When potting succulents, the key things to remember are to shake off any excess soil from the plant to expose the roots, use a succulent potting mix for optimal growth, use the correct size pot with drainage holes, and make sure you know how to water your specific type of succulent.
Succulents are very hardy plants, so if you follow basic planting methods and establish a watering schedule that works, your succulents will have no problem thriving.
What are a succulent’s basic growing needs?
Succulents mostly come from arid deserts all over the world, though there are a few that come from the rainforests. Some prefer constant sunlight, while others like indirect sunlight more. Some do not do well in the winter, while others are fine with being kept outside in the cold.
It is important as a responsible plant owner to do your research on each of your plants to know exactly how to take care of them individually. If you know which plants have similar care needs, you can place them in the same container. This way if you need to take these plants in for the winter, you can just carry one container inside without worrying about leaving a susceptible plant outside.
Most succulents have similar watering needs, so you should not have any issues as long as you establish a schedule that works. Again, researching your plant’s care needs will help you greatly. Some species, like the Lithops, have very specific watering needs that you may need to cater to.
Succulents need to be watered every 10-14 days, depending on the weather. Hot weather may require you to water your plants more frequently. The best way to know when to water them is to check the soil. If it is dry to the touch, you probably need to water it.
This is where research will also play a big part. If you know which of your plants like lots of sunlight and which plants only need indirect sunlight, you can plant them together and have an easier time choosing spots to place them so that they get what they need.
Make sure you know the signs of sun damage as well as when a plant has been getting insufficient light. Catching a problem in its early stages will give the plant a shorter recovery time and cause less permanent damage.
What are other factors to consider when planting a succulent in a pot?
The size of the pot
Succulents like to be in pots that give their roots just enough space to grow. When a pot is too small, the roots will be restricted, which may affect the growth of the plant. It may become stunted. If a plant’s pot is too big, the roots will be exposed to more excess water that the soil has absorbed. This can lead to root rot and make the plant more susceptible to pests and fungal problems.
You may be tempted to plant your succulent in a big pot so you will not have to repot so often. This is not advisable; the best thing to do is to repot the plant as it grows into slightly bigger pots than before.
The kinds of succulents you are growing
If you want, you can plant your succulents in individual pots, but planting and arranging them in one container can result in a more aesthetically pleasing presentation. The different shapes, colors, and textures will give your arrangement a lot of personality.
You can also save money on pots by planting succulents with the same growing needs in one container. This will make it easier for you to relocate the plants when they need to be taken in for the winter since all you have to do is transfer one thing.
The type of soil you are using
Succulents come from places that have little to no rainfall, so you should simulate these conditions as much as you can if you want your succulents to be happy. Because they do not need constant watering since they absorb enough water into their bodies to last them for several days, they need soil that drains water efficiently.
The best soil mix to use is cactus soil mix, perlite, and sand. Cactus mix usually has less nutrient-rich ingredients than regular gardening soil. The perlite and sand will make the soil more airy and allow the water to drain easily.
You can use regular gardening soil for your succulents, but you need to be very careful when watering them. Regular soil absorbs and holds water longer than succulent soil mix. The longer the roots of your succulent are soaked in wet soil, the more likely your plant will get root rot.
Root rot happens when the roots of your succulent “drown” after being constantly overwatered. Their roots need oxygen; drowning will kill them. The dead roots will soon affect the stem, branches, and leaves until your plant dies.
Drainage holes in your pot
If you live in a place that is humid with constant rain, make sure that your pots have drainage holes. Succulents only need their soil to be soaked through once to get enough water for several days. The water they do not absorb can flow to the bottom of the pot and through the holes.
As mentioned above, overwatered succulents can get root rot and a host of other problems. Make sure you avoid issues by having proper drainage.
How should I plant succulents?
If you are planning to make a succulent arrangement, place the plants on top of the container first so you know where they are going to be planted. Arrange them according to what you find to be most aesthetically pleasing.
Fill your pot with the succulent soil mix. Take the plants from their nursery pots and shake off any excess soil from the roots. This is to loosen any root balls. If you are planting an arrangement, start from the back and plant the tallest succulents first.
Next, plant the succulents that go in the center, then the ones that go on the sides. Plant the ones that go in the front last. Pack the soil around each plant to make sure they are secure.
You can place topsoil to make everything look more polished, but be warned that adding topsoil may cause it to absorb more moisture.
After you are satisfied with how the arrangement looks, water the soil until it is soaked and you can see excess water flowing through the drainage holes.
Place the container in an area where it will be able to get its recommended sunlight needs.
Check the soil everyday. When it becomes dry to the touch, water it again.
When planting succulents, you need to make sure you are planting them in the right soil, watering them appropriately, and giving them just enough exposure to sunlight.
Plant them in a pot that has enough space for their roots to spread. Use succulent soil mix with perlite and sand. The pot has to have drainage holes to avoid root rot and fungal problems in case you overwater your plants. Check the soil regularly. When it is dry to the touch, water it then.
Succulents are resilient plants that only need basic care, so make sure you provide it.
Image: istockphoto.com / Julia Lavrinenko