Succulents are a popular choice among home gardeners for two reasons: they’re visually appealing and almost indestructible.
Succulents are any plants with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Water is stored in succulents’ leaves, stems, and roots. They’ve developed to endure dry environments found all across the planet, from Africa (where many of them are native) to North American deserts.
This adaptive mechanism has resulted in a wide range of intriguing leaf morphologies and plant structures, such as paddle leaves, tight rosettes, and bushy or trailing columns of teardrop leaves. Succulents contain some of the most well-known plants, such as aloe and agave, as well as several nearly-unknown varietals found solely in their natural habitat. Furthermore, cacti are a distinct subsection of the succulent family, with their own distinct care and appearance.
The rules for growing succulents are relatively similar no matter what kind of succulents you’re producing. The following are the general guidelines for growing high-quality succulents.
When grown indoors or outdoors, succulents prefer strong light and should receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. You can check their leaves to see if the light exposure level you’re providing them is correct—some species can scorch if suddenly exposed to too much direct sunlight, while others will have brown or white leaves as the plant bleaches out and the soft tissues are damaged.
An under-exposed succulent, on the other hand, will begin to stretch, with an elongated stem and widely separated leaves, a characteristic known as etiolation. The remedy to this problem is to provide the plant with more light and prune it back to its original shape.
Succulents should be potted in a fast-draining mixture made specifically for cacti and succulents. If you don’t have access to a specialized mix, consider amending a standard potting mix with an inorganic ingredient like perlite to improve aeration and drainage.
To aid soil drainage, you can also pot your succulents in terra cotta or clay planters. The porous structure of the materials will help to wick away moisture from the soil, preventing root rot in your succulents.
Succulents should be watered often during the summer. Allow their potting mix to dry between waterings, but do not submerge it. Reduce watering to once every other month throughout the winter, when the plants go dormant.
The most prevalent reason of succulent failure is overwatering (and the plant rot that might result).
Overwatering a succulent may allow it to plump up and appear healthy at first, but the cause of death may have already set in underground, with rot spreading upward from its root system.
Succulents that have been overwatered become mushy and discolored; their leaves may become yellow or white and lose their color.
Although a plant in this state may be beyond repair, you can still remove it from its pot and investigate the roots. If the roots are brown and rotting, cut them away and repot in drier potting soil, or select a healthy cutting and propagate the parent plant.
Similarly, an under-watered plant will initially stop growing before beginning to drop its leaves.
Alternatively, the plant’s leaves may develop brown patches.
Related Post: How Often Should Succulents be Watered?
Temperature and Humidity
Many people may not understand that succulents are far more cold-tolerant than they are. In the desert, where night and day are often markedly different, succulents flourish in the colder nights, where temperatures can reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Succulents prefer daytime temperatures ranging from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and nighttime temperatures ranging from 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Not all succulents are made equal when it comes to humidity. Some people prefer more humidity than others, but as a general rule, they don’t mind humidity levels that are slightly over or below 80 percent humidity.
Fertilize your succulents as you would any other houseplant during the summer growing season. During the winter, stop fertilizing completely.
How to Plant a Succulent
This is the post for you if you’ve been wondering how to plant succulents to ensure they live long and happy lives! This tutorial for planting newly purchased succulents will help you lay the groundwork for your next succulent garden!
Before I begin the step-by-step planting guide, make sure you have all of the necessary supplies. Check out this list of essential supplies for succulent gardening on my blog. This involves selecting a pot or planter that is appropriate for your succulents.
Step-by-step photos teach you how to re-pot a newly purchased succulent from beginning to end.
When to Repot Succulents
It is vital to repot your succulents at various periods. The first is immediately after you purchase them. Succulents are frequently grown in organic soil that does not drain effectively in nurseries.
This works great in the nursery since the climate is controlled, but it does not function well once you bring your succulents home. After purchasing succulents, it is best to repot them in new soil.
When your succulents have filled up or outgrown the pot they’re in, it’s time to repot them. They are frequently “root bound” which means that the roots have filled up the pot and the plant has no room to produce more roots.
It’s fairly usual for succulents from a nursery to be root bound since it slows the rate at which succulents grow, which means the nursery doesn’t have to repot their succulents as frequently.
As a general rule, I recommend allowing around 1/2″ to 1″ (1-2.5cm) of space between the edge of the pot and the leaves of your succulent. If your succulent is around 3″ (7.5cm) in diameter, then you’ll want to place it a pot that’s about 4″ (10cm) in diameter.
Remove Your Pot and Soil
The first step in effective succulent planting is to remove the nursery pot and as much soil as possible. Succulents are almost always planted in soil that is far too dense and retains far too much water in nurseries. The more nursery soil you can get rid of, the healthier the roots of your succulent will be.
You may not be able to remove all of the soil without injuring the roots, which is perfectly OK. Simply remove as much as you can while being gentle with your succulent.
I don’t recommend washing your succulent roots because it might be harmful to them and produce difficulties later on.
If you’re planting your succulent on its own (like I am), you’ll want to keep the roots as intact as possible. On the other hand, if you’re putting up a succulent arrangement, you might want to break off some of the roots.
Getting removal of some roots won’t cause any major issues; your succulent will be OK either way. And, if you have babies attached to your main plant, now is a good time to remove them if you want.
Place Mesh Over the Drainage Hole
Although a drainage hole is necessary for your succulent’s health, you don’t want your soil to tumble out of it. To keep the larger bits of soil from falling out, wrap them in mesh tape.
Mesh tape works effectively because it allows water to freely drain while still holding most of the soil in place. You will most likely get some “dust” fall out, which is typical.
You can also use a mesh screen instead of the mesh tape if you like.
Fill Your Pot Almost to the Top
Fill the pot almost (but not quite) to the top with succulent soil before placing your succulent in it. Leave a little space at the top for the roots to fit comfortably, and you’ll be able to add extra dirt later.
Place Your Succulent
It’s finally time to put your succulent in the planter! You can plant it centered or off-center as you see fit.
Nestle part of the roots into the dirt to give them a head start in growth.
Fill the Pot All the Way to the Top
It’s now time to refill the pot. You only need a small amount of space between the top of the soil and the top of the pot. To prevent rotting, make sure the succulent leaves are completely above the soil.
This will keep your soil from sinking after a few waterings.
Add a Top Dressing
Add a top dressing to your potted plant to complete the look. This is why you left some space at the top of your pot.
The top dressing might be something bright and entertaining, or it can be something basic, like the gravel I chose here. Press down on the dirt as you add your top dressing to assist the succulent stay in place.
Allow your succulent to sit for one to two days after it has been potted and the top treatment has been applied before watering it. This rest interval allows the roots to repair before they begin absorbing water, which helps to prevent root rot.
It’s all done and dusted! Isn’t it clear as day?
A) not removing the soil from the roots, B) neglecting to add a top dressing, and C) watering too soon are the most typical faults I notice while potting.
These common issues can be avoided if you follow the above instructions. You’ll also get a head start on a healthy succulent garden.