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Full instructions on how to use a small wooden container and succulent cuttings to create a beautiful and easy-to-maintain succulent planter. Includes tips on taking cuttings, succulent potting mix, and lining the container to help prevent damage to the wood.
One fun thing about succulents is that they will happily grow together cheek to jowl in pots and containers – even shallow ones like the little wooden box in this tutorial. Small planters are perfect for succulents, and practically any container can be converted into one. Small glass dessert ramekins, teacups, and even wooden ornaments if you protect the wood. You can also make succulent planters in an hour, and with just minimal watering and aftercare, you can enjoy the beauty of your living artwork pieces for years to come.
Though many people will choose ceramic, glass, or plastic containers, it’s also possible to upcycle wooden containers. So if you’re thrifting, or have an old box that you’d like to use, follow the instructions below for how to plant it with succulents. The layers and watering method ensure that both the plants and wood look their best. It also helps prevent the wood from rotting.
How to Plant a Wooden Container with Succulents
You’ll need the below materials and tools to plant a wooden container with succulents. Many of the items can be upcycled or foraged, including the small succulent cuttings.
- A small wooden container
- A square of non-permeable plastic
- Cactus potting mix
- Activated charcoal
- Coarse sand
- Assorted succulents: such as jade plant, hen and chicks, alpines
- Long tweezers for helping place the succulents
- Paintbrush for gently brushing the succulents of any excess dirt
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Spoon for scooping and patting the potting mix, sand, and charcoal
Succulent Ideas on Lovely Greens
Step 1: Take Succulent Cuttings
You should do this step at least one day before you put the succulent planter together. That gives time for the cuttings to heal and have a higher chance of surviving and growing in the planter.
Locate or purchase clumps of succulents and pinch off small pieces about one to two inches long. Succulents grow easily from small pieces taken from the parent plant. That means if you have succulents growing in the garden or you see some growing on a wall outside your home, go on and take a few pieces. Be sensible and respectful if it’s not in your own garden, though. You can also order an assortment of succulents.
Although some succulents, like hens and chicks, can come away from the parent plant with roots, many will need to be pinched off at the stem. After pinching them off, leave these cuttings in a cool, airy place for a day. This gives time for the broken stems to dry and develop calluses. After this, you can plant the succulent into practically any soil, and it will grow to become a whole new plant.
Step 2: Line the Wooden Container
Use the piece of plastic to line the bottom and sides of your wooden container. It’s best to use heavy-duty plastic that’s still pliable, such as the polythene black plastic I use to kill weeds. You can use another type though, such as a square of heavy-duty plastic bag such as an old potting mix or compost bag from the garden center. The plastic is to protect the wood container from moisture, so ensure that it doesn’t have holes or perforations. Tuck it inside and leave the edges overhanging for now.
Step 3: Add Succulent Potting Mix
In this step, you will fill the wooden container with three layers of growing medium. These layers include cactus potting mix as a free-draining growing medium, charcoal to sanitize the mix, and sand for drainage. Begin by filling the container with a layer of sand about 1/2″ deep and then sprinkle a fine layer of the activated charcoal over it. The charcoal helps with keeping the sand and potting mix free of algae. Next, fill the rest of the container to the top with cactus potting mix. Trim the plastic lining so that it comes up to the top edge of your planter.
Step 4: Create the Succulent Planter
In this final step, you will arrange the succulents inside the wooden container. Begin by spraying the cactus compost with just enough water to moisten it. Using long tweezers, create spaces in the compost and gently insert each succulent cutting. Place taller succulents at the back, trailing ones at the front and sides, and medium to small-height succulents in the center. When you’re finished with your arrangement, use a paintbrush to gently clean any soil off the succulent leaves, then set the planter in a warm, light, and airy space. Try not to touch the planter for the first few weeks other than to water it. That gives the cuttings time to establish themselves.
Step 5: Succulent Planter Aftercare
Taking care of your succulent planter is easy. Initially, the plants will respond best to moist soil, but after they’ve rooted, you can leave the mix to dry out fully between waterings. Initially, try to keep an eye on the planter, especially on warm days, to ensure the potting mix doesn’t dry out. Use the spray bottle to spray between the leaves and directly onto the growing medium. The plants won’t require any other additions but will grow and potentially start developing roots on their stems. This is their way of finding a new place to grow, so trim these dangly and leggy pieces off and plant them up in a new container. If you have any further questions, watch the full process of how to plant a succulent planter, or succulent terrarium, below.