How to Keep Succulents Alive
If you aren’t ready for a pet dog, a succulent might be a great choice instead!
Succulents are popular plants to have in your home because of their easy care and versatility. They’re much easier to keep alive than cats or dogs - that’s probably obvious.
However, what many people don't know is that they need regular watering, sunlight, and fertilizer every now and then. If these needs aren't met succulents can wither away in no time!
Here are some tips on how to keep succulents alive - so you can enjoy them for years to come.
Tips for Caring for Succulents
Succulents are known for being easy to care for - but they do still require some care! Here are some general tips to follow if you want to keep your succulents alive and thriving.
Watch the Water
When it comes to caring for succulents, proper watering is essential. It can be tricky to figure this out, especially if you’re new to caring for succulents.
That’s because the amount of water a succulent needs can vary both based on the species as well as the time of year.
During the growing season, a succulent should be watered any time the soil dries out completely. Avoid excess water - a common mistake that many first time succulent growers make is drowning their plants when they realize it’s been a long time since they watered. Similarly, you want to avoid just lightly misting your succulent every day - this encourages the plant to develop weak, shallow roots.
Remember, too, that succulents are typically dormant during the colder winter months. Because of this, they’ll require far less water during these times. Overwatering is the leading cause of succulent death, so only water as needed!
Provide Proper Sunlight
It’s no secret that succulents, as desert plants, require quite a lot of sunlight! In general, you are going to need to give these plants about six hours per day of light, though this can vary among individual species.
For outdoor succulents that are grown in warm growing zones, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue since you can plant your succulents in full light. However, for indoor succulents, that’s another story! You may need to do some work in order to find the sunniest windowsill in your home (one with southern exposure tends to be the best).
To find out if your plant is getting enough sunlight, look for the telltale signs. Those that are leaning toward the light probably aren’t getting enough sun, while those that have leaves with burn spots are likely getting too much.
Use the Right Container and Soil
Second only to overwatering, the most common cause of succulent death is using the wrong kind of soil or container. When you first bring your plant home, it’s essential that you choose the proper container and potting soil. Outdoor succulents should be planted in a location where they have adequate drainage.
Those grown in containers, on the other hand, should be placed in soil that is designed specifically for succulents. Often, this isn’t really soil at all, but instead a mixture of ingredients like coco coir, pumice, and perlite, all of which offer excellent drainage and aeration.
Make sure the container you choose for your succulents has drainage holes so that moisture can escape and allow the roots to “breathe.”
Provide Plenty of Breathing Room
The latest trend in growing succulents? Terrariums. While there are some that do well in these settings (aloe and kalanchoe are two plants that grow well in more confined, controlled settings), most succulents need some breathing room - so you may want to skip the terrarium.
Watch for the Frost
If you’re growing succulents indoors, you probably don’t need to worry about an unexpected chill (although you should do your best to position your succulent in a location where it will not be subjected to drafts and fluctuating temperatures).
Outside, however, be careful of the frost. There are some kinds of plants, like sedum and sempervivum,that can handle cold temperature. However, most cannot. Therefore, you’ll need to watch the weather carefully and bring your plants inside when a cold snap is forecasted.
That’s because, when a succulent freezes, its cell walls can burst. This turns the leaves to a mushy mess and will ultimately kill them. Don’t gamble here - any temperature below freezing can kill your plants. Move them indoors when a chill is in the cards!
Don’t Neglect the Fertilizer!
While you can certainly kill a succulent plant by over-fertilizing it, even the most low-maintenance succulents do benefit from occasional fertilization. Use a water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer (ideally one that is diluted to about half strength) several times per year.
This will give your succulents the boost they need! In general, you will want to avoid fertilizing during the winter months, when your plants are dormant. The best time to feed is at the beginning of the plant’s growing season, when a flush of growth will be welcomed and beneficial.
Usually, just one feeding per year is all you need to keep your plants healthy and growing well.
Regularly Inspect Your Plants
Last but not least, the best tip you can follow for keeping succulents alive is to inspect them regularly. Examine your plants to make sure they are watered properly and don’t have any mealy bugs, gnats, or other pest problems. While succulents tend to be more or less resilient to these issues, you do have to watch out for pests particularly for plants grown indoors.
Ultimately, succulents are the perfect plants for those of us who don’t have a green thumb. These hardy flowers can thrive in low-light environments and they require minimal water, which means you won’t need to worry about remembering to give them regular care.
Plus, succulent arrangements make great home decor pieces that add color and life into any space!
So what are you waiting for? Now that you know how to keep succulents alive, consider picking up a few plants for your living space today.