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!

152 Responses to How to Plant a Succulent

  1. I bought my baby succulent plants and soul today. I was planning on using a shallow bird bath for the garden. But now I fear the rain. Should I still holes in it first? I plan on starting tomorrow.

  2. 1.How do you prevent squirrels from eating the leaves of succulents?
    2. Where do you keep your potted succulents? Direct sun, shade,indirect sun, inside or outside?

  3. I created my second terrarium today. Although its beautiful in my eyes, my succulents aren’t stable. If I move the glass container they move too like they would fall out of the soil. The roots are covered with soil but I didn’t pushed it so it gets stable. Is it ok when they aren’t very stable?

    • Eventually when the succulents grow deeper roots, they will be able to support themselves. If you are worried, then don’t be afraid to use the soil to keep them upright.

      • I use river rocks and larger than pebble rocks to hold them upright until they can stand on their own. I also have a bunch of plastic ducks etc (Schleich are good) and use them to prop up a plant till it takes.

  4. I recently got a succulent for my graduation, a Aeonium or dudleya sort of thing. It began to stretch so I put it outside. I watered it for the first time and let it alone but the sun became too much and is drying it out before the soil could dry so it was staying moist. I discovered this site when looking up what to do and as a result, after finding this site yesterday, I now own 6 succulents for the first time ever! I bought new soil and perlite and mixed a few rocks in it all together, and got top soil. I was worried that my topsoil rocks were too large so i only have a small layer on top of the dirt soil, but how much topsoil is okay?

    • That is exciting, how fun! If it is a small layer of topsoil then it does not matter the size of the pebbles, as long as the succulents can grow roots in the soil beneath that layer.

  5. I live in the high desert where already temps are at 110, I’m trying to keep my soil a bit moister for longer than 10 minutes lol. Is it possible to use spaghnum moss AND pebbles on top of my soil? Or should I use one or the other? I have mostly echeverias if that helps.

  6. I’d really like to know more about planting succulents in containers that do not have holes – like tea pots and cups, serving dishes, old vases, etc. – either deep vases or shallow dishware.

  7. Is it okay to use the same soil I used to plant it with as a topping? It is a soil mix designed for succulents if that makes any difference.

  8. Hello there. My succulent’s stem is quite long and the plant has bent over. I’ve addressed the light problem but now it’s sprouted aerial roots! I know I need to change the watering but, in the meantime, I’d like to repot it from the aerial roots. How do I do that? Thank you!

    • It’s great you’ve addressed the light issue! It sounds like now you need to water deeper, instead of more frequently. This link can give you some great information on aerial roots.

  9. what if i found this article after i potted and watered my plants! it should be hot tomorrow and they do have a hole in the bottom but i didn’t realie you were supposed to wait to water?? did i just ruin my plants?

Let us know what you think!

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Find out more about these 10 easy to grow succulents and add them to your collection!
Find out everything you need to know about watering succulents!

Don't let poor watering techniques kill your succulents! Avoid the number one cause of unhealthy succulents with the tips and techniques in this ebook!

Learn how to grow healthy succulents indoors!

Growing succulents indoors is tricky business if you don’t know the proper soil, sunlight and watering requirements. But you can make succulents work for you, you just need to know the right way to care for them! Follow my step-by-step instructions and watch your worries float away and your succulents thrive, year after year :)

The secrets to propagating succulents successfully!

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You'll find an incredible selection of cold hardy succulents at Mountain Crest Gardens

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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?


Still have a question or need help?

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