Monty Don's succulent care and planting tips come with a strong warning

Gardening guru Monty Don shares his succulent care and planting advice, and flags the bothersome effects that a certain species hides...

Monty Don's succulent care and planting tips
(Image credit: Future/Annaick Guitteny)

With a veritable encyclopaedic knowledge of plants and flowers, TV presenter Monty Don knows pretty much everything there is to know about gardening, both indoors and out. So when he warns us about certain plants, we tend to listen up.

See: Take a tour around Monty Don's beautiful Longmeadow garden in Herefordshire

In a BBC Gardener's World video on the BritBox's YouTube channel, Monty shared his succulent care tips, with plenty of advice on how to pot them out, too, which we go into below. Midway through the video though, he shared his warning about a certain species of succulent that can be irritating to skin and eyes if broken.

Succulent planting tips


(Image credit: Future)

Monty begins with planting out a large selection of succulent plants from all over the world in a wide shallow pot, starting with the centerpiece – a Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora 'Bronze Sculpture' or Paddle Plant. 

'Like all succulents,' he says, 'its leaves are designed to be fleshy and to store water. That's how they've evolved to cope with drought.'

He follows this with an Aeonium Tabuliforme or Flat-topped Aeonium which 'will spread out and grows like a dinner plate. It doesn't grow high, it grows outwards.

Next up is an Echeveria 'Moonshadow' which comes from the Americas and which he says is relatively easy to grow. 'They can be outside in summer quite happily. They can take even a little bit of shade,' he adds.

succulent plant in a watering can planter

(Image credit: Future/Annaick Guitteny)

Once that's planted, Monty reaches for the succulent that should come with a health warning. 

The succulent – in this case a Euphorbia Obsea, also called the Baseball Plant due to its bulbous pumpkin-like shape – is he says, 'like all euphorbias... filled with a milky sap. So if you damage it, that will be an irritant, particularly to your eyes.'

Monty follows this up with a spiral aloe plant – 'one of my favorites' – explaining that 'aloes should always be planted at a slight angle – that means that any water that gets into the middle of the plant will drain out because it's the center of the plant that is most likely to rot.'

See: Monty Don reveals his top birdhouse ideas and expert tips

Finally, he finishes his planting with a Royal Agave which he says 'like all agaves, has real spikes so just watch out, either wear gloves or be wary'.

Once planted up, he finishes it all off with a layer of grit on the surface of the soil and up around each of the plants to ensure 'any water goes straight through the grit so there's no risk of the base of the plants, where they touch the soil, rotting,' he says.

Succulent care tips

1. Ensure succulents are in a bright spots. Monty adds that succulents 'will grow perfectly well indoors but do give them the sunniest window that you possibly can.'

2. Rotate your plants – this is a house plant care tip we give often – if you want your succulent to thrive and grow evenly, rotate it so that it gets light evenly all around. Do this every three or four weeks.

3. Water only when they need it – more on that below.

4. Dust the leaves regularlyHilton Carter's house plant cleaning tip is applicable here! If you want yours to be healthy, keep their leaves clean of dust, grime and bugs (which will sit on the underside of leaves).

5. Ensure drainage is good – succulents do not like to sit in water.

How often to water succulents?

succulent plant in a decorative plant pot

(Image credit: Future/Annaick Guitteny)

And his final tip? 'If you're growing your succulents indoors, only water them when the compost feels bone dry,' he says.

Ginevra Benedetti
Contributing Editor

Ginevra Benedetti is Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. She has been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens. This naturally lead her into writing for websites like