Succulents are beautiful plants that are easy to care for and spruce up any home. It’s not surprising to see that they’re quickly becoming one of the most popular types of plants in America, as well as other countries.
If you’re interested in getting in on this craze, you may want to learn a few things about succulents and how to care for them. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about easily maintaining healthy and vibrant succulents.
Sun and Lighting Requirements
Most succulents need around six hours of light, whether this is sunlight or artificial lighting. Since succulents are so hardy, many people choose to simply plant succulents outdoors, where they can get sunlight through the natural sun schedule.
If you live in a mild climate, it’s likely you won’t ever need to move your succulents or take them indoors.
If you live in an area where temperatures can dip below freezing, you might want to consider bringing the plants inside during the winter months. If you don’t have the time for transplanting or simply don’t want the inconvenience, there are a variety of succulents that can survive winter temperatures.
Hardy succulents, like Orostachys and Sedum, use their metabolic features to survive extreme cold, almost like going into a dormant state.
If you’re looking to grow succulents indoors, their hardy natures make them the perfect project for the first-time botanist. As mentioned before, any succulent is going to need at least six hours of sunlight per day. If you have a window with ample lighting during the day, you can easily set your plants here.
The light that comes through the window will be enough for the vigorous plant to live on.
If you don’t get six hours of sunshine or don’t have any windows with access to the sun, you can look into different artificial lighting options. Humans can’t survive without sunlight, as it provides the body with Vitamin D. Plants are a little different in that you can buy plug-in lights that mimic sunlight.
As long as your succulents get enough lighting, photosynthesis will happen and your plants can create the energy they need to grow. If your succulents are not getting enough lighting, you will notice they will begin to stretch.
Succulents, as mentioned before, are incredibly hardy. Some of them can even withstand winter conditions, with temperatures below freezing. In countries like Sweden and Denmark, growing succulents on roof-top gardens is popular, as the plants get enough sun and can make it through winters.
If you’re looking for succulents that can specifically withstand winter weather, you’ll want a plant like Red Yucca, an ornamental grass which blooms flowers in Spring. Other popular outdoor succulents are Texas Sotol, which features spiky, long green leaves, and Parry’s Agave, a rosette-shaped plant that resembles an artichoke.
If possible, you want to keep your succulents out of freezing temperatures. This could mean simply bringing your plants inside during cold seasons. Since succulents are hardy, they can withstand being transplanted when needed.
Most tropical succulents need temperatures around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the most beautiful and popular succulents are considered tropical and should be kept at these temperatures. One very popular tropical succulent is Adenium, also known as the desert rose.
This plant must be kept at the correct temperatures in order to bloom its large, colorful flowers. Other common tropical succulents are Lithops, known for looking like living stones, and Stapeliads, which look like amazing pointed stars. In most situations, succulents like these will thrive indoors at your home’s natural temperature.
While some heat is good for your plants, you want to avoid any type of extreme heat. When it’s too humid or hot, the root system of your succulents can get damaged. Since the majority of indoor succulents are potted, too much humidity in the bottom of the pot can also cause fungal growth.
When you do water your succulents, you want to make sure that you provide enough water to penetrate the soil and reach the roots. If you’re unsure if your succulents need water, a good test is to stick the tip of your finger in the soil to see if it’s dry.
If the soil is still damp, your plant does not need to be watered. Another way to test if your plant needs water is by simply lifting up the pot. A pot with dry soil will feel noticeably lighter than one with wet or damp soil.
It will be easy to tell if your succulent is getting enough water, as the leaves will stay firm and plump. In the cooler seasons of the year, you will want to water less often. During Spring you can mist your succulents in the morning to stimulate new growth during the warmer months.
One common mistake you can make with succulents is over-watering. Succulents are great plants because they don’t need as much attention as your average plant. These types of plants can easily go a week or more without needing water.
If your succulents become over-watered, they may begin to rot. You want to make sure that any planter you use has holes on the bottom or rocks for drainage. Roots that sit in water can suffocate, causing the plant to die.
Many people actually recommend watering succulents from the bottom, which prevents water from pooling around the roots. To do this, fill a saucer up with water and place your potted plant on top, allowing it to sit in the water. Allow about 30 minutes for the plant and soil to draw up moisture, and then discard any water that’s leftover.
Propagating succulents can be a great way to learn more about the plant-growing process and grow your collection. Not only are succulents hardy, but they are very easy to grow. In fact, there are two different ways you can grow new succulents through propagation.
The first way is by division, where new succulents grow out of cuttings. The perfect plants to use for the division process are succulents which have grown large or wildly.
Simply remove a leaf from the stem of your succulent, though you want to make sure to get the entire piece. Allow the cutting to dry for a few days until the raw ends have calloused over. From there, you can root the stem of the leaf in water or soil.
If you want to use soil, fill a small, well-draining pot with soil and place the stem of the leaf into the surface of the soil. Within a few weeks, roots will begin to form and the plant will grow. If you choose to start with water, rest the leaf on the lip of a glass of water, with the stem just above the surface of the water.
Choose a sunny spot and watch as the roots begin to grow towards the water. Once the roots have developed your succulent can continue to live in water, or be planted in a pot.
Another type of propagating is through the use of offsets, which are small plants that grow at the base of the main plant. Once an offset has been growing for 2 to 3 weeks, check if any type of root system has developed. If roots have developed you can remove the offset by simply twisting gently.
If you’re removing something sharp, like a cactus offset, you can also use scissors. Be careful not to damage any of the new roots. Removing these offsets can also help improve the health of your main plant, allowing it to grow and use more energy.
One of the best ways to keep your succulents healthy and beautiful is by feeding them regularly. Just like the human body needs food to live, plants need food to create energy, which in turn helps them grow. You should feed your plants between the months of May to September, once a month.
Make sure to use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen, as too much nitrogen can hinder the growth of your plants, though they will still retain their green coloring. Since most succulents have adapted to growing in soil that is low in nutrients, make sure to dilute any fertilizer even more than directions advise.
If you don’t have the time to feed your succulents, or you simply forget, there’s no need to fret. Succulents are popular because they are hardy and don’t require any extra time out of your day. Most succulents will continue to grow in average soil, without any type of feeding schedule. However, if you are looking to propagate your plants, you will want to begin regular feedings each month.
Whether you’re looking for a beautiful plant to spruce up your home or something simple to leave outside, succulents can be the perfect option for anyone. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know to make sure your succulents stay healthy and vibrant.