How to Plant a Succulent

While planting succulents seems like an easy thing to do, this step-by-step photo tutorial will help make sure your succulent is happy in it’s new home.

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I’m so glad you’re interested in learning how to properly pot succulents!

Before I get to the step by step, I want to make sure you have the proper supplies you need. I have a list for you on my post about essential supplies for planting succulents.

You’ll also want to make sure the pot you select is ideal for succulents. You can see my tips for choosing pottery for succulents in this post.

Ok, now that you’ve read through those and gathered the supplies you need, you’re ready to start potting!

I’m am very much a visual learner and prefer to have someone show me something rather than simply read step-by-step instructions. I want to show you, start to finish, how I pot a newly purchased succulent. It’s easy to do, but I’ve had some people ask about it so I thought a tutorial would be helpful!

This post will help you make sure you are potting your succulents correctly
“Gollum Jade”

Remove Pot and Soil

The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the nursery pot from your succulent and remove as much soil as you can. Generally the soil succulents are planted in at nurseries is really rich and retains too much water for succulents. Removing this soil will help the roots of your succulent to be as healthy as possible. You may not be able to get all the soil off and that is just fine. Just get as much as you can.

If you are planting the succulent by itself (as I am here) you’ll want to leave the roots intact as much as possible. If you are making an arrangement with several succulents you might want to break off some of the roots. It’s not a big problem to remove some of the roots. The succulent will survive just fine either way. The succulent I’m using is a “Gollum Jade“. Also, if you are lucky enough to have babies attached to your main plant, now is a good time to remove them if you’d like.

Remove as much soil as possible before potting your succulent
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

Place Mesh Over the Drainage Hole

You don’t want your soil to fall out the drainage hole in the pot you are using so use some mesh tape to prevent the bigger chunks from falling out. The mesh tape works well because it allows for water to flow out easily but will hold in most of the soil. You’ll still get some “dust” falling out but that is normal. You can also use a mesh screen instead of the mesh tape.

Use mesh tape to prevent soil from falling out the drainge hole of your pot

Fill Pot Almost to the Top with Soil

Before you place your succulent in the pot you’ve chosen, fill it mostly full of succulent soil. Leave a little bit of room at the top for roots and more soil later on.

Fill your container mostly full of soil before putting your succulent in

Put in Your Succulent

Place your succulent in the pot, centered or off center, whatever you’d like. Nestle some of the roots into the soil already in the pot.

Place your succulent on the soil and cover some of the roots
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

Fill the Pot to the Top with Soil

You want the soil in your pot to reach the top of the pot. Leave just a tiny bit of room between the top of the soil and top of the pot. Make sure the leaves of the succulent sit completely above the soil to prevent rotting.

If you’ve purchased soil from Bonsai Jack, you’ll have an awesome chopstick that you can use to poke into the soil over and over to help remove any large pockets of air between the roots. This way your soil won’t sink down after a few waterings.

Cover the roots of your succulent with soil when planting
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

Add a Top Dressing

To finish off your potted succulent add a top dressing. You might be thinking, but you just told me to fill the pot to the top with soil! As you add your top dressing, press down on the soil to help the succulent stay in place. The top dressing can be something bright and fun or a simple gravel like I used here.

Use a top dressing to keep the soil in place and make the arrangement look finished
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

Most important!!!

Once your succulent is potted and the top dressing is in place, leave it for 1-2 days before watering. This will give the roots time to heal before they start soaking up water and helps prevent root rot.

Learn how to pot your newly purchased succulents - a few tips you may not know!
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

So that’s it! Not too bad right? The things I’ve found people often miss are removing the soil from the roots, using a top dressing and waiting a couple days before watering. Following the steps above should give you a good start to a healthy succulent garden.

Get this great ebook about caring for succulents indoors and solve your succulent growing cares!

126 Responses to How to Plant a Succulent

  1. Hi! Thank you for the tips, I think I’m going to repot mine this weekend. Only q is how much space do succulents need? Is there such a thing as too much space?

    • You’re welcome. Planting them closer together will help the arrangement to stay compact and the shape can stay maintained, when you space them out the succulents will spread out and grow as they please

  2. Thank you!! I have been doing this ony own guessing and learning as I go. I finally after 4 yrs decided to look for an answer to a question on planting babies. Iam so excited to find you! am a visual learner too. Love all your info and all your links!! Yay!!

  3. I thought your tips were very helpful, however, I am just starting out and planted my succulents in mason jars. I was wondering if it would be safe to remove them and replant them properly? Or if that would kill them. Thank you for your time!

    • Thank you! It will be worth it in the long run to replant them properly to prevent issues later.

  4. Hi Cassidy! Thanks so much for your very educational and detailed posts on how to care for succulents. It’s especially helpful for us true newbies, and who really need visuals because. Never knew that when you repot, so much of the old soil is taken off the roots. Hopefully I didn’t go overboard with my 2.5″ babies from the store. Their roots are pretty short so is it normal to have trouble keeping them standing upright? Used the Bonsai Jack succulent mix.
    You say not to water for 2 days, however I see the leaves becoming slightly wrinkled. So my question is, how do you know when you’ve not watered the plant enough? My original soil was dry all the way through and powdery. Am I still ok waiting for 2 days? Thanks

    • New plants are always exciting! When waiting to water, and then soaking the soil it will help the plant create strong and deep roots. So the stretch of days in the watering schedule will help the plant in the long run.

  5. I loved this article and both your materials and pots articles! Very efficient and well written :) I was wondering how many times a succulent can stand potting?

    • Thank you so much! It really depends on the plant, but for them most part they can stand a few moves as long the repotting is done properly.

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Wondering who I am?

Let me introduce myself... My name is Cassidy Tuttle and I’m a professional photographer turned succulent addict. These are my two sweet children and wonderful husband in the photo with me!

My adventure with succulents started with three small plants on the window sill of my basement apartment. Within a year I had propagated them and purchased more, totaling over 100 plants!

It’s been a fun adventure since then as I’ve drowned, burned, frozen, and starved my collection of succulents. This site is where I teach you how to avoid all those mistakes I made or help you recover from them.

While I’ve killed plenty of succulents in the last few years, I’ve also kept hundreds alive and thriving, and I know you can do the same!

Did I mention I wrote the book on succulents?

It’s true! I’m the author of Idiot’s Guides: Succulents which is designed to help those of us who love succulents (but are limited to growing on our window sills and porches) keep our succulents looking great.

You can purchase my book through my Amazon affiliate link here or pick it up at your local Barnes and Noble.

If printed books aren’t your thing, I’ve also written several ebooks about succulents on various topics including indoor growing, watering and propagating. You can check those out on this page.

My goal is to help you not just keep your succulents alive, but help them thrive no matter where you live.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff!

I’m impressed you’ve made it this far down. You should probably be rewarded for that…

How about some bite sized succulent tips delivered daily to your inbox?

I’m sure you’ll love my 30 Days of Quick Succulent Tips email series. Each day I’ll send you a 2-3 sentence tip about growing succulents along with a photo and link to learn more.

Sound good?


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