Bonnie Grant | September 12, 2020
If you are easily bored and require diversity or something different at all times to stimulate your brain, you should grow succulent plants. There are hundreds of species. Basically, there is something for everyone – I have an ever-growing collection of these myself and LOVE them.
Tips on Succulent Plant Health
Succulents are low maintenance with few pest and disease problems, but they do have very specific requirements to be successful. I’ve learned this through experience, and not always the easy way. Here are 5 tips for growing succulents that will keep your plants happy and healthy:
- Drainage is important. Whether large or small, sprawling or compact, succulents need good drainage. This starts with soil. In-ground plants need freely draining soil. Check the drainage by digging a hole twice as deep as the root ball and filling with water. Let it sit overnight. Refill the hole the next day. Lay a stick over the hole horizontally and measure the level of water every hour. For succulents, drainage should be 3-4 inches (7.6-10 cm.) per hour. Plants in containers need a succulent mix or make your own to allow for good drainage, minimize compaction and provide enough nutrients.
- Location is the next concern. Most succulent plants need bright light but a few, like jungle cacti, need indirect light. Avoid placing them where the sun blazes all day, which could cause sunscald. Choose adequate light for your species. Temperatures should be warm for best growth. Each is a bit different but, generally, temps between 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit (15-32 C.) are suitable. Protect outdoor succulents from freezing, and indoor plants should not be near cold drafts.
- Water with care. While succulents are drought tolerant, they still need water. If you have trouble getting it right, use a moisture meter. On average, allow the soil to dry completely before irrigating thoroughly. Water small containers weekly and large pots every two weeks. In winter, provide half the water given the rest of the year. Never let a succulent sit in a saucer or dish and get wet feet. It will probably kill the plant.
- Succulents appreciate fertilizer. Although succulents have adapted to live wild in areas with few nutrients in the soil, they do appreciate some food, especially those in containers. Feed succulents in spring with a balanced, soluble fertilizer diluted by half. Feed again in mid-summer. Do not feed in winter when the plant is dormant. Alternatively, you can use a cactus food.
- A word about containers. Many of us grow our succulents in pots, which is great, because you can move them indoors in winter and keep them out of harsh sunlight. The right pot is key to succulent plant health. Most like to be a bit crowded and will not need to be repotted frequently. Additionally, select a container with good drainage holes. I like an unglazed container for my succulents because it promotes evaporation of excess moisture. If you use a glazed container, push a finger into the soil at the bottom before watering. If it is still moist, the plant is not in need of moisture.
Succulents are the gift that keeps giving. They can be propagated easily from pups, stem cuttings and even leaves. Once you have mastered the care of your succulent plants, you can look forward to little replicas to share or hoard all to yourself.