Succulents are so beautiful on their own it doesn’t take much to make a great arrangement. These techniques will help your arrangements really stand out!
Over the last few years I’ve created a lot of succulent arrangements for myself, for my ebooks, for the Idiot’s Guide, and for friends and family. I’ve also had the chance to work with some incredible succulent designers and photograph their arrangements. Everyone has their own style and techniques, but it seems every arrangement is a work of art!
I’ve compiled a few different techniques or ideas to help guide you in creating your own succulent arrangements. You can also get a free PDF with 15 design tips from succulent experts by entering your email address below! These are tips you won’t want to miss! You’ll also find links throughout the post to purchase the succulents I mention in each of the design sections. It can often be hard to find colorful succulents locally, so these links can help you find the plants you’re looking for.
Succulents are pretty incredible because you can find them in virtually any color of the rainbow! This makes it a lot of fun to arrange succulents based on common color schemes. Since my background is in art, I’m always drawn to arrangements that really show off color schemes.
Monochromatic means you use just one color (say green) and show off succulents in a variety of shades of that color. They can also be different shapes and textures to add more interest. Click here to see some succulents that would make an interesting monochromatic arrangement.
Analogous means you use colors that are next to each other on a color wheel. For example, you could use green, blue and purple or orange, yellow and green. I’ve found that I tend to create more with the greens, blues and purples, but I’m generally inspired most by the brighter arrangements with reds, oranges and yellows!
Complementary may just be my favorite color scheme. This is where you combine colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple. Blue and orange just happens to be my favorite color combination of succulents. I think the fact that most plants aren’t blue or orange is what makes this combo so interesting to me. Plus, the colors are so intense! This red and green arrangement though is so vibrant and exciting!
Thriller, Filler, Spiller
This “formula” is commonly used in the world of container arrangements and is probably one of the most suggested ways to design an arrangement. It’s so simple but results in great arrangements every time.
A “thriller” succulent is one that is large, tall, spikey, or dramatically different from the other succulents in the arrangement. It should be the first thing people notice when they see the design.
“Filler” succulents make up the bulk of the arrangement. Often people think filler means boring or dull, but this is anything but true! Choose succulents that complement your thriller and provide some visual interest, whether it’s their color or texture. You can use multiple succulent varieties as your filler.
“Spiller” succulents hang over the edge of the pot. Usually these are trailing succulents like “String of Pearls“, “String of Bananas” or “String of Hearts“. These can also be longer succulents like Sedum “Burrito” that will eventually trail as they grow more. Whatever you choose, these just need to cover the edge of your pot in some way.
It can make all the difference for the longevity of your arrangement!
Consider Light Needs
On a more practical note, you’ll want to consider how much light succulents need as part of your design choice. While succulents growing indoors generally require as much light as you can give them, there is actually quite a bit of variation in the amount of sunlight various succulents need.
While I’d love to tell you all the succulents that like full sun or partial shade, or low light, there are so many it’s not realistic for me to do so here. However, you can identify the succulents you own and then look up their growing needs on World of Succulents or San Marcos Growers. A google search for the succulent name will also help you find out more about their lighting needs.
When you’re planting succulents to grow outdoors, you’ll want to be sure that the succulents you choose can handle the amount of light they’ll receive in your garden. Not all succulents will tolerate full sun, while other won’t survive or look very good if they’re shaded all day. Combining succulents with similar lighting needs in the same pot will ensure your entire arrangement (or garden bed) stays looking great for years to come!
Leaf Thickness and Watering Needs
Another practical tip for designing with succulents is to combine species with similar water needs. Often this is easiest to tell based on leaf thickness. Again, it helps to identify the succulents you are working with and look up their specific watering needs. Again, you can look at World of Succulents or San Marcos Growers, or just do a basic google search for your succulent.
Whatever technique, rule or tip you follow, or if you just have fun and do something wild and crazy without following any “rules”, I think you’ll find succulents are quite fun to combine. It seems there’s no wrong combination of succulents, especially if you are using well draining soil and proper watering techniques.
For even more tips and inspiration, be sure to grab a copy of my book, Idiot’s Guides: Succulents, and be sure to sign up for the free PDF by clicking the button below.