Selecting a pot or planter for succulents is often overlooked but it’s an important part of keeping your succulents happy and creating a beautiful arrangement!
When it comes to succulents, the only thing I enjoy more than buying succulents is buying pottery. I’m especially addicted to blue pots. My goal is to one day have two giant teal blue pots on my front porch filled with bright orange succulents. Sounds great right?
While I love buying pottery and planters for my succulents, it can be a challenging task to find just the perfect one. There are several things to consider when choosing a pot that many people don’t think of and it can make all the difference in helping your succulents thrive.
First, I feel like a broken record, but… choose a pot with a drainage hole! If you come away from this post learning nothing else, remember to get a pot with a drainage hole. Seriously, this will make your life so much easier and takes a lot of guesswork out of watering succulents.
I love using Susan Aach’s pottery (like this one above) because she always puts in large drainage holes. I use mesh tape to cover the holes to keep the soil from falling out. You can also use mesh screens. The water still flows through easily.
As you become more comfortable with watering your succulents in a pot with a drainage hole, you can branch out and try some without drainage. But, if you’re just starting out… a drainage hole will make a huge difference.
The next consideration is actually the material the pot is made of. Some common types include ceramic, plastic, wood, metal and glass. The location of your arrangement will really influence what material will be best.
Terra Cotta or Ceramic
In direct sun the pot can heat up which isn’t ideal for succulents, but usually it isn’t a huge problem. You soil will dry out more quickly though if it is in direct sun.
The hard thing about these types of pots is they can be extremely heavy. If you have a large pot it may be difficult to move once the soil and succulents are in (and maybe before too!). They are also quite fragile so you have to be careful not to drop them or knock them over.
Plastic is another really common option for pots and planters these days. A huge advantage to plastic is that it’s not as fragile as ceramic and it’s generally much lighter. The downside is that it isn’t as breathable. It’s much harder for water to evaporate in plastic pots than ceramic or terra cotta.
If you use a well draining soil and have a drainage hole in the pot, it isn’t really an issue though. It seems plastic planters come in a huge variety of colors and shapes which makes them really fun to shop for.
This is a really great set to start out with if you’re looking for plastic pots!
Wood is a good option for succulent that are in direct sun or hot environments because it stays cool and retains water.
In an area with less sunlight and airflow you may find that wood can easily rot or keep your soil wet for too long. The wood may also break down over time or split from being watered so it may not last as long as some other materials for pots.
Metal isn’t a great choice for succulents, but it can be used. It changes temperatures quickly and can cause the soil to heat up too much.
Also, unless it’s designed for planting metal will eventually rust which isn’t healthy for succulents. If you decide to go with a metal container, don’t plan on keeping your succulents in it for years.
Glass is not very breathable so it will be difficult for your soil to dry out unless it has a wide opening and allows for a lot of airflow.
Glass also gets dirty easily and can show hard water deposits. It’s also quite breakable so you have to be careful with where you place arrangements in glass.
Colors and Textures
Now that you have a better idea of what materials might work best for your succulent planter the fun really begins! You want to choose the color and texture of your pot based on the succulents you are working with. Or, you can pick your succulents based on the pot you want to use.
Cindy Davison of The Succulent Perch is an expert when it comes to pairing pots and succulents. She puts a lot of thought into what colors of succulents will mimic or complement the pot she is using.
Her advice when it comes to choosing a pot is to look at the lines, textures and colors in the pottery and mimic those with the succulents you choose. In this arrangement, she’s filled the pot with succulents that are similar in color and shape to the design on the pot. This helps the arrangement to look unified and also visually appealing.
If you can’t decide what to plant your succulents in or if you’re having a hard time finding just the right pot, I always like to fall back on basic terra cotta pots or simple white pottery. It seems every succulent looks great in one of these and it helps keep the focus on the succulent.
I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite pottery on Etsy that works well with succulents. You’ll find several from Susan Aach who is a master ceramist and always thinks about succulents when she creates her unique pieces. The arrangement below was created by Cindy Davison of The Succulent Perch in a Susan Aach pot.
Often it’s hard to know what size of pot you need for your succulents and arrangements. As a general rule, I’d say to leave about a 1/2″ of space between your succulents and the edge of the pot if you’d like for them to spread and grow.
Too much space can actually prevent a succulent from growing much larger because the roots spread out before the succulent. If you buy a 2″ succulent, a 2.5″ pot is generally a good choice if you’re planting it by itself.
When you combine a lot of succulents in an arrangement they will spread more if they have some space. A tightly packed arrangement like the one below will look beautiful as soon as it’s finished, but it doesn’t allow the succulents room to grow. It will generally prevent the succulents from growing for quite a while, but then quickly looks overgrown as the succulents try to stretch or spread. Give them a little “breathing room” to allow for new growth.
While there are a lot of things to consider before buying a pot for your succulents, it is still a really fun part of growing succulents. Hopefully now you won’t be intimidated by selecting pots for your succulents as you’ll know what to look for in terms of materials, size, colors and textures.
Once you’ve selected the right container, it’s time to start potting! Check out my post on potting succulents for a step-by-step tutorial.
You can also find more information about potting succulents and a variety of other topics in my book, Idiot’s Guides: Succulents.