Planting Succulents In A Shallow Succulent Planter

Succulents and shallow containers go together beautifully. Many succulent plants stay smaller, especially when growing indoors, and are well suited to growing in low pots. Today you’ll see me planting succulents in a shallow succulent planter along with sharing tips good to know about the process.

Succulents are usually sold in 2″, 3″, and 4″ grow pots. At these sizes, their root systems are compact and the plants are small and making them easy to plant in a shallow container. The handmade bronze metallic dish which you see in the thumbnail and further down in the post is barely 3″ tall.

Watch the video below so you can see how I plant the succulents in a shallow succulent planter:

Types of Succulents

Any succulent plants you buy in a small grow pot will be fine repotted into a shallow decorative pot for at least 6-12 months. The succulents that are best to grow for an extended period of time (more than a year) are ones that stay small and compact. You see some on the list in the thumbnail above.

My favorite succulent plants are ones that stay smaller and don’t spread too much and/or are slow growers. They are Haworthias (genus of the very popular Zebra Plant), Living Stones, Sempervivums (the rosette type succulents like the Hens & Chicks), Gasterias, Panda Plants, and some of the Echeverias and Crassulas.

Types of Planters

There are many shallow planters, dishes, or bowls on the market you can buy. They’re available in an array of materials, shapes, colors, and styles. I find the majority of mine in Tucson because I like to shop locally although I have bought 1 or 2 on Etsy.

What are the best pots or the right pot? I say the ones that you like the best! I prefer terra cotta pots or ceramic pots when it comes to succulents.

a 4" jade plant succulent sits next to a talavera cat ceramic pot
You can see the back of the cat planter which was given to me by my realtor after I moved into this new house. It was a bit of a challenge to plant in because the back of the planter is so low & sloped. I consider this different shape to be an awkward one to plant in!

Size of Planters

I consider any shallow planter to be one with a height of 6″ or less. The width is up to you. Wider pot will allow you to use multiple succulents and create succulent gardens.

I don’t like to put small succulents in deep containers. They look out of scale, and with a larger soil mass, are subject to staying too wet which can lead to root rot.

Want to learn more about how to care for succulents indoors? Check out these guides!

Drainage Holes

I recommend buying planters and bowls with a drain hole (or 2 -3) on the bottom of the pots. This will allow any excess water to flow out.

Shallow pots with no hole(s) won’t allow much space for a bottom layer of rock to aid in the drainage factor. If you feel comfortable with drilling, you can create a hole or 2 if the pot doesn’t have any. 

I’ve done a post on planting succulents in pots with no drain holes and will be updating it and adding a new video in next week. The few pots that I plant in with no drain holes are all deeper and larger, allowing for more drainage materials.

nell foster holds a cute talavera cat planter with a small jade plant planted in on her patio
Showing off my kitty cat planter a month or so after the planting. This Jade Gollum or Jade Hobbit (it’s hard to tell them apart!) is 1 of the more compact Jades so it’s great for shallow containers. Jades are suited for bonsai & root in fast & strong.

When to Plant

The best time to do the planting is spring and summer. Early fall is fine too if you’re in a climate with mild winters like me. As a general rule, I leave all my houseplants be in the winter months in regards to planting, pruning, and propagating.

Soil Mix

Succulents in any sized pot, whether it be a large pot or a shallow container, do best in a special potting mix. I just did a post and video about succulent soil so you can refer to that for all the details.

In a nutshell, the mix you use should be well aerated and light, and most importantly have good drainage. It should not hold too much water or excess moisture, especially when planting in a shallow succulent planter.

2 hands are filling in succulent mix around small succulents planted in a low handmade ceramic dish
When planting in a low ceramic like this, I find it easier & less messy to do the job right in the tin bowl I’ve made the succulent mix in. Sometimes you have to finagle a bit to get the mix in around the plants.

How to Plant Succulents in a Shallow Succulent Planter

It’s a good idea to watch the video at the beginning on this, especially if you’re a visual learner.

5 small succulent plants are laid out in a handmade bronze metallic planter dish
The drainage holes are big & there are 3 of them, so they got covered with 1 layer of paper to prevent the mix from flowing out. I lay out the succulents in their grow pots to see how the arrangement looks before planting.

Succulent Care in Shallow Planters

The care is basically the same as for succulents in low pots except for a couple of things.

I water succulents in shallow planters a bit more often than those growing in large pots. The soil mass is much less, they’re often crowded in and tend to dry out faster.

I find using a small watering can with a narrow spout works best. I also use this bottle with a long neck for getting into tight spots in between the plants and it’s very easy to control the amount of water going in.

More on watering succulents indoors and 6 important things to know about growing succulents indoors.

the back of an asymmetrical ceramic talavera cat planter filled partially with succulent mix
I filled the pot with succulent mix so it came up slightly below the top of the back.
1 hand plants a small jade plant succulent into a talavera cat planter a low bronze dish filled with succulents sit nearby
I angled the Jade Plant out because it wouldn’t stand straight up in the planter. This way it’ll fan out a bit too.
close up of a small jade plant planted in an asymmetrical cat talavera planter
I ended up putting a geode under the Jade Plant (it’s much heavier than the mix) so it would stay up & not flop down.

Shallow Succulent Planter FAQS

Do succulents like to be crowded? Should succulents be planted close together?

It depends on the type and size of the succulents. Succulents in general don’t mind being crowded and can grow tight in their pots for a while.  The ones that do best planted close together stay on the smaller side and/or are slow growers. Otherwise, you’ll have to repot your succulent arrangement into a bigger planter as the plants crowd each other out.

Do succulents have shallow roots? Do succulents like shallow pots?

Many types of succulents do. The roots grow more horizontally than vertically. It depends on the type of succulent and how shallow the pot is.

How much soil depth do succulents need? Do succulents need deep pots? How deep should a succulent bowl be?

Most don’t need much soil depth because of the way the roots grow. Unless the succulent grows very tall like a Pencil Cactus, you don’t need a deep planter. I prefer a planter bowl that’s 3 – 6″ deep.

Can you use regular potting soil for succulents?

I don’t because it’s too heavy. Potting soil holds more moisture making it more prone to over-watering when it comes to succulents. A succulent and cactus mix holds less water and has the proper drainage and aeration that succulents need.

Can you plant succulents in glass bowls?

Yes, I’ve planted succulents in glass containers before but getting the watering down can be tricky. I made quite a few of them for an event and the clients took them home afterward. Who knows how long they lasted!

What do you put in the bottom of a planter for drainage?

I put small rocks or pebbles on the bottom. I’ll do a layer of charcoal on top of that. The charcoal is optional but what it does is improve the drainage and absorb impurities & odors. For this reason, it’s great to use when doing any indoor potting project.

Can succulents stay in shallow planters? How long can succulents stay in low bowls?

Yes, especially if the succulent is growing slowly or doesn’t look stressed. Succulents in lower light conditions (lower light, not low or no light!) will grow slower and can stay in their pots for longer.
How long depends on the succulent and how small&/or deep the container is. Yours might be growing taller or wider and need a bigger base for those expanding roots.

There are so many fun and appealing shallow planters for succulents on the market. Pick one up and give it a go – this will help you out!

Happy gardening,

Signed by Nell Foster

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