Succulents and cacti require succulent pots designed to support their health. Pot size, pot depth, drainage ability and the materials the pot is made of all impact your succulents ability to grow its best life in your home, or in a container out on your patio.
Succulents and cacti together, comprise a HUGE group of fascinating plants that thrive in challenging landscapes worldwide. As a general rule they live in arid places in the wild and have developed plant parts designed to store water.
The aloe plant and many other succulents and cacti have thick leaves that store water. The pony tail palm uses its large ‘foot’ at the base of the stem as a water reservoir. ZZ plants and Snake plants have large rhizomes in their root systems that work with thick water storing leaves to preserve and release moisture as the plant needs it. And on it goes through the world of succulents. They are all suited to go a LONG time without water.
Their ability to handle neglect make succulent plants great plants for beginner plant parents. They are basically a ‘set it and forget it’ group of toughies.
However, Your choice of plant pot, soil and their special watering needs must all be considered if you want to keep succulents and cacti healthy.
These adaptable plants are great at surviving all kinds of tough conditions in the wild. But in the artificial micro landscape in our homes, they do have a few important requirements to keep them healthy.
Find out more about succulent care in these posts on watering tips and the best soil for succulents. Once you get them in the right pots and soil, nurturing your succulents is all about the watering. These interesting, dry loving plants, well started, will give you years of trouble free green living companionship.The Contented Plant
What Types of Pots are Good for Succulents?
Succulent pots must have good drainage and the pot needs to be correctly sized to the plant. Succulents appreciate pots made of breathable materials that allow air to the roots and wick excess moisture away from them.
Let’s dig into these points and examine them more closely.
Do Succulents Need a Drain Hole?
Can succulents grow in pots without holes? Non draining pots often result in constantly soggy soil. That leads to root rot and poor plant health. We highly recommend you grow succulents in pots with drainage holes.
Pots without drainage holes allow water to sit in the soil way too long. Poor drainage is the Achilles heel of succulents. These plants can withstand a LOT of poor conditions. Soggy soils, however, will kill them for sure.
Good drainage is essential for succulent pots. One drainage hole in the bottom of the pot will give proper drainage. Optimal drainage for succulents means the soil is occasionally soaked and then it must drain ALL excess water out of the pot. This leaves the soil moist but not soaked.
Pots with drainage holes and Saucers, or drainage trays, will allow the soil to drain and give the extra water somewhere to accumulate. Empty the excess water out of the saucer after the pot is completely drained.
Cacti and succulents roots require dry, well aerated soil conditions or they will eventually die of over watering. You may begin to see falling leaves or brown or yellowing leaves due to improper watering practices.
If you absolutely want to plant succulents into non draining pots. DON’T. Instead, use the non draining pot as a cover pot. This means you will see the pot you love but the succulent will actually grow in a draining pot tucked into the cute pot. Pictured further down in this post are several ideas that use cover pots over draining pots. This concept will help your succulent survive while you enjoy great decor.
Best Materials For Succulent pots:
Succulents can be planted with good results in any pot that has good drainage. Common materials for succulents and cacti pots are clay, plastic and ceramic. Even recycled materials make good succulent pots.
Do succulents do better in clay or plastic pots? Porous materials like clay, ceramics or even wood are better for cacti and succulents than plastic since they breathe. This allows the soil to expire excess moisture and keep the roots well aerated.
Are terra cotta pots good for succulents? Terra Cotta pots and other pots of breathable materials make the best pots for cacti and succulents since they wick water away from dry loving roots.
Is it OK to plant succulents in plastic containers? Yes, plastic pots are cheap and don’t break and they can be good succulent pots if they drain well. Do succulents like plastic pots? Succulents like well draining plastic pots of the proper size… if you take care with the watering.
Plastic pots will trap the excess moisture the plastic holds rather than allow moisture to evaporate through the pot walls. This means the soil is moist longer which can harm succulent roots.
Can You Plant Succulents in Metal Containers?
Metal containers have their drawbacks as succulent planters. Metal is a poor insulator, does not breathe, and over time is can degrade and rust where it is exposed to fertilizers, soil and moisture.
Some metals (this is especially true of old rustic metal buckets, aluminum containers and other recycled metal materials) will eventually release zinc and other toxins into the soil in the right conditions.
This may impact the health of your plant if the roots are exposed to a toxin or the soil ph is badly affected. Also, If you plan to eat or use the plant medicinally, be especially careful of using metal containers that are not properly prepared as food safe planters.
Metal pots are always a good choice for a cover pot for your cacti and succulents. The old teapot pictured below is an example of a recycled materials cover pot. You can see that the plant is actually planted in a plastic nursery pot and has been slipped into the teapot for a cute retro look.
If you find a properly prepared metal pot with drainage it is probably as good as a plastic pot for the succulent. With that in mind…
Do succulents Prefer Deep or Shallow Pots?
How deep should succulents be planted? Shallow planting works best for succulents. Succulents are masters of surviving a tiny nooks and crannies in the wild. Their roots are shallowly planted in rocky cracks or other tight spaces with little soil.
Do succulents need deep soil? No. Deep planting can hurt a succulent. Do succulents need deep planters? No. Plant only to the root depth of the succulent plant you have. Too deep soil will hold extra water and cause root problems.
Solution: If you have a pot or planter that it too deep for the root size of your succulent add a layer of drain rock or leca balls to the bottom of the pot. This will increase drainage and allow the soil to dry.
Do Succulents Like Tight Pots?
Succulents do like tight pots. These plants grow very slowly and have small root systems so tight pots are not a problem for them.
Small pots, even teacups, can make adorable pots for succulents. But recycled tea cups don’t have drainage and that is a big downside. Find draining pots that LOOK like teacups, or other small decor items, and have a drain hole instead.
Do succulents like to be root bound? Many succulents, like snake plants, do well root bound. Eventually, they will need a repot for soil refreshing and a SLIGHTLY larger pot to accommodate root growth.
Do succulents grow bigger in bigger pots? Pots bigger and the Succulents require are not good choices for repotting. Growing succulents in oversized pots doesn’t work well. The pot will have too much soil accumulating moisture around the roots. Choose a pot of the proper size and materials to allow succulent roots to breathe and dry out.
Can You Put Succulents in a Planter?
Proper planters work well for succulents and make great table center pieces for the home and patio.
Can I plant all my succulents together? Yes you can. Succulents with similar care needs do well in group plantings in succulent planters.
Do succulents like to be crowded? succulents can be planted close together since they are slow growing plants with relatively small root systems. They can live together quite a while in close quarters without changing to a larger planter.
What kind of planter should I use for succulents? Choose a ceramic planter or other planter made of breathable materials with good drainage. It should be relatively shallow in depth to help your small root succulents do their best.
Decorating with Succulents:
Succulents are really cute plants and they are often quite small, care free and VERY slow growing. This makes them ideal plants to grow in groups with adorable coordinated sets of pots that suit your decor.
Succulent Pot design is just as diverse as the plants themselves. Spruce up your home or office by integrating a few succulent pots into the decor.
You can easily find pots in a variety of colors and shapes with a geometric design, southwestern, rustic style, modern farmhouse or minimalist design.
Slip a few succulent pots into your modern bedroom design. most succulents, like snake plants, are great at air filtering and work well in bedroom decor.
You can find small pots well suited to succulents all over the internet (here’s a page of them from amazon) and in your local plant shop. If you find pots that are JUST the design you want, but have no drainage, use them as cover pots.
It’s fun and stylish to choose a pot for decor. That’s a big part of why we invite plants into our homes. We should feel good about the look of the pot and how it suits us. But it also has to suit the plant. Happy plants in cute pots are a win win.
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