One of the best things about succulents is their size. It makes them ideal for a dish garden with mixed varieties. This DIY Succulent Arrangement comes together in just minutes and looks wonderful as a table centerpiece.This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.
Succulent plants are beautiful all by themselves in individual pots, but combining them together in a dish garden gives you a stunning display that is perfect on any side table or even as a table centerpiece. Many common household items can be used to make interesting and creative succulent planters.
This tutorial will show you the basics of a pretty succulent container garden and will give tips for arranging the plants to give the best appeal when you are done.
There are many ways to create a succulent arrangement. For this project, I have used these three types of plant arranging:
- Focal Plants – one or more plants that takes your eyes to parts of the arrangement. This plant is the focus of the planter and is usually taller, or larger, than the others.
- Filler Plants – those are plants used to fill in the area around the focal plant.
- Spiller Plants – these plants “spill” over the edges of the planter adding a soft look to it.
Using this type of arrangement will give you a cohesive look when the planter is finished.
Tips for arranging succulents in a dish garden.
A succulent plant arrangement can come together quickly without much thought but I find that my arrangements involve a period of moving the plants around until I am satisfied with the look.
Most arrangements look best if you vary the type of plants used. Choose different colors and textures as well as some that are low growing and some that have height.
Succulent plants have low moisture needs but they still need somewhat regular watering. I find that once every 10-14 days works for me. If you have them outside or in direct sunlight, they will need more frequent watering.
For planters that have a hole in the bottom, my preferred way of watering is to take the succulent garden to the sink and water it well and allow the excess to drain away into the sink and then return it to its normal spot.
If you have way for the water to drain away, water when the soil is dry about 2 inches down into the container and avoid over-watering.
One important aspect of a dish garden for succulents is to make sure that the container has a drainage hole, so that the plants don’t become waterlogged. With succulents, this can lead to root rot, which will kill the plants.
If your container has no drainage hole, be sure to place a layer of gravel in the bottom so that the water will sit below this layer and be especially careful not to water until the top surface of soil is quite dry.
Sunlight needs for succulent arrangements:
Succulents need plenty of sunlight, but this does not mean sitting the dish garden on a patio table that gets direct sunlight 6-8 hours a day. See my guide for growing succulents here.
Too much sunlight can make the plants dry out to much and may cause the leaves of the succulents to wrinkle and shrivel.
Give bright indirect light outside which is shaded from afternoon sun and a spot near a sunny window indoors.
Let’s Make this DIY Succulent Arrangement
Many of the succulents that I chose for this arrangement are those that I grew myself from succulent leaf cuttings.
Succulent arrangements can use quite a large number of plants, especially if you want a full and lush look.
This can get pretty expensive in a hurry, so propagating parts of your plants will give you plants for free and allows you to use a lot of plants without worrying about the cost too much.
If you are purchasing the plants to do your arrangement, be sure to check out my tips for buying succulents, both locally and online.
I chose these plants for my arrangement: (diagram shows the placement of plants – succulent names are in the list below the diagram.)
- Blue Chopsticks – Senecio Mandraliscae
- Echeveria ‘Neon Breakers’
- Aloe Vera – common aloe plant
- Aloe ‘Twilight Zone’
- Cotyledon Tomentosa – Bear’s Paw Succulent
- Sedum Spathulifoium – Creeping Sedum
- Pork and Beans – Sedum rubrotinctum
- Sempervivum – Hens and Chicks (I used 6 of them in varying sizes as fillers.)
- Living Stone – Pleiospilos nelii
- Sedum Morganianum ‘burrito’ – burro’s tail sedum
- Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’
I also added two large gray and white rocks for a bit of extra filler and to give some texture differences. The rocks are approximately 2 inches wide. They add a nice break from the softness of the plants.
I chose cacti and succulent soil to make sure that the drainage of the water is good.
My planter is a green hand fired ceramic dish. It is 11 x 9 1/2 inches and 3 1/2 inches deep. It has no drainage hole, so I added plenty of coarse gravel on the bottom under the soil.
Normally, I choose one with a hole in the bottom, but this dish was my mother’s and has sentimental value for me.
Arranging the succulents
I had three plants that I wanted to have as my focal plants. The aloe vera is tall and adds some height to the center. The bear’s paw succulent has a soft texture and the echeveria ‘neon breakers’ has pretty color when the light is just right with pink edges to the leaves and stunning flowers.
I planted the aloe in the center towards the back and the other two to each side of it to balance the look.
From here it was just a series of small plantings. I chose to put the pork and beans and cluster of sempervivum in front of the focal plants for two reasons.
The color of the pork and beans sedum is just amazing and the sempervivum make great filler plants.
I love the way the lithops succulent balances the two real rocks in the planter. There is a reason they call it “living stone, for sure!”
My two spiller plants are the burrito sedum shown above and the tiny creeping sedum in this photo. It has a very soft texture and tiny daisy like flowers that are just about ready to open up.
Echeveria plants have a lovely rosette look that is so feminine. This variety is called ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ and finishes off the left side of the planter nicely (it already has new offsets forming which will fill in the area soon!)
Those red tipped leaves look great next to the larger neon breaker to its right and the spiky blue chopsticks senecio behind the echeveria adds more texture and contrast.
This is an overview of the planter showing the placement of each of the succulents. I chose another aloe called ‘Twilight Zone’ for its contrasting color to the larger aloe vera. This aloe plant is shown bottom left in the photo below but is actually behind the taller aloe vera in the planter itself.
The planter gets a finishing touch with the addition of two rocks that add hardness and texture. And look at the flowers of the creeping sedum that offset that hardness in such a pretty way!
I love the way the planter turned out. To me, it’s a nice contrast of softness, femininity and the cool and stark look from the rocks and living stone.
Pin this DIY Succulent Arrangement for later.
Would you like a reminder of this succulent dish garden? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
Use the project card below to print out the instructions so that you can duplicate the look at home yourself.
- Succulent plants. (I used a total of 16 in my planter.)
- 11 x 9 1/2 x 2 1/2" planter bowl
- Cacti and succulent soil
- Rocks for drainage if your planter has no drainage hole.
- 2 decorative rocks for the top.
- PLANTS USED:
- Echeveria neon breakers, aloe vera, cotyledon tomentosa.
- chop stick sedum, 6 x sempervivium, sedum pork and beans, lithops, aloe Twilight Zone and Echeveria perle von Nurnberg.
- sedum morganianum burrito and creeping sedum
- Arrange a layer of rocks in the bottom of the dish garden if you have no drainage hole.
- Add a layer of cacti and succulent soil. Water lightly.
- Place the taller aloe vera to the center back with some space behind it. Add the echeveria neon breaker to its left and the cotyledon tomentosa to the right.
- Fill in the font middle with the sedum pork and beans surrounded by a variety of sizes of sempervivum.
- Add the blue chopsticks to back left and the echeveria perle von nurnberg in front of it.
- Plant the lithops about 1/3 over in center left.
- Fill in with the creeping sedum on front right and the sedum burrito in the center front.
- Finish with the aloe Twilight Zone at back behind aloe vera and add two gray rocks to fill in the holes in the arrangement.
- Display in a bight light spot near a sunny window.
- Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 10 Quarts
- Shop Succulents Unique Succulent (Collection of 20)
- Donkey Tail Lambs Tail Burrito Sedum morganianum Succulent Cacti 3"-4" cuttings
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