Plan and plant a succulent garden

Published on June 13th 2020
A close up of a flower pot
Succulents have an abundant variety of colour, shape, and texture and can be combined in the most exquisite and dramatic planting combinations.
A plant in a garden
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
They thrive and flourish with little care and fuss and have the added bonus of being drought-resistant in a world where water scarcity is becoming more prevalent. We are blessed in South Africa with the world's largest diversity and variety of succulents - so you have endless options to choose from.
If you are looking to convert a part of your garden to a succulent garden or perhaps you are interested to start growing them indoors in containers, read further for a few tips and suggestions.
A group of palm trees
Flowering aloes at Rooiklip Nursery

Succulent facts

  • A succulent stores water in its leaves, stem, and roots enabling them to cope with periods of drought.
  • Most of our indigenous succulents are endemic to the Succulent Karoo, Karoo, Thicket, and Bushveld biomes.
  • In South Africa, we have the greatest diversity in the world with over 4000 species.
  • Out of all plants, succulents soar high with being very versatile, resilient, and adaptable.
  • Containers and rockeries are ideal for succulents and they will thus do well in pots for a balcony or windowsill garden
A bowl of food with broccoli
Variety of succulents in a pot

Top tips for a succulent garden

  • Soil is the most important element you should pay attention to if you consider starting a succulent garden. A lot of succulents are adaptable and will grow in many soil types, but the best general succulent mix is 1 part loam, 1 part compost, and 2 parts river sand.
  • Drainage is second on the list of important elements. Too much water will cause rotting. This is where sand plays a big role by providing adequate drainage.
  • Plant choice and location are the next two elements to take into consideration. Decide on a winter of summer garden based on your rainfall region and plant species that can survive in your region. Read this article below where Ernst answers a question from Pretoria in a summer rainfall area.
  • If you are planting outdoors, ensure that the area gets enough sunlight (full sun to semi-shade) and is relatively protected from elements like the wind.
  • Mulching is not needed for succulents, rather consider small pebbles or rock shards.
  • Prune back plants overgrowing onto others and make cutting and re-plant. Succulents grow very easily from cuttings.
  • Autumn and spring is the best time to plant and propagate. Winter is too cold and wet!
  • During wintertime, succulents and aloes are a fantastic sources of food for birds and bees. Have a look at this collection we created for bee-friendly succulents and if you are not already part of #PolliNationSA, no better time than now to join in!
A person sitting on a wooden chair
Hawrothia spp.

As indoor plants

Succulents are ideal for an indoor garden and being drought-tolerant and able to withstand short periods without water, they are ideal for a forgetful head ;) or for someone that travels often.
Pots and containers are ideal for growing succulents and give you the option to move them about whether indoors or outdoors or perhaps into a greenhouse. Ensure that the soil is well-drained and a bit sandy to gravelly and also make sure that your pot's drainage holes are big enough.
Here are just a few types that can be grown indoors:
Also, have a look at this collection we created in our Knowledge tab for succulents that can be grown indoors:

Where to buy

Most garden centres and nurseries stock succulents and more specialised and interesting varieties can be found and plant fairs, succulent festivals, and specialist nurseries.
Read this article by @Going.Local about succulent shopping:
Also, find out in your region or from your local nursery where you can find succulents. You might just be surprised at what you can find! A few succulent nurseries in our Places tab:

Remember to share your succulent posts with us by using the hashtag #succulent.

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