It is surprising that even the most seasoned gardeners do not know how to properly plant a succulent or cactus. There is one simple step that will set your creativity free to plant any container imaginable into a dramatic succulent garden. But first, let's begin by understanding nature's ingenuity in adapting to harsh environmental conditions.
Succulents are a group of plants that include cactus. These survivors of hostile environments are tough and resilient due to their ability to store an essential ingredient needed for survival, water. Succulent is from the Latin word 'succus' meaning 'juice' referring to the juicy flesh of the plant which actually contains stored deposits of water. Too much water will more likely kill a succulent than too little water. Here are 8 simple illustrated steps to properly plant a succulent and prevent overwatering in any container.
Tools & Materials
1. Horticultural Charcoal from a garden store or click here to buy online
2. Small Rocks or Gravel
3. Cactus Soil from a garden store or buy the best online here
5. Pot or Container
6. Spoon for a shovel
7. Various size brushes, to gently wipe away soil and debris
8. Scissors to safely cut any leaves or roots
The Trick to Filling a Pot or Container without a Hole
The first step is also the trick, line the bottom of the container with horticultural charcoal. This will keep excess water that falls to the bottom of the container 'sweet' or fresh. The water will not go rancid ruining the soil and roots of the plant.
The second step is to add a thick layer of rocks so that excess water can drain through the soil into the rocks and charcoal below.
The third step is to fill the container with soil and remove the succulent from its pot freeing the roots and shaking free the excess soil. You may have to tap your fingers circling several times around the base of plant to unlock the roots and soil. A little forceful is ok and trim any extra-long roots (it's like a haircut). You want the roots to be exposed for unrestrained growth in the new soil.
Now you are ready for step 4, use the spoon to create a hole in your soil to plant the succulent or succulents.
For step 5, add some soil back to completely cover the roots, so that the plant can stand up on its own. You may need to lightly press the soil down and add a bit more to help make the plant sturdy. Make sure to leave room for one last layer of rocks.
Step 6 requires the spoon to gently add a top layer of rocks or pebbles. This will help prevent moisture loss and looks attractive. Again, gently press pebbles into the soil to help stabilize the succulent.
Step 7, use the large paintbrush to sweep any soil from the pot. Use the smaller fine brushes to gently brush away dust or debris from the delicate succulent or the bristles on a cactus.
The final step, number 8, is after you finish cleaning your new brilliant creation, water accordingly. Most succulents require a small amount of water weekly. A cactus can go for 2 or 3 weeks. Pick a day of the week to water ensuring that you will not overwater. If the leaves begin to shrivel and fall off from the bottom, then you will need to water a bit more often. Err on the side of caution in the beginning to find the watering needs of your succulent garden.
Check out our Pots & Planters Collection for a fine selection of containers to plant a fabulous succulent garden.