How to Care for Outdoor Succulents

Outdoor succulents at Pots Galore, Melbourne

Caring for outdoor succulents is simple, but there are a few important steps to ensure your plants thrive. We’ve put together a guide to help you care for your outdoor succulents so they can flourish and bring beauty to your garden.

Planting Succulents Outside: Container vs. In-Ground

When growing succulents outside, there are two main options: planting in a container or directly in the ground. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between them will depend on several factors, including the climate, the type of succulent, and the desired look and feel of the garden.

Planting in a Container:


  1. Control: Growing succulents in containers allows for greater control over the soil, water, and temperature conditions. This is especially important for succulents that are sensitive to specific conditions.
  2. Mobility: Containers are also portable, allowing for easy relocation if necessary, such as if the plant is not getting enough light or if it needs to be moved to a sheltered location during harsh weather conditions.
  3. Design: Containers provide a variety of design options and can be used to create an attractive focal point in the garden.


  1. Maintenance: Containers can dry out more quickly than soil in the ground, requiring more frequent watering and monitoring.
  2. Limited Space: Containers have limited space for roots to grow, and may require regular repotting to accommodate the plant’s growth.

Planting Directly in the Ground:


  1. Natural Setting: Planting succulents directly in the ground can create a natural and seamless look in the garden.
  2. Low Maintenance: Once established, succulents planted in the ground require less maintenance and watering than those grown in containers.
  3. More Space: Planting succulents directly in the ground provides more space for the roots to grow, which can result in larger, healthier plants.


  1. Lack of Control: When planting succulents directly in the ground, there is less control over soil, water, and temperature conditions. This can be challenging in climates that are not suitable for the specific type of succulent.
  2. Difficulty Moving: Once established, succulents planted directly in the ground can be difficult to move, which may be a disadvantage if the desired location or environmental conditions change.

Ultimately, the choice between planting succulents in containers or directly in the ground will depend on the specific needs and desired look and feel of the garden. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best option will depend on the climate, the type of succulent, and the specific goals and requirements of the gardener.


Succulents need lots of direct sunlight to stay healthy and produce blooms, so it’s important to choose the right location in your garden. If you live in a hot summer climate, be sure to find a spot that is shaded from the afternoon sun, as too much direct sunlight could cause your plants to wilt or even burn. Another point to consider is where you already have other plants growing. Succulents don’t like competing for water and nutrients, so avoid planting them in the same area as your other plants.

Watering Outdoor Succulents

Watering succulents is an important aspect of their care and maintenance. However, it is important to water them properly to avoid health issues:

  1. Frequency: The frequency of watering outdoor succulents depends on a variety of factors, including the type of succulent, the climate, and the soil type. In general, succulents should be watered deeply and then allowed to dry out completely before being watered again. In hot, dry climates, succulents may need to be watered more frequently, while in cooler, moist climates, they may need to be watered less frequently.
  2. Amount: When watering outdoor succulents, it is important to provide enough water to soak the roots and allow the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. Over-watering can lead to root rot, while under-watering can cause the succulent to become stressed and vulnerable to pests and diseases.
  3. Time of Day: The best time to water outdoor succulents is in the early morning or late afternoon, when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is not at its strongest. This helps to prevent evaporation and ensures that the water is absorbed into the soil, rather than evaporating.
  4. Method: There are several methods for watering outdoor succulents, including watering from the top of the soil, bottom watering, and using a watering can or hose. Bottom watering, where the pot is placed in a shallow dish of water, is a good option for succulents that are susceptible to root rot.

By following these guidelines, you can provide your outdoor succulents with the right amount of water they need to grow and thrive. It is important to monitor the soil moisture level regularly and adjust the watering schedule as needed to ensure your succulents receive the proper care.

Pruning and Propagating Outdoor Succulents

Since outdoor succulents can grow quite large, they need to be pruned regularly to keep them looking their best. Prune off any dead leaves or branches to encourage new growth. Also, if your succulent has become lanky or leggy from too much direct sun, prune off the top to promote branching.

You can also propagate outdoor succulents by taking cuttings and planting them in separate containers. This is a great way to increase your collection of outdoor succulents without having to buy more plants.

Managing Pests and Disease

Outdoor succulents are susceptible to the same pests and diseases as other outdoor plants. Be sure to check your succulents regularly for signs of insect infestations or disease. If you spot any problems, treat them with an appropriate pest control product.

Some of the common pests and diseases found on outdoor succulents include:


  1. Mealybugs: These small, white, cottony pests feed on the sap of succulent leaves and can cause yellowing, wilting, and even death of the plant. To get rid of mealybugs, gently wash the leaves with soap and water and apply insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  2. Scale insects: Scale insects are small, brown, hard-shelled pests that attach themselves to the stems and leaves of succulents. They feed on the sap of the plant, causing yellowing, wilting, and stunted growth. To remove scale insects, apply insecticidal soap or neem oil and wipe off the shells with a soft cloth.
  3. Spider mites: These tiny spider-like pests spin webs on the leaves and stems of succulents, causing yellowing, wilting, and stunted growth. To get rid of spider mites, wash the leaves with soap and water and apply insecticidal soap or neem oil.


  1. Root rot: This disease is caused by overwatering and poor drainage, leading to the decay of the roots and eventual death of the plant. To prevent root rot, make sure the soil is well-draining and only water the succulent when the soil is completely dry.
  2. Powdery mildew: This fungal disease causes a white, powdery growth on the leaves and stems of succulents, causing yellowing, wilting, and stunted growth. To prevent powdery mildew, make sure the plant has proper air circulation and avoid getting the leaves wet.

The Best Soil for Planting Succulents Outside

The best soil for growing succulents outdoors should have several key characteristics:

  1. Good Drainage: Succulents are susceptible to root rot, so it is crucial to have well drained soil, so it does not retain too much moisture around the roots. A soil mix that is composed of sand, perlite, and porous soil is ideal for succulents, as it allows water to drain away from the roots and prevent over-watering.
  2. Aeration: Succulents need air to their roots to breathe, so a soil mix that is light and airy is ideal. A combination of sand, perlite, and porous soil can provide the necessary aeration.
  3. Low Nutrient Content: Succulents are low-maintenance plants and do not require a lot of nutrients to grow. In fact, soil that is too rich in nutrients can actually be harmful to succulents. A soil mix that is low in nutrients and pH neutral is best.
  4. Good Structure: The soil for succulents should have a good structure and not compact easily. A mix of sand, perlite, and porous soil can provide the necessary structure.

It is possible to purchase a pre-made soil mix for succulents, or create your own mix by combining sand, perlite, and porous soil in equal parts. Regardless of the type of soil used, it is important to make sure it drains well and does not compact easily, to provide the best environment for succulents to grow and thrive.

Fertilizing Outdoor Succulents

Fertilizing succulents is one important aspect of their care that can enhance their growth and help them reach their full potential. Succulents only need a light application of fertilizer once or twice a year. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer is typically recommended for outdoor succulents. It’s important to avoid using too much fertilizer as this can cause salts to build up in the soil and harm your plants.

If using a water-soluble fertilizer, it is essential to dilute the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package, as over-fertilizing can damage the plant.

When applying the fertilizer, it is crucial to avoid getting it on the leaves, as it can cause sunburn and other damage to the plant. Instead, focus on applying the fertilizer to the soil around the base of the succulent. Water the soil well after fertilizing to help the plant absorb the nutrients.

In the winter months, it is best to stop fertilizing outdoor succulents, as they enter a period of dormancy and require less care. Additionally, it is important to keep an eye on the succulent and adjust the frequency and strength of fertilizer application based on its growth and appearance.

What Succulents Do Well Outdoors?

While some succulents are more adaptable to outdoor conditions than others, there are several succulent varieties that do exceptionally well outdoors.

  1. Stonecrop: Stonecrop succulents, also known as Sedum, are well-suited for outdoor gardens. Stonecrop succulents are also low-maintenance and do not require frequent watering.
  2. Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is a popular succulent that does well outdoors. It is drought-tolerant and can handle a wide range of temperatures, making it an ideal choice for hot, dry climates. Aloe Vera is also low-maintenance and does not require frequent watering.
  3. Echeveria: Echeveria is a type of succulent that is well-suited for outdoor gardens. Echeveria succulents come in a range of colors and shapes, making them an attractive addition to any outdoor garden.
  4. Agave: Agave plants are a type of succulent that are well-suited for outdoor gardens. Agave succulents are also low-maintenance and do not require frequent watering.

The above plants are hardy and can handle a wide range of temperatures and climates, making them ideal for a variety of regions.

Providing Protection to Succulents in Outdoor Gardens

Most succulents are hardy enough to be grown outdoors year-round. Although succulents can withstand some extreme weather conditions, they still need protection from the coldest winters. If you live in an area with particularly cold winters, frost protection can be provided by covering your succulent plants with a frost cloth when freezing temperatures are expected. A frost cloth can also be beneficial in protecting the fleshy leaves of your succulents from hail damage.

Succulents are known for surviving in warm climates and often in desert conditions, but not all succulents are able to tolerate temperatures that get too unbearable or where they are positioned in full sun all day. It is best to position them where they will receive part shade during the hotter afternoon hours during the summer. If this is not possible a shade cloth can be hung over them to reduce the intensity of the direct sunlight.


By following these care tips, you can have a beautiful outdoor succulent garden that will last for many years to come. Now you can enjoy the beauty and resilience of succulents in your own garden bed!

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