How to Plant Succulents in a bird bath

If you have an bird bath that is broken, doesn’t usually have water in it, or just needs some jazzing up, try planting succulents in it! 


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My mom has had this bird bath in her garden for a long time. Last fall I thought it would be fun to plant some succulents around the base.

I didn’t do a great job planting them and, since they only get watered when it rains, some of them died. Quite a few survived though and they are looking good.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to fill a bird bath with succulents and have seen some beautiful photos of them. So, I asked if she’d let me fill the bird bath with succulents and she said yes!

This was a really fun project and I’m happy with how it turned out. The only things that made it difficult were drilling a hole in the bird bath and being outside for a while in the hot afternoon sun (probably not the best time to plant).

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

Here’s a step by step of what I did to fill up this beauty!

First I drilled a hole in the bottom of the bird bath for drainage. I used a diamond tip drill bit. If you haven’t done this before, here is a video tutorial to show you how.

Start by filling the bird bath with a little bit of water to keep the surface and drill bit wet. Start at an angle and straighten out the drill bit as you get deeper.

This was by far the hardest part of planting this bird bath. Having at least one drainage hole is crucial.

Drill a hole in your bird bath to provide proper drainage for your succulents

A drainage hole in your birdbath will prevent the succulents from rotting

I only did one hole because the bird bath is so shallow and will dry out relatively fast. The one hole will prevent water from pooling for too long.

After the drainage hole was in I added the soil. I recommend mounding the soil in the middle to create some height.

Since I’m using mostly cold hardy Sempervivums and Sedums (which don’t get very tall) I didn’t want the design to be flat. Mounding the soil allowed me to create a nice hill of succulents.

Create a mound of soil before adding succulents to your birdbath

I purchased a larger Sempervivum to be the focal point. I bought it locally so I was able to pick out a large specimen surrounded by lots of chicks.

Use a large succulent to create a focal point in your bird bath

After that I added in some cold hardy Sedums around the edges.

Add sedums to fill in and contrast with the sempervivums in your bird bath

I filled in most of the rest with more Sempervivums.

Use sempervivusms and sedums to create a cold hardy succulent filled bird bath

Once I had all of my plants in, I covered the exposed soil with a top dressing to finish it off. I always like adding a top dressing, but this definitely contributed to the composition and helped the design look complete.

Use decorative rocks to cover the soil in your succulent bird bath

I made sure to fill the bird bath with cold hardy Sempervivums and Sedums since my parents live in a Zone 5 climate. The winters get very cold and most other succulents won’t survive.

Create a stunning piece of garden decor by filling a bird bath with cold hardy succulents

Put your bird bath to a different use by filling it with succulents

Fill a bird bath with succulents to create a fun piece of garden decor

I’m loving how this turned out, plus it makes a great early birthday gift for my mom! Hopefully this inspires you to add some extra fun to your garden decor. Have you filled a bird bath with succulents? If so I’d love to see it!

UPDATE: See how this succulent filled bird bath survived and what I did to help it thrive in this post.

2017-09-18T23:18:19+00:00

24 Comments

  1. Toni June 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I do not want to drill a hole in my bird bath. I afraid it will crack an may want to use it for a bird bath some where down the line. It is fairly new, however the birds never use it….Can I use gravel and rocks of varies sizes for drainage.?

    What a great idea.

    Thank you for sharing

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      I don’t recommend using rocks at the bottom to add drainage, it will lead to the roots rotting. However, you can use a well draining soil and limit your watering. Take a look at this post for more information on watering with out drainage.

    • Sue Fudge June 18, 2017 at 12:31 am

      Hi I was scared to drill a hole in mine birdbath as well. but just follow instructions and it will work out fine. mine did. we practiced on an old mug first.

  2. Donna July 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    love this idea. Just wanted to know what do you do with the plants during the winter months. Do you leave them out and if so, do they come up again next year??

    • Cassidy Tuttle July 10, 2017 at 9:29 am

      I do leave them in. The varieties planted here are all cold hardy and will come up the next year, even after intense snow. Some will do better than others, but I’ll fill in any gaps in the spring if I need to, or the surviving plants will just grow and fill in.

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