6 Tips for growing succulents:
I am a total sucker for an interesting, unusual, visually appealing houseplant. My poor husband has to tear me away from garden centers and when friends and family see my collection of succulents and cacti, I am often asked how I get them to thrive so well and grow so large (and/or how I have so many!). Let me start off by saying I am a novice, and relatively new to the houseplant game, but I’ve got the green thumb bug and it has hit me hard. I am no expert, but I thought I would share my tips and things I have either read other places or that I have found work best for me and my plants. And if you are looking for a wellspring of information on all things plants and gardening, check out my Pinterest board:
Green Thumb Betty
Through trial and error, I have found there are three main factors to consider when: soil, light, and water.
The first thing to make sure you understand is what type of soil succulents like. They need, love and will thrive in well draining soil. Most garden center will have a good quality cactus and succulent mix, I would start there. It is a great place to start. But if you find that your soil is drying out too quickly you might want to make some additions to this soil. Mixing in some moisture control potting soil is a great idea as well as some sand. Putting stones or pebbles in the bottom of your container with a drain hole isn’t necessary (you might want to just include a little bit of screen or something to keep the soil from washing out of the bottom. However, if you are anything like me, just about everything you look at you can see as a planter, so not everything will have a drain hole. In this instance, you will need to put down a layer of rocks or pebbles for drainage.
Succulents like to have a lot of light, but indirect sunlight. They are pretty hardy plants so they can withstand varying amounts of sunlight, generally. But you don’t want to either burn or deprive them. Six to seven hours of indirect sunlight a day is a good number to shoot for. If your succulents are not getting enough sunlight, they may become “leggy” or “stretched,” which is what happens when you see them growing long and spread out or even bending towards the direction of the sun. In the event that your plant does get too stretched out, you may want to think about propagating it (free plants!!!).
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the care or cacti and succulents is about watering. How much you should water, when you should water are all problems I often hear people have. It is a misconception that succulents don’t need a lot of water. And while it is true that they shouldn’t be left standing in water AND that they can go long periods without water, they don’t generally do best in drought-like situations. What you should aim to do is allow your succulent to dry out completely between watering (up to several weeks). You can gauge this by seeing if the soil is wet or dry around two inches down into the soil. Then when you DO water, you want to give it a thorough soaking, allowing water to run out the of bottom of the pot. If you have the correct soil make-up it should hold the right amount of water for your plant. (Note: if you have a pot without drainage, you’ll not want to soak it quite as much as it can’t run out of the bottom). One of the ways the folks kill succulents is over-watering.
If you are having difficulty getting your succulents to grow and thrive here are a few reasons other than sunlight, water, and soil that might be killing your succulents.
The planter is too small
If you planted it in a cup tea-cup while it was small, that’s fine! But if it has been in there a while, it probably doesn’t have enough room for it’s roots. Try repotting it in something larger and see if it makes a difference.
They aren’t warm enough
Succulents like it warm! Move them away from drafty windows and doors. Also, they don’t like to be moved around a lot, so find a place to park them and let them get comfy.
Your soil isn’t right
This doesn’t just mean well draining soil, this also means the soil is nutrient deficient. You can either feed them monthly during the warm growing season or a better option is to stir in some organic material or plant them in a planting soil mix when transplanting or potting them.