How to Make a Succulent Planter (Plus Tips to Keep It Healthy!)

I was feeling a little guilty about not doing anything to decorate for spring. I know, I know. As a home decor blogger shouldn’t I decorate for every single change of season/holiday/day of the week??

Maybe… but that’s not really my style. Except at Christmas 🙂

I like things with longevity! I hate to spend time decorating or DIYing then only having a week or so to enjoy it before moving on to the next thing.

Just me? I suspect it might be you too 🙂

After a long winter, I really did want to do a little something to liven up the library. Green, fresh, spring-like, but also with staying power. After noodling on it a bit I knew just what to do…

In this post, I’m going to show you how to make a succulent planter (with drainage) out of a found piece of wood and some moss. This easy DIY will cost around $20 — including the mini succulents! We’ll also cover some basic indoor succulent tips and tricks. 

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Close-up of succulents. The copy reads, "Easy DIY Spring Decor: Succulent Centerpiece."

A big thank you to Costa Farms for providing the succulents for this project!

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How to Make a DIY Succulent Planter

To DIY an indoor succulent planter you’ll simply drill 1-1/2″ – 2″ holes into a piece of wood and place the succulents inside each hole. You’ll want to be sure to drill a 1/4″ hole into the base of each planter pot for proper drainage. Adding loose gravel to the bottom is an optional step for deeper pots but not necessary for shallow plantings. 

Materials Needed

Step 1: Get a piece of wood

get a piece of wood

You could purchase a piece of wood online or a bundle of firewood at the grocery store, but the beauty of this planter project is that you really don’t need to. Go for a walk in the woods, the beach, the park, or even your backyard and look for a sizeable slab or chunk of wood. You could use a small log, a piece of driftwood, or even part of an old fence post. If you see someone cutting down trees or chopping logs, sidle over and ask if they can spare a slice.

I found a really weathered slice of what was clearly a huge tree in its heyday and I’d been saving it up for just the right project. I love free DIY supplies.

If needed, brush off any dirt or grit with a nylon-bristled brush.

Step 2: How to arrange your succulents

arrange your succulents

Next, you’ll need to design your succulent arrangement for the planter. To do this, simply place all the pots onto the wood and move them around until you like how they look!

I started with 10 succulents and ended up using 9 of them. If you’re purchasing 10 or fewer, you’ll get the best price by running down to The Home Depot and grabbing the 5 for $10 deal on the Costa Farms mini succulents. If you need more than that, I found an even better deal online.

Back to designing your succulent layout. There are a couple of ways to arrange your succulent planter:

  • Group by type. If you want the look of larger masses of similar colors and shapes, cluster succulents of the same species into tight groups, then move on to the next species, and so on.
  • Group by height. Plan which part will be the front of your planter and place the taller succulents at the back, working down to the shortest at the front.
  • Distribute evenly. If you’re after a more rhythmic, organic look, mix all of the different types and heights in a meandering path along the wood (this is the method I used).

Once you have your succulents arranged the way you want, take a picture with your phone! If you don’t, you’ll forget how they were laid out when you go to plant them and you’ll be very sad indeed.

Step 3: Mark where your succulents will be planted

mark where to drill holes

When your succulent design is set, grab a pencil and circle where each plant goes on your slab of wood. They don’t have to be precise circles, just enough to indicate where each pot was sitting. Draw an X in the middle of each circle — this is where you’ll drill.

Step 4: Drill your planter holes

drill planter holes

Using a 1-1/2″ paddle bit, drill holes to plant your succulents into the wood slab. Err on the side of making your holes too shallow rather than too deep, otherwise, your succulents look a little silly and swallowed up by the planter.

If you accidentally drill too deep, just add a layer of loose stone to the bottom before you plant to make up for the height difference. This is great for drainage too!

Watch the video to see why I added that moss detail in the corner…

What if I don’t have a paddle bit?

If you’re excited to start this project and don’t have (or want to buy) a paddle bit, simply use the largest drill bit you have on hand and drill a bunch of overlapping smaller holes to fill the circle you drew. Easy peasy!

Step 4: Add drainage holes

drill drainage holes

Succulents are a low water plant so giving them adequate drainage when you plant them is important. Using a 1/4″ bit, drill a drainage hole in the bottom of each planter pot. Most kits come with a 1/4″ bit but if you don’t have one, just use the method I described above to make a larger hole with the bit you happen to have on hand.

Step 5: Plant your succulents

plant succulents

Here’s how to plant your succulent container:

  • Gently squeeze the pot to loosen the plant and tip it into your hand. It should fall right out if you’re using the mini succulents.
  • Even more gently, break up the packed dirt and root ball with your fingertips. You just want the soil and root network a little loose.
  • Referencing your photo from step 2, place each succulent into its assigned hole. If your plant is too tall for the depth of the hole, remove some soil from the bottom. Too low? Add a bit of loose stone to the planter hole.
  • Lightly press the soil into the planter to remove any air pockets.

Step 6 (optional): Add reindeer moss

add moss

To tie the whole look of the succulent planter together, you can add reindeer moss to cover the exposed soil and over the wood to visually connect the plants. It’s a purely aesthetic step but it makes for a really pretty look!

planter overhead

Don’t feel like DIY today? Here are some succulent planters you can buy on Etsy!

Close-up of succulents. The copy reads, "Easy DIY Spring Decor: Succulent Centerpiece."
Succulent Planter

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I water my succulent planter?

Succulents have very low water needs and if you overwater them, they’ll die. Watering every 2 weeks to a month should do it. They only need water when the soil is crumbly and completely dry. If the soil has even a bit of moisture in it, it’s too soon to water.

How should I water my succulent planter without making a mess?

To water, I suggest bringing the whole planter over to the sink, set the flow to a small trickle, and water each plant as close to the base as possible until you see the water start to drip from the drainage hole. Leave the watered planter on the counter or in the sink until the excess water has drained, then return it to its normal spot.

Can I add something to the planter to keep dirt from trickling out?

True, sometimes a bit of soil will fall from the drainage holes, especially as it gets drier. If this bothers you, simply add a piece of mesh tape over the hole before planting.

Can I use this planter outdoors?

Yes, with a few modifications. First, skip the moss. It will just get soggy or blow away. Instead, use small pebbles as the top dressing on your succulents to prevent the soil from drying out. Consider adding an extra drainage hole to each pot to account for rainfall. If your area is prone to regular bouts of rain, you may want to skip keeping your succulents outside entirely as they’ll become waterlogged. Try using them on a covered porch instead!

I need to add more soil. What kind should I use for my succulent planter?

Succulents need well-drained soil to thrive, so something loose and crumbly is best. You can purchase reasonably priced succulent soil online or you can try mixing some loose pebbles into regular potting mix in a pinch.

finished planter

There you have it! How to make a DIY succulent planter. I hope you enjoyed this project and learned something useful in the process.