How to Plant Succulents in the Ground: Creative Succulent Garden Ideas

Are you planning to design an outdoor succulent garden? In today’s article, we teach you how to plant succulents in the ground and also share with you some outdoor succulent garden designs and ideas.

how to plant succulents in the ground

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Planting succulents in the ground outdoors is possible in hot, temperate and moderately cold climates, however, if the area where you live is too cold, you can plant them in pots, so that you can move them indoors or in sheltered places during winter; or you can opt to make a more miniature succulent garden directly indoors.

However, today’s post, although it contains some tips that can be applied indoors, is more dedicated to the design and care of an outdoor succulent garden that allows you to add different shapes, colors and textures to your outdoor landscape.

Growing Succulent Plants Outdoors

Succulents are usually very tolerant to drought as they have thick, fleshy leaves that store moisture – this makes them a great alternative to the design of low-maintenance gardens. But remember that although they are very tolerant, they still need be watered, especially during seasons of active growth.

When designing a succulent garden, it is important that we consider the location, the type of soil, the level of humidity and the types of plants for the design itself. Remember that there are some succulent plants that are more tolerant than others, so keep this in mind before you start growing succulents in the ground.

If you live in a hot climate, you should look for an area in your garden that receives partial sun and shade. Contrary to popular belief, succulent plants often get sunburned if they are placed in direct sunlight in hot temperatures all day. However, if you live in a cold climate, you want to position your succulents in an area where they will receive the optimum amount of sunshine.

Choosing Succulents for Your Outdoor Succulent Garden

Among the choices of plants to form succulent gardens are succulents that have modified their leaves and have turned them into thorns like cacti, and others without thorns but with fleshy leaves; and within the two groups, we find a great variety of growth habits. Some tend to extend or hang, like the Burro’s Tail “Sedum morganianum”, others grow pointed like the different varieties of Agave, or in the form of a column, like the Old Man Cactus “Cephalocereus senilis”.

You should always plan the design of your succulent garden considering the space that each one needs to grow and develop.

The development and design of a succulent garden outdoors certainly begins with the choice of plants. If you are a beginner, the ideal situation is to choose varieties that are easy to grow and difficult to kill. For example, the different varieties of Sedum and Sempervivum are easy to care for and highly adaptable to places from full sun to slightly shady.

Some good ideas to incorporate are Kalanchoe, Aloes, Echeverias, and Aeoniums.

The idea is to create an interesting and fun space through the different textures, shapes and sizes of these special plants, in addition to achieving low irrigation maintenance. It is recommended to place the highest species in the center and those that extend on the edges or sandwiched between larger plants to act as ground covers.

Regardless of the species you choose, remember that all succulent plants need well-draining soil and can thrive in crevices as well as in rock gardens or sandy soils.

Planning an Outdoor Succulent Plant Garden

Once you’ve chosen the plants you like best and are ready for planting, keep these considerations in mind first.

Choosing the Right Location for Planting

Preferably choose a location which is very sunny in the morning. Most succulent plants like at least four hours of full sun, but they also like a little shade in the hottest hours of the afternoon. If you have such an area, it would be a splendid place for your succulent garden.

Trace the space that your new succulent garden will occupy, roughly marking the space that more or less will occupy each plant and the entire garden.

Using the Best Soil for Outdoor Succulents

Succulents will not do well in clay soil. So, it is important that you check the drainage conditions of the soil. To do this, make a well of at least 30 centimeters deep and fill it with water. If the water drains within about half an hour, the soil is porous enough to contain your succulent garden.

If this does not happen, we suggest mixing a specialized soil – one part perlite, two parts coarse sand, and three parts peat moss. Pumice or grit can also be added into the mix if you are missing one of these items.

Make sure to provide your succulent plants with at least 6 inches of this specialized soil. This can go on top of the existing soil, or you can mix it in while adding additional porous materials such as sand. This will provide the roots with plenty of space to grow without being bogged down by moisture.

Cover the entire soil with a small layer of stones or some other inorganic mulch, as this will discourage weeds and conserve moisture but allow excess water to evaporate.

Planting Succulents in the Ground: Instructions

Now that you have the right soil in your garden, let’s begin the process of planting your succulents.

What you will need:

  • Gloves (optional but preferable)
  • Garden trowel (buy Amazon’s choice here)
  • Succulents (rooted or cuttings – get them here)
  • Compost mixture (organic compost and worm compost) or slow-release fertilizer (get them here)
  1. First, make a hole in the ground twice as wide as the succulent’s root ball and as deep as the length of its roots. Next, gently remove the succulent from its existing pot and slightly pinch the soil to loosen its root balls. Be careful with the succulent’s leaves as they do fall off easily.
  2. Then, add a little organic compost and worm compost mixture or slow-release fertilizer into the hole. Plant the succulent into the hole, leaving the crown to stay at least half an inch to an inch above the ground. This is because the weight of the succulent will pull it down into the soil, and you do not want it too far down.
  3. Finish up by pouring a little bit of organic compost and worm compost mixture or slow-release fertilizer around the soil.
  4. As you plant your succulents in the ground, remember that your succulents will grow, so do not plant them too close together if you want them to spread out and grow larger.
  5. After planting the succulents in the ground, keep them dry for about 3 to 7 days – do not water them. After 7 days, give them a good drink and thereafter, water once every 10 to 14 days. If you live in a dry and sunny area, you may need to increase your watering frequency up to once a week.

How deep does the soil need to be for succulents?

Many succulents only require a 2-3″ layer of soil covering their roots in order to grow successfully. However, some varieties or species need a deeper amount of soil for healthy growth and survival.

The general rule is this: the longer the stem, stem thickness, root length, or any other part of the plant protruding from the soil surface – the more deep rooting they typically are.

Succulents that have an above-ground height of at least one foot would need to be planted with at least 6 inches worth of soil over them. Some examples include Aeoniums, Aloes and Agaves.

Some Photo Ideas for an Outdoor Succulent Garden

Caring for Succulents in the Garden

Succulent plants can tolerate dry periods, but should still receive regular watering during the growing season, which generally happens in spring and summer. When the top two inches of the soil have dried, water the soil deeply and wait for the soil to dry again before watering again next time. In autumn and winter, the vast majority of succulents enter their dormancy period, during which irrigation should be considerably reduced.

The most common problem with succulent plants is that they rot easily, generally due to excessive watering, especially in winter. The ideal condition is to keep the stems free of moisture and ensure the dryness of the soil before watering. Also, whenever you water, water the soil directly without wetting the leaves.

To keep your outdoor succulent garden healthy, you need to remove the dead stems and when fertilizing, you must use fertilizers made for succulents that you can apply once a month along with the irrigation water.

Now that you know how to plant succulents in the ground, your outdoor succulent garden awaits! Whether you are looking to plant a single succulent or to create a lush garden, succulents are not only simple to plant, but also simple to care for.

Good luck, start with a small succulent garden, then if you like it and have been successful you can expand it and add more species.

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