How To Plant Succulents So They Don’t Die! (Expert Suggestions)

Dried succulent on a wooden table

Succulents make the perfect houseplant for people who’d love to see some greens at home but don’t have much time to pay attention to minute details about plant care. These drought-resistant plants are low-maintenance and will stay healthy with minimal care.

Follow these steps to plant your succulents and ensure they don’t die: 

  1. Use the right kind of soil.
  2. Choose the correct pot.
  3. Provide enough space for growth.
  4. Keep your plant away from pets or kids.
  5. Select the perfect spot for the plant’s sunlight needs.
  6. Set a watering routine.
  7. Make a feeding schedule.
  8. Know your area’s weather patterns.
  9. Trim or re-pot your succulent if it grows too big.

Some people may choose to grow succulents because of their low maintenance requirements. However, low maintenance doesn’t translate to neglect. This article will discuss how to plant succulents properly for a smoother and easier plant care routine later on.

1. Use the Right Kind of Soil

Succulents retain moisture in their leaves and don’t require much water from the soil. Damp soil can be dangerous for succulents as it can cause rot or decay if the plant’s shallow roots stay exposed to excess moisture.

Ideally, you must not use pure potting soil since it has a good moisture retention property. You need the kind of soil that drains well, such as perlite, coarse sand, or pumice. However, most succulents can’t survive in pure sandy soil as it lacks nutrients and drains too quickly.

You can mix equal proportions of your sterile potting soil and soil with good drainage for young succulents that need more moisture to grow. 

Here’s a YouTube video that shows how you can prepare your soil: 

2. Choose the Correct Pot

It’s essential to consider the material and size of the pot you use for succulents. A breathable pot is ideal for facilitating air circulation and faster moisture drainage. Terracotta or unglazed clay pots are best for this purpose. 

A drainage hole at the bottom of the pot can help release excess moisture. Be sure to place filter paper at the bottom of the pot to prevent the coarse sand from falling out.

Shallow pots that are half an inch to one inch (1.27 to 2.54 cm) wider than the diameter of your succulent are the perfect size to keep your plant happy and healthy. If the pot is too deep, it’ll require more soil and retain more moisture. Select a pot that is an inch (2.54 cm) taller than the root system.

Mini succulent plants isolated on white background

3. Provide Enough Space for Growth

You may have seen table centerpieces brimming with various types of succulents in one pot. Most succulents don’t mind pots crowded with other plants as long as they have the same care and growth requirements, such as water, light, and temperature.

When planting succulents in groups, keep a half-inch to one inch (1.27 to 2.54 cm) space between the edges of the plants. It’ll give them room to grow and provide better air circulation. The space will also allow you to apply plant food or water more conveniently.

4. Keep Your Plant Away From Pets or Kids

Aloe and Kalanchoe are probably some of the most common succulents at home. Although both look nice and harmless—with aloe even having medicinal properties—they can, unfortunately, pose some risks to cats and dogs. Some succulents may also have prickly thorns that could hurt young children’s sensitive fingers.

Kalanchoes release a toxin called bufadienolides that may cause cardiac glycoside poisoning, resulting in abnormal heart rate. Aloe, on the other hand, has been found to have toxic and carcinogenic effects. Both plants may cause vomiting or diarrhea when ingested by house pets.

However, the dangers between succulents and pets and children aren’t one-way dangers. Your pets and kids can be just as dangerous to your plants as the plants are to them.

For example, dogs tend to dig into the soil and damage your setup, while cats like to self-medicate and take a bite out of any plant accessible to them. Kids, on the other hand, are kids. They can wreak all kinds of chaos on your potted plants. 

Keeping your succulents away from pets or children can help protect your plants and your family.

5. Select the Perfect Spot for the Plant’s Sunlight Needs

Cacti love full, direct sunlight, while some other succulents prefer dappled sunlight or a bit of shade. When you buy a succulent from a gardening store, be sure to check the label to see its sun requirements and find a spot at home that would match its needs.

An east-facing window is best for indoor succulents because it receives enough filtered morning sunlight and keeps your plant safe from the scorching mid-day sun. Cacti, on the other hand, may benefit from getting more direct sun exposure outdoors.

Mother and daughter working with succulents at their indoor garden

6. Set a Watering Routine

Water your succulents thoroughly until you see them draining into the plant saucer. Discard the excess water after the soil has finished draining it. Allow the soil to dry before you water again. Succulents are drought-sensitive, so they don’t need plenty of moisture.

They store moisture in their leaves and can tolerate dry soil. In cool or humid conditions, you may water your indoor succulent once every one to two weeks. During hot and dry weather, you may water it more frequently, like once a week. Outdoor succulents need more frequent watering than indoor ones.

If you’re not sure if it’s time to water your plant, check the soil. When using a shallow pot of up to four inches (10.16 cm) deep, poke all the way down to see if the soil is dry. Digging up to four inches (10.16 cm) into the soil for bigger pots is enough to check the moisture.

7. Make a Feeding Schedule

Cacti and many succulents also enjoy plant food. When fertilizing them, be sure to use a formula that has higher phosphorus than nitrogen content. It’s best to apply fertilizer only one to four times during the plant’s growing season.

You may also check the care and maintenance tag that comes along with your store-bought succulent to determine the ideal feeding schedule. 

Check out Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food (available on It has an NPK value of 0.5-1-1 and is easy to use.

8. Know Your Area’s Weather Patterns

Understanding your area’s weather patterns may help you determine the best plant care routine for your succulents. Some outdoor succulents can thrive even when exposed to the elements in various seasons, while others may need to be moved indoors to avoid the frost.

A bit of summer rain is okay for outdoor succulents if you trust your soil’s drainage property. However, extended periods of rain may kill your plant from root rot. Be sure to move the pots to a roofed location where they can receive protection from the rain.

New succulent owners may find this troublesome, but it’ll become easier when you get used to it. If you want to reduce your worries about the weather, it’s best to get yourself an indoor plant. Many cacti and succulents thrive indoors as long as they get enough sunlight.

9. Trim or Re-Pot Your Succulent if It Grows Too Big

Succulents tend to grow slowly, making them ideal table or counter-top decorations. For indoor ones, it may take around two years before you would need to trim them. You don’t need to prune them regularly, unlike green, leafy houseplants.

If you don’t feel comfortable trimming your succulents, you may try to move them to a bigger pot. Be careful, however, since their roots tend to be fragile. Some long-time succulent gardeners throw away the roots and stem to grow a young plant out of leaf cuttings.

Here’s a YouTube video showing how to prune succulents and harvest leaves to grow new plants: 

Final Thoughts

As long as you follow these nine easy steps, you should have your succulents in their pots and not just growing but thriving! Just remember: While succulents are exceedingly easy plants to grow, that doesn’t mean you can stick them in a pot and forget them forever. They still have a few needs for which you’ll be responsible. 

Learn even more about succulents!

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