DIY Succulent Gardening with Upcycled Planters from Goodwill



By Melissa Massello of
Photos by Chelsea Laine Francis

Succulents are having their moment in the sun right now, with hundreds of thousands of Pinterest boards dedicated to inspiration for using them in your home, garden, even at your wedding! But Central Texans know that gardening with drought-hardy succulents just makes sense, and is a beautiful way to bring greenery into your life and home without much water, much gardening knowledge, or even much money to spare! Plus, since it's Earth Day, what better way to celebrate than to help Mother Nature by adding to the local greenery, keeping usable containers out of the landfill by shopping for vessels at Goodwill, and supporting one of Austin's original Zero Waste organizations!

So, for this week's Thank Goodwill It's Friday, we took a trip to The Great Outdoors garden center on South Congress, which has one of the largest and most diverse crop of succulents in Austin, with local photographer Chelsea Laine Francis, because I wanted to show you how easy it is to plant and keep succulents in all sorts of things found at Goodwill Stores! Give succulents the right amount of room, drainage, light, and water, and they'll really thrive in any container -- in fact, experts say they actually love to be pretty much ignored -- a great way to fill that unique thrifted mug or vase or box. Trendy, too! Plus, once you have a variety of succulents in your home or garden, you can easily propagate succulents (meaning, creating new ones for free from the old ones!) without buying additional plants. How cool is THAT?

First, find your containers - Goodwill stores are a great place to look! I found all of these fun vessels for under $5 each at the South Lamar Store over the last few months, including the trendy fused brass and glass jewelry box! Planting in colanders is also a huge trend right now (recently featured in Country Living) and so are pineapples as a design feature, so it's two trends with one Goodwill find!

Then, fill the bottom of your container with a healthy handful of pea gravel, small rocks, or crushed shells to help with drainage, especially if your vessel doesn't have any holes for water to escape. You don't want to drown your succulents, especially if you're leaving them outside. One good Texas downpour and they'll be swimming, or worse yet -- moldy.

Fill your container almost the rest of the way with cactus & succulent soil, a few bucks a bag at the garden center. Make a small divot in the soil where you plan to place your succulent.

Remove the plant from its original container by gently holding the plant end with one hand then squeezing and gently pulling the original container off the plant and root ball, preferably over a box or tray. Gently smush the soil around the root ball and let the excess fall away into your box or tray. Place the root ball into your divot and cover with a mix of cactus & potting soil and the original soil from the plant's original container.

Repeat if you're planting more than one succulent per container. Voila! Give it a healthy soak of water to get started, and you're done.

How pretty does my new succulent garden colander look? It's just what I needed as the centerpiece for my backyard bistro set, where I love to sit and drink coffee in the morning while out with my dogs, or after work with a girlfriend sipping wine at happy hour!

Head over to for more upcycled DIYs for Earth Day & more succulent photos from our trip to Great Outdoors, including me in my Goodwill "vintage play clothes" I scored last summer:





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