PHOTO: Jessica Walliser
September 1, 2017

When we have guests over for a barbecue, there never seems to be enough room on the table. Between the food, drinks and place settings, there isn’t much real estate left for a flower arrangement. But this cute succulent planter fits perfectly into what always seems to be the last remaining bit of empty space: the small, circular area around the patio table umbrella.

Made from an old (or new) Bundt cake pan, this patio umbrella succulent planter is a beautiful way to jazz up your outdoor living space. Plus, unlike a vase of fresh flowers, it can be used for party after party, for the entire summer (or longer, if you overwinter it properly—more on this later). Here’s everything you need to make a Bundt pan succulent planter of your own.

Materials & Tools

Bundt cake pan (new or repurposed)
Nail
Hammer
Tin snips and needle-nose pliers (if hole in Bundt pan needs to be widened)
Potting soil for cacti and succulents
12-15 succulent plants from the following list

  • Adromischus spp.
  • Aeonium spp.
  • Crassula spp.
  • Dudleya spp.
  • Echeveria spp.
  • Graptopetalum spp.
  • Haworthia spp.
  • Jade plants (Crassula ovata)
  • Ox tongue (Gasteria liliputana)
  • Portulaca spp.
  • Sedum spp.
  • Sempervivum spp.
  • Senecio mandraliscae, S. serpens and others.
succulent planter
Jessica Walliser

Step 1: Check The Bundt Pan’s Hole Size

You can pick up used Bundt pans at thrift stores and garage sales for just a dollar or two. Feel free to spray paint the pan before proceeding if you’d like to change the color. Before beginning, make sure your umbrella’s pole fits through the opening of your Bundt pan. Some newer pans have flat, partially-closed, elevated holes which will definitely need to be widened in order for the pole to fit through it. Thankfully, if necessary, you can easily widen the pan’s opening using tin snips and a needle-nose pliers. Here’s how I widened the hole in my pan.

  • First I used the tin snips to make six, equally spaced cuts radiating out from the center hole and out to the edge of the raised center column of the pan.
succulent planter
Jessica Walliser
  • Next, I used a pair of needle-nose pliers to fold back each of the flaps created by those six cuts. I rolled each flap over the nose of the pliers and then crimped it closed.
succulent planter
Jessica Walliser
  • Once the six flaps are folded back, you can file down the rough edges if you’d like. If you choose not to, be aware that the cut edges may be sharp and use caution when you’re working around them.
succulent planter
Jessica Walliser

Step 2: Make Drainage Holes

By their nature, succulents are tough, drought-resistant plants that are pretty difficult to kill, even for new gardeners or those with a brown thumb. But, there is one thing that’s the kiss of death for succulents: poor drainage. Most succulent plants will rot if their roots or crowns are in contact with standing water. To prevent water from collecting in your Bundt pan succulent planter, it’s essential that you put several drainage holes in the bottom of the pan before the planting process begins.

succulent planter
Jessica Walliser

To do this, simply hammer a nail through the bottom of the Bundt pan in four to six locations. Do this from the inside to keep the pan from being damaged. The exterior edges of the holes may have sharp edges, so be careful when you handle the pan, or use a metal file to file way any sharp edges.

Step 3: Fill With Potting Mix

succulent planter
Jessica Walliser

Use a potting soil formulated for cacti or succulents as the extra coarse sand in it provides good drainage. If you can’t find this type of potting soil, mix 1/3 coarse builders sand with 2/3 quality potting soil by volume.

Step 4: Plant!

succulent planter
Jessica Walliser

Now comes the fun part – planting! To help the design process, organize the tiny pots of succulents from the nursery into a ring shape before planting. Move the pots around until you’re happy with their arrangement. Mix foliage colors, textures and leaf shapes for added interest. Once you’re happy with how they’re arranged, plant them into the Bundt pan succulent planter.

Step 5: Water & Place

succulent planter
Jessica Walliser

After planting, water the patio umbrella succulent planter in well and allow it to fully drain. Then, place the planter over the umbrella hole in your table and insert the umbrella pole down through it and into the umbrella base.

Caring For Your Patio Umbrella Succulent Planter

  • Water your planter as needed, but remember that succulents like it on the dry side. Do not overwater. They are one group of plants that thrive on neglect.
  • Succulents prefer leaner soils, so there’s no need to fertilize your planter more than twice a year. Once in the spring, and again in mid-summer, fertilize with an organic, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength.
  • When cold autumn temperatures arrive, move the planter into an attached garage. Put it near a garage window and ignore it for the winter. There’s no need to water it at all during the winter months. If your garage does not have a window (or you don’t have a garage), move the succulent planter indoors, into a bright room, and grow it as a houseplant until spring arrives. Water sparingly maybe once every six to eight weeks.
  • By the end of their second or third growing season, the succulents in your patio umbrella succulent planter may need to be divided. Most succulents are easy to divide by carefully digging up and separating the tiny baby plants that develop to the side of the mother plant (often called “pups”). Use these pups to start a new succulent planter for a friend or make another planter for a side-table.


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