They say that succulents are low-maintenance plants that are just perfect for beginners. So why did your little collection of geometric beauties turn out to become a botanical graveyard?
Ah, yes. Many enter into succulent parenthood with stars in their eyes. With everyone on the internet saying these plants are easy and effortless to care for, most of us end up thinking that succulent care takes no more than a little water here and there. But that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
The fact is – caring for a succulent can be easy if you know what they need. Every succulent is different, and things like water and sunlight are provided based on your plant’s individual requirements, as opposed to a suggested routine schedule.
Among the most common pitfalls of succulent parenthood is potting. Gorgeous glass pots with edgy contemporary silhouettes can elevate a succulent’s beauty by a mile. But take heed – even the most attractive, aesthetically pleasing pots aren’t always the best homes for the somewhat fastidious succulent.
The Qualities of a Proper Succulent Pot
Look through the #succulent hashtag on Instagram, and you’re likely to find a wealth of trendy photos of the iconic plant. Set in wooden crates, rusty cans, tiny shot glasses, and even shallow dinner plates, succulents can look stunning no matter where you put them. And as the trend dictates – the more outlandish the ‘pot’, the better.
But for as minimalist modern as an edgy containment might look, you can’t really expect a succulent to survive in such poorly thought-out living conditions. Sure, these plants pretty hardy, but they do have requirements. And unfortunately, those drastic potting solutions don’t make the cut.
Before you go out and look for the perfect pot for your succulent, here are some general qualities that you should keep an eye out for to make sure you’re getting the ideal home for your pup.
Depth and width – Those large, overbearing, decorative pots might look great if you’re all about the aesthetic. But there are downsides to choosing an oversized pot. And if you’re interested in keeping your succulent alive, then you may want to reconsider that sizeable pot in your shopping cart.
Big pots mean more soil. Upfront, that might not seem like such an issue. But if you take the nature of the succulent into account, it becomes easier to see why. Some people think that succulents require lots of space to grow and thrive, and in some ways, that might be true.
However, providing too much space means having to supply your succulent with more soil than it needs. Pots that are too wide and too deep tend to retain more moisture, unable to drain and dry out completely. In the end, you get a pretty bowl with a rotting plant that’s doomed for the compost heap.
As a general rule, you should purchase a pot that provides enough room for your plant’s taproot to grow out without imposing the risk of excessive water retention. With that, your pot should be just 10% bigger than the part of your succulent that you see – that excludes the size of its root.
So, if for example, you’ve got an echeveria that’s 5 inches in diameter, a pot that’s 5.5 inches to 6 inches across may be more than good enough. Keep in mind that it should allow the same amount of space vertically.
Drainage – Succulents were built for dry, arid weather. Native to humid areas like Southern Africa, these plants thrive best in locations that experience little rainfall throughout the year. Unless you live in an area with warm, Mediterranean weather, it would be quite a challenge to replicate the conditions that succulents prefer. Fortunately, there are other variables at your disposal.
A pot with a large drainage hole – or several smaller ones – can make for an ideal containment for a succulent. While some people might add rocks as a bottom layer to improve the flow of water from the soil, it’s worth knowing that rocks may cause water to pool when the soil is soaked.
This stagnant pool of fluid can become a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, and other opportunistic contaminants that often adore eating away at the defenses of an unsuspecting succulent.
Instead of adding a rock layer, choose instead to be mindful of your potting soil choices. If you can’t find any succulent or cactus soil, you can make your own potting soil mix with the following components combined in equal parts:
- Ordinary garden soil
- Coarse sand
Avoid packing the soil densely into your pot, and test it prior to planting your succulent. Give it a nice, complete water soak and see how long it takes to drain. Does it take more than a week to dry out? If so, then you might want to consider adding more drainage holes or mixing more sand into your potting soil mix.
Airflow – Greater airflow allows moisture in the soil to evaporate more readily. That’s why succulents are often placed on windowsills or in shaded garden areas that get lots of fresh air throughout the day.
While most of the pots available to you likely don’t obstruct the airflow to their inhabiting succulent, this specific consideration applies to the ever-popular however completely fatal terrarium.
Glass containments for succulents might look beautiful at the surface, but their enclosed design and poor drainage system make them a thriving ground for bacteria and moisture build-up. Succulents that are planted inside terrariums often don’t survive more than a few months, giving in to the onslaught of rot.
Always opt for pots that allow air to flow freely through the soil. Anything that might hinder the evaporation of moisture – even potting solutions that are made from materials that absorb fluid, like wood – should be avoided at all costs.
Some Special Considerations
As we’ve said time and time again, not all succulents are the same. Some unique conditions and situations will require varying potting solutions to cement the safety and health of your beloved plant. Consider these special circumstances to find the right pot for your specific case.
Multiple succulents, one-pot – The succulent container garden is a decorative concept that swept the market and took it by storm. Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot more to potting several varieties of succulents together than simply considering what matches what.
If you’re planning on creating your very own succulent container garden, the first thing you need to think of is the species of succulents you’re bunching together. Those varieties with similar – if not exactly the same – requirements have the biggest chances of survival.
As with potting a single succulent, avoid offering too much space. More soil will retain more moisture, and even with the sturdy taproot of several plants dug reliably into the soil, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to absorb it all.
Because it might be harder to estimate the allowance based on the 10% rule if you’re working with multiple succulents, you can measure out the right surface area by allowing at least 1/2 to 1 bare inch of soil from the containment’s edge to your plants.
Depth-wise, take a look at your plants at eye-level. The pot itself should be just as deep as the height of the tallest succulent in your arrangement.
Cuttings, offshoots, and pups – Cuttings, offshoots, and pups will call for slightly altered pot requirements for one reason – their delicate, unstable nature. These ‘baby succulents’ will be especially sensitive to moisture because they have yet to establish a proper root system.
With that in mind, it would be best to provide these types of succulents shallower pots. While the 10% rule applies to them in terms of diameter, opt for a container no more than 2 inches in depth. This should allow excess moisture to evaporate and should encourage your plant to reach deeper with stronger, more robust roots.
Re-potting a grown succulent – There are some succulent species – especially echeverias – that tend to grow quite large, especially if you’re meeting its needs. You’ll find that what was once a 3-inch echeveria might double in size after a year or so, making its pot a little too cramped for comfort.
Often, a succulent will experience a growth spurt if its pot is just the right size. As its roots reach the sides and edges of the containment, the succulent is forced to grow in size in order to store more water since its roots can’t reach much further.
If you’re succulent is now larger than it was a few months or years ago, consider repotting it in a bigger containment. Again, the 10% rule applies, helping to provide your succulent just enough room, fresh air, and soil to meet its needs for optimal health and growth.
8 Best Pots for Succulents
1. Potey Terracotta Flower Pots
Terracotta is a fabulous material that’s breathable and porous, able to facilitate faster evaporation for more suitable succulent conditions. The Potey Terracotta Flower Pots are simple yet stylish, coming in packs of 6 so you can have enough for those cuttings and offshoots you’ve been nursing from your mother plant.
The streamlined, organic-looking, clay pots are stripped off all those fancy bells and whistles, placing your succulents’ natural beauty front and center. Underneath, a single, large drainage hole allows just enough room for excess moisture to pass through, minimizing the risk of rot and overwatering.
The Potey Terracotta Flower Pots are available in the perfect 4-inch size or in smaller 2-inch mini pots. So whether you’re hoping to pot a full-grown desk sedum or if you’re trying your hand at propagation, these pots come in just the right size for your needs.
An absolute bargain, the Potey Terracotta Flower Pots might not look like those daring containments you see on your socials. But they’re reusable, affordable, and versatile, so you definitely get your money’s worth.
2. Zuotog Ceramic Succulent Pots
Made from glazed ceramic, the Zuotog Ceramic Succulent Pots are clean, minimalist, and modern, perfect for those who might want to highlight their succulents aesthetic appeal. The glass-like finish makes the pots especially easy to clean, letting you wipe away mold and dirt to restore it to brand-new status.
Unlike breathable terracotta, glazed ceramic is almost impervious to moisture and air. That said, the material itself won’t facilitate the evaporation of excess water. For that reason, the pots make a good choice for succulent parents living in warmer climates. Similarly, the Zuotog Ceramic Succulent Pots may entail a more relaxed watering schedule, since they may keep the soil moist for slightly longer than terracotta pots.
At just 2 inches in height, these adorable planters are perfect for cuttings, offshoots, and pups that might just be starting out. Coming in packs of 6, these ceramic pots can give you more than enough supply to help you propagate multiple succulent pups from a single mother plant at a given time.
For an added aesthetic accent, the pots come with individual bamboo trays that give them organic appeal. Place them on a desk or anywhere inside your home to maintain that pleasant summertime feel any time of year.
3. MyGift Unglazed Cement Succulent Planter
The MyGift Unglazed Cement Succulent Planters boast a beautiful modern industrial aesthetic that’s basic yet stylish. The gray cylinders look rather plain on their own but pop with personality and aesthetic appeal with the addition of a geometric succulent like the Lapidaria Margaretae.
Just like terracotta, cement boasts premium breathability that paves the way for easy, quick, and reliable evaporation after each watering. The material is especially light and airy, permitting excess moisture to pass through and dry up, saving your plant from rot and all sorts of damaging infections.
At the base of the pot, one large drainage hole is drilled into the material. This helps ensure proper drainage, leaving no inch of the base soil pooling with excess stagnant moisture. Working with the breathability of the material itself, this intuitive drainage system makes the MyGift Unglazed Cement Succulent Planter especially ideal for colder climates where soil might retain more moisture in the absence of heat and fresh air.
Standing 4.5 inches in height, these planters make the perfect size for almost any indoor succulent. And with a matte, raw cement finish, the MyGift Unglazed Cement Succulent Pots make the ideal candidate for DIY-enthusiasts who might want to add a personal touch to their pots.
4. Potey Cement Succulent Planters
Another excellent choice from Potey, their decorative Cement Succulent Planters are playfully designed with organic patterns etched across their cement material. The pots are lightly painted with non-toxic paint, producing vibrant designs that can accentuate the aesthetic of any succulent.
A perfect pick for cuttings, pups, and offshoots, these rather small pots make the ideal home for succulents that are only starting to stand on their own root system. The pots stand at a little shy of 3 inches in height, so if you were hoping to keep them on display for a bit of an organic touch to your interior decor, they can sit effortlessly on any desk, table, or ledge.
As with most other succulent pots, the Potey Cement Succulent Planters feature a large, single drainage hole at the center of its base. This proves sufficient to relieve the soil of excess moisture, especially since the cement material itself fosters better evaporation to protect your succulent from getting too soaked in water.
5. MyGift Unglazed Round Ceramic Succulent Pot
Coming in a subtle, minimalist, deep brown color, the Unglazed Round Ceramic Succulent Pot from MyGift exudes a sophisticated aesthetic, perfect for serious office spaces and minimalist modern interiors. The round pot is quite sizable compared to our other picks, clocking in at nearly 4 inches in height, with a diameter of 7.75 inches.
The round planter comes equipped with a single drainage hole. Its wide surface area makes it an ideal choice if you’re hoping to pot several smaller succulents together. Many of those who have used it report that it comfortably fits around four 3 inch succulents, or five to six smaller offshoots.
Unglazed and raw, the matte-finish on the MyGift Round Ceramic Succulent Pot permits just enough airflow to help speed up evaporation. But even then, it doesn’t absorb quite as much moisture as raw clay, terracotta, and cement, making it far less prone to staining and discoloration over time.
6. Classic Home and Garden 615 Acopper Santa Fe Bowl Planter
Even the biggest succulent species will find a comfortable place in your home through the Classic Home and Garden 615 Acopper Santa Fe Bowl Planter. This hefty bowl features a 17 inch diameter, and extends 6 inches in depth for a truly spacious pot for some of the biggest succulents you can find.
This roomy pot provides generous seating for species like the Echeveria gibbiflora, and boasts a vintage, aged, ribbed design that will definitely compliment the deep greens and purples of the iconic plant. Underneath, a single sizeable drainage hole offers a route for excess water to exit, and the large surface area promises lots of easy evaporation with exposure to sunlight and fresh air.
Made from antique copper, this pot from Classic Home and Garden promises to infuse your soil with lots of rich minerals for an even healthier plant. Plus, its sturdy material is especially durable, yet lightweight, letting you handle your plant and its containment with relative ease.
7. LUSE LIVE Large Ceramic Succulent Planter
The cracked finish on the LUSE LIVE Large Succulent Planter is playful yet subdued, bringing a touch of fun character to this fluted pot. The dramatic edges and satin textured finish work together to create a young, modern aesthetic that definitely blends well with almost any interior.
The larger planter measures 3.7 inches in depth and 9.2 inches across, giving you more than enough space to pot several smaller succulents together. The smaller pot is a few inches less, measuring 7.8 inches by 3.3 inches, which is nonetheless roomy enough for 4 to 5 succulents, depending on their individual size.
Made from textured ceramic, the LUSE LIVE set of two planters might not be quite as quick to drain compared to cement or terracotta. Nonetheless, placing the pots near a windowsill where it can get sunlight and lots of fresh air should help speed up evaporation. Plus, it’s large drainage hole works efficiently to rid the soil of excess water, thus drying up the earth shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
8. Goodman and Wife Natural Terracotta Round Fat Garden Planters
For the purists who want an efficient planter that doesn’t dwell too much on aesthetics, the Goodmand and Wife Natural Terracotta Round Fat Garden Planters make a practical choice. These basic terracotta cylinders are the perfect size for almost any succulent, making them a must-have for succulent owners who want a long-term solution that will keep their beloved plants alive.The planters are 3.5 inches in depth and 5.25 inches across, providing ample space for most echeverias, sedums, and other succulent species. A singular, sizeable drainage hole molded into the bottom helps to release extra water from the soil, but what really makes the pot especially effective at removing moisture is its material.
When it all comes right down to it, terracotta proves to be the ultimate material for succulent pots. They’re lightweight, breathable, and allow moisture to penetrate through. So when you soak your soil and give your succulent a well-deserved watering, you can be certain that terracotta material won’t lock that moisture inside.
Over to You
Just like your home has an effect on you, a succulent pot will make a big impact on its well-being. These hardy plants have their own set of unique requirements, and it’s your obligation to meet those needs to guarantee a long, healthy life for your brand new adopted pup.
While decorative planters with edgy, outlandish aesthetics might seem like a trendy containment solution for your plants, don’t be fooled by decorative practices that aren’t rooted in science. Treat your succulent like a real plant, give it the proper care it needs, and watch bloom it reaches its full potential.