Succulents are a beautiful and fantastic way for many new plant parents to dip their toes into the hobby of plant care. They’re inexpensive, readily available in a lot of areas, come in a huge variety of every shape color and size that you could imagine, and as far as plant care goes, are great for the lazy plant parent that just wants to forget about their plants and still have them thrive without needy fertilization and humidity schedules. That being said, there is a few tricks that will help your succulents grow and thrive in your home, so here are my tips for taking care them!
We’ve talked in a previous article about why you should wait to repot your plants when you first take them home for at least two weeks, if not just leaving them in their nursery pot and putting that plastic pot inside another aesthetic planter. Succulents are no different, but we can get a bit more specific about why its easier to leave them in their nursery pots for watering (see the watering section) or if you do decide to repot them, what kind of pots they should go in. Personally, I always leave these plants in a nursery pot for easy watering, and when they need to be repotted, I just get them a larger nursery pot. You can absolutely plant them in an aesthetic pot if you wish, however if you do there are a few key components. The first is that these plants NEED drainage. You cannot get a pot without drainage for your succulents. These are plants that were made to live in deserts, they do not tolerate wet soil for extended periods of time and they will rot if they remain too wet, so a well-draining pot is key. The other key point is to make sure whatever pot you use is able to retain heat and isn’t completely water resistant. Materials like terracotta and ceramic are perfect because they trap heat which your succulents crave and they suck the moisture out of the soil, allowing it to drain properly. Materials like plastic, glass, and metal won’t allow your succulents to retain heat down to their roots and don’t allow for proper drainage. Wood pots are also not the best choice as they have a tendency to rot when in direct contact with moist soil, however if you do want to use one of these options, remember you can always keep the plant in the nursery pot and then put it in whatever pot you wish, or you can just ensure your pot has adequate drainage and check on your plant more frequently to make sure it doesn’t develop root rot or other issues.
As you can probably guess, succulents need well-draining soil to thrive and ensure they don’t develop root rot due to over watering which tends to be the number one killer for these plants. There are a lot of options for soil out there, but luckily for us succulent lovers, there are a ton of commercially available succulent soil mixes out there, my personal favorite being the one you can find here. That being said, you can absolutely make your own if you want to save some money on commercial products, or if you like many other plant hobbyists, believe that commercially available mixes actually don’t offer ENOUGH drainage to prevent over watering you can easily mix your own! There are a ton of articles online that offer their own recipes, but they’re all essentially the same ratios. Three parts good quality sterile potting soil specifically that doesn’t contain vermiculite or any other ingredients intended to retain moisture, two parts coarse sand, and one parts either pearlite or pumice stone. All of which is intended to give your succulents the nutrients they need while draining water quickly as to not oversaturate the roots. Just mix all three ingredients together and your succulents will be happy as can be!
This section is short and sweet: succulents are desert plants, they need pretty much as much sun as you can give them. Don’t worry about burning their leaves, these guys can take it. They prefer bright direct sunlight, so put them as close to your south facing windows as possible and that’s all there is to it!
This is the finicky part. As mentioned in the soil section, the number one cause of succulent murder is overwatering. Luckily though, there is an easy trick to help you know when your succulents are thirsty and in need of a drink. Succulents have thick leaves designed to hold water for the plant, so that it doesn’t need to be watered often. When those thick leaves are starting to get less snappy and a bit squishy your plant is ready for a drink. Generally, depending on the type of succulent that you have this will happen every 2 weeks to a month. If you’re not sure, its better to underwater these plants than overwater them, so give it a few days and check again.
When it comes to actually watering these guys, they need much more than you’d think. Since they’re watered so infrequently, and their soil is so well draining, for them to truly get a drink I’m a big fan of bottom watering these plants, to ensure their roots actually get all of the water that they need to hold them over until the next watering. As long as you have a good well-draining succulent soil and a good pot with drainage they should have no problem!
That’s about it for the basics! Succulents are generally pretty easy to take care of as long as you make sure they get enough light and are careful not to overwater them! As always if you have any questions comments or concerns let me know in the comments below!