Grow a Rainbow: DIY Succulent Planter

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It’s that time of year, when it’s nearly impossible not to walk into any nursery you might pass. The air is fresh and warm, flowers are particularly robust and colorful, and spending an afternoon planting or nurturing your buds, pink lemonade in hand, sounds positively delightful.

If you’re looking for a fun project to either work on solo, with family, or with a group of friends, might we suggest dabbling in succulents? These hearty, gorgeous plants are more than a photogenic Instagram op. They’re very easy to work with and, perhaps most importantly, they’re easy to look after. Even if you don’t have a green thumb—especially if you don’t have a green thumb—succulents are very difficult to destroy.

Today we’re putting a rainbow spin on a succulent arrangement!

Here’s what you need:

  • A shallow planter (we’re using a 6-inch option)
  • Six to eight 2-inch succulents ranging from deep red to purple
  • Small rocks
  • Potting soil

Gather Your Supplies

Because of the way succulents grow, a shallow dish is ideal. To accommodate the rainbow range, we recommend no smaller than a 6-inch planter. If you want to go bigger, that’s perfectly fine, but you’ll need a few more plants.

Speaking of plants, shop for one or two-inch succulents in a range from red to purple. Yellow and orange can be a little difficult to find, but don’t feel pigeon-holed into getting the “perfect” color. The goal is to simply have the ROYGBIV spectrum with plants that complement each other in color and appearance. We shopped at a few different nurseries to find ours, including some small independent nurseries such as San Diego’s Sage Sisters.

Prepare Your Planter

Place a handful of small rocks or pebbles at the bottom of your planter. This helps with drainage, which is particularly important for succulents since excess water can cause them to rot. Next, place a shallow layer of potting soil on top. You can add or remove soil as you go, so don’t overthink it!

Start Planting

Now for the really fun part! Begin arranging your succulents in the following order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. They don’t have to be perfectly in line but try to follow the spectrum as you move from one side of the planter to the other.

When pulling the succulent from the plastic packaging, break the dirt and roots apart a little bit. This will allow the existing roots to adapt more easily in the new soil. Add soil around the succulents to prop them up, and remove excess soil if necessary.

Caring for Your Succulents

Like we said, taking care of your succulents is pretty simple. They should be watered about once a week with what’s called the “soak and dry” method. The soil should be very wet when you water, then should be allowed to dry out completely before you water them again. They love sunlight, so put them next to a window if you’re keeping your planter indoors, or in a location that gets half sun if you’re placing them outdoors.

As your succulents age, they may get taller and wider. The base petals/leaves will eventually die, so simply trim those away when that happens. You can also prune off the tops and re-plant them into another planter if you don’t want your succulents to grow too tall.

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About Wendy

Wendy Rose Gould is a latte-loving, vintage-collecting, cat-adoring beauty and fashion writer whose work has appeared both online and in print. While she grew up in urban Indiana surrounded by horse buggies and corn fields, she's since moved west to Phoenix (after a stint in South Korea) where cacti and haboobs reign supreme. Wendy believes a woman should never leave the house without enviable hair and a spritz of her staple perfume. And also mascara. Never leave the house without mascara.

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