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Plan and plant a succulent garden

Published on June 13th 2020
A close up of a flower
Succulents have an abundant variety of colour, shape, and texture and can be combined in the most exquisite and dramatic planting combinations.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
They thrive and flourish with little care and fuss and have the added bonus of being drought-resistant in a world where water scarcity is becoming more prevalent. We are blessed in South Africa with the world's largest diversity and variety of succulents - so you have endless options to choose from.
If you are looking to convert a part of your garden to a succulent garden or perhaps you are interested to start growing them indoors in containers, read further for a few tips and suggestions.
A group of palm trees
Flowering aloes at Rooiklip Nursery

Succulent facts

  • A succulent stores water in its leaves, stem, and roots enabling them to cope with periods of drought.
  • Most of our indigenous succulents are endemic to the Succulent Karoo, Karoo, Thicket, and Bushveld biomes.
  • In South Africa, we have the greatest diversity in the world with over 4000 species.
  • Out of all plants, succulents soar high with being very versatile, resilient, and adaptable.
  • Containers and rockeries are ideal for succulents and they will thus do well in pots for a balcony or windowsill garden
A bowl of food with broccoli
Variety of succulents in a pot

Top tips for a succulent garden

  • Soil is the most important element you should pay attention to if you consider starting a succulent garden. A lot of succulents are adaptable and will grow in many soil types, but the best general succulent mix is 1 part loam, 1 part compost, and 2 parts river sand.
  • Drainage is second on the list of important elements. Too much water will cause rotting. This is where sand plays a big role by providing adequate drainage.
  • Plant choice and location are the next two elements to take into consideration. Decide on a winter of summer garden based on your rainfall region and plant species that can survive in your region. Read this article below where Ernst answers a question from Pretoria in a summer rainfall area.
A close up of a flower

Start a succulent garden!


  • If you are planting outdoors, ensure that the area gets enough sunlight (full sun to semi-shade) and is relatively protected from elements like the wind.
  • Mulching is not needed for succulents, rather consider small pebbles or rock shards.
  • Prune back plants overgrowing onto others and make cutting and re-plant. Succulents grow very easily from cuttings.
  • Autumn and spring is the best time to plant and propagate. Winter is too cold and wet!
  • During wintertime, succulents and aloes are a fantastic sources of food for birds and bees. Have a look at this collection we created for bee-friendly succulents and if you are not already part of #PolliNationSA, no better time than now to join in!
A person sitting on a wooden chair
Hawrothia spp.

As indoor plants

Succulents are ideal for an indoor garden and being drought-tolerant and able to withstand short periods without water, they are ideal for a forgetful head ;) or for someone that travels often.
Pots and containers are ideal for growing succulents and give you the option to move them about whether indoors or outdoors or perhaps into a greenhouse. Ensure that the soil is well-drained and a bit sandy to gravelly and also make sure that your pot's drainage holes are big enough.
Here are just a few types that can be grown indoors:
Also, have a look at this collection we created in our Knowledge tab for succulents that can be grown indoors:

Where to buy

Most garden centres and nurseries stock succulents and more specialised and interesting varieties can be found and plant fairs, succulent festivals, and specialist nurseries.
Read this article by @Going.Local about succulent shopping:
Also, find out in your region or from your local nursery where you can find succulents. You might just be surprised at what you can find! A few succulent nurseries in our Places tab:
A plant in a garden

Rooiklip Nursery

We grow South African water wise plants that are tolerant to dry conditions. Although we specialize in growing Aloes including the Sunbird aloe range, we also grow and stock a very wide variety of Succulents, Cycads and Clivias. We are a registered CITES nursery and export worldwide.

Kokerboom Nursery

Cultivators of rare succulents and quiver trees. Mr. Buys Wiese founder of Kokerboom Nursery bought the farm Quaggaskop in the Knersvlakte many years ago. The debt on the farm was such that it was difficult to make a living from it. During the construction of the N7 Cape Town to Namibia over the farm, millions of succulent plants were destroyed. Mr. Wiese saw an opportunity and applied for permits from Nature Conservation to relocate and/or sell some of the plants. In this process, a part of the farm was registered as a nature reserve, and plants were relocated to the Kokerboom Nursery in Vanrhynsdorp. From there on a collection of succulent plants were built and today all plants sold in the nursery are cultivated on the premises. Mr. Wiese is retired and today the nursery is run by his eldest son Danie. The nursery specialises in succulents and especially in quiver trees.

Namib Garden Cactus Nursery

We are a cactus and succulent nursery based in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town. We also specialise in garden design and landscaping services.

A cactus in a forest

Obesa Nursery & Garden

Plants-lovers will be like kids in a sweet shop at Obesa Nursery. 22 years ago, you’d have found a bare and empty 7-hectare space. Now, thanks to one man’s passion, Obesa is home to 7,000 plant species; one of the largest privately-owned Cacti and succulent nurseries in the world - it is a stunning oasis in the historic town of Graaff-Reinet. Obesa also uses sustainable methods to raise 350,000 plants annually and stocks over 2 million which are for sale to the public and exported worldwide. Among the extensive collection, you can find caudiciforms and bulbs, miniature and adult Cacti, the large tree-like Trichocereus Terschecki, Aloes, medicinal plants and various small and large succulents from across the globe, including the striking Ferocactus Stainesii (Mexican Fire Barrel), Yuccas, dramatic Dasylerions and Agaves. And, that’s not all. Discover rare and exotic varieties in the giant greenhouses, explore the incredible labyrinth and experience the ‘spike-tacular’ garden.

Red Shed Nursery

A top quality nursery in the heart of the Old Nick Village. Not only supplying outstanding plants but providing knowledgeable service coupled with competitive pricing. A nursery that allows the customer to browse and enjoy the array of colours, textures & scents. A sea of purple lavenders alongside striking white iceberg roses, swathes of grasses, beautiful daisies and an array of brightly coloured verbenas lead you up the pathway to the Red Shed, filled with lush green indoor plants and stunning gift ideas. A garden centre that provides an experience which will inspire even the least keen gardener to take up a spade and start planting.

Ferndale Nursery

Ferndale Nurseries lies in the heart of Constantia in Brommersvlei Rd. This child-friendly nursery has been around for 75 years.

Kirstenbosch Garden Centre - Specialist Indigenous Plant Nursery

The Kirstenbosch Garden Centre is a South African indigenous nursery which sells a wide range of indigenous plants and products made in South Africa.

A close up of a cactus

Sheilam Cactus Garden & Nursery

A garden and nursery boasting a large variety of cacti, succulents, and cycads. Recognised by authorities as owning one of the finest collection of specimen plants worldwide.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Cactus 4 Africa

Nationwide seller of succulents and cactuses.

A bowl of food

Succulent Emporium

The Succulent Emporium was founded in 2013 to fund alien removal and fynbos rehabilitation in our private nature reserve. Since then it has grown from selling succulents in the Western Cape to selling handmade pots as well - available country-wide. Contact me for details or peruse my Facebook shop for available pots.

Gariep Nursery

Gariep Plants is a retail succulent plant nursery situated in Faerie Glen in the east of Pretoria. Since 2002 a wide range of succulent plants has been made available to the gardener, landscaper and enthusiastic collector at the nursery.

A close up of a flower

Ngena Succulents

Ngena Nursery specializes in the production of succulent plants, both indigenous and exotic. Magda Sauer has been collecting interesting plants for 40 years. She has a passion for succulent plants. Ngena nursery is the fruit of this hobby, which over the years has become a wholesale business. The nursery has something of everything, for any enthusiast and even for the serious plant collector. There will always be something new to discover in our nursery. We supply plants to nurseries, landscapers and grow on-demand and contract, for clients that need certain quantities of plants. Our mission is always to supply something new and original to the market. We also designed miniature rock gardens and our so-called "living walls" of succulents. John Sauer also does design and landscaping in the Gauteng area. With the change in weather patterns and water becoming increasingly scarce, people will have to start thinking differently as they plan and layout their gardens. Succulents are not just a sustainable solution, but with the variety of succulents that are currently available, a well-planned succulent garden can compete with any other garden.

Remember to share your succulent posts with us by using the hashtag #succulent.

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