Succulents for Beginners

A young girl potting a succulent in a terra cotta pot.

Succulents are one of the most popular plants in the greenhouse. While gardeners are going crazy for these drought-tolerant wonders, there are some things you should know before starting a succulent garden of your own. From potting basics to care and maintenance, here’s a few guidelines for creating a healthy succulent home.


Potting succulents.

Potting a succulent is a different process compared to that of traditional plants. Succulents need a different soil mixture and a more sophisticated drainage system than the ordinary household greenery. Fortunately, you can plant succulents in just about any container, from mason jars to tea cups, so get creative with your options.

Start the potting process by filling your container with pebbles or small rocks. Then, install a layer of activated charcoal, followed by sphagnum moss (also known as peat moss) and the special soil mixture, which you can purchase at any garden center. Place your succulent inside the container, ensuring its roots are below the soil level. Fill in any empty space with more of the soil. You can add another layer of rock on top for decoration.

Basic Care

A glass terrarium with succulents inside.

Succulents are easy to maintain because they need little attention. Avoid overwatering your succulent, which is pretty much the only thing that kills them. A rule of thumb is to water them once a week only until the soil is moist. You shouldn’t reach a point where the soil is soaked as this will lead to drainage problems down the road. This rule should be applied during warm months, and you can water less frequently in cooler seasons.

Succulents thrive both indoors and outside. Wherever you decide to place them, make sure they are not in direct sunlight for extended amounts of time—but also not in the shade. These plans prefer filtered and bright light throughout the day. With the right amount of water and sunlight, your succulent should thrive in their new home.

Avoid Pests

Dead succulents in a green pot.

Even with the best care and attention, there are certain pests that can destroy a succulent. You should be on the watch for slugs, snails, mealy bugs, and aphids, though other critters can also eat your plant for dinner. If you suspect a bug is eating away at your succulent, do a little research and get to the bottom of the problem right away.


Now that you know how to plant and maintain a succulent, it’s time to go over the different varieties. If you're planting a large succulent garden, then remember that you can mix and match different types for color and shape. Whatever succulent plant you choose, the same planting and maintenance rules will apply. Below are just a few of the many varieties available.


Agave plants come in a lot of different shapes and colors. These succulents should be planted in a south-facing window during the winter and kept in a warm area for the summer.

Jade Plant

A green jade plant in a white pot.

Crassula, commonly known as a jade plant, is nearly impossible to destroy. Crassulas make a great mixed pot and will eventually bloom pink or white clusters. You can turn them into a bonsai plant with a little bit of pruning and patience.

Baby Toes

Andromischus cristata, commonly called baby toes, look like small feet and are a great conversation starter. These plants are easy to grow and require little maintenance. They do prefer brighter light, but will thrive in just about any location.


A group of echevaria succulents.

Two great beginning Echeveria species are Echeveria glauca and Echeveria elegans. Both of these varieties are easy to care for and grow at a slow pace, making them perfect for beginners.

Tiger's Jaws

Faucaria, or tiger’s jaws, feature a wide and toothy opening. These plants are low maintenance and are sure to attract attention with their sharp grin. They look great in a mix, especially when they flower.


An aloe succulent.

Aloe is one of the most popular succulents due to their ease of care and textured foliage. Consider selecting a smaller species in this group, such as andongensis, as they are easier to grow within a mixed pot.