How to create a tiny succulent garden

Bali blinds, planter, succulents

Over the last couple of years, Scott and I have gotten much better about keeping house plants alive. So much so, that we’ve found a handful of tried and true hearty plants that we find— dare I say?—difficult to kill! That said, I’ve personally always found it hard to resist succulents, and now that we’ve had terrariums thrive in our home, I feel safe saying that we’ve conquered that black thumb once and for all. (Although, I’m knocking on wood right now!)

A while ago, we picked up a plant stand from one of our favorite vintage shops, and after months of searching for The One, we found a planter that complements it perfectly. We knew right away that we wanted to create a succulent garden to keep on our back porch, so we headed to our local nursery with planter measurements in hand. We started first by browsing the many succulent varieties, pulling those that caught our eye and verifying with the helpful nursery staff that each delicate plant we loved could work with another. Luckily, they told us that, in most cases, a majority of succulents can live in happy harmony together! We carefully chose varying heights and textures—from outwardly prickly to deceptively soft—and we headed home with our loot and a few additional supplies to get going.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Planter of your choice
  • Succulent variety
  • Small rocks
  • Horticultural charcoal
  • Cactus soil
  • Tiny figurines
  • Garden scoop

Bali blinds, succulent garden, tools
Our planter doesn’t have a drainage hole, but I took it upon myself to create room for drainage. I picked up a bag of aquarium gravel (very inexpensive and does the trick) and put a layer at the bottom of my planter. On top of the small rocks, I added a thin layer of charcoal, which acts as a filtering agent and helps prevent mold. Because succulents are sensitive to overwatering, I think this step is beneficial even if your planter does have a drainage hole.

Bali blinds, planter

Bali blinds, soil
The next layer is the cactus soil, which is less dense than potting soil and made specifically for succulents. Once my planter was mostly filled, I arranged the succulents we chose at the nursery, shifting them around until I was happy with how they looked as a group. The nursery specialist assured us that succulents can stand to be squeezed in together— their biggest threat is over-watering, not crowding. This made us happy, as we were able to create a lush garden right off the bat!

Bali blinds, nursery, succulents

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With the plants in place, I gently sifted a layer of attractive, white aquarium gravel around the plants, making sure to lift up their leaves gently and fill the rocks in up to the base of each plant. Keep in mind—this is where you can allow yourself to have more fun! Aquarium gravel comes in everything from hot pink to turquoise, but you could use natural stones or colored sand all the same. I topped everything off with a small figurine that has special meaning to us—it was found behind our walls during the renovation of our very old house.

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Bali blinds, succulent garden, figurine
The planter and stand will live on our back porch in the summer, and we’ll pull it back inside once the first chill passes through Chicago. The most important thing to remember is this: Do not overwater the garden! I once heard a tip that when you see the soil start to pull away from the edges of your planter, it’s okay to lightly water it. Remember, succulents are used to drought with occasional rain. Your best bet is to let them be; they’re slow growers.

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Happy tiny-garden-making!

For more fun tips and tricks on Kim’s home renovation journey, check out her blog Yellow Brick Home.

Get Ready, Get Set, Create – with Bali! There are so many options to explore. . .So many colors, fabrics, styles, and features. . . so much potential for bringing a little zing into a room, or injecting your style into a whole house. So . . .where do you start? Start here. With Bali. 

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