Succulents are currently in the spotlight of contemporary houseplant trends. These beautiful little plants are treasured for their unique aesthetic qualities, and the charming and exotic presence they provide to any room.
If your succulent is suffering, you're not alone. The unique needs of succulents are what set them apart from other plants, and are often what create obstacles for new succulent owners. Fortunately, there are easy solutions for the most common problems, and anyone can learn to take care of their succulents like a pro!
Taking care of succulents comes back to one guideline: if you give your little succulents care that mimics their arid natural habitat, you’ll be rewarded with happy and healthy plants. This tip applies to plants in general: plants thrive when the environment they have adapted to survive in is replicated. They’ve already figured out how to grow successfully in their natural habitat, so all the work is already done for you! You just have to find a way to imitate those conditions.
This common problem is also the easiest to solve! Our first tip is to try to resist the temptation to water them on the same schedule as your other houseplants - succulents need much less water. Many people simply love doting on their succulents, when what they really need is a little bit of neglect.
Water them infrequently, but when you do water them, you’ll want be thorough. Succulents like to be drenched and then given the time to dry out between waterings. In the summer, this means watering only once every week, and cutting back to closer to once every two weeks in the winter.
The best watering practices in the world still rely on a good foundation of soil. It’s as simple as copying the habitat of succulents. They need something that balances excellent drainage and enough nutrients to grow.
While their prickly cacti cousins are happy in sand, and your houseplants are happy in soil, succulents need something in between. Peat moss or specialized soils are great when mixed half and half with sand. This provides the perfect balance between nutrients to feed your plant’s growth, while allowing enough grit to give their roots room to breathe.
If you’re really worried about feeding your succulent you can always use small half-doses of All Purpose fertilizer in their spring and summer growing season, though your plant will be perfectly fine without.
Location, Location, Location!:
Like any plant, succulents have their particular needs for sunshine and temperature.
Succulents are perfectly comfortable at room temperature. Placing them close to a window will help to give them the tiny seasonal temperature changes they need to absolutely shine. While not essential for survival, the small change in the winter to temperatures closer to 55 or 60ºF gained by being close to a window might encourage the succulent to bloom in the spring!
Succulents need about 6 hours of light a day at a minimum, which can be a tall order in the darker winter months. Placing next to the glass of a window that faces east or north is great to squeeze out extra minutes of sunshine. If your window faces south or west however, you might need to keep your plant a few inches away from the glass. The UV rays of the sun can be magnified by the glass, giving your plant a sunburn even in the winter. Less than 6 hours of light in the winter won’t kill your plant, but it might cause it to stretch.
Taking care of succulents is easy once you know their unique needs. You can do anything that you want with succulents while keeping them happy and healthy with these guidelines - dream big in your container designs, or using them decoratively. Make a happy home that supports your little plants and they’ll reward you!