How to Plant a Succulent Container

by Fern on August 24, 2008

in Succulents and Cacti

Earlier this week I noticed that an extra sedum I had purchased was not looking very happy in the pot it was in. I decided that it probably needed more light than the location it was in and also, was probably root bound. I gathered up some other leftover succulents and decided to combine them in a container my aunt had given me (I think it was formerly the home of a bonsai).

This container isn’t as “full” as I normally like, in part because I was using what I had and also because I wanted to give some of the smaller plants room to grow. Also, I wouldn’t normally have planted such a large sedum (the plant on the left, marked ‘A’ in the photo below) in this size pot, but as I said before, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Anyway, I thought I would explain my thought process on this container:

  1. I first planted the Sedum (A) in the bottom left of the pot because it was the biggest plant and it is usually easiest to get the largest guy in the pot first, and then work around him.
  2. Next, I planted the Crinkle Leaf Plant (B) in the upper right corner, because it is the second largest plant and also because I wanted it in that exact spot for visual ballance. It is also the tallest plant and I thought it would look best towards the back.
  3. Next I planted the Andromischus marianae (C) and turned it around in that spot several times until I thought it had its best face forward (as this pot is going to be primarily viewed from the front). I chose to put it in the back because it was taller as well.
  4. Next, I plucked a bunch of babies from a Mamillaria fragilis cactus (D) and made a little cluster in the middle of the remaining space. This particular cactus reproduces by making tons of babies around the edges of its clump, so I know that these guys will eventually be a bit larger and will fill in the rest of the exposed dirt.
  5. Finally, I placed the “chicks” from an unknown variety of Hens and Chicks (E) in the corner and gave each one a bit of room to grow. The “hen” is a little smaller than a baseball, so I know these guys will get bigger and might even outgrow the space.

Here are some more examples of succulent containers I’ve planted with a similar strategy. I think you’ll get the best results if you think about how you want to plant the pot before you start, keeping in mind how the pot will be viewed (from the top, the side, the front, from all around, etc) and trying with a goal of how you want the pot to look (balanced, symmetrical, off-center, etc).

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Bond August 24, 2008 at 4:37 pm

I’ve never been a big fan of succulents (except sedum, which I love), but your planting may well have changed my mind! Very nice plantings!


jen August 24, 2008 at 5:53 pm

They look very nice, and I am sure that they will look even better in a little while. I love succulents, and if most of them did not have to overwinter indoors, I would have more of them.


louise August 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Beautiful arrangments… you inspired me to explore into succulents. They are so easy to care of and so unique!


Fern August 24, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Nancy — Just call me the succulent evangelist. ;-) I think I converted my aunt (who gave me the pot I used) as well.

It seems that succulents and cacti got a bad rap because of how they were used in the 70s and 80s. But there are really exciting succulents in nurseries these days, and they are being used in really inspiring ways. To see a succulent I truly lust after, check out this Fire and Ice Echeveria.

Jen — Thanks! I hope they fill in quickly because I really don’t like seeing dirt in any of my containers.

Louise — Thanks! I’ve really enjoyed seeing the photos of succulents you are growing and have come across through your travels.


Cara March 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I can’t remember where you asked for suggestions on planting certain kinds of sedum or succulents without their pods or sensitive leaves popping off, but I planted my first succulent arrangement today. I had the same experience when I squeezed the sides to loosen, but it went much better when I stopped and used a regular table knife around the sides to ease the plant out of it’s plastic pot. It’s probably something someone else has already thought of, but for my first time it worked for me!


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