How To Arrange Succulents

Two petioles of echeveria growing in driftwood.

If you’re looking for an additional touch that can bring a modern, rustic, hip, or classic design into your home, then succulents can be an answer to your wishes.

Succulents are playful and are very fascinating plants that do not demand a lot of maintenance, making them very famous in the design world.

Succulents usually store water in their foliage and often have the shape to direct the water where it needs to go. Pretty neat? I know!

The typical concept of the succulent arrangement consists of water, stone, wood, moss, and varieties of succulents in harmonious combinations.

These types of plants usually have a shallow root system and can be planted almost anywhere. They can grow from the branches, wreaths, and you can even hang them on the wall to showcase their captivating charm to everyone.

Succulents, whether large or small, will always display something charming about them. Without requiring much maintenance, they exhibit a beautiful appeal, most of the time by being unique.

Whatever you wish, from individual potting to a whimsical arrangement and cascading style of hanging baskets, succulents can surely do it all.

You will find that the wide variety and fusion of shades can make the blending and matching very unique and exceptional.  There are thousands of reasons why you will love succulents. So, let’s get to it!

Tips On How To Arrange Succulents In Containers

Succulent arrangements, whether in containers or your garden, are often based on constant experimentation. There are no strict rules to follow, and all you need is to arrange them according to your preference.

There are many ways to showcase the beauty and charm of succulents around your home. You can arrange them by potting individually or organize them elegantly by matching different varieties according to their hues, sizes, and shapes. Here’s how you can arrange your succulents beautifully.

What you’ll need: 

  • Container with drainage holes
  • A piece of fabric mesh or plastic window screening
  • Succulent plants
  • Potting mix for succulents
  • Scissors
  • Stones, gravels, marbles (optional)

Choosing The Right Container

Choosing the right container pots for your plants is one of the most fun parts when arranging succulents.

However, picking the right container for your specific succulents can also be challenging. You have to consider a few factors which will help make a difference when it comes to your plants thriving.

1) – Drainage Holes

orange container pots
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A hole in a container can make your life so much easier when it comes to succulents. It allows excess water to flow smoothly, saving your plant babies from root drowning.

You can use a piece of fabric mesh or plastic window screening to cover the holes which will prevent soil from falling out.

As you become familiar with watering your succulents in a pot with drainage holes, you can then try some pots without drainage. When you experiment, you have fun and also might learn something new. Don’t be afraid to try it out!

2) – Material

Another thing you have to consider is the type of materials you prefer for your pots. You can easily find common container materials like ceramic, plastic, woods, metal, glass, and many others. Choosing the right supplies for your lovely succulents also depends on the location of your arrangement. Here are a few examples:

  • Terracotta and Ceramic

A terracotta dish filled with succulents.

Terracotta and ceramic both work well indoors and outdoors. The materials are breathable and work well in areas with limited airflow.

The downside of ceramic and terracotta planters, particularly the large containers, is that they are quite heavy. You may find it hard to move around and might need to ask someone to help you every time you need to move them into another location.

These types of containers are also fragile. You have to be careful not to knock or drop them and take extra precautions to prevent them from possibly tipping and breaking.

  • Plastic

Three pieces of succulents each planted in plastic containers.

The use of plastic containers is also quite typical. Plastic is lighter in weight and isn’t as delicate as ceramic and terracotta.

It comes in a large variety of shapes and shades. It is also inexpensive and often designed to mimic the elegance of terracotta and ceramic pots.

The downside is that it isn’t breathable, making it hard for excess water to evaporate.

However, with the use of well-draining soil and the availability of drainage holes in your pot, it addresses the issue of proper aeration.

  • Wood
A few types of colorful succulents growing in driftwood.
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If you love when your plants are in a display portraying a character look then using driftwood planters can be an exciting option. This will also bring out a unique appeal and be quite the eye-catcher when your guests arrive into your backyard.

Wood is ideal for succulents that sit under the full sun. You can place them outdoors or on your balcony. It can stay cool in direct sun and they are excellent in retaining water.

However, wood can quickly rot due to wet soil if you place it in areas with less sunlight and a lack of airflow. It will split over time due to watering. Yet, if you choose the right spot for it, wood can look sophisticated and beautiful.

  • Metal

Six pieces of succulents each planted in a tin container.

Some people prefer tin planters for their succulents because it is inexpensive. Yes, it looks attractive, but it shifts temperature fast and can cause the soil to heat up too quickly.

Also, it rusts here and there, which is not excellent for your plants unless you get the metal pot specially designed for planting succulents.

If you opt to use metal containers, be ready to move your plants to a new pot after a while.

  • Glass

Five pieces of succulents each planted in a glass jar.

Glass, without a doubt, is an elegant material to plant your lovely succulents. Glass containers often have no hole drainage, but if you know how to measure the water you poured in, using glass containers shouldn’t be a problem.

You can also view the roots as you water the plants, making it easy to check the right amount of water.

Glass containers with wide openings allow smooth airflow, but it gets easily dirty with the tendency to collect hard water deposits.

In addition to that, you have to be careful every time you move your arrangements as glass too is also quite breakable.

Adding The Right Soil (Simple Step-by-Step Guide)

Complete ingredients for succulent potting mix.
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Over-watering due to the wrong type of soil is the common cause of succulent deaths. These types of plants prefer coarse, gritty, and a loose kind of media with the right amount of moisture and nutrients. An excess of water in the container pots for some time can cause the roots to rot.

To achieve the correct soil mixture for your succulents:

  • Get a half amount of store-bought potting mix and another half of inorganic substances.
  • Next, add water and mix the ingredients thoroughly.
  • Try squeezing the mixed ingredients to form a ball in your hands. If it sticks together, it won’t drain well and can cause root rot in your plants.
  • Try to add draining ingredients gradually to the wet ingredients until it crumbles fast and then you can form it into a ball.

Optional: You can also place gravel and stones at the bottom of the pots to promote aeration and prevent water-logging before filling in the potting mix.

And to clearly understand the benefits on the right soil for your succulents, you can check out our article, Best Soil For Succulent Plants.

Make sure to fill the container with enough potting soil, but it should remain a half-inch below the brim. The provided space will prevent overflow from the sides of the container as you water the plants.

Consider Colors and Textures

The fun will continue as you start pairing pots and succulents. Now that you know what type of material works best according to your preference, choosing either container pots or your plants is not too hard.

When matching succulents for your arrangements, it is best to choose plants with natural shades that mimic or complement the pot you’re going to use.

Filling the pot with succulents that have similar shapes and hues, appears to look blended and visually appealing.

You can also look for shades that are next to each other on the color wheel like greens, blues, and purples. However, a brighter arrangement consisting of reds, oranges, and yellows is also quite eye-catching.

Choices sometimes can get overwhelming, especially if you are indecisive of what to get. If you’re having a hard time finding the right pot, the best option is to fall back onto a basic terracotta or the plain white ceramic container.

The pot’s simplicity can sometimes help highlight the beauty and charm of your succulents.

Some succulents are monochromatic, meaning they have only one primary color. Using different shapes and textures can create an impressive arrangement if you prefer a monochromatic style.

Also, it is best to group succulents with similar needs. They too have different light and care requirements.

The Size Matters

It is sometimes difficult to tell what sized pot you might need for a specific arrangement. A general rule is leaving a half-inch of space between your succulents and the rim of the container. The space provided will allow the plants more room to grow.

However, too much space can also hinder succulents from growing. In this case, the roots will spread out much larger before the plants have time to catch up. It is best to get a 2.5-inch container pot if you wish to plant a 2-inch succulent.

Make sure to leave little space around each succulent if you wish to combine them in a single arrangement. The tiny space gives them sufficient room to spread.

A single tight arrangement can look awesome as soon as it is completed, and arranging them too close usually prevents succulents from growing larger.

To get the idea of right spacing, you can place the plants into the container with their nursery pots. Doing this will allow you to move the plants until you are satisfied with the arrangement. Only then you can discard the nursery pots when the design seems final.

The Thriller, Filler, Spiller Formula

A terracotta pot filled with potting mix.
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In the world of container arrangements, the thriller, filler, and spiller formula is one of the most widely suggested guidelines for designing succulent arrangements.

The thriller is usually the tall, spiky, or the one that appears to be significantly different from others, highlighting the beauty of shorter plants in the arrangement. It should stand prominently to be the first one people notice when they see the design.

The filler is succulents that complement your thriller. It also provides some visual interest, whether in color or texture. You can use different varieties as fillers.

The spiller succulents are those that hang over the edge of the pot. You will usually find trailing succulents like a string of pearls, a string of hearts, or a string of bananas as spillers.

Spillers can make all the difference in the longevity of your design. So make sure whatever variety of spiller you prefer, it should remarkably cover the edge of your pot.

Succulents Tips And Maintenance

The Light Requirements For Your Succulent

Echeveria succulent planted on the coir hanging basket.Setting an exciting arrangement is not the only factor you have to consider for your lovely succulents. As you create your design preferences, you also have to take into account the light requirements of your plants.

Growing succulents, particularly indoors, usually requires as much light as possible. But know that each species varies with sunlight needs.

For instance, Sansevierias are low light tolerant and don’t like the full sun. Sedum nussbaumerianum, though, loves the full sun. It requires full sun to maintain its vibrant color and solid shape. This is the reason why it is essential to create arrangements combining succulents with similar lighting requirements.

Water Your Succulents Correctly

Newly watered succulent arranged on top of the black pebbles.

Like the sunlight, succulents also have different water needs. It too is necessary to combine species with similar water demands to avoid arrangement disasters causing your plant’s untimely death.

Also, know that there is something wrong when the leaves of your succulents start turning yellow. Yes, these plants do well with little water, but they cannot survive with zero water.

Leaves turning yellow or brown is a sign your plants are suffering from extreme dehydration. Yet, sometimes it could also be because of over-watering. Make sure to check the soil from time to time to address such issues correctly.

Most succulents have thick leaves. The leaf thickness is the easiest way to tell the amount of your plant’s water need. Their unique ability to store water for use when they need it but are not readily available in the soil is the reason why most of these plants have thick leaves.

So if you do find your succulents with thinning leaves, then most likely they are suffering from too much dryness. However, if you’re unsure how to identify the watering needs of your specific succulents, you can also do a Google search to determine the appropriate amount, to avoid killing your lovely plants.

Just remember to combine succulents with similar light and watering needs, use well-draining soil, and most importantly, follow the proper watering technique.

Fertilize Your Succulents

Not many people know that succulents need to be fed too. Like any other plant, nutrients can help them grow robust and beautiful.

Succulents get nutrients from the soil, but giving them fertilizer can help them grow up to their potential and will help in producing vibrant colors.

There’s a fertilizer known as the N-P-K ratio specially formulated for succulents. Keep in mind that the nitrogen ratio promotes plant growth, potassium increases better flowering, and the phosphorous strengthens resistance to disease.

However, you have to be careful to only use the appropriate fertilizer for your lovely plants to thrive. Extremely concentrated fertilizer can burn your succulents and eventually lead to their untimely death.

Final Thoughts On How To Arrange Your Succulents

If you are considering brightening up your indoor space by adding some plants, you can’t go wrong with succulents.

Their uncomplicated characteristics, wide variety, the ability to lessen the chances of insect infestation, easy to care,  and slow-growing rate makes them ideal for interiors.

Generally, most succulents are not poisonous, which is quite the relief if you have children or pets. However, some varieties have sharply pointed leaves that could potentially injure them so make sure to keep an eye out. Also, beware of which type of plants may trigger allergies.

Another aspect that you have to remember is to use well-draining soil. It is always best to use a potting mix that has more grit than usual. Also, ensure there are available holes in any container pots you are going to use before planting.

Overall, there are lots of reasons why succulents are exceptional and an excellent alternative for brightening up your spaces, whether indoors or outdoors. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask below!

About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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