Succulents are increasing in popularity, but many are still unaware of these amazing plants. For those who don’t know what they are, succulents are plants that store water in their stems, leaves, and sometimes in their roots. Fleshy and thick leaves are the most distinguishing feature of succulents — exactly how they’re able to absorb moisture.
They are an excellent addition to any garden and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. When grown outdoors, succulents will thrive and flourish more because they get all the air, ventilation, and sunlight that they need. But don’t worry if you don’t have an outside space to grow them. In fact, succulents are well known as indoor plants.
One thing that sets succulents apart from other plants is that they’re so easy to care for. Because of their ability to store water, they can survive without it for extended periods of time. This also makes them ideal for gardening beginners, and if you’re already a seasoned gardener, things will be a lot easier for you.
Caring for succulents
So if you’re wondering how to care for succulents, read on to find out.
The best soil for succulents
The best soil for succulents is one that will hold enough water for them to absorb. At the same time, it needs to be able to dry out quickly to prevent the roots from rotting. Keep in mind that succulents absorb water from the air around them and not through direct contact.
Allowing succulents to sit on wet soil is a big NO-NO because if they get soaked with too much water, the cells in their roots and leaves will fall apart. And eventually, your plant will die. That’s why your soil should be quick-draining especially if you plan to grow them outdoors.
If you are growing succulents indoors, there are few ways that you can prepare the best soil for them. The easiest, of course, is by buying a succulent-friendly, loose mix soil from garden centres. If you already have a gardening soil at home, you can add pumice or perlite to the mixture.
Succulent friendly containers
Terracotta pots are the perfect containers for succulents especially if you’re new to gardening or caring for succulents. This is because these containers dry quickly and can pull out water from the soil. It also prevents water from building up which is the greatest enemy of succulents.
Metal, plastic, or ceramic containers will also work well for your succulents provided that they have holes for drainage. As much as possible, try to stay away from glass containers mainly because they’re not easy to work with unless you’ve been growing succulents for a very long time.
The right amount of water
Plants need water to survive, and succulents are not in any way, an exception. The good news though, is that these plants don’t require as frequent watering as other plants do. This is one of the reasons why succulents are ideal for those who are too busy to keep their plants hydrated.
Still, you need to be extra careful when watering your succulents. Even if they can get by without water for some time, you have to be sure that the roots don’t get dried out for very long. And just as not watering enough is bad for them, so is watering too much.
That’s the reason why the container and soil you choose need to be succulent-friendly. This should allow you to be able to water them properly and at the right amount. When dealing with succulents, forget about all the other rules that you know or have heard of when watering.
There is but one simple rule: water succulents when dry and NEVER when the soil feels wet, damp, or moist. How often you need to water your plants will vary since not all succulents take the same amount of time before drying out. Again, your signal to water your succulents is when there’s no water or moisture in the container.
How much water do they need? You’ll know that they’ve had enough when the water exits through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. Be sure to empty the water that gets collected in the saucer underneath the pot.
Many believe that succulents don’t need fertiliser to grow healthy and beautiful. It’s true that they can get some of the nutrients they need from the soil. However, these plants will still appreciate being fed just as any other plant would, especially if you want them to grow fuller and produce better colours.
What’s nice about taking care of succulents though, is that they’ll be okay with less fertiliser compared to other plants. That’s because these plants are a native to poor and gritty soils which allows to them adapt so well even in the most unfavourable conditions. You also don’t need a special succulent fertiliser — an all-purpose fertiliser used sparingly would do the job.
You’d want to feed your succulents with fertiliser at half its strength or less, once or twice a year in the early spring and late summer.
Some species of succulent can even grow flowers! If you want to encourage flowering in your succulents, you can use a specialised fertiliser that is high in phosphorus and potassium, but low in nitrogen.
Alternatively, you can use homemade DIY fertilisers on your succulents, look into vermicomposting as well. You’d be surprised at how easy and effective these fertilisers are. What’s even better is that the ingredients you’ll be needing are commonly found in your home and more often, in the trash.
Lighting and temperature
Almost all succulents need sunlight that, at the very least, is bright. If they’re exposed to less than bright light, they’ll go through etiolation. This can lead to your plants becoming ‘leggy’ characterised by long and weak stems.
In general, succulents need half a day of full sun to grow well. This is not so hard a task if you have them situated outdoors. But if you want your succulents to thrive well indoors, see to it that you place them near a window that receives direct sunlight for at least six hours.
Keep in mind, however, that there are some varieties of succulents that prefer sunlight that’s not too bright nor too hot. You’ll know that your plants are getting too much sun if they show black spots on their leaves or a white-ish hue all over. This means that they’re getting burned from the sun.
As far as temperature goes, most succulents can’t tolerate freezes. And while there are a few varieties which can take on a freezing weather, it’s still a good idea to protect them especially if they’re outdoors.
Pruning and cleaning up
Spring and fall are the perfect times to check on your succulents to see if they need a little freshening up. However, replanting, beheading, and propagating are best done during spring. Succulents in general are slow-growers that’s why they don’t need as much regular pruning as other plants.
But, you want to make sure that you clean up dead leaves and debris that will most likely be in the container after some time. Dead leaves that stay on the stems too long can cause the soil to have a harder time to dry out. This can lead to root rot. Debris in between the plants should also be removed to prevent bugs from infecting your plants.
It’s time to take care of your succulents
So don’t be afraid to try adding succulents to your garden. After all, they’re relatively easy to maintain and don’t require too much attention. If you’re planning your perfect living room, consider indoor gardening and taking care of succulents. Follow the tips provided in this guide and you’ll never go wrong with caring for succulents both inside and out.