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How to Create the DIY Succulent Gardens of Your Dreams
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How to Create the DIY Succulent Gardens of Your Dreams

Succulents are all the rage in California’s spring gardens. If you want to get your hands on a DIY succulent garden, this is how you do it.

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7 min read

May 09, 2021

Succulents are all the rage in California’s spring gardens. Most likely, you’ve spotted the vibrant hues of their thickened, fleshy, leaves in interior design magazines, elaborate sustainable wedding centerpieces, or in your mom’s vertical succulent garden. Point is, succulents are everywhere—and they’re super easy to care for. If you want to get your hands on a DIY succulent garden (which you totally should), this is how you do it.

Do you have a green thumb? Succulents are the ideal houseplant to grow. A single plant can create a whole new setting in your living space.

How to Make an Indoor Succulent Garden 

If you have a handful of different succulents all over your home, it’s time to repot them to create a beautiful indoor succulent garden. As charming as they are individually—collectively, they’ll really make your home decor pop. Whether you’re planting succulents for their air-purifying purposes or simply because they’re gorgeous, succulents are the easiest and most versatile houseplants to grow. So get ready to bring spring into your home and groom your blooms in style. This is the best way to plant succulents in your house.

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Step One: Choosing a Container 

When starting a succulent garden, the first thing to do is select a container for your plants. Almost any shallow container will do—let your imagination run wild. Get your hands on dishes, pots, saucers, or any other decorative items and you’re good to go. 

One thing to keep in mind is that your container should be shallow enough to match the root systems of your succulents. A drainage hole is also preferable. But, if your container does not have a drainage hole, you can either drill one or create drainage by adding a layer of pea gravel or small rocks on the bottom.

Planting succulents in the right soil is key to having healthy plants. Succulents need soil that drains, so regular soil from your yard won't do.

Step Two: Select Potting Soil

The most important step for planting succulents together is choosing the soil that works best for your spring garden. The simplest choice for potting soil is to purchase a prepared mix created specifically for succulents. If you’re unable to find prepared ones, this can easily become a DIY succulent garden project. All you have to do is mix one-part regular potting soil, one-part perlite, and one-quarter part-coarse builder’s sand and you’ll master gardening 101.

The best part about growing these house plants is getting to choose which gorgeous succulents you want to pot together. Who's going to make the cut?

Step Three: Select your Plants

When it comes to planting succulents together, your choices are practically endless. For an easy, low-maintenance house plant, opt for growing kalanchoes. These come in pinks, oranges, yellows, and a variety of other colors. And what’s a succulent garden without everyone’s favorite house plant, aloe vera? Another easy indoor plant to grow, aloe vera makes a great addition to your DIY succulent garden

Although succulent plants are best grown indoors, there’s a certain art to planting succulents outside. When growing succulents outdoors, you have to pay more attention to your choices. Aeonium, agave, and ragwort are common outdoor succulents that’ll make your spring garden look as charming as ever.

Whether or not you like to get your hands dirty, potting the soil properly is important to plant your succulents the right way.

Step Four: Pot the Succulents 

As we mentioned, your container should have a drainage hole. Start the process by adding a bottom layer of rocks or pea gravel into your pot. Add a layer of potting mix, making sure you don’t fill it all the way to the top. Leave enough room at the top of your container for a small layer of gravel or sand to act as insulation.

With your plants in place, you’ll notice a vertical gap between the base of the plants and the potting medium. Add more potting mix into this gap, filling up to the base. As you’re doing this, keep an eye on the roots—they should be completely covered. Tamp down the soil to ensure that the plants are properly placed in the container.

Cover the top with more pea gravel, small river rocks, or sand. This way, your top layer will keep moisture away from the base of the plants—this reduces the possibility of your outdoor succulent garden rotting.

Since vertical gardens are all the rage, make one yourself for your garden. All you need is a couple of tools and passion for gardening.

Tips for Planting a Vertical Succulent Garden

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need climbing plants to grow a vertical succulent garden. Countless succulent house plants can be trained to grow in a vertical arrangement. 

Every vertical succulent garden starts with a simple wooden box with a depth of about two inches. If you’re opting for something bigger, don’t go overboard. Anything over 18 inches will make your succulent house plant dry out in the loose soil.

When planting a vertical succulent garden, use rooting hormone or even a sprinkle of cinnamon and watch it work wonders. While your roots will start growing quickly, don’t water them for at least a few weeks. 

To start a DIY vertical succulent garden with cuttings, add a wire screen to the box. This way, both the soil and the plants are held neatly. Once everything is in place, wait a month or two for the roots to grow, before hanging the beauties on your wall. You can easily attach the box vertically to any wall you have in the house—just make sure the succulents are exposed to enough indirect sunlight.

While succulents are the perfect house plants thanks to their low-maintenance nature, planting them outdoors is completely possible.

What to Plant in an Outdoor Succulent Garden 

Growing succulents outdoors is possible when you know what you’re doing. Here are tips for the best way to plant succulents outdoors, starting with prepping your soil

Place a two-inch layer of gravel on the bottom of a container. Since succulents don’t like wet roots, the gravel will help provide drainage. Add a bit of cactus potting mix—a fast-draining soil that retains little moisture. After that, it’s time to plant your outdoor succulents

Start with your largest plant—you don’t necessarily have to place it in the middle of the container, but it can become the focal point of your succulent arrangement. The easiest way to help you determine which plant to place where is by having a preliminary design in mind beforehand. Cascading succulents, for instance, look better by the container’s edges.

Make sure not to concentrate on one spot in your container. Place your succulents all over your designated green space—you’ll want your outdoor succulent garden to look lush and full, so fill in every gap you can find.

As for which outdoor succulents you want to plant, the best ones are echeverias, hens and chicks, ragworts, and stonecrops. Your outdoor succulent garden will look especially enchanting if you include pigmyweeds and agaves. Haworthias and snake plants also make great additions to your DIY succulent garden

California’s Top Succulent Classes, Workshops, and Events

Sculptor and painter Jennifer Ahlstrand is the founder of WestWind Succulents. She cultivates 50-plus different species of house plants.

WestWind Succulents

Based in Lafayette, WestWind Succulents is a small succulent nursery and design company. Established by Jennifer Ahlstrand—a sculptor, painter, and succulent enthusiast—the company has over 50 different succulent species including aeoniums, aloe, echeverias, and kalanchoes. WestWind Succulents offers virtual succulent classes, pop-up tours, and corporate events to make your life a little greener.

When you sign up for a virtual succulent class, the company delivers the supplies directly to your house. Then, the guests are sent a Zoom meeting link to join the online class and create a mini DIY succulent garden.

Succulent Gardens 

Succulent Gardens is a delightful boutique nursery in Monterey County. As you approach the three-acre nursery, you’ll find drought-tolerant plants on display both in greenhouses and outside. Whether you’re a retailer, landscape professional, or succulent enthusiast, the shop offers a handful of educational classes and talks hosted by the expert staff. The nursery’s gardening classes show you the best way to plant succulents both indoors and outdoors.

You can find succulents in just about every color of the rainbow. Shades of green are a given—but you can also find them in blue, purple, and red.

The Juicy Leaf

When you visit The Juicy Leaf, you’re immediately transported to a lush green paradise dotted with succulent arrangements, designer terrariums, and a vintage lamp collection. Located in L.A.’s Glassell Park, The Juicy Leaf offers a fresh and positive take on modern retail. The company provides planting parties for all occasions—birthdays, baby showers, engagement parties, corporate team building, and everything in between. Order your succulent kit and build your own arrangement with The Juicy Leaf’s Insta Live Workshop. 

Succulence Life and Garden

Located in San Francisco, Succulence Life and Garden features bookcases full of plants, a make-your-own plant bar, and plenty of fun workshops. Enroll in the Vertical Gardening DIY class to learn everything you need to know about gardening. The Terrarium Workshop is the best succulent class for beginners—you learn how to care for succulents including maintenance, propagation, and transplanting. As for the Discover Succulents class, the knowledgeable staff walks you through planting a selection of succulents and decorating them with rocks, sands, and mosses.

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