Succulents lend themselves to attractive décor plantings, including for indoors!
Succulents have a charm all their own. They can be so colourful, full of texture and hold the promise of being easy-care as indoor plants. Succulents are also among the only houseplants that can do well in mixed planters, which ups the options to think of them as décor plants.
In today's blog, we are going to go through the easy steps to create a gorgeous mixed succulent planter, plus the info required to ensure you can enjoy these as reliable houseplants for the long term.
Choose succulents for your light conditions
The first consideration for success with indoor succulents is making sure you choose varieties that can thrive in the light available in your particular growing space. This is really important. Many succulents are true full sun plants, either losing their vibrant colour or simply rotting off if not situated in direct sunlight for most of the day. In a prairie home through the winter, a full sun location is either sitting directly in a large south-facing window or a space supplemented by full spectrum grow lights.
If you do not have a location with enough sun, don't despair: there are some very cool succulents for shady locations too. Try any of the myriad haworthia, aloes or Schlumbergera truncate (Thanksgiving cactus). These plants still require some daylight, but it does not have to be direct or all day (the idea of having healthy succulents in a bathroom or similar location with no natural light is a social media-induced fantasy, unless you can use grow lights).
Of course, if you are creating a mixed planter you will want to match the light requirements of all plants sharing a space.Stylish haworthias are among the succulents that can do really well in shadier locations.
Succulents that form rosettes of leaves (like this echeveria) almost always require full, direct sunlight when grown indoors. Cacti also typically prefer the brightest location available indoors.
Choose a container with drainage... it is so much better!
Although many succulent tutorials feature pots without drainage there is no question that including drainage holes will better set you up to succeed in the long term. Succulents do not last with wet feet.
If you are getting creative with upcycling for pots, simply punch or drill drainage holes in the bottom of your repurposed item. Otherwise, look out for pots that already have holes built-in. One other option is to use a decor pot with no drainage, but do the actual planting into a "slip pot" with drainage placed inside the non-draining container; just place a few rocks in the bottom of the decor pots, so the slip pot has some capacity to drain.
Although it can be hard to find matched saucers, you can always opt for the generic plastic ones or use repurposed items from around the house (dessert plates, baking plates etc).Pots with drainage are an easy choice, while décor pots without drainage can be adapted by planting into a slip pot that sits inside the non-draining container.
Succulent soil recipe
The rule of thumb here is well-draining and coarse. There are actually many possible recipes, but at Sage Garden we currently use peat-free Sea Soil Container Complete (1/2) blended with coarse vermiculite (1/2). We used to add sand, but this made the mix quite heavy; now we bump up the coarse vermiculite in place of sand. When we do not have Container Complete available we sub peat-based potting mix plus Sea Soil compost (1/4 mix 1/4 Sea Soil 1/2 vermiculite). We do sell our organic succulent soil pre-mixed, too.
Many growers add horticultural charcoal as a first (bottom) layer in their succulent pots, which helps to reduce the chance of root rot problems from overwatering. This is essential for containers with no drainage... but again, we do not recommend non-draining pots.
It is also common to top-dress mixed succulent pots with decorative rock. This adds a perfect finishing touch! Any small rock will work, usually applied in a thin layer with some larger accent pieces. Aside from looking amazing, the rock helps stabilize the succulents which often have somewhat sparse roots.
Planting... the fun and easy part
It helps to place your succulents (still in their nursery pots) within the planter so you can visualize your arrangement before actually planting. Taller varieties make the most sense at the back and any spilly succulents towards the front. You can apply the thriller, filler, spiller strategy to succulent pots too!
Once you are ready, add the charcoal (if using this) and then a little of your potting mix, remove the succulents from their pots, site them again in the planter and pour soil around them until the desired fill is achieved. At first, things might look a little messy; gently tap the container bottom on your workspace to even out the soil and adjust as necessary.
Remember to leave a little room for decorative rock, which can now be added. Complete your project by adding any accent rocks, mineral stones, shells or other elements that look cool.
Once everything is potted up and looking good, gently water. The first watering should be a good soak. Going forward, you can follow the succulent rule of thumb which says: water only when the soil has dried from top to bottom.
If you have used a soil mix rich in compost (Container Complete or Sea Soil based, for example) you will not have to fertilize until spring; otherwise, apply half-strength all-purpose plant food approximately once per month.
Hope this might be a fun project for you one day soon! We'd love to see photos of your own succulent planter creations... feel free to email us photos of anything cool we can share!
Originally posted on September 16, 2021