How To Care For Succulents
I love succulents! I am simply fascinated by all the different types of shapes, colors and textures. It is because of this great variety I think, they have become so popular lately. It seems like I see them wherever I go nowadays, especially in grocery stores, greeneries and nurseries. I have even seen them in wedding bouquets and used as wedding favors (one of my favorites, might I add.) Each time that I see a succulent, I am as intrigued as the first time I laid my eyes on them. They are simply beautiful plants.
Since they have become so popular, I thought today would be a good day to discuss how to care for succulents.
Before we begin, let’s take a minute and talk about some four common misconceptions that many have about caring for succulent plants.
- They are indestructible. While succulents are generally very easy to care for and a great option for beginners, they are not indestructible. You can kill them, if you are not careful. Thus, proper succulent care is essential when handling these precious plants.
- You never have to water them. This is a common misconception about succulents and to be honest, I am not sure why many people actually think they don’t have to water them. Yes, they are desert plants and yes, they are drought resistant, but they still need water to survive! More on how to water succulents though a little later.
- They will not grow in garden beds. Another popular misconception is that you have to limit yourself to container gardening. This is far from the truth. Many types of succulents will actually flourish in garden beds. Yes, they need proper attention, but don’t limit yourself to just indoor gardening.
- They need lots and lots of sunlight. They are from the desert right? So lots and lots of sunlight? Wrong! Too much sunlight can actually harm or even kill your plant!
Now that we got those out of the way, let’s talk about what you should be doing to give your succulents the best plant care.
How To Care For Succulents
To water or not to water? That is the question. Ok, so this may a bit of a sensitive subject for some, but as someone with firsthand experience, I can totally relate to the pain of overwatering. If you have ever killed a succulent, but weren’t sure why, it is probably because you overwatered it. I know, I know, it’s difficult to comprehend that despite our excellent intentions, we ended up murdering the helpless little fellow, but have no fear, once you read this tip you won’t do it again, I promise! The best thing to do when watering any plant is to remember where it came from. Succulents, in this case, come from the desert. So what is the weather like in a desert? Well, it can pour and pour and then nothing for weeks or even months. When taking care of succulents you want to imitate that environment. Thus, really soak the soil and then wait for the soil to be completely dry before watering again. The thing to avoid is watering them too often because this a sure way to cause the roots to rot. So, next time you are getting ready to shower your succulents, remember that less is more! (You may also enjoy this previous post on the signs of over watering and under watering your succulent)
The “dirt” on your dirt . If you are watering your succulent properly, but still having problems it is safe to say that it may be your choice of soil. One thing you must avoid when working with succulents is dense soils. A dense soil tends to hold the water for too long. You need a soil that will drain quickly. To help your soil drain more quickly, you can add perlite, sand, volcanic rock, gravel or pumice to your soil. The key is to remember succulents are drought resistant plants, meaning they retain water in their leaves. So when you water them, that water is quickly absorbed and stored in their leaves. If the soil doesn’t drain quickly the water will just sit there and rot the roots, eventually kill your plants.
There is a hole in my pot. If you have fast draining soil, but the water has nowhere to drain then it’s pointless. The water is simply going to accumulate on the bottom. For that reason, it is very important, especially for beginners, that the pot have a drainage hole on the bottom. Not only will this allow the water to drain correctly, but it will also allow the soil to dry quickly allowing the plant to breathe. This can help to prevent diseases and most important bugs. Can succulents be planted in pots without a drainage hole? Yes, they can, however, I wouldn’t recommend it. It is very difficult to maintain it in that manner, but, that being said, it can be done. If this is the case with your succulents, be especially cautious in regards to watch how much you are watering your plants.
Three is company. One of the reasons that many people like succulents is because they like to arrange them with a bunch of other plants. They like to mix and match the different textures and colors. These arrangements are beautiful! I absolutely love them! However, despite how stunning they can look together, it can be very difficult to grow succulents in that environment. For that reason, it is important to group similar plants together. For example, you don’t want to put a flowering plant that needs a very rich and dense soil right beside a succulent. As we had mentioned earlier, succulents, due to their desert-like beginnings, like to have dry soil. Hence doing so will either cause you to lose the flower or kill the succulent. So, take my advice, always group similar plants together in the same container/pots.
Let’s shed some light. When it comes to lighting it is important to remember that succulents do not do well in extremes. If they get too much direct sunlight, they will burn. If they don’t get enough, they will stretch. It is important to find the perfect sweet spot somewhere in the middle. Many have found that succulents thrive in at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight. It is important especially when you are just starting with succulents to regularly check your plants. If you start to see discoloration on the leaves it means they are getting too much direct sunlight. If you see that they are beginning to stretch out, they aren’t getting enough.
It’s getting hot in here! Once again we need to remember where these plants originate. They originate in the desert. Deserts often experience extreme changes in weather. During the day the weather can be quite hot, while at night it can be quite cool. The ideal climate then is temperatures between 70 degrees fahrenheit, and reaching no greater than 90 degrees fahrenheit during the day. They will be fine in temperatures as low at 40 degrees fahrenheit during the night.
How about you? Do you have any tips you would like to share about proper succulent plant care? Please, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
For more information on how to care for succulents, please enjoy the following links: