How to Pot a Succulent

So you’ve just picked up some plants from your local box store, or perhaps a friend gave you a succulent as a gift, but you’re not sure where to begin with your new green baby.

You can build a terrarium, plant your succulents in teacups and tins, plant them outside, etc. I will go in-depth about each of these as my blog progresses. Today, however, let’s start with the basics: potting a succulent.

Personally, I like to re-pot my succulents as soon as I get home – especially if I see signs of overgrowth or mistreatment. Usually this is not the case, but some florists may have succulents purely because they are “trendy” plants. Keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Roots growing through the bottom of the planter.
  • Large leaves that weigh down the top of the succulent
  • Multiple heavy rosettes or offshoot plants
  • Tall, twisting stems (often with large spaces between leaves).
  • *Water flooding the planter (re-pot immediately)
  • *Soggy, wet soil (re-pot immediately)
  • *Yellow or see-through leaves that are soft or fall off easily (re-pot immediately)

The beauty of succulents is that when properly cared for, they are extremely versatile. There are countless possibilities for decorating and customizing your garden. The “Sunshine and Succulents” blog has a great post about various containers that can be used.

Succulents are arid plants and prefer dry soil, so if you’re just starting out I would recommend a pot or container with large drainage holes. Another key component to keeping your succulent dry and happy is the type of soil you use. You can make your own soil like these bloggers did, here, or get a mixture from any large store with a gardening section. Several succulent growers have also recommended Bonsai Jack’s soil mix.

Once you’ve selected a container and proper soil, you can get started on re-potting your succulent into its new home. This process can get messy, so I suggest laying down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting if you are re-potting indoors.

  1. Carefully remove the plant from its container. Try not to damage or break away any roots.
    • I like to cut away the container or stick a long-handled spoon into the soil and lift the plant out by the bottom.
  2. Gently massage the roots, allowing the extra soil to fall away. This step is crucial if you noticed your plant’s soil was flooded or soggy. 
  3. Once the roots are clean, fill 1/4 of your new pot with fresh cactus soil.
  4. Place your succulent into the pot, spreading the roots out as you cover them securely with soil.

    A fellow gardening blogger posted this re-potting hack that makes covering roots easier. (Photo by:
  5. Be sure to cover all of the roots with soil.
  6. DO NOT WATER FOR 1 WEEK. This allows your plants to adjust to their new environment and prevents you from over-watering your plant.
  7. Only water your plant again when the soil is completely dry.
Echeveria with a decorative soil topper (Photo by: Selina Quick)

Now that your succulent has been successfully replanted, it’s time to customize your planter. Many container gardeners will put a thin layer of pebbles, rocks, or moss on top of their soil. This is to prevent your soil from splashing or moving during watering and can also be an opportunity to personalize your plants.  This step is all about creativity and choice, so get inspired and make your succulent your own! Don’t forget to do some research about soil toppers, some online retailers sell miniature figurines that can add personality to your planters.


Macrame planter (Photo by: Selina Quick)

Maybe you want to decorate in or around your pot, but you’re too concerned about taking up space. I’ve found macrame plant hangers to be an affordable and easy solution to my lack of shelf space. These are also great if you’re concerned that small children or animals may get into your plants. Plant hangers allow you to adjust their hanging height, so you can keep them up high and out of reach if necessary. You can also keep heavier pots in these hangers if you buy strong rope or cord.

There are always new, innovative methods coming out for gardening and plant decoration so you’re guaranteed to find something that works for you and keeps your plants happy. I will be writing more posts in the future about How to Build a Terrarium and other succulent-related topics. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram to see more pictures of my growing succulents and stay up-to-date with new posts!


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