Great Succulent Container Ideas

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    Agave in a Garden Pot

    Agave in a Garden Pot at P. Allen Smith's Farm Agave Americana in a Large Iron Pot
    Kerry Michaels

    Succulent plants make great, easy container garden plants.

    Succulent is one of my favorite container garden plants. They are low-maintenance, beautiful and they come in stunning colors, many different sizes, textures, and shapes.

    I am somewhat in awe of agaves. They are beautiful, striking and somewhat lethal, given their spikes, sharp tips, and potentially toxic sap. Despite their seemingly hostile appearance, they are fairly good-natured plants - not difficult to care for and tolerant of cool temperatures. Though they prefer hot, full sun, agaves will tolerate some shade.​

    P. Allen Smith uses agaves to great dramatic effect. Potted in large, dark containers, they punctuate the landscape and add a modern, sculptural sensibility as well as vertical interest.

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  • 02 of 13

    Succulents on the Half Shell

    picture of succulent plants in two clam shells
    Hens and chicks in clam shells Succulents on the Half Shell. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    These clamshells are packed full of succulent plants. They can be used for table decorations and make great house presents. You can use a mix of succulent plants, or use one type. These are planted with a few different kinds of hens and chicks, and some tiny echeverias.

    As when planting any succulent, use either a potting soil made specifically for succulents and cacti, or make your own by taking a good quality potting mix and adding either pumice or perlite. Make sure to use a container that either has drainage holes one that you can punch or drill holes in. Drainage is key to keeping your succulents healthy.

    To care for these miniature container gardens, give them full sun, or if you are in a very hot climate, keep them in partial shade. Do not over-water. During the growing season, keep the soil moist, but not wet. During the winter, when succulents go into dormancy, let the soil dry out between waterings.

    Hens and chicks are incredibly forgiving plants. They are extremely hardy - most of them can survive in zone 3 and can tolerate poor soil.


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  • 03 of 13

    Succulents in a Lunchbox

    container gardening picture of succulent plants in a lunchbox
    Mixed Succulents in a Lunchbox. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    You can plant succulents in almost anything. Because of their shallow root structure, you don't need a very deep pot. You do need good drainage though. I took a large nail and hammered so many holes in the bottom of this box, that by the time I was done, it looked like Swiss cheese.

    Because the metal is pretty thin, I made sure to punch the holes with the metal sitting directly on the ground, so it wouldn't bend the box.

    After I punched the holes, I lined the box with plastic also with holes, so it wouldn't rust as quickly. I then filled it with a potting mix specifically designed for cacti and succulents. I packed the box full of plants, putting the ones that I knew would drape, near the edges, and the larger plants near the back.

    The box sits in full sun, and I water it enough to keep the soil moist, but not wet. I'll bring it inside in the late fall and keep it in bright, indirect light. In the winter I'll let the soil dry out completely between waterings.

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  • 04 of 13

    Succulent Plants in Tea Cup

    container gardening picture of succulent plants in a tea cup
    Succulent Plants in a Tea Cup. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    Succulents can look great in almost anything - from a very formal container to one that is quite casual. I put these succulent plants in a tea cup that I got at a yard sale. I bought the whole set for a couple of dollars and then drilled holes in the bottoms of the cups.

    For succulent plants, good drainage is essential. If you let them sit in water, succulents will quickly rot, so using a fast draining potting mix, and putting holes in your containers is the easiest way to keep your plants healthy.

    To drill holes in ceramics, you need a special drill bit and some patience. It takes awhile to get through ceramics, and you have to let the bit cool down so that the heat doesn't build up from the friction and shatter your cup.

    Make sure to put your cup on a firm surface. You can place a rag or flat, thin sponge on a counter, or I like to drill outside, on the ground so I don't have to clean up the dust. It's a good idea to wear safety goggles when doing any drilling, but particularly with ceramics which can shatter.

    After the holes are drilled, I cut a small piece of plastic window screening and put it over the holes, to keep the soil in and let the water out. You can also use paper towel or a coffee filter.

    I then fill the cup, almost to the top, with a cacti and succulent potting mix, plant my succulents and gently water, giving enough moisture so that the soil is damp. I then let the soil in the cup settle and the succulent plants take root.

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  • 05 of 13

    Artist's Succulent Pot

    Succulent plant container garden
    Succulent Vessel by Mary Martha Collins. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    What makes this succulent pot work so well is the spectacular concrete vessel, made by California artist, Mary Martha Collins. Mary crafts each pot by hand and then applies one of many stunning colors as a patina. This dish style of pot works particularly well with succulents because it is relatively shallow and succulents have a shallow root system.

    When planting succulents, I use a potting mix designed specifically for cactus and succulents, which I buy at a nursery.

    I like the strong color of the pot which sets off the interesting colors of the succulent plants.

    Because of careless over-watering, when I first planted this pot, some of the original plants died. I simply pulled them out and replaced them with new plants.

    Step-by-step instructions for how to make this succulent garden.

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  • 06 of 13

    Vintage Tea Cup with Mixed Succulent Plants

    container gardening picture of succulent plants in vintage tea cup
    Succulent Plants in Vintage Tea Cup. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    I love stuffing succulents in small containers. This vintage tea cup and saucer was found at a second hand store and cost a dollar. I used a ceramic bit on a drill to put several holes in the bottom of the cup, to insure the good drainage that succulents need. I then filled the cup with succulent and cactus potting mix and then packed it with a mix of succulents. I water it infrequently - letting the soil dry out between waterings - especially in the winter.

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  • 07 of 13

    Two Small Succulents in a Tiny Pot

    container gardening picture of succulents in tiny Pot
    Succulents in Tiny Pot. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    Even two small succulents in a tiny pot can make a big statement. These succulents, are only about two inches tall and the pot is about one and a half inches tall and two inches wide.

    What makes this tiny succulent pot really work is the topdressing of gravel - it gives it a finished look and marries the plants to the pot.

    The plants used in this pot are: Ghost plant, also known as mother of pearl plant or Graptoptalum paraguayense, 'Ghosty'

    The trailing plant is Calico Kitten, Crassula marginalis, rubra, 'Veriegata'

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  • 08 of 13

    Echeveria Flowers

    container gardening picture of echeveria flowers
    Echeveria flowers can be both weird and wonderful Echeveria Flowers. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    While echeverias are rarely grown for their flowers, they can put on a spectacular display during the summer months. Echeverias are easy to grow succulents and they are spectacular. There are about 150 species of echeveria, with a wide range of colors and textures.

    Like all succulents, echeverias need fast draining potting soil and will rot if kept too wet. However, they don't like to be too dry either. They prefer bright light, though full sun can scorch them.

    How To Plant a Succulent Garden

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  • 09 of 13

    Succulent Plants in a Strawberry Pot

    container gardening picture of strawberry pot with succulent plants
    Succulent Strawberry Pot. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    I love how succulent plants look in a strawberry pot. This is a medium sized strawberry pot, and it holds lots of plants.

    When I brought this pot home from the store and unwrapped it, I realized there were no drainage holes. I am not a good enough gardener to risk trying to any plant, much less a succulents which really don't like to be too wet, without the benefit of drainage holes. So I got out my trusty drill, fitted it with a bit for drilling ceramics and put in several large holes.

    Planting Strawberry Pot with Succulent Plants

    • Cover Drainage Holes - Use a piece of plastic window screening, paper towel or a coffee filter to cover drainage holes - anything that will keep soil in and let water out.
    • Fill Strawberry Jar with Potting Soil - Make sure to use either a potting mix that is designed specifically for succulents or add perlite or pumice to any good potting soil. Fill your jar, making sure that all the pockets are filled as well and then firm the soil gently.
    • Plant Succulents - Carefully take your plants out of their pots. If there is extra soil, you can gently take some off. Put your largest succulent plants in the top of the strawberry jar, making sure to plant them at the same level they were in their nursery pot. Fill the pockets with smaller succulents. Some succulents, like hens and chicks will root if placed on top of the soil
    • Water Gently - Add water to your strawberry pot so that the soil becomes moist, not wet. You will want to make sure that the pockets get some water too. During the summer, keep the soil moist but not wet. If you live in a cold climate, bring your succulents inside to overwinter them and water only after the soil has dried out. Keep in bright indirect light.

    Most plants in this container were provided by Costa Farms.

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  • 10 of 13

    Hens and Chicks in an Old Metal Basket

    container gardening picture of succulent plants in a metal basket
    Hens and Chicks in an Old Metal Basket. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    I found this old metal basket in a second hand store. To create this container garden, I soaked moss in water and then squeezed out the excess moisture. I then lined the basket with the damp moss. I then carefully filled the basket with potting soil, making sure not to disturb the moss liner.

    Once the basket was filled with soil, I took the hens and chicks out of the nursery pot and broke them up. Planting hens and chicks is incredibly easy, you just need to push them slightly into the soil.

    Hens and chicks will thrive in full sun to partial sun and like to be protected from the wind. Water them when the soil dries and fertilize occasionally with a diluted liquid fertilizer. I use a fish emulsion, seaweed combination.

    One of the great things about hens and chicks is that the hens, the larger rosettes, multiply rapidly, sending out chicks, smaller rosettes. You can either leave the chicks, or break them off and easily transplant them.

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  • 11 of 13

    Hens and Chicks in a Vintage Tea Cup

    container gardening picture of hens and chicks in a vintage tea cup
    Hens and Chicks in a Vintage Tea Cup. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    I found this tea cup at a yard sale. I carefully drilled a hole in the bottom using a ceramic bit. I then covered the hole with a tiny piece of window screen. I filled the cup with potting soil and tucked the 'purple beauty' and 'red beauty' hens and chicks and houseleeks into the cup, making sure they had contact with the soil and would stay in place.

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  • 12 of 13

    Miniature Succlulent Plant Container Garen

    container gardening picture of miniature succulent plant container garden
    Small container with a big impact Miniature Succulent Plant Container Garden. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    This tiny container garden is only about two inches wide and an inch and a half tall. It is packed with hens and chicks and a couple of echeverias.

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  • 13 of 13

    Purse Garden

    Photograph © Kerry Michaels

     I love using purses to make easy hanging gardens. For this one, I bought an evening bag at a second hand store and crammed it full of succulents.

    For DIY instructions