Succulent Plant Care can be easy if you have a good foundation. Succulents are hardy plants, that is, they don’t require a lot of fussing. However, there are some things that you do need to consider when trying to provide the best succulent plant care.
Did you know that the biggest failures in succulent plant care is in the watering? Everything needs water to live, including your succulents. However, if you give your succulents too much water, the leaves will start to look yellow and feel mushy instead of firm. Too little water and your succulents leaves will start to wrinkle and feel crispy to the touch.
When you think about watering, think about a succulent’s natural habitat: the desert. In the desert there are long droughts and when it does rain, it really rains! A healthy succulent will have a good root system to not only find water in the ground, but also to anchor it when the torrential rains hit.
What has worked for me is the following watering regiment for my indoor succulents:
Established plants: every 3 – 4 days during spring through fall, about once a week in the winter
New Cuttings (no roots): a spritz every day with a water bottle until they start growing roots
Rooted cuttings: when the first inch of potting material is dry underneath
I do not recommend spritzing established plants or rooted cuttings. This can sometimes lead to thin, flimsy roots as the plants do not have to “work” to get water. Although, if you can’t help yourself, an occasional spritz probably won’t hurt as long as the plant is otherwise healthy.
A Place to Dig In
Picking a good potting mix for indoor succulents has been an adventure in how not to do succulent plant care. Until I learned what they liked and needed, I probably did just as much damage to my succulents with bad soil choices as I did with watering mistakes.
Again, we go back to their natural environment: the desert. The desert is dry and rocky, sometimes sandy as well. Putting them in regular potting soil might seem like a good idea but in reality, it holds too much water and can cause root rot in your succulents.
When choosing a potting medium, look for products that are specifically for cactus and succulents. Even then, be observant. Potting soils vary greatly from one company to the next and some of the so-called succulent soils are actually just regular potting soil that they labeled with “succulent”. Look for something that is going to be quick draining, preferably with big “bits” in it. In a later post, I’ll show you how to make your own potting medium.
Here Comes The Sun!
Besides water and good soil, what else do you need for healthy succulents? Sunshine, preferably. If you live in a northern region like I do (Michigan), then getting proper sunshine for your succulents is sometimes a challenge. The good news is that they are rather forgiving about any light situation. They can live for a year or two in very poor lighting (like on the corner of your cubicle).
You might notice that your succulents do not look at all like the pretty pictures that people have of closely cropped, tightly packed in succulents. That is because the less sunlight they get, the more stretched out they will get looking for it. You will find your plants are a paler color and bent toward the source of light in their environment.
I put my succulents on a ledge in my dining room. It is the sunniest area in the house, but not the warmest. However, with natural daylight cycles and cooler temps, my succulents know it is winter and time to be dormant. In the spring time I start moving them outside during the day when the temperatures are above 40 and bringing them in at night. After the danger of frost is gone, I will move them to the back deck of the house and they get to live in natural sunlight until fall.
The only downside to this is that if we have a few rainy days, I tend to bring them back inside so they don’t get oversaturated.
A Place to Call Home
What you put your succulents in is almost as important of the soil. Succulents will grow to the size of their container. They are happier in bigger pots but can also be very tolerant of smaller quarters. I usually transplant mine when the root fills the pot. I don’t know if that is good or bad! On the one hand, I know it has a really great root system. On the other hand, the poor thing doesn’t have room to grow!
Material for your containers can be just about anything! Seriously! Because succulents don’t need much water, you can put them in places that you couldn’t necessarily use for other house plants. How about an old shoe? A paper mache sculpture? You name it, you can probably grow a succulent in it.
One thing you do want to make sure of, however, is that there is a hole or holes for drainage. Without proper drainage, a watering, even sparinging, can lead to bad things for your succulents. This is why I do not recommend the cute glass terrariums unless you have enough discipline to water very sparingly.
I tend to use clay pots, painted in fun designs or glazes. It makes it easy to not overwater because of the drainage holes, and also, the natural clay absorbs some of the water as well.
More In Depth Guides Coming Soon!
Succulent plant care is easy once you understand these few concepts. I haven’t even gotten into things like fertilizing and propogation. The purpose of this guide is to be a quick and easy reference for someone who might just be getting started with succulents. There is much more to explore!
Thank you for taking the time to read this guide! I hope you have a succulent day!