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How to Plant a Super Succulent Bowl

It's so easy! Follow these step-by-step directions to plant your own succulent bowl. By Doug Jimerson

Selecting Succulents

Because succulents come in an amazing array of shapes, sizes, and colors they are super fun to mix and match in your favorite container. We started with two Desert Escape® six-packs, each one containing an interesting mix of plants.

Succulent Fun Fact
Did you know that succulents get their name from their thick, fleshy leaves that they use to retain moisture in arid climates?

What is Desert Escape?

Desert Escape® is a special collection of cacti and succulents put together by the experts at Costa Farms. All of these varieties have been chosen for their beauty and hardy constitutions. Desert Escape® plants come in a variety of sizes, but the smaller ones work best for tabletop containers.

Succulent Fun Fact
Succulents can be found around the globe, but most cultivated forms come from Africa and South America.

Getting Started

Creating a succulent bowl is really easy. First fill a large terra cotta bowl with potting soil. Because succulents hate wet soil look for a mix that incorporates perlite or sand to facilitate drainage. Then, make a hole in the center of the container and drop in your tallest succulent. Here, we planted a Flapjack kalanchoe in the center because this handsome plant can eventually grow 12 to 24 inches tall.

Succulent Fun Fact
Succulents have very few insect or disease problems so you don’t have to worry about an unexpected invasion or epidemic.


Tease the Roots

After you take your succulents out of their grower’s pots you may notice that a few of them have a tightly packed root ball. Use your fingers to gently loosen the roots before you drop the plant into the soil. This will encourage them to put out new growth.

Succulent Fun Fact
If you break a leaf off of a succulent, you can root it and make a new plant. Let the leaf cure for a few days and then stick it in some soil and watch it sprout.

Mix Colors and Textures

Working with succulents isn’t a lot different from working with annuals and perennials. You get the best look from mixing plants of different colors and textures together. Here, for example, we planted broad, flat-leaves succulents such as echeveria alongside the colorful, round leaves of portulacaria.

Succulent Fun Fact
Cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Only those succulents with spines are classified as cacti.


Space Properly

Although you might be tempted to jam all your succulents together, it’s important to give each plant some breathing room so it can spread out as it grows. In our bowl, we spaced the plants about three inches apart. This way the container has a finished look right off the bat, but the plants still have room to fill in.

Succulent Fun Fact
Succulents produce flowers just like other plants. They might not produce blooms until they are mature, but they will flower eventually.

Water Thoroughly

Always water your succulents right after you plant them. This helps eliminate air pockets around their roots and gives them a well-deserved drink after being transplanted. Once settled in their new home, succulents prefer being watered whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.

Succulent Fun Fact
Some succulents are cold hardy and can be grown in the landscape in the North. Sedums and Hens and Chicks are two examples.

Wash Away Excess Soil

After planting low growing succulents such as echeveria you may discover that some potting soil has wedged itself between the leaves. This won’t hurt the plant, but it doesn’t look great so we suggest sprinkling some water over the plant to wash away excess soil that might be lurking between the leaves.

Succulent Fun Fact
You don’t have to live in an arid climate to grow succulents. These plants will do fine, even in rainy regions, as long as they get plenty of sun and have good drainage.

Find the Sun

Succulents are sun worshippers. So it’s important to place your finished bowl in a location that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunshine a day. And remember that most succulents are not cold hardy so bring them indoors and set them in a sunny room before first frost.

Succulent Fun Fact
Succulents are highly collectable. And, with over 60 different plant families containing some succulent species there’s an almost unlimited selection for you to choose from. You’ll never get bored collecting these amazing plants.

Watch it Grow

It won't take long for your succulents to grow and fill in the open spots between them. This photo was taken just 7 weeks after planting and you can see how full and gorgeous the plants have become. We didn't do anything special to make the plants grow faster. We just left the container in the full sun and watered whenever the soil felt dry to the touch. Come fall, we'll bring the pot indoors for the winter.

Succulent Fun Fact
Because succulents come in such a variety of shapes, textures, and colors it's easy to create a unique look by mixing different types together to create a living tapestry.