While we all love seeing photos of beautiful gardens, it isn’t always reality… or at least not without a lot of work. See what my succulent garden really looks like!

My blog is filled with a lot of beautiful photos of perfect, or nearly perfect succulents. But let’s be honest…

My succulent garden isn’t always pretty!

I love how real this post is! She shows that not everything in her succulent garden is picture perfect!

Cold hardy Sempervivums and Sedums

In reality, I tend to buy A LOT of succulents to use for photos. I also have some amazing connections to extremely well maintained and gorgeous succulent gardens in Southern California that I frequently use photos from.

Many arrangements on the blog were created just for that post and then get neglected as time goes on and new projects take center stage.

I avoid photographing less than perfect plants unless it’s to show you what problems you may encounter or how to fix things.

But, at any given time you’re very likely to find a lot of sad succulents in my garden, and a lot of healthy succulents too.

Also, I generally photograph succulents in my “home photo studio” (which is just my studio lights and a bunch of boards in a corner of a room) so I can get the lighting just right.

I’m usually photographing after my kids are in bed and it’s a little difficult to photograph in my garden when it’s dark out. So, things are a little bit different than they sometimes appear on the blog.

As I was cleaning up, repotting, and pruning my succulents this past week, I thought you might enjoy a behind the scenes look at my garden. You’ve seen it looking rather put together in my post on organizing succulents, but it’s gotten quite out of hand since then.

I love that she shows the behind the scenes of her succulent garden

Some are stretched out… some have leaves knocked off… some are under watered… some are sunburned… you get the idea.

See how to help your succulents recover when they don't look great

Restaurant trays are so perfect for grouping a bunch of succulents together

This goup of cuttings and misfit plants will grow beautifully with a little more attention and care

So… hopefully this gives you a little reassurance that you aren’t the only one out there who neglects your succulents even when you really love them. I will say that I definitely know how to care for succulents, and part of my knowledge has come from killing way too many.

It took my brother and I about 15 hours to get everything straightened up, in good soil and manageable. Even still, there’s more work that could be done.

Maintaining a beautiful succulent garden can take a lot of work!

So… when people tell you succulents are easy to take care of, remember that’s generally only true if you just have 2 or 3. Once you get 20… 50… 100… 200… things start to get a little scary and require more work to maintain.

The addiction is real…

 I love that she shows the behind the scenes of her succulent garden

A group of freshly repotted succulents that need a little extra love

Now, let’s do a little before and after for some of my pots…

My fun little miniature garden got out of control pretty quick. My two year old also pulled the “toys” out so we kept them out after that. It just needs a little pruning and it will look great again!

Miniature succulent garden freshly planted and one year later comparison

Cold hardy Sempervivums and Sedums

I love that Sedums grow so quickly, but it does take more effort to maintain.

These two pots you may remember from my post on pot feet. They were full of hardy succulents as well. Many of the Sempervivums (which are monocarpic) reached the end of their lives and left holes, so they just need a few more plants added in and they should look great again.

Comparison of two pots of succulents freshly planted and one year later

Cold hardy Sempervivums and Sedums

And lastly, this gorgeous centerpiece from The Succulent Salon had definitely seen better days. I wasn’t able to give it enough light last winter to prevent it from stretching. So, I pruned it back big time. The cuttings you see in the bin all came from the centerpiece!

An overgrown succulent centerpiece one year after it was made

An arrangement created by The Succulent Salon

I’m hoping I’ll be able to get it to fill in a little more before I have to bring it inside this winter.

One of the things I’m most excited about from this “clean up” project is to start doing more propagation. I’m calling it my “propagation project”. All of these leaves and small cuttings will be left in this flat of Bonsai Jack soil until spring (or maybe summer).

I’m going to be diligent in caring for them over the winter. I’ll photograph them at least once a month so you can see their progression.

A collection of succulent leaves and cuttings ready to propagate

All of these leaves have fallen off my succulents as I’ve been repotting (or sometimes the 2-year old likes to pull or knock them off). Some of the cuttings weren’t big enough to plant on their own or in an arrangement so they ended up here.

There is a huge variety of plants in this flat and I’m excited to see what it looks like over the next few months!

Spring and Fall are great times to start cleaning up your succulent garden. Clean out plants that aren’t doing well, prune overgrown plants back, and just spruce things up a bit!

Hopefully it doesn’t take you as long as it did me… but if it does, at least you get to enjoy some time in the beautiful outdoors with your succulents.