Succulents do not necessarily prefer being crowded over having plenty of space around them. However, what is true is that succulents do not mind being crowded in a container, as long as their basic needs are still met.
Growing different kinds of succulents in one container can be a great way to arrange a display to place indoors as a part of your decor, but remember that you should only plant succulents with similar requirements in the same container so that you do not have to worry about differences in their care and maintenance.
In this article, we will discuss more whether succulents like to be crowded, and the critical points you need to be aware of when growing multiple succulents in a single container.
Do succulents like to be crowded?
Succulents do not mind being crowded in a container, as long as the combination of succulents that you group together all have compatible water, sunlight, and nutritional needs.
You should also be using a succulent soil mix that all of the succulents like, and being vigilant about checking for pests and diseases because these problems can spread quickly in a crowded succulent display.
When you plant multiple succulents in one container and you see lots of pups and offsets popping up, that means that the succulents are happy and they do not have any problem being crowded in the container.
After two years, the container is probably going to be so crowded that you will need to remove the offsets or pups and transfer them to another container where they can start their own crowd.
A container that is too crowded will run into problems at some point, so make sure you remove some of the succulents before this happens.
What are the factors to consider when growing multiple succulents in one container?
The most important thing to remember when planting different succulents in one container is to choose succulents that have the same environmental and maintenance needs so that their growth requirements are similar.
1. Choose succulents that have the same light requirements
In this set-up, you cannot place a succulent that needs lots of direct light next to a succulent that prefers the shade, because if you place the container under full sun, the latter succulent will burn very easily. Conversely, if you place the container in a shady area, the succulent that prefers full sun is going to become leggy because it is not getting all the light that it needs.
Choose succulents that all like full sun, or choose succulents that all like the shade if you want your succulent display to succeed.
2. Choose succulents that have the same water needs
In the same way, the succulents that you plan to plant together should also have the same water requirements.
If a succulent likes to be watered every week, pairing it with a succulent that prefers water every two weeks is going to be a recipe for disaster.
While one succulent likes its soil to be a bit moist at all times, the other succulent will get overwatered and might get root rot and die.
3. There should be enough space for fast-growing succulents
If the succulents that you plan on grouping together are all fast-growing species, make sure you do not crowd the container from the very beginning. Plant the succulents with around one or two inches of space between them so that there is space for them to grow into and the container does not become crowded too quickly.
It is best to choose succulent species that grow at roughly the same rate so that no one succulent grows much faster than the others.
4. Pick the correct container
The container or pot that you use for your succulent display should have drainage holes at the bottom and it should also be big enough to hold all of the succulents you plan to include. The perfect size container should have enough space for the roots of all the succulents to grow into.
The material of the container should also be taken into consideration. A clay or terracotta pot will let more air pass through and will allow excess water to drain out quite well, but you may need to water the plants more often in a pot made of these materials. A plastic container will hold water in the soil for a longer time, so you will not need to water the plants as often, but the plants will also be more prone to overwatering because of this material.
5. Choose the correct potting medium
The potting medium that you use should be one that all the plants like. It should be well-draining but also be able to hold onto just the right amount of moisture that will keep the succulents correctly hydrated.
Incorporate some nutrient-rich substrates to help promote growth in your succulents.
If the potting medium is not sufficiently well-draining, you can add scoria, pumice or perlite to improve the drainage.
6. Take the shapes and sizes of the succulents into account
There are thousands of different succulents, ranging from those that are only a few inches tall to those that can be several feet tall.
Some succulents form rosettes while others grow in columns or even round shapes.
When you are arranging your succulents in the pot, make sure that they will create a beautiful aesthetic when they all start growing close to each other.
Do not place succulents that are too tall next to succulents that are very short, because the tall succulents could obscure the light and the short succulents may end up not getting enough light, which can affect their growth.
What are the benefits of crowding succulents in one container?
Crowding succulents does have its benefits. The main and most obvious benefit when growing succulents this way is the aesthetic of the display, especially if you choose succulents that look great together.
This method of growing succulents is a great option for people that live in small spaces like apartments and condominiums. You get to care for an abundance of plants while not taking up too much space in your crowded home.
Growing your succulents in the same container can also save you the effort of having to lift individual pots from one place to another when you wish to move the plants around your house.
It can also keep their growth at a slower pace, which is great for people who like smaller succulents.
Remember that you are still going to have to repot some of the succulents if they become too crowded in the future. You do not want to reach a point where the plants become rootbound because this can lead to a host of problems.
What are the downsides of crowding succulents in a single container?
The main downside of arranging your succulents in a single container is that pests and diseases can spread like wildfire through your entire arrangement, due to the fact that the leaves of one succulent will be touching the leaves of four other succulents around it.
A container that has plenty of succulents in it will also need to be watered frequently because the soil will dry out quickly as all the plants use up the water. All the roots crowding in the container will be competing to drink from one source, so keeping them all well-hydrated can be a chore and you might need to pay more attention to this aspect.
As we mentioned above, it will only take the succulents two years, at most, to fill all of the space in the container before it gets too overcrowded. If you let the succulents go on being crowded for longer than you should, the roots may become tangled and you will have a difficult time separating the individual succulents.
In a very crowded container, you might not even be able to check the soil very easily, and you could also end up overwatering it which can lead to root rot and possibly kill your succulents.
Succulents do not mind being crowded in a single container as long as the needs of all the plants in the group are similar, so you do not have to cater to different growing requirements in one pot.
When grouping multiple succulents together in the same container, make sure they all have the same light and water requirements and make sure each plant has enough space to grow into. Every two years, check whether the plants have become rootbound and repot the offsets and pups so that the container does not become overcrowded.
Planting different succulents in one container is great for people who live in small spaces because you get to grow assorted plants without taking up too much space in your home.
Image: istockphoto.com / jonnysek