free from wood and petroleum ingredients. They’re completely biodegradable, and if kept indoors will last up to 10 years. We’ve got a few styles in stock. The Quadra Trio and Small Round Short pots are ideal for individual succulent plants.
What are your succulents living in?
We’d love to hear about the inventive ways you arrange your succulents. Post a photo to Instagram and tag us (@gaiaflowerslv).