Succulent Gardening 101: A Guide to In-Ground Succulents

Succulent plants are nature’s low-maintenance gems, and planting them in the ground can elevate your outdoor space with vibrant colors, intriguing textures, and a captivating desert-like charm. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a budding enthusiast, this guide will walk you through the essential steps to create a thriving succulent oasis right in your backyard.

how to plant succulents in the ground

Imagine a landscape adorned with eye-catching rosettes, trailing tendrils, and architectural forms that demand attention without demanding excessive care. Succulents are the ultimate eco-friendly choice for those seeking a beautiful garden with minimal effort. Their fleshy leaves store water, making them drought-tolerant and perfect for hot, temperate, or moderately cold climates. Even if you live in a cooler region, you can still enjoy the beauty of succulents by planting them in containers and moving them indoors or to sheltered areas during the winter months.

Choosing the Perfect Succulent Varieties

Before you embark on your succulent garden journey, it’s essential to select the right plants. Consider the diverse options available, from the iconic spiky cactus to the elegant trailing Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum), the striking Agave varieties, and the whimsical Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis). For beginners, we recommend starting with hardy varieties like Sedum and Sempervivum, known for their adaptability and ease of care.

Other eye-catching options to explore include the vibrant Kalanchoe, the architectural Aloes, the rosette-forming Echeverias, and the stunning Aeoniums. Mix and match these beauties to create a captivating display of shapes, sizes, and textures that will make your outdoor space truly unique.

Preparing the Perfect Succulent Haven

Once you’ve selected your succulent stars, it’s time to create the ideal environment for them to thrive. Choose a location that receives ample morning sunlight, followed by partial shade during the hottest afternoon hours. Most succulents crave at least 4 hours of direct sun, but they appreciate a little respite from the intense midday heat.

Next, assess your soil’s drainage capabilities. Succulents abhor soggy conditions, so a well-draining soil is crucial. Dig a 12-inch deep hole and fill it with water. If the water drains within 30 minutes, your soil is sufficiently porous. If not, amend it with a specialized succulent mix comprising 1 part perlite, 2 parts coarse sand, and 3 parts peat moss. You can also incorporate pumice or grit for added drainage.

Ensure your succulents have at least 6 inches of this well-draining soil, either by topping the existing soil or mixing it in with additional porous materials like sand. Top the soil with a thin layer of stones or inorganic mulch to discourage weeds and conserve moisture while allowing excess water to evaporate.

Planting Succulents: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you’ve prepared the perfect canvas, it’s time to bring your succulent masterpiece to life. Gather your gardening gloves, a trowel, your chosen succulents (rooted or cuttings), and some organic compost or slow-release fertilizer.

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide as the succulent’s root ball and as deep as its roots.
  2. Gently remove the succulent from its pot and loosen the root ball by pinching the soil, being mindful of the delicate leaves.
  3. Add a small amount of organic compost or slow-release fertilizer into the hole.
  4. Plant the succulent, leaving the crown half an inch to an inch above the ground to allow for settling.
  5. Sprinkle more organic compost or slow-release fertilizer around the soil.
  6. Space your succulents appropriately, considering their potential growth and spreading.

After planting, resist the temptation to water for 3 to 7 days, allowing the succulents to adjust to their new home. Then, give them a thorough drink, and continue watering every 10 to 14 days, or more frequently (up to once a week) if you live in a dry, sunny area.

Some Photo Ideas for an Outdoor Succulent Garden

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