Succulents have become the houseplants for modern homes. Millennials and baby boomers alike have gravitated to decorating their homes with these desert plants. With the succulent craze still running wild, then, it’s important that new plant owners know how to take proper care of their succulents. While succulents are hardy plants that need less care than most, that doesn’t mean they don’t need any care at all.
What are succulents?
Most people are familiar with succulents, but they often don’t know exactly what succulents are and where they come from. Succulents are desert plants with thick, fleshy leaves and stems. It is in their leaves and stems that they store all of the water that they collect, allowing them to survive on very limited amounts of water. They thrive in warm, dry climates and can handle a little neglect from their owners.
Let there be light
Succulents are desert plants. That means they need much more light than most, typically six hours of sun per day. Feel free to place them along a windowsill or in a sunny corner of your home so that they can soak up as much sunlight as possible. If your succulent is newly planted, however, you’ll want to introduce them to direct sunlight gradually, else you risk them getting scorched.
Use a well-draining potting medium
For your succulents to flourish, you’ll want to use a well-draining, coarse potting mix. This will ensure that your succulents live in the dry environments that they’re meant for. You can find potting mixes that are meant for cacti and succulents at your local nursery.
Water succulents carefully
Succulents are used to living with a limited water supply, so be sure not to overdo it when watering them. They’ll need a bit more water in the spring and summer than they would in the fall and winter, but they still won’t need much. Water them about once a week, or when the soil has completely dried out, by soaking them until water starts to run out of the drainage holes at the bottom. Do not use a spray bottle, as this will cause brittle roots and moldy leaves.
Use a terra-cotta pot
Terra-cotta pots are ideal for succulents, as these will provide plenty of drainage for water to escape. At the very least you should avoid glass vases such as mason jars or terrariums as these make it difficult for roots to breathe, potentially causing root rot over time.
Fertilize in the summertime
Succulents don’t need much fertilizer, but they do need some. You should plan on fertilizing them at least once per year, preferably in the summertime. If you want to fertilize them twice a year, then do so once in the early spring and then once more in the late summer. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal proportions of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (either 8-8-8 or 10-10-10) and then dilute it to ¼ strength.
Keep them clean
When keeping your plants indoors, dust will naturally collect on the leaves and spines. This could inhibit growth, so you’ll want to clean these regularly. Use a damp cloth to wipe the leaves, and for hard to reach spots, use a soft paintbrush or toothbrush.