How To Create A Thriving Succulent Garden

Last Updated November 4, 2021 By Bella Zinti

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Do you want to bring some eye-catching color and texture to your garden? Do you have a rock garden or some empty pots that need a little pop of green? The answer to all these scenarios is - succulents! Perhaps you'd like to try vertical gardens, turning an outdoor wall into a work of art. 

Succulents are varied and resilient. A succulent garden can be developed into a truly show-stopping display at an affordable price. Not only are they a beautiful addition to your garden, but it is also a good choice for a water-efficient landscape. Read on to learn how!

What Are Succulent Plants?

Succulents are drought-loving plants with thick, fleshy leaves. Their native habitats are dry, so they store water in their thick leaves. These leaves come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, with geometric spirals to many of them. These low-maintenance plants only need to be watered once every week or two, letting the soil dry completely between waterings.

Planting Succulents In Your Garden

Growing succulents are super easy, and you don't need a green thumb to grow succulents successfully. There are plenty of cool succulent garden design ideas you can do at a fairly affordable price. Before starting the succulent garden, learn how to plant them and put them together in the right way.

Know Your Hardiness Zone

Different succulents require different temperate climates, and most of them do not handle extreme hot or cold temperatures well. Some will survive Winter and tolerate frost. Check your hardiness zone to know which succulents will grow best for you. Some succulents can handle the cold more than others, even surviving during freezing temperatures. These include sempervivums and sedums. Otherwise, plan to bring your succulent gardens indoors during the coldest months of Winter. If high, desert heat is more your climate type, check out agaves, aloes, and cacti.

Find and Prep Your Spot 

Once you've determined whether your succulent garden will be fixed in place or need to be brought indoors, you can start to prep your planting space. Sun and shade requirements vary from one succulent to the next, so you'll need to know the light available to your garden before buying succulents. Most succulents don't do well in full sun and prefer a little shade with good airflow. Other succulents will become stretched out and "leggy" if they aren't getting enough sun and are trying to reach more light.

Soil conditions are the most important consideration as you prepare your succulent garden! Succulents are prone to root rot if the soil stays wet too long. Use a soil mix that includes organic matter and other material that facilitate good drainage - this includes sand, grit, pumice, perlite, small gravel, and even crushed rock. This mix will improve drainage and help keep the roots of your succulent plants dry. If you are planting in a container, make sure it has good drainage holes. When the plant is in a desirable location, the succulent will produce flowers.

Arrange and Plant Your Succulents

Once you know what light and temperature boundaries you're working with, you can purchase your succulents. While they are in their nursery pots, arrange them as artistically as you please. Arranging succulents is half the fun, so enjoy tweaking your garden while the succulents are still in their pots. Then, plant them. Remove as much soil from the roots as possible before planting in your garden - sometimes, the nursery soil holds on to more water than the plant needs. You might bump and tear the roots a bit in the process, but don't worry. Succulents are hardy little plants and will settle into their new home quickly.

To create an attractive succulent garden, add a focal point. For example, plant taller specimens in the center and spread species on the edges as ground cover.

Wait To Water

Being tolerant of low water levels, they can thrive in dry environments. Wait a day or two before watering your succulent garden. The roots need time to heal and adjust to their new space before handling water. Remember - they have water in their thick leaves already. They can handle a day or two before their first watering. Then, moving forward, only water when the soil is completely dry. Use your finger to check the first couple inches of the soil. If the soil is dry, water deeply.

Tips For A Lush Succulent Garden

A succulent garden can be planted and left alone, and their low maintenance level truly is one of their drawing points. But with a few tips, you can bump your succulent garden up to a truly beautiful work of art.

Feel Free To Prune

Don't be afraid to prune and shape succulents, particularly if you have them grouped close together! Let the cuttings dry over at the wound before placing them back into the soil to propagate. You should also freely remove any dry or dead leaves. Succulents will naturally lose the lower and outer leaves as they grow. Removing these leaves will help your garden look better and encourage new growth and stimulate airflow.

What To Do About Pests

Succulents are prone to mealybugs. If you lift one of the succulent leaves, you'll notice how they spread from one plant to another using a web-like substance. They'll suck juices from the leaves, turning them yellow. If you've got a mealybug problem on your hand, you can use a spot treatment of a 70% solution of isopropyl alcohol. Use a cotton swab to dab the solution on the bugs.

How To Correct Watering Issues

Succulents will let you know if there's been too much water. The leaves will turn soft and mushy! You'll need to remove the plant and let the roots dry out before planting it in well-draining soil. If the leaves are wrinkly, you have the opposite problem - your plant is thirsty! Succulent plants bounce back quickly from this - just give it a good drink.

Don't Backfill or Mulch

Succulents are unique in that you don't want to backfill around their roots when you plant them. Instead of covering their roots with soil, simply place them in their spot and leave them alone. This air gap will allow the soil to work its way back around the plant slowly as the plant grows. And don't add a layer of mulch! It will trap excess water. If you want to add some sort of ground cover, use a non-organic mulch such as crushed rock, granite, or decorate pebbles.

Root Rot

If your succulents are experiencing root rot, the good news is there are ways you can treat and cure. Here are some of the common signs of root rot:

  • Leaves become mushy
  • Stems and leaves become pale and yellow
  • Lower leaves are turning pale

To treat root rot, here are five ways you can use to treat and cure your plant baby.

Drying technique

Allow your plump greens to dry out completely and then repot. Depending on where the rot has spread, this technique may or may not work.

Trim The Root

If you are repotting your succulent, trimming off any rotten roots will help save your plant from dying. Cut off a few centimeters above the infected area. If you don't trim it off, it will continue to spread and affect your plant health, which may even kill your plant.

Dust Sulfur

By dusting powdered sulfur on the plant's root at repotting can help treat root rot. Sulfur can protect the fragile succulent from fungi and bacteria. While this ingredient can kill microbes, it can also harm beneficial ones.

Trim Off the Head

If the rot has spread to the whole plant, trim of the head of your succulent might just save it!

Succulent Plants To Add To Your Succulent Gardens



Beautiful aeoniums are usually in the form of flowers and rosettes. This makes them a great focal point in your garden.

Check out this rare aeoniums.



The large size and strong forms of agave is a striking landscape plant. This succulent can be magnificent and huge!



These stunning succulents have fleshy leaves arranged in a variety of patterns. Perfect for growing as dense foliage for ground covers.



A beautiful green, greyish, or deep-green succulent features strap-like leaves with small and sharp teeth that line the leaf edges.



To add some color to your garden, add these fleshy "petals" in green, red, purple, grey, or a mix. Not to mention the beautiful flowers that emerge in red, pink, yellow, and white shades. Perfect for attracting hummingbirds.



This beautiful intricate rosette succulent comes in white, green, grey, pink, and red colors.

Check out this rare succulent-echeveria rainbow!



This eye-catching succulent is filled with a translucent gel-like Aloe vera. Range from green and brown to variegated, like a Zebra Plant!



Unlike the other succulents, Kalanchoe prefers a moist climate. The leaves can be smooth or felted with showy flowers in yellow, red, orange, pink, and white.

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About the author

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui.