How to build a succulent container garden

Cacti and succulents never impressed me much, just like Brad Pitt to Shania Twain, you know? But during wintertime, these hardy babies are the only plants that fare well between the cold weather and my space heater. My collection consists mostly of succulent and cacti cuttings my mom’s garden and baby plants from my local nursery, residing de facto by my windowsill to get some good old sunlight, that sweet nectar of photosynthesis. Soon, however, I accumulated a bunch of succulents in random mini planters.

After browsing Instagram and some big box stores, I came across popular succulent container gardens and decided that I wanted to create my own succulent arrangement (sans glued down plants, thank you very much). And so, I gathered the necessary materials and got to work! If you’ve ever wondered how to build a succulent garden, worry not. It’s actually quite an easy process!

What You Need:

  • One clay pot (I used a ten-inch one that I got at The Home Depot for $3)
  • Cactus soil 
  • Baby succulents and cacti
  • Gardening gloves
  • Face mask
  • Water
Here’s what you need to do. Feel free to adjust depending on what materials you have on hand. I’m sure I’m just winging it as well. 

Step 1: Fill your pot 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through with cactus soil. I dumped in residual dirt I had along with some fresh cactus soil. I also stuck a few broken terracotta pieces and extra perlite in for extra drainage. Cacti and succulent are very drought tolerant, but they will be unhappy with wet feet. 

Step 2: With gloves, carefully remove your succulents and cacti from their plastic containers. I put my cuttings in old Keurig cups, yogurt containers, and basically any small cylinder you could imagine. I removed some of the soil from each plant, but not all of it, just because I didn’t want to damage their small roots. The plants I used included a mix of cacti, echeveria succulents, jade plants, donkey tail succulents, and more. I originally put in a moderately sized echinocactus, but the spines were too much to deal with, so I left it to the side. (One trick for repotting cacti with sharp spines is using a large piece of cardstock or newspaper and pulling it up by the edges!)

Step 3: Fill the gaps in with cactus soil. This is where it gets messy and dusty. I didn’t use a face mask, but it’s a good idea to use one if you don’t want to breathe in a bunch of dirt. Make sure the roots are covered and that your plants aren’t toppling over. I like to leave space between each plant just so that their root systems have breathing room.

Step 4: Add water to set the soil. Don’t water your succulents so much that they get root rot, but you do want to make sure that your plants are in place. Misting with a spritzer is OK as well. 

And voila! You have a succulent container garden. Make sure your plants get plenty of bright sunlight so that they can thrive! When the pot starts to overfill, trim it back and give the cuttings to your plant pals!

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