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How to Plant a Potted Succulent Garden

Photograph by Monica Olivera

When I was growing up, one of my favorite areas of my 'Buelita's yard was her prolific succulent garden. She actually had pots both inside her home and outside that overflowed with these fleshy plants in rich textures and colors. From purple spikes to green velvet pads, her garden sparkled and grew in apparently wild abandon, but her vibrant display was a carefully orchestrated masterpiece that required careful planning on her part. Today, my kitchen windowsill is my dedicated space to these beautiful plants that remind me so much of her.

RELATED: Lessons From My 'Buelita's Garden

If you've always wanted to plant a succulent garden, but don't know the best way to do it, or maybe haven't had luck growing and caring for these types of plants in the past, here's your chance to learn! These tips are geared for teaching you how to plant and successfully raise succulents both indoors and outdoors in garden containers.

Summer is the best time to find succulents at your local nursery or garden center in most parts of the country. They typically carry a wide variety of species, and when you combine different types you can create a display that is both visually appealing and a boost to your indoor and outdoor decor.

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For indoor gardens, it is best to choose green succulents that don't require quite as much light. Plants with purple, silver and other colored leaves typically require a lot of sunlight and do best in outdoor gardens.

But before you start buying plants, it's best to determine where your garden will be located because different succulents do better in different environments. For indoor gardens, it is best to choose green succulents that don't require quite as much light. Instead of concentrating on a variety of colors, focus instead on blending textures to create interesting displays.

Plants with purple, silver and other colored leaves typically require a lot of sunlight and do best in outdoor gardens. Read the labels carefully and choose plants with similar light requirements.

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Photograph by Monica Olivera


All succulents need really good drainage
Clay pots and baskets with coconut husk liners work best, but that doesn't mean you can't use your favorite glazed pot. Just make sure that it has one or more drainage holes in the bottom. This is critical as succulents do not like soggy soil and it will rot their roots. I like to add a thin layer of pea gravel to the bottom of the pot for extra drainage before adding my base layer of soil.

The soil you use is important
Try to avoid general potting soil as it often too rich and contains ingredients that retain water. There are special potting soils for cacti that work best, as the mix is designed for maximum drainage. I like the Cactus, Palm & Citrus Mix from Lowes. Or you can create your own by mixing one-third potting soil, one-third sand, and one-third perlite. There's no need to fertilize these plants.

How to arrange your succulents
After you've added your base layer of gravel and soil, leave your succulents in their containers and stick them inside your pot moving them around until you are happy with the arrangement. Then you can begin removing them from their temporary containers and planting them directly into your pot. Be careful to give your plants plenty of space and avoid overcrowding them as this can block sunlight to their leaves and hold unwanted moisture.

Finishing the potting process
Once you've planted all of your succulents, finish off the pot with a thin layer of pebbles or decorative rocks on the top of the soil and around the base of the plants. This helps lock the water into the soil below and reduces the amount of moisture around the leaves, which can cause them to rot and fall off.

Where to keep your potted succulents
Outdoor pots should be placed in a sunny area with at least six hours of sunlight exposure. Indoor pots typically do best with morning sun or lots of indirect light for the majority of the day. I find that when my plants receive direct sunlight the leaves frequently burn and the soil dries out too quickly. South-facing windows are usually too strong, but my kitchen window faces east and the succulents do really well there.

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Watering your potted succulents
Lots of people caution against over-watering, but the reality is that these plants don't like drought conditions. You can water them often as long as you allow them to completely dry out in between each watering. If you have good drainage, you don't have to worry so much about giving them too much. It works best if you can move your pot to the sink where you can water generously and allow the excess water to drain out.

The biggest trick to growing succulents is planting them the right way. Once you have good drainage and lighting conditions, these plants will flourish and be a beautiful addition to your indoor or outdoor gardens.

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Photograph by Monica Olivera

Love this? Follow us on Pinterest!

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