Gardening Tips And Tricks On How To Care For Succulents

Over the last couple of years, succulents have become quite popular, both as outdoor and indoor plants, and for good reason. Their special ability to store water ensures they can survive in harsh environments that other plants might not be able to, so if you forget to water them, they’ll still hang in there.

Succulent plants

You may have received your succulents as a gift or it caught your attention at the local market. Whichever way you got your plant, you need to learn how to care for it. In this article, you will discover some great tips and tricks. But before we get started, let’s get a better understanding of succulents.

What Are Succulents?

Succulents are fleshy plants with swollen or thickened leaves that store water. Because of their water-storing capacity, they tend to thrive in dry climates and don’t require a lot of humidity.

Like any other plant, it is still important to water them to ensure they grow and flower properly. While they can endure long periods of drought, if they sit in water for too long, they will start to rot and die.

Succulents do best in warm temperatures as they will freeze and die in cold temperatures. However, there are species that can withstand below-freezing temperatures.

Succulents can propagate easily, some species are able to grow new plants from a leaf that has fallen. There are many different species of succulents that span many plant families, but succulents are typically associated with the cactus family. However, keep in mind that not all succulents are cacti, even though all cacti are succulents.

Smart Tips On How to Grow Succulents

As we have already seen, succulents can flourish in warm, dry climates and can even do with some neglect. This makes them suitable for indoor garden growing and ideal for people who want houseplants that require low maintenance.

If you are just getting into succulent care for the first time and wondering why your sedum keeps getting wrinkled by the day, even with regular waterings, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Succulents in growing seets

1. Choose Succulents That Thrive In Indoor Conditions

Succulents typically like direct sunlight, but if what you have is a shaded corner, then the best plants to go for are low-light indoor plants. An example of this is the mother-in-law’s tongue. You can find many other varieties that can adapt to the conditions of your home.

2. Use a Pot That Drains Efficiently

Finding the right pots for your plants is always important. Succulents from nurseries are always planted in soil that can be too rich and retains excessive moisture, so it is important that you repot your succulent as soon as it is brought home. 

To get started, use a coarse potting mix that has good drainage and allows for proper aeration. You can use cactus soil, or a mix of soil, sand with pumice, or perlite as they help to drain excess water and prevent root rot.

3. Use The Right Container

Use a container with a drainage hole larger than the nursery container when repotting. If you want a long-term solution, avoid using glass containers like terrariums or mason jars, as they make it harder for roots to breathe and cause rotting with time. 

4. Place Succulents In a Sunny Location

You should always look for the best way to arrange your plants. Like any plant, succulents require sunlight. A minimum of 7 hours of sun per day is sufficient for succulents, so ensure they are placed near a south or east-facing window. If succulents don’t get enough light, they could become spindly or stretch toward the light source. Agave is an example that does that.

Different succulents on pots

5. Give Time For The Potting Mix To Dry Out In Between Waterings

One of the most common mistakes many people make when it comes to caring for succulents is overwatering them. While succulents seem to store a surprising amount of water, they use less water compared to other garden plants. That’s why watering doesn’t have to be so frequent.

Thoroughly saturate the soil but ensure that the water properly flows out of the drainage pole. Then give some time for the mix to dry out before watering again. The plant may die if it is always in moist conditions.

6. Fertilize At Least Once Yearly

Succulents benefit highly from fertilizer, especially in the spring and in the late summer growing season. The best fertilizers are water-soluble ones that are diluted to reduce their strength. 

Succulents don’t need to be fertilized in winter when they are semi-dormant. The nutrient boost isn’t really necessary since they are not actively growing during this time.

10 of The Best Succulents to Grow Indoors

1. Burro’s Tail

Also known as donkey’s tail, Burro’s Tail is a heat and drought-resistant succulent that produces trailing stems that look like an animal’s tail. 

It works best on a hanging basket or in a container that sits on a plant stand. This makes it easy for it to drape over. Each stem can reach up to almost 1 meter and fills up with grey-green leaves that have a pale sheen about them. 

They have fragile leaves which fall off easily, so it is not advisable to continuously handle this plant. For the best performance, Burro’s Tail should be grown in bright light. It is okay to let the soil dry out between waterings, especially during winter months when it isn’t actively growing.  

2. Christmas Cactus

The Christmas Cactus stands out among cacti as it lacks sharp spines, but comes with fleshy, flat, segmented stems.

Christmas cactus flower in a pot

Caring for cactus is not hard in general. This plant differs further from its spiky kin as it needs a bit more moisture, so it is crucial to water once the top inch of the soil is beginning to appear dry. If you forget to water for some time, it can dry out but will bounce back easily

It requires bright light and blooms beautifully in winter. Sometimes, it can bloom much earlier than anticipated with spiky segments rather than scalloped. This type is referred to as the Thanksgiving cactus, which is closely related to the Christmas Cactus.

3. Jade Plant 

An all-time favourite, the jade plant is easy to grow. It grows branched and stocky stems with thick and glossy leaves that sometimes feature a red tinge around the edges when grown in full sun. The leaves of some other varieties are different looking. 

With time, they can grow to several meters tall, however, they only reach about 30 cm in height when grown as a houseplant. They can become heavy as well, so it’s a good idea to plant them in terracotta containers. 

Again, letting the soil completely dry in between watering is key to keeping it happy. Some gardeners prefer watering it when the leaves begin to pluck or no longer have their shine, but this is a pointer to the fact that the plant is already stressed. It is not advisable to wait that long or the leaves might start to drop.

4. Hens-and-Chicks

There are two types of succulent plants that share the common name of Hens-and-Chicks. While they are closely related, there are some differences. Both of them produce small identical plants (chicks) that are slightly offset from the mother (the hen).

For example, Echeveria elegans or Mexican Snowball form flat, flower-like light green rosettes with rounded edges that grow bell-shaped blooms yearly. Sempervivum tectorum form rosettes as well, but each leaf is usually flatter and more pointed. Its flowers are tiny and star-shaped. These two succulents come in different varieties with unique shapes and colours and can be fun to collect.

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera has a short stem clustered with long, slender leaves. With time, it produces more leaf clusters called offsets that can become so large it fills a whole container. In such cases of overcrowding, they can be easily divided and moved to other pots.

Aloe vera plant in a pot

Although its healing sap has been used in treating wounds and sunburns for centuries, it should be handled carefully as its sharp serrated leaf edges can easily cut the skin

It is just like other succulents because it thrives best in drier soil than a constantly damp one. And while it does best in bright light, its leaves can easily get burned if it were to be moved suddenly into a hot, sunny environment, so it needs to gradually be introduced to sun exposure.

6. Panda Plant

Different kinds of Kalanchoe plants exist, but Kalanchoe tomentosa or the Panda plant is quite distinct. These plants are native to Madagascar and have fuzzy, velvet-like grey-green leaves that are covered with silvery hairs and make them look like cat ears. 

They can reach up to 60 cm in height, and don’t grow very fast. Ensure yours receives bright light and water after letting the soil dry. When watering the plant, avoid getting water on the leaves as this can cause them to rot.

7. Ponytail Palm

While it has palm in its name, it is not really a palm tree, although they have a similar look because of their long trunk with a woody look and leathery leaves. They have a slow growth process but can reach proportions similar to trees of up to 6 m, however, when grown indoors, their highest limit is a little bit more than 1 m.

Ponytail palm doesn’t have the typical look of a succulent, but the base of its trunk is swollen and stores water, which gives the plant its other name – The Elephant foot. This plant does well best in bright light, low humidity, and warmer temperatures. It is the perfect garden plant because it doesn’t demand much water, less so in winter when it isn’t actively growing.

8. Snake Plant

Sansevieria aka Snake Plant is practically indestructible as it can survive weeks without light and water while maintaining its good looks. It has thick, stocky leaves that point up and can reach up to 1 meter. 

Its snake patterned markings earned it its name. Over time, it multiplies into a thick clump that fills the whole pot but can be easily divided and repotted as needed. They can tolerate low light but do best in medium to bright light. It is important to water the soil in between drying periods.

Zebra Haworthia in pots

9. African Milk Tree

The African milk tree reaches up to 1 meter tall, producing triangular, upright, and branched stems that are lined with sharp thorns. 

There is a reddish tinge at the small leaves on the tips of green stems. African milk tree produces a milky, silky tap that irritates the skin if it isn’t washed off. The key to keeping this plant healthy is to plant it in a moist soil mix and let it receive plenty of light.

10. Zebra Haworthia

Also known as the Zebra plant, they have zebra-like stripes and thick, dark green foliage that makes them look like an exotic plant, but they are quite common and easy to grow. Set this succulent in a well-lit area where it can get some hours worth of bright, indirect light daily. Also, ensure that before watering, the soil has considerably dried out. Zebra haworthia grows well in terrariums or alongside other succulents since it doesn’t grow big.

Succulents are the darlings of the gardening world! With so many varieties there’s no wonder that you’re going to find the perfect one for your home. Added to the fact that they are low-maintenance, easy-to-grow and exceptionally beautiful, it is not surprising that succulents have become this popular. One thing is certain — succulents are here to stay!

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