The Complete Guide to Growing Succulent Plants
Succulents have become extremely popular in recent years due to their relatively hearty nature. They’re easy to care for since they don’t need a ton of water to thrive, which makes them a perfect choice for reluctant gardeners. Want to jump in on this trend, but aren’t sure where to start? We’ve got the answers for you right here in our complete guide to growing succulent plants. Shall we get started?
So What Are Succulents?
Succulents are a group of plants that store water, mainly in their leaves, but also in their stems, and therefore don’t require a lot of watering. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and cactus plants. Generally speaking, they do well in bright light and thrive in moderate climates.
How to Plant Succulents
Start by choosing a container with good drainage. If your planter doesn’t have holes in the bottom for excess water to escape, you can either add a few or line the bottom of the pot with a few rocks. Next, add a well-draining potting soil to your container. Potting mixes made specifically for succulent plants are available at most garden centers. Place your succulent in the dirt and then add more soil until the roots are covered. You can top the soil with rocks, sand, or mulch to keep the leaves from sitting directly in wet soil if you like, however, be aware that they will keep the dirt underneath moist for longer periods of time.
How to Care for Succulents
Succulents have a reputation for being very easy to care for, probably because they don’t require much water. However, contrary to common belief, they don’t thrive in drought conditions. They prefer well-draining soil that is moist to dry. Standing water or sitting for long periods of time in soaking wet dirt will rot the roots and leaves, and while they love bright indirect light, prolonged periods in direct sunlight or exposure to hard freezes are also not recommended. If you do choose to top your plants with rocks or moss, make sure you put your finger into the dirt to check if the plants need water. Overwatering will kill them.
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Planting Succulents in a Bowl
Succulents do well in a variety of containers. Since they don’t require a good soaking on a regular basis, you can plant them in almost anything. While traditional pots and planters are still the most popular ways to display them, why not think outside the box and make them a home in something fun. If you want to start out small, you can place them in a bowl. The directions for planting are exactly the same for a bowl as they are for a traditional planter, but the choices here are endless. Whether you choose to accessorize your living room coffee table, your kitchen buffet, or your backyard dining area, you’re sure to find a bowl that accents the space perfectly.
Planting Succulents in Unusual Containers
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can try putting your succulents in something unusual, like a vintage treasure, a wooden box, or even mini muffin trays. Just about anything that makes you smile can become a fabulous home for your new plants. Again, well-draining potting soil is the key to success. Before you add your dirt, consider your container and how well it will hold water. If it doesn’t have drainage holes, add some, or if you don’t want to damage the item, line its base with rocks before you add soil. The result will be a charming, living conversation piece. Fabulous.
A Kitchen Colander Succulent Garden
If you’ve been crushing on those darling kitchen colander planters, why not start your own with succulents? They’re easy to cultivate and will grow in just about anything. Just line the colander with moss and a few stones so the water doesn’t rush out of the holes. Then add dirt and your plants and top with a little more moss to keep the leaves dry. Colander planters look great on a countertop or hanging from a rustic rope or chain. Just give your planter a little sprinkle and ample light and you’ll have a lovely kitchen garden in no time.
Creating a Living Wreath with Succulents
A living wreath is an outstanding way to welcome guests and using succulents is a perfect way to create one. Hometalker Thrifty Artsy Girl made her wreath with a half moon birdcage. She filled the bottom of the birdcage with moss to absorb any excess water, then topped it with soil. Next, she tucked her succulent plants into the dirt and added more moss to cover it up. Again, since the plants don’t need to be watered more than once a week or so, it’s a low maintenance way to “grow” a garden in a spot where you’d never expect one. In addition, the door won't be damaged by water, which is also an important consideration and a definite plus!
Vertical Succulent Planters
Framed vertical succulent planters work well for all the same reasons. They make great wreaths and it’s all about the water, or lack thereof. To build one of these unique planters, you need a box to hold the soil. Cover it with a layer of moss and hold it all in place with a screen or wire. Then stick the plants through the holes in the covering, placing the roots in the dirt. Add a decorative picture frame or moulding on top for a little visual interest and you’re done. Allow the plants to root firmly for a few weeks before standing it up or mounting it to the wall and, if you do mount it, be sure to use the proper hardware to support the weight. Even slightly wet dirt can be heavy.
Growing Succulents Outside
Succulents are a wonderful addition to an outdoor landscape too. They come in many different varieties and colors, so they go with any decor. Just follow the same rules you would when growing them as houseplants and they will do equally as well. While they thrive in bright areas, avoid long periods of direct sunlight so the leaves don’t get burned. Also, if possible, don’t let the plants get too wet from automatic sprinkler systems or torrential downpours. If freezing temperatures are a concern in your area, overwinter them inside, since many succulents will not survive in extreme temperatures. You can place them directly in the soil, in landscaping beds, or in decorative pots if you prefer. A tiered planter is a fun way to layer them and feature them on a deck, patio, or entryway.
Once you’ve begun to cultivate a succulent garden, you may find yourself craving more of those pretty little plants. Rather than spend money at the nursery, you can propagate them on your own. To begin growing new plants from your old ones, start with a healthy succulent and gently remove one leaf by wiggling it away from the stem. You can also cut a stem section just below the leaves if you prefer. Use sharp gardening shears to get a clean snip. Place your leaf or stem section on a paper towel and let them dry out for a few days. Next, fill a container with potting soil and place it in bright light. Place the leaves on top of the soil, not in it or they will rot, and keep the soil moist until roots begin to develop. For growing succulents from cuttings, you will need to plant them in the moist soil, while waiting for them to take root.
As you can see, even without a green thumb and tons of time to tend to plants inside or outside the house, a beautiful garden is within reach. Succulents are easy to grow and fit in spaces both large and small. They come in lovely colors and shapes and can be placed in virtually any kind of container you can dream up. With a little bit of water and a lot of imagination, you can be a master gardener in no time.
Do you love succulents? Have you planted your own? Or would you like more information on how to grow them? Well then join our community of DIYers on Hometalk today! You can share your projects or ask our experts questions, it’s all there.
Written for the Hometalk community by: Kim | Exquisitely Unremarkable