Succulents are great plants for indoor or outdoor container gardening. Here's how to prepare a succulent container garden and artfully arrange succulents with pizzazz.

By Pam Penick
Updated August 08, 2019
Small succulent garden in green planter
Ryann Ford

Succulents are trendy container plants that come in diverse colors, textures, and shapes. They can thrive outdoors in warm climates, and do well inside in cooler weather. Succulents don't need a ton of water, so their container must be suited for good water drainage. Follow these steps for a no-fail way to plant a succulent container garden.

  • Working time 30 mins
  • Start to finish 30 mins
  • Difficulty Easy
  • Involves Power Tools, Drilling, Planting

What you need


How to do it

Part 1

Drilling into bottom green planter
Step 1

Drill Drainage Holes

If your container doesn’t have drainage holes in the bottom, drill several into the bottom of the container with a drill and drill bit. Start the bit at an angle until it “bites” into the container then slowly raise the drill to a vertical angle. Use steady pressure but don’t lean on the drill; let the bit do the work. Drilling this way will help prevent cracking in ceramic or terra-cotta pots.

Pouring soil into green planter
Step 2

Fill Pot With Soil

Fill the pot almost to the rim with fast-draining potting soil. Buy packaged cactus potting soil, or make your own soil by mixing 1 part regular potting soil with 1 part perlite, pumice, cypress mulch, or granite gravel to create airflow and drainage. You can pea gravel in the bottom of the succulent planter before filling with soil for extra drainage.

Placing succulents into green planter
Step 3

Arrange Succulents

The best potted succulent gardens contain a mix of plant types and sizes. To mimic the look, pop your plants out of their nursery pots and arrange taller plants in the center or back of the container, shorter plants in the front, and trailing plants draping over the edge. Pack plants tightly for a lush, full look. Add potting soil to fill any gaps, especially around the edges of the container; lightly press the soil.

Placing gravel in green succulent planter
Step 4

Add Gravel & Finish Arrangement

Pour small handfuls of fine gravel across the bare soil of the succulent garden DIY and gently smooth for a finished look. The gravel also aids drainage and keeps soil from splashing on the plants when you water.

Tuck a pretty stone or other decorative objects into the arrangement for a touch of color or texture. Gently water to settle the plants, and allow them to dry out between waterings. Avoid using saucers outdoors; indoors, empty the saucers after watering to prevent rot. Many succulents and cacti are cold-tender, so plan to bring them inside when temperatures drop below 40°F. In hot climates, the plants appreciate the afternoon shade.


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