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How To Care For Succulents

by Sofia Lara

Succulents are growing in popularity not only because they are beautiful but these elegant plants are easy to care for. 

Horticulturists love succulents because as outdoor plants, they can make a garden come to life. Grown indoors, succulents add color, style, and make interesting conversation pieces with friends and family. 

We have created this guide on how to care for succulents to help you enjoy the pleasures of growing these exquisite and charming plants.

Our guide will give you valuable information on the key areas needed for growing healthy and beautiful succulents outdoors or indoors – sunlight, water, pot and soil, and fertilizer.

Sunlight

Succulents need sunlight to create their own food through the process of photosynthesis. To grow a healthy succulent, your plant should receive six hours of sunlight per day. 

Without enough sunlight, the leaves will thin out and shrivel. You might notice some succulents’ leaves stretching and thinning out; as if they were reaching for the sun. This is a condition called etiolation and it happens when the succulent plant is not getting enough sunlight. 

If you want to grow succulents as part of an outdoor garden, ground cover, or in hanging baskets, place them in areas that get four to six hours of exposure to morning sunlight. 

However, if you are buying succulents from a garden store find out if the plants were grown indoors. If so, the plants should be gradually re-introduced to sun exposure. Otherwise, the leaves can get scorched. 

Succulents can also be grown as indoor plants especially in regions where temperatures can drop below freezing levels. 

There are varieties of succulent plants that are resistant to frosts such as Sempervivums and Stonecrop Sedums. The majority are not frost-tolerant. 

To be safe, if the temperature in your region drops below -20 Fahrenheit or -28 Celsius, plant the succulent in a container and move it indoors. 

Indoor succulents still need regular exposure to sunlight. You can ensure the health and proper growth of your indoor succulent by placing the container near a window that brings in four to six hours of sunlight per day.

If getting enough sunlight is a problem, buy a Grow Light for your succulent. Place the plant under the Grow Light for up to six hours per day.

Water

Water is another component of photosynthesis, after sunlight and carbon dioxide. Succulents need water to extract nutrients from the soil. Without water, a succulent’s leaves will lose their plumpness, thin out, and eventually die. 

While it is important for your succulent plant to receive water, giving it too much water will do it more harm than good. In fact, overwatering could lead to your plant’s demise.

So how do you know that it is time to water your succulent?

The first thing you need to do is to check the moisture level of its soil. You can do this by simply feeling out the topsoil. If it is dry to the touch, then it’s time to water your succulent. 

Another way is to insert a stick one-inch into the topsoil. If the end of the stick feels dry to the touch, give the soil a good soaking. You can also use a hygrometer to check the moisture level of the soil.

During the spring and summertime, you might notice that your succulent plants are getting water every seven to ten days. In the wintertime, succulents need less water because the soil stays moist longer. 

When watering, always make sure the soil gets thoroughly drenched. The best way to water succulent plants is with the use of a garden hose or a container with a long neck spout. 

Do not water the succulent from above because it will get the leaves wet and keep the plant in a moistened state much longer. Always water the succulent from below. 

If you overwater a succulent, its roots will rot. The plant will develop an infection that can spread throughout and kill your succulent. 

A succulent can survive long dry periods and drought because its leaves and stems store water. You might notice that your succulent remains healthy even if you haven’t watered it for more than one week. 

Pot and Soil

Did you buy your succulent online, from a nearby nursery or a local garden shop? If so, re-pot the succulent plant right away. Chances are, the succulent was kept in a plastic pot that does not have a drainage hole. 

The best pot to plant your succulent in is one that is made of terra cotta. This type of material works best for succulents because it is breathable, encourages evaporation, and does not allow water to accumulate. 

You can also use a ceramic pot that has not undergone the glazing process. Similar to terra cotta, ceramic pots allow evaporation to take place which dries out the soil faster.

The pot must be large enough to give the succulent’s roots room to grow. Most importantly, the pot must have a drainage hole that will enable excess water to flow out freely. 

Succulents grow best in well-draining and well-aerated soil. You can use cactus soil or any variety that is formulated for succulents. 

To improve drainage and moisture content, add ingredients such as pumice, perlite, coarse sand, and lava rock at a 1:1 ratio to cactus soil. 

Fertilizer

Fertilizer adds nourishment to the soil. Succulents don’t need much fertilizer but it will be a good idea to include it in their diet during the spring and summer growing season. 

Choose a brand of fertilizer that is low in nitrogen. Then, dilute the fertilizer to ¼ its strength by dissolving it in water. 

Feed the succulent once during the spring which is the active growing season, and again in the summertime. Before giving the plant fertilizer, make sure the soil has dried out completely. 

Do not fertilize the succulent in the winter season which is considered the period of dormancy.

Succulents that are grown in a garden don’t require as much fertilizer as indoor succulents because outdoor soil has more nutrients. Irrigation from the pot removes more nutrients for succulents that are grown indoors. 

Indoor grown succulents respond better to fertilizer that is diluted to ½ its original strength. 

Conclusion

Growing succulents is a wonderful hobby. Before you start, it would be a good idea to figure out if you want to grow the succulent plant indoors or outdoors. 

If you want to grow succulents indoors, choose a variety that thrives with only partial sun. Do not go for succulents that have bright-colored leaves. Plants with red, yellow, or orange leaves need more sun exposure to maintain their bright colors. 

Instead, choose succulents with dark green leaves such as those belonging to the Gasteria and Haworthia varieties. 

Follow our growing tips and you will have healthy succulents adorning your garden or home in no time!

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