How to Plant Cacti & Succulents & Reuse Your Happy Piranha Candle Tin

Candles, General knowledge -

How to Plant Cacti & Succulents & Reuse Your Happy Piranha Candle Tin

It's a sad day when the last of your Happy Piranha scented candle fizzles out. Don't worry though - we've got some tips on how to give some life to the leftovers and make your candle tin into a home for a houseplant. 

We enjoy a good succulent or cacti here at Happy Piranha, we also enjoy putting effort into the designs on our candle labels, so we thought we'd combine the two. Here's how to hang onto your lovely labelled candle tin, avoid throwing it away and tips for turning it into your own piranha planter that a succulent will love!

What You'll Need 

How to plant cacti and succulents tools list | Happy Piranha

Here's what we use to plant our cacti and succulents:

  • Your empty Happy Piranha candle tin
  • A hole punch or something similar
  • A succulent or cacti soil mix (we'll show you how we make our own)
  • Some potting mesh (optional)
  • Some fine gravel (optional)
  • A pen
  • A plant!

Step 1. Preparing Your Candle Tin

Preparing your candle tin for planting a succulent | Happy Piranha

Before getting to work planting, you'll need to prepare your candle tin. 

You'll need to make sure that your tin is free from any wax and debris to avoid any risk of soil contamination. Succulents and cacti like well drained soil, so you'll also want to add some drainage holes to stop water building up in the tin for too long.

Note: Before doing any of the following, make sure that you tin has had a few hours to cool down since its last use.

  • Remove any leftover wick and wick holder (be careful of any sharp edges).
  • Wash the tin with warm, soapy water to remove any wax, rinse well with clean water and set aside to dry.
  • Use a pen to mark out three drainage holes on the bottom of your tin.
  • Carefully use your hole punching tool (or get an adult piranha to for you if you're not) to make three holes through the candle tin base (they don't need to be much bigger than the nib of a pen).

Top tip: We like to put some planting mesh in our pots to reduce soil falling out of the drainage holes, making a mess and the soil level dropping. It's not essential, but if you do have some, now's the time to cut it to fit your tin. You can also pick up handy pre-cut squares too!

Making drainage holes in a pot for a cacti or succulent | Happy Piranha.

Step 2. Preparing to Add the Soil

Cacti and succulents live in mostly warm, dry environments and their soft, fleshy leaves are designed to store water for periods of time. If left in waterlogged soil they can be prone to rot, so you'll want to make sure they are planted in soil with good drainage. Dry periods can also be important for succulent growth, so the best you can replicate their natural environment, the better they'll grow!

Pot, soil mix components and gravel for planting a succulent | Happy Piranha.

  • If you are using planting mesh, add it to the pot, covering the drainage holes but not blocking them completely so that water cannot escape.
  • We like to add a thin layer of gravel on top of the mesh too, to keep it weighed down and provide another barrier between the plant roots and any water build up.

Top tip: Adding gravel can be a great way to add a protective layer from water-logging to you pot, it can also help deter pests such as fungus gnats from accessing your soil.

Now you're ready to mix and add the planting medium!

Step 3. Use a Good Soil Mix

Making a good cacti and succulent soil mix | Happy Piranha.

While succulents can grow quite happily in run of the mill soil or compost (with careful watering and replanting when needed), normal soil can get waterlogged quickly and be prone to compaction and clumping (soil sticking together).

For best results we suggest a succulent and cacti planting mix. You can buy pre-mixed bags from your local garden centre (though it's not the most economical), what we prefer to do however, is make our own mix. Everyone will have their own recipe, but here's what works well for us:

  • 3 parts compost
  • 2 parts perlite
  • 1 part coarse sand

Mix it thoroughly and you're good to go!

Top tips

  • For best results, we suggest sieving or picking large twigs, clumps and bits of husk out of your soil.
  • If you don't have, or don't want to use perlite, you could use a fine gravel to help increase the drainage of your soil.
  • You could also add diatomaceous earth to your mix to help improve drainage, (this can help deter some soil pests too).

What is perlite? Perlite is a naturally occurring, amorphous volcanic glass, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. Due to it's high permeability and low water retention it's great at reducing soil compaction.

Step 4. Time to Pot Your Plant

Potting your cacti or succulent | Happy Piranha

Now that you have a clean tin with drainage holes and a good soil mix, it's time to get potting!

For this project we decided to use one of our moonstones succulents (Pachyphytum oviferum) that we'd propagated from a larger plant.

Here's some tips when choosing a plant to pot:

  • Pick a plant with well established roots if possible, but make sure the root ball is not larger than the pot.
  • Check for and remove and dead or dying leaves ad other bits of detritus before planting.
  • Make sure the plant sits well i the pot. You don't want a tiny plant in a huge sea of soil, or a large plant in a tiny tin.
  • If it's a plant you haven't kept before, it's a good idea to check its growing conditions to see if it suits where you're planning to put it.

Adding gravel to your succulent or cacti | Happy Piranha.

Once you have a plant and are happy with it, planting is simple:

  • Carefully take your plant out of it's old pot, or the one you bought it in (Gently squeezing the edges of the pot to free some soil can help free well established plants).
  • Gently massage the root ball to remove some of the excess soil and separate any root clumps (this will also help increase the surface area of roots touching your new soil). 
  • Make a small hole in the soil in the centre of your pot, deep enough to accommodate the roots.
  • Place the plant in the hole and gently infill any gaps.
  • Add a further layer of soil up until the plant base/pot edge.

Top tip: We like to add a thin layer of gravel over our soil. Gravel can be great for decoration to make your plant pop a bit more, especially if you choose a colour that contrasts with the plant. It can also help deter pests from entering the soil and protect the base of the plant from water and rot by providing a layer between the lower leaves and the soil.

Step 5. Admire Your Work

A Moonstones succulent potted in a Happy Piranha candle tin.

It's time to sit back and admire your hard work. Now you can enjoy your Happy Piranha candle tin and its label for more time to come!

We suggest placing it in an area that gets bright, indirect sunlight, such as a south facing window ledge.

Cacti and succulent care tips

  • Water sparingly and let the soil drain fully when you do.
  • Water more regularly (once the soil has completely dried) during warm summer months and then sparingly during the winter (only when the soil is bone dry and the leaves start to look saggy or wrinkled) - this dormant dry period is important for growth in spring/summer for most plants.
  • In summer you can add a small amount of plant feed to your watering every other week to encourage growth (follow the guidelines on the bottle).
  • It's also a good idea to re-pot your plant once it outgrows it' current pot (if you want it to grow bigger) and to help replace nutrients in the soil every 1-2 years.
  • Accidentally break off a leaf? You can grow a new plant from it propagation)! Leave it on a windowsill for a couple of days until the broken end callouses over. Place it in a dish of soil and wait for roots to start growing over the next few weeks. When they do, bury them in the soil and spray every so often when the soil is dry.

Have more Plants than Empty Candle Tins?

Check out these cute cat planters we have in store!

Cute cat mini ceramic planter | Happy Piranha

Cute cat mini ceramic planter.



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