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How to Plant Succulents in Clay Soil

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017

Succulents are members of the family Cactaceae, which includes cactus. Succulents store water in their fleshy leaves to sustain them through periods of drought. They will grow best in soils that are lightweight, sandy and drain very well. Planting succulents into clay soil is possible, but the planting site will need to be prepared before placing the plant into the ground. Clay soils have a tendency to retain water and too much water retention can cause succulent plants to develop root rot and die.

Select an area in your landscape that receives partial sun to full sun, depending on the variety of succulent you are growing. Most thorny cactus species can be grown in full sun, whereas succulents such as the jade plant prefer growing in partial sun.

Amend the clay soil in the planting site with sand. Work enough sand into the area so that the clay soil becomes 50-percent clay and 50-percent sand. Dig the sand down approximately 1 foot into the soil, loosening the surrounding area’s soil as you do so.

Build a mound at least 6 inches in height. Consider the size of the succulent you are growing to know how wide to make the mound. Allow at least 1 foot in diameter around each succulent that will be planted in the mound.

Water the mound to firm up the soil, before planting the succulent into it. Check to see that the water rolls off the mound and does not form puddles on it. If puddles form, amend the area with more sand to create more drainage.

Dig a hole into the center of the mound that is slightly larger than the succulent's root ball. Place the plant into the hole and cover with soil. Pat the soil down firmly around the plant.

Water the succulent again after it has been planted. Continue to water the succulent once every 2 weeks, depending on your local weather conditions. Succulents are quite drought-tolerant, but will not tolerate wet feet.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Succulent plant

About the Author

 

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.