These real-life ideas from home gardens share ways to display a variety of succulents in planters. We’ve included recommended varieties and an assortment of repurposed container ideas.
If you are new to succulents, there are beginner instructions here for growing String of Pearls (Semecio rowleyannus) to give an idea of what is needed.
Creative Succulent Ideas
When choosing succulents for outdoor planters, first consider if you want the plants to stay outdoors all year-long or will bring them indoors for the winter.
There are plenty of cold hardy succulents, good for zones 4 to 7, including various Stonecrop sedums and some Sempervivums.
Ground covers like Sedum acre (Gold Moss) and Sedum reflexum ‘Angelina’ are also cold hardy options.
Other succulents are tender and will need overwintering without going below 40°F (4.5°C).
Besides being water-wise, succulents offer a wonderful assortment of colors, textures, sizes, and shapes.
Are succulents cacti?
Not always. Cactus is a specific botanical family. Some succulents are in the cactus family, others belong to other botanical families.
Not all succulents are cacti but all cacti are considered types of succulents.
For the ideas shown below, I have listed DIY project instructions wherever available.
Let’s dive into the ideas.
Succulent Chair Planter
One really important thing with succulents in the garden is plant them where you can see them. Give them a staring role in the garden.
Here the succulents are planted on the seat of a kitchen chair.
You can find more repurposed chair ideas here: Garden Chair Idea Gallery
Succulent Bird Cage
This famous bird cage planter was created by Susan St. Louis. The plant spilling from the cage is known as donkey tails or burro tails (Sedum morganianum).
- Donkey tails or burro tails (Sedum morganianum) – not frost tolerant.
- Aloe vera
- Various other tender succulents
To create a planter like this see How to Create a Bird Cage Planter.
Hypertufa Heart Planter
Various sedums and chicks and hens (sempervivum) fill this heart-shaped homemade hypertufa planter.
I have a tutorial here for creating hypertufa planters. You can make a bunch in an afternoon.
- Sedum spurium ‘Ruby Mantle‘ (zone 4 hardy)
- Sedum acre ‘Gold Moss‘ (zone 4 hardy)
- Rosularia platyphylla (zone 5 hardy)
- List of Hardy Succulents | Mountain Crest Gardens
Wreath planters start with a good metal wreath form like this one on Amazon.
How to Plant It
- Use a leg of pantyhose filled with succulent potting mix placed in and around the form.
- Cut small holes where you want to place each plant.
- Cover gaps with moss or coir and hold in place with fishing line.
- Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ (zone 5 hardy)
- Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg‘ (zone 9)
- Crassula ovata ‘Baby Jade’ (zone 10)
- Graptopetalum paraguayense (zone 9)
Giant Teacup Planter
If you get one of these giant teacups, see if you can drill drainage holes in the base to prevent your succulents from getting water-logged. I use a diamond drill bit for this.
Or, water carefully, never overfilling the cup.
Similar Succulent Suggestions
- Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cebenese’ (zone 5 hardy)
- Sedum reflexum ‘Angelina’ (zone 4 hardy)
- Sedum spathulifolium ‘Harvest Moon‘ (zone 6 hardy)
Imagine how many damaged boots and shoes end up in landfills each year. These old work boots make fine planters.
You could also use these instructions to dress up the boots or shoes with paint.
- Sedum spurium ‘Bronze Carpet’ (zone 4 hardy)
Picture Frame Succulent Planter
This gorgeous framed succulent planter is from the book, Gardening on a Shoestring by Alex Mitchell. It’s one of my favorite creative gardening books.
The complete step-by-step tutorial for this project is here: DIY Succulent Wall Planter.
- An assortment of sempervivums.
This is another creation by Susan St. Louis. She is equal parts creative gardener and artist.
The shelf (instructions here) is made from plain 2×4 boards. The magic comes with the addition of burlap fabric and various tropical plants.
If you like to put your houseplants outdoors in the summer, a covered spot like this is a good option for preventing overexposure to the sun, rain, and wind.
Plant Shelf Project Instructions lists everything you need to make a shelf like this.
- As assortment of tropical houseplants including some succulents that benefit from summer outdoors. In winter, these plants will be kept indoors.
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Watering Can Planter
Yes, just about anything can be a succulent planter. Drill drainage holes if you can or water carefully to prevent root rot.
My favorite trick is to keep plants in removable pots that sit inside the watering can.
Love this idea? I have an entire gallery of Watering Can Garden Art Ideas.
Rectangular Hypertufa Planters
If you are making a batch of hypertufa pots, consider making a matching set in various sizes. They look great grouped together in the garden.
How to Make Hypertufa Containers has instructions for making planters like this.
Bird Bath Planter
How beautiful is this? Barb of Our Fairfield Home and Garden is so talented at creating wonderful plantings. You can see how she made this birdbath planter here.
This is also part of a Gallery of Birdbath Planters if you would like more ideas like this.
- “Blue Chalk Finger” (Senecio vitalis)
- “Chocolate Ball” Sedum
- “Chinese Dunce Cap” (Orostachys)
- annual purslanes
Succulent Fairy Garden
There are numerous small succulents that work nicely in a fairy-themed container garden. Browse your local nursery and see what’s available. Or divide existing ones from your own garden. You can always transplant the hardy ones back into the garden in early fall to keep them going through the winter.
How to Make a Fairy Garden shares tips for making miniature gardens.
Donkey Tail Wall Planter
Donkey tail or burro tail (Sedum morganianum) are used as houseplants. I love how these ones hang from the planter. A zebra plant and aloe vera are also tucked in there.
Euphorbia myrsinites or creeping spurge is a poisonous and sometimes confused with donkey tail.
Birdhouse With Green Roof
This is another garden art creation by Barb of Our Fairfield Home and Garden. She created roof top planters on her birdhouses. The instructions are here.
- Sempervivums (Hens & Chicks)
- Ice Plant
- Creeping Jenny
Strawberry Pot With Succulents
Yes, Barb of Our Fairfield Home and Garden made this one too. Start with a selection of robust succulents and wow, what a gorgeous planter.
If you want more ideas, see Creative Uses for Strawberry Pots.
Succulent Painted Shoes
Be sure to wear your love of succulents!
These Echiveria shoes were hand-painted using these instructions.
If you enjoyed these ideas, be sure to sign up for the free Empress of Dirt Creative Newsletter for fresh ideas every second Friday.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛