You’ve seen them take center stage in everything from garden plots to floral arrangements. Now, you want some for yourself.

The rising popularity of succulents has led to them popping up in nearly every store. Before you toss these resilient plants into your grocery cart, see if you’re up for the challenge.

These hardy desert varietals are hard to kill. That’s no excuse for not learning the basic succulent care requirements.

What Are Succulents?

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, succulents are plants with fleshy stems or leaves. The leaves are crisp because they are used to store moisture. This is how they survive desert-like conditions.

There are many different types of succulents. Popular varieties include crassula ovuta (jade), sedum morganianum (burro’s tail), and echeveria.

Succulents are often glorified by gardeners, florists, and decorators. After all, these plants provide an extensive palette of colors and designs.

These captivating organisms have also earned a reputation for being indestructible.

Succlents on display at HortiPro Exhibition

How to Choose Succulents for Your Garden

It’s important to select the right succulents for your garden. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer variety of colorful fleshy plants available at most nurseries and grocery stores.

Familiarize yourself with succulents that will help you achieve your planting goals.

Select the Best Plants

It doesn’t take a detective to identify healthy succulents. When these plants are thriving, they boast perky, robust leaves.

On the other hand, unhealthy or dead succulents appear brown and droopy. When plants are malnourished, the leaves will wilt or drop, leaving bald spots or scars along the stem.

Overwatered succulents may appear faded or discolored. Underwatered succulents may appear dehydrated.

It can be hard to get a glimpse of a succulent’s roots. If you do, opt for a plant that has a thick, intricate network of roots. If you can’t get a look at the underground tendrils, take a peek at the soil conditions and plant vessel instead.

Succulents require loose, dry soil. They should always be grown in a container with drainage holes and a plate for bottom watering. Overly moist conditions may be a sign that rotting roots are hiding just below the surface of the soil.

It’s also important to recognize the distance between a plant’s stems and leaves. Malnourished succulents may appear to be elongated and thin. Healthy plants should boast condensed clusters of leaves.

Spend your money on healthy, vibrant plants. Succulents come in all shapes and colors. Some may have red, purple, and even brown accents at the tips of their leaves. Some are a solid shade of green.

You should keep an eye out for unsightly black and brown blemishes. These are often a sign of poor plant care. While you may be able to nurse a sick plant back to health, you may never be able to eradicate these aesthetic issues.

How to Grow Succulents

While you may need to tweak the following steps, they offer a reliable framework for successful succulent gardens.

Select the Best Plants

You can up your chances of success by starting with healthy, vibrant plants.

Shop at a reputable garden center or acquire stem cuttings from a friend with a green thumb.

Use your newfound succulent expertise to identify plants that are malnourished.

Select the Best Soil

You’ll need a fast-draining soil to grow your succulents.

Mix packaged potting soil with an aerating soil amendment of your choice. Coarse sand, poultry grit, pumice, and perlite are all excellent options.

Select the Best Containers

Always opt for a planter with an adequate drainage hole. A succulent planter should only be 5% to 10% bigger than the plant itself. Too much wiggle room promotes root growth while stunting stems and leaves.

Large shallow planters are well-suited for succulent plant pairings. However, not all varieties do well in groups.

Ensure that all of your grouped succulents are approximately the same size. Make sure that they will thrive under the same care and conditions.

While painted and decorative planters are in demand, they aren’t the most effective cultivation containers.

Paint and decorations can interfere with a plant’s ability to access water and sunlight. Porous terracotta planters promote circulation and drainage.

Remove Dead or Unhealthy Leaves

Carefully prune your succulents by removing dead or dying leaves. Use a sterilized knife or razor blade to make clean cuts.

Avoid cutting the stem or crown of the plant. Succulents tend to shed leaves as they mature. If you do not notice any other signs of malnutrition, leaf loss should not be a cause for concern.

Commit to Ongoing Maintenance

Succulents are one of the few plants that thrive under neglectful treatment. However, there are still some steps that you can take to improve the well-being of this drought-loving plant.

We recommend that you add fertilizer to your succulents once or twice a year. The best times to do this are early spring and late summer.

We recommend using a tried-and-true houseplant fertilizer. The best option is a water-soluble plant food with high doses of nitrogen and phosphorous.

Keep in mind that fertilizers are categorized by a chain of three numbers. These numbers refer to the ratio of nutrients in any given fertilizer. The sequence represents the breakdown of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium inside the soil.

While they are pricier than conventional options, organic fertilizers are the healthiest and most environmentally friendly fertilizer options for your plants.

organic fertilizer
Organic fertilizer I use for my plants

Making Changes to Suit Your Tastes

Many people like to experiment with their succulents. You can try your hand at succulent propagation by transplanting baby succulents that pop up alongside your original plants.

Or else, you can cut off and plant a few leaves. Other succulent propagation techniques involve beheading and dividing mature plants. All of these methods serve as easy and inexpensive alternatives to buying store-bought succulents.

Propagate Baby Succulents

When succulents grow, they sprout new plants at their roots. Young plants can also be grown from leaf cuttings.

What Soil Do Succulents Need?

While hearty succulents can survive in regular potting soil, they do best in dry, sandy soil. You can make a homemade succulent soil or purchase a premixed variety at your local garden store.

It is important to make a succulent soil that drains fast. These desert-dwelling plants don’t relish excess moisture.

It’s also important to amend your soil with something gritty and non-absorbent. For most gardeners, the most accessible and affordable amendment is coarse sand. However, poultry grit, pumice, and perlite are great alternatives.

If you opt to add coarse sand to your succulent soil, stay away from salty and granular alternatives. Fine sand increases the density of soil, leaving little or no place for roots to grow. What’s more, salt can burn or even kill your plants.

Turface is a soil amendment made from bits of hardened calcined clay. Turface is non-absorbent and does not break down. Therefore, it prevents soil from compacting and helps roots access essential oxygen.

Poultry grit is made from crushed stone or seashells. It’s non-absorbent and relatively light. You can purchase it at your local feed or farm store. It doesn’t cost much, and it lasts forever.

Pumice is a solidified foam that forms from the hot lava. It is often used to increase aeration and drainage in potting soil.

Perlite is a soil amendment made from volcanic glass that is broken up and heated. This process turns the glass into lightweight pellets that are perfect for modifying dense, moist soil.

How Much Sunlight Do Succulents Need?

Many people do not realize that succulents require a steady stream of sunlight. Most varieties need at least 3 hours of direct or 6 hours of indirect sunlight.

If you plan on growing your succulents indoors, ensure that you have a warm, sunny window or patio they can call home. Do your best to rotate your succulents, exposing each side of the plants to the same amount of sunshine.

Be prepared to vary the position of your plants if they display signs of too much or too little sun exposure.

If you’re considering putting your succulents in direct sun, opt for aeonium, echinocereus, and kalanchoe thyrsiflora. Sansevieria trifasciata, genus, and sedum morganianum can all tolerate a bit of shade.

Research different types of succulents to find ones that are right for the conditions in your growing space.

How and When to Water Succulents

Succulents have earned a reputation as the plants that can never be killed. However, just like ordinary plants, they require regular moisture.

What to Use

If you’re planning on fostering succulents, you’ll need a few essential items. First, gather a planter with holes. Multiple drainage holes ensure that unwanted water will drain away.

The planter should also have a saucer below it. You can use this piece to feed your succulents from the bottom. It will also serve to protect your tabletops and windowsills from water damage.

You will need to invest in fast-draining soil. If you don’t want to purchase premixed succulent soil, you can make your own.

To do this, you will need to mix in an aerating amendment. Finally, you will need a watering device. For this, we recommend a miniature watering can or small container.

Watering Indoor Succulents

The key to successful succulent watering is creating a schedule. Before you do this, you need to tune in to your plants’ needs.

Wait for the soil to dry out, then soak it with fresh water. When the soil dries, soak it again. Continue to soak and dry your plants on a regular basis.

Soil drying times may vary depending on a variety of factors. It may be days or weeks before your succulents need a drink.

While subjecting plants to brief periods of drought may seem extreme, it stimulates root growth and resilience.

If your indoor succulents are young, you should also spritz them with water. Do this every couple of days.

A gentle mist will keep their leaves looking healthy and strong. A mist will sustain your plants while they transition them to a more restrictive watering schedule.

Watering Outdoor Succulents

Outdoor succulents require different treatment. If you live in a hot, dry climate, you need to water your outdoor succulents every couple of days. If you live in a cool, moist climate, you may be able to wait a week or more before watering your outdoor plants.

Since outdoor succulents are exposed to the elements, you need to consider precipitation rates before watering them.

Watering Tips and Tricks

Use Your Finger: Stick your finger an inch or more below the surface of the soil. If it comes out clean, the soil is probably dry.

Drain the Saucer: After soaking your succulents, be sure to drain any water that pools in the saucer below the pot.

Dry it Out: Regular and controlled droughts will help your succulents thrive. Let them dry out for a few days before soaking.

Use Distilled Water: Don’t soak your succulents in mineral-rich tap water. Instead, use distilled rainwater. This more environmentally friendly and healthier for your plants.

Spray the Young: Many people make the mistake of using a spray bottle to water their succulents. While this is not an effective method for hydrating mature plants, it is a great way to build up the tolerance of young ones.

spray bottle
Spray bottle I use to water or spray neem oil

How to Care for Succulents

Despite these desert dwellers’ nonexistent demands, there are plenty of things you can do to care for them.

Offer Them Sunlight

Be sure to place your succulents in a sunny section of your home. Place them beside a window that gets plenty of direct sunlight.

Use a light-blocking curtain to limit their exposure. Rotate your succulents to ensure that each side of the plant receives a similar amount of exposure.

According to Architectural Digest. Regular rotations will help your succulents to stand up straight and tall.

Keep Up with Current Events

Chances are that your succulents will need more frequent watering in warmer seasons. However, low humidity and limited ventilation may increase the thirst of your plants during winters that require heating.

Keep track of the condition of your succulent’s soil. If you can skirt the line between overwatering and underwatering your plants, your plant will look fabulous.

Water From Below

Check out this video for a brief tutorial on how to perform bottom watering.

In the publication, succulent expert Ashley Glassman fills a large plant tray with fresh water. Then, she places several potted succulents into the makeshift bath. The plants sit there until the soil is completely drenched in water.

Clean Your Houseplants

Houseplants need to be cleaned. Just like any other household possession, they are capable of accruing layers of dust and debris.

Use a moist washcloth to wipe down your succulents. Be careful not to apply too much pressure.

Transplant Them

Succulents have shallow roots that nestle together like balls of yarn. This makes them easy to uproot and transplant.

Don’t be afraid to rearrange your succulents. However, be sure to give them a sufficient healing window before you return to your watering schedule.

Final Thoughts

Succulents make excellent house and garden plants. They prosper in dry, airy soil and small containers.

Since succulents only need to be watered once every couple of days, they’re a fabulous option for inattentive plant parents.

These hardy plants will be alive and well when you return from your spur-of-the-moment vacation. They won’t give you flack when you finally remember to water them after a week-long sabbatical from housework.

These fleshy plants will improve the overall aesthetics of your home or apartment. They won’t even ask for much in return.

You can start your succulent garden by simply stepping inside your local garden store and selecting two or three of your favorite plants.

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