How To Care For your Succulent Plant: The Essentials

Succulents are the plants that everyone wants to grow. If you look at any home decor magazine or Pinterest page, you’ll see that these plants are the most popular ones right now. There are a lot of different kinds, and every year, new ones are grown. They also come in green, turquoise, purple, and pink, among other colors. It’s not hard to see why succulents are so popular: they’re easy to grow, require little care, and come in a wide range of colors and shapes.

Temperature Requirements

In spite of the fact that succulents are usually able to withstand more rain than they would get in their natural habitat, if the soil stays too wet, their roots may rot. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees F for long periods, very few succulents can live outside.

Water & Fertilizer Requirements

The general rule is to thoroughly water succulents once a week in the summer, twice a month in the spring and fall, and once a month in the winter when they are not growing. A succulent’s roots need good drainage, so keep the soil around them dry.

When they don’t get enough water, succulents use the water they have stored. If the soil dries all the way out, the roots may die and growth may stop. When it rains again, some succulents can grow new roots, but it’s best to keep the soil dry.

In the summer, fertilize succulents.

You can give succulents modest feedings throughout the growing season, but they don’t require much fertilizer. Take caution not to overfertilize your plants. This might trigger your succulent to develop too fast and weaken.

Consider these things if you want to add or take away water:

  • How deep and what kind of soil
  • The time of year it is
  • Humidity in comparison
  • How much and how long you are in the sun
  • Ambient temperature
  • Which kind of plant

You should use a balanced liquid fertilizer once or twice in the spring, diluted to half its strength.

Shade and light Requirements

Generally, succulents require full sun for half of the day, preferably in the morning, and bright or dappled shade for the rest of the day. It is important to keep in mind that the amount and length of sunlight vary depending on your garden’s latitude, elevation, time of year, as well as how the garden faces.  Also, the same succulents that grow in the sun all day along the coast of California may burn in less than 30 minutes in Arizona.

Some varieties, like cacti and yuccas from the Southwest and aloes from South Africa, need more sun to bloom and won’t do so without it.

Succulents do need enough light to grow evenly, and any succulent—or any plant, for that matter—that has been grown in low light or in a greenhouse should be “hardened off,” or slowly introduced to more sun.

Here are some things you should remember:

  • Sunburn looks like lasting beige or brown spots, and if it’s bad enough, the plant can die.
  • Some plants, like sansevierias and haworthias, don’t like to be in full sun, but they still make great houseplants.
  • Succulents with stripes require minimal sun than their strong cousins because they have less pigment that protects them.

Soil and water flow

Whether you plant succulents in the soil surface or in pots, the best soil is a coarse mix that drains quickly. You can buy cactus mix in bags, but making your own is cheaper.

Even though the types of soil vary from place to place and even in your own garden, here is the basic formula for plantings in the ground:

  • One-third is garden dirt.
  • One-third of it is compost.
  • A third of the pumice
  • Add sharp sand, such as builder’s sand or decomposed granite, if you’re growing mostly desert succulents. 
  • If your soil doesn’t drain well, as clay does, don’t let the roots sit in water by planting on top of the clay in garden beds or mounds of soil.

Put equal parts of bagged potting soil and pumice into pots. Increase the amount of pumice for cacti and rotund euphorbias, but reduce it for succulents with fine leaves, like sedums.

Pest control

Give succulents a lot of airflows to stop pests from getting in. In flower buds and on stems, aphids and thrips live, while scales and mealybugs, which resemble lint, inhabit the spaces between the leaves.

Pests can be killed by mixing 70% rubbing alcohol with 50% water. If you can’t get rid of the scale, you should use horticultural soap and oil to get rid of it. Isolate any plants with pests right away to stop them from spreading, and clean the area well.

The best way to keep succulents dry in humid areas is to keep them as dry as possible. If it looks like pests are winning, cut off pieces of healthy growth and plant them in new soil. Throw away the sick plant and its soil, and clean the pot before using it again.

Frequently Asked Questions About Succulent Plants

Where you live, you can’t grow succulents outside, right?

Coastal California is the perfect place to grow succulents outdoors all year round, from the Bay Area south. But you can have any succulent you want, no matter where you live. Just grow the ones that are hard to grow in sheltered microclimates or pots.

Since succulents have shallow roots, they do best in pots that can be moved and used as a shelter when it gets too hot, cold, or wet. And when their roots are confined, even succulents that could grow very big tend to stay small.

Are succulents able to be kept indoors?

They are easy to please as guests and don’t need much care to live inside. They can live in dry indoor environments because they have thick stems, fleshy leaves, or bigger roots that allow them to store water. A small pot can do a lot of damage to your succulent.

A small pot can only hold a small amount of soil, so your plant won’t get enough nutrients to grow. Also, a small pot squeezes the roots, which eventually stops the plant from growing.

What’s wrong with my succulents?

Most of the time, a succulent dies because its roots rot from too much water or from soil that doesn’t drain well. Succulents are plants that do well in dry conditions and need to let the soil dry out between waterings. If the leaves are brown, yellow, or black and soft, it means the soil is too wet and the succulent is dying.

How can I tell if I need to water my succulent?

The leaves of your succulents need more water when they are wrinkled and shrinking. As the plant’s cells give the rest of the plant the water they have stored, they try to get more water to make up for what they have lost.

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