What Up, Succa?

Yes, that is a succulent pun. And no, I’m not proud of it.

I’m sort of on a greenery kick (both outdoors and apparently indoors as well), so this is the story of four cheap-o succulents that I impulse-bought from Home Depot and then decided to plant in kind of a weird way.

The two small ones were $2.98 and the two middle ones were $3.98 a pop. Oh and I used to have a red cactus for years throughout middle school and high school. Seriously, I couldn’t kill that thing if I tried. So that’s why he’s in the mix for nostalgia’s sake.

Then I hunted around or some planters or baskets or old boxes to plant them in (Anthrophologie had some great succulents planted in old wooden boxes with pebbles around them and they looked super cool). Then my entire idea sort of shifted when I came up empty on boxes (and didn’t happen to have any cool white pebbles around either) but laid eyes on these old vases just sitting around in my cabinet.

How weird would it be if I planted them in something see-through? Probably pretty weird, but I’m ok with weird. Heck, I embrace weird. I paused to worry for a second that they wouldn’t have any drainage in these glass containers, but I realized that the ceramic pot that my wouldn’t-die red cactus from high school didn’t have any drainage holes (nor do any of the white Ikea plant pots that we have around the house) so I went for it. But they clearly needed more dirt.

So I went outside with a spoon (yes, a spoon) and used it to scoop some more dirt into my transparent little vessels. The verdict: I think they look pretty cool!

I mean, people mulch their gardens for a cleaner look, right? I think the dark brown tone of the dirt looks so pretty against the green of the plants. Plus a lot of our surfaces are white (and nearly all of my plant pots are white) so maybe my eyes just appreciate the contrast (my eyes are such rebels).

As of now two of them are hanging out in the hall bathroom (on the white counter, which definitely makes them pop) and one of them is on the white fireplace mantel in the kitchen (my little red cactus, since he’s quickly becoming my favorite for sentimental reasons). I’ll have to snap a picture of them in their new homes for ya soon. Although plants and pillows tend to migrate a lot around here, so they might pop up somewhere else next week anyway.

Have you ever planted something in sort of an unorthodox way? Or owned a red cactus in high school that straight up refused to bite the big one, even when you forgot to water it for months?


  1. Stacy says

    Totally killed a cactus this month. No idea how. Did an autopsy on the poor thing (which went all squishy and developed some kind of mold) and I believe I over watered it. So I killed the cactus with kindness (and probably a little lack of sunlight were he was hanging out). Sigh. My blacker than black thumb prevails again.

    • says

      Oh yes, that does sound like you killed him with kindness (aka: too much water). But maybe the next one will live forever? I think I gave my red cactus a splash of water once a week when I remembered and he was so happy.


  2. Phoebe says

    If it makes you feel any better, I just read the post title and first sentence and most definitely laughed out loud in my cube (enough so other coworkers could hear me, haha) :o)

  3. says

    My daughter needed Succas for a science project last week. Shopping tip: they were out at Lowes and Home Depot in our area—Walmart had a huge selection.

  4. says

    I made a terrarium last summer in a big glass vessel where you could see all of the layers of rocks, dirt, charcoal, etc. It looked really good for the first month or so until I forgot to water it and the birds ate it haha

  5. says


    When I want to buy flowers for the house/a centerpiece but don’t want to splurge on fancy cut flowers, I often buy little potted ones (like a four-pack of ranunculus or painted daisies or something that come in those little blister packs at garden centers) and “plant” them in wide-mouth Ball jars (the 12 oz size, which we also use for drinking glasses and leftovers and everything else in life).

    Sometimes I’ll stick a few pebbles on the bottom to give them some help with drainage, or not. Then I pack extra potting soil (or garden dirt works too!) in as needed to fill them up.

    I think the dirt looks adorable — very spring-like! (Though I’ve also done it at Christmas, planting little baby evergreens…) And it means you can score way fancier flowers for a centerpiece (because they’re so much cheaper to buy as little baby plants than already cut at a florist)… AND get even more for your money by planting them in the garden after the party (or whenever you’re done enjoying them inside — sometimes I wait until the first bloom finishes, then plant them outside and see if that gives ’em new life).

  6. says

    I hate to be a downer (because they really do look cute), but if you pot plants (including succulents) with regular outside dirt, instead of potting soil, you tend to run into problems.

    First, it compacts (which is why potting soil has that funny white filler stuff in it so that air can circulate around the roots), second, outside dirt brings in outside germs and fungus, which, considering the limited air circulation indoors, will tend to kill the plant. I’ve done the same thing before and they just end up dying! I don’t want to see you facing the same heartache!

    It’s probably better to repot using proper potting soil so that those lovelies stay pretty. You may also want to consider a layer of pebbles along the bottom of the container so that the succulents get proper drainage. While intended for terrariums, this Fern and Mossery page has great instructions: http://www.thefernandmossery.com/2009/04/how-to-make-terrarium-adding-soil.html

    • says

      All the planters in our house from Ikea don’t (and the pot my little red cactus from high school was in didn’t have them either) but we have heard that putting pebbles on the bottom of the container can help with drainage! Hope it helps!


  7. Kristin says

    I just planted a basil plant in a clear glass container last week and I think it looks great! I placed it next to a clear glass container of river rocks and I am totally digging the “nature” look it gives my table.

  8. lizkayl says

    Just a note: Everyone’s already chimed in with pebbles for the drainage. Another note is I’ve always heard you’re supposed to ‘break up’ the root ball, basically shake it a bit so it’s not stuck in the container shape, making sure it’s not root-bound or something like that.

    Very cute!

    My only potted plant started as a basil-mint crossbreed a coworker brought a bunch of branches to work. I took it home, intending to cook with it and stuck it in a water bottle to keep it from wilting too badly. 6 months later, and having only cooked with it once, it had a huge root system and we gave in and potted it. It was HUGE.

    Then, 2 weeks ago, when the weather was nice, my husband took the pot outside. 10 minutes later, the cat had knocked it over and the whole stem broke off.

    • says

      Oh yes, when I added more dirt I did that! Just didn’t break up the root ball when I plopped them into the vase because I figured I’d need more dirt so I’d have to pull them out again. Haha.


  9. Jill says

    Using soil from outside reminds me of the one time I tried that. I was so proud to bring home my little plant to my college apartment with soil from Dad’s cornfield. Pretty soon, we started finding grasshoppers ALL OVER. Tiny little baby grasshoppers! There must have been a load of eggs in the soil or something! Funny now, not so much then!

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