Succulents are ideal plants for busy and forgetful homeowners and gardeners. Succulent gardens can easily brighten your indoor space, and what’s more, caring for succulents is quite easy.
Succulents form a diverse range of plants that offer easy-care choices. Also, they can look stunning, regardless of whether they are planted individually or as companions. Their colour variations seem endless – you can choose from pink, chartreuse, yellow, white, red, blue-green, variegated and almost black. Moreover, the leaves can be berry-like, spiky, ruffled or rounded.
Although some types of succulent plants have specific care requirements, most are quite easy to grow since they have evolved with special water-storage tissues. This means they can thrive in surroundings that are too dry for other plants.
Growing Healthy Succulents
Regardless of the kind of succulent plant you intend to cultivate, the rules are somewhat similar when it comes to caring for most types of this plant.
The rule of thumb when watering succulents is to water them monthly during winter, twice a month during autumn and spring, and once a week in summer. Increasing or reducing the amount of water depends on different factors: time of year, the depth and type of soil, duration and intensity of sun exposure, the type of plant, and ambient temperature. Between watering sessions, allow the potting mix to dry, but don’t underwater.
- Light requirements
Succulents love bright light. The condition of the leaves will indicate if the light level is correct. There are some species that will scorch when exposed to direct sunlight; the leaves turn brown and the soft tissues are destroyed. On the other hand, some succulents will start to stretch when they need more light, and so they end up having widely spaced leaves and an elongated stem.
Providing better light is the best solution. Also, consider pruning the plant back to its original state. Most succulent plants can thrive outdoors during the hot season.
- Potting Soil
Succulents must be potted in a fast-draining mixture that is designed specifically for them. But if you do not have access to this specialized mix, modify a normal potting mixture by adding an inorganic agent. This will help increase drainage and aeration.
When you are growing desert succulents, minimise the amount of compost and add large-grained sand like decomposed granite or builder’s sand.
Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer during the summer growing season and once or twice in spring. Stop adding fertiliser entirely during the winter months.
- Pest Control
Give your succulent plants excellent air circulation to prevent pest infestation. Aphids prefer flower buds while mealybugs burrow into the leaf axis. Landscaping gardeners recommend isolating infested plants immediately to prevent the infestation from spreading. Also, clean the area thoroughly. In humid climates, mold can become a huge problem, so always keep succulents dry.
When pests are winning, take cuttings from healthy growth and establish them in fresh, good soil. Discard the diseased plant and its soil, and make sure to clean the pot before using it again.
Common Problems For Succulents
- Over- and Under-watering
Overwatered succulents become discolored and soft. The leaves can turn white or yellow. If your plant reaches this condition, it is beyond repair. However, you can still remove it from its pot to inspect the roots. Remove the dead roots and replant them into a drier potting mix. If this does not work, gardening experts also recommend taking a cutting and propagating the parent plant.
Underwatered succulents will stop growing at first. Then, they will start to shed leaves or they might develop brown spots on the leaves.
- Bad Soil
The number one killer of succulent plants is bad soil. For instance, too dense soil won’t dry out rapidly, and so the succulents rot.
- Poor Drainage
Succulents become healthy when their roots dry out fast. If the pot has no drainage holes, these plants will sit in water for too long, and eventually, they will die or rot.
Although most succulents grow well under the bright sun, there are some species that prefer partial shade. Your plant might be experiencing too much sun exposure when their leaves display black spots. If you wish to cultivate them outdoors, make sure to acclimatize them around springtime. If the plant endured any kind of damage, the scar will not go away. But despite this injury, it can still grow and thrive.
The secret to growing succulents is to provide them with conditions that are quite similar to their native habitats. Make sure to plant them in well-draining soil so their roots will completely dry out between watering sessions.