Succulents are a popular gardening trend that will not be dying anytime soon. Enthusiasts love their geometric forms and exquisite, often intricate patterns and details. No longer viewed as just a desert or house plant, succulents can grow and thrive in various climates. In regions affected by drought, they are a smart drought-tolerant alternative to thirsty lawns and other water-guzzling plants.
With minimal effort, succulents can look so good. But they still require attention.
1. Do Not Overwater
You love your succulents so much, and you want to water them every other day to make them grow plump and lush. But what you will get is a soft, shriveled, squishy mess. Overwatering is a bigger problem for succulents than underwatering. Roots can rot. If it is too late, look for healthy tissue, take some cuttings, allow the cut end to callus, and replant it. Get rid of the soil in which the oversaturated succulent was.
2. Do not Neglect
Succulents are desert-like plants that do not need to be watered, like, ever—right? Wrong. Their watering needs are minimal, but they still need it to survive. If you live in a region that does not get much rain, water succulents regularly during their periods of active growth. This would be spring through fall.
Container plants can be watered about once a week.
3. Group Plants with Similar Water Needs
Do not plant succulents next to super-fussy perennials that require fertile soil and frequent watering. Ideally, you want to have a drought-tolerant, low-water area in your garden, a moderate water area, and so on. It just makes things easier for you, and your plants will be happier.
4. The Right Soil
Succulent soil mixes are available by the bag at nurseries and home centers. While it is useful for container plants, especially those used as houseplants, it is not always practical or necessary for succulents planted in the garden. Learn more about the type of soil in your yard, and add amendments to make it fast-draining and on the dryer side.
While some succulents are so forgiving and will grow almost anywhere, even in clay, it is best to give them optimal growing conditions for healthy roots and beautiful plants.
5. Shed Some Light
Most succulents need a mix of sunlight and shade to grow healthy. One extreme or the other will not result in a beautiful happy plant. Learn about your particular succulent light requirements and find the best place in your garden.
6. Protect from Frost
Most succulents go dormant during the winter months when they do not need to be watered. Watering them during the dormant season can make their roots more susceptible to rot and kill them. What they like is a cool and dry climate.
If your area is experiencing lots of rain, and your succulents are in pots, move them under eaves to avoid over-saturation or bring them inside.
Frost is another matter. Pay attention to freeze warnings. Cover with a cloth or plant under a tree, which protects succulents during the winter and summer.
7. Put Succulents in the Ground
Some people think that succulents are houseplants, and when they are grown outdoors, they must be relegated to containers. While they look great in a well-designed container arrangement, succulents, just like any other plant, love to be planted in garden beds where they can be fruitful and multiply. In warmer regions that do not experience freezing temperatures during the winter, succulents will do just fine growing in the ground or raised beds.
Some are so forgiving of soil conditions that they can grow almost anywhere with at least some soil to which they can attach their roots.
8. Allow to Callus Before Transplanting
Succulents are one of the easiest plants to propagate. Just take a snippet, some leaves, a stem, offset, or "baby," and plop into the soil or another pot. But before you do, allow the stem to callus-over for a few days to prevent rot. This can be done by either placing cuttings or a paper towel and leaving them for up to 5 days or putting them in a container or other place where you will remember to replant them.
9. Get Rid of Harmful Insects
One thing is sure: your succulent is not looking good. Symptoms include buds that will not open, distorted growth, cotton-like attachments to roots, tiny insects on new growth, paprika-like dots on leaves, brown bumps on stems, collapsed outer leaves, holes in leaves.
The culprit? Insects. Some gardeners believe that hardy succulents are resistant to insects—not so. Consult a master gardener site online or get one of the books about succulents to help you identify the symptom, insect, and solution.
10. Protect from Disease
One sign of disease in succulents is an orangeish, cancerous-like growth near or on the stem. It has probably become infected by a microscopic mite. To treat, remove the infected tissue and put the succulent in a separate container until new, healthy growth appears. Remember to clean your tools after using them on infected succulents to prevent spreading to other plants.
- Succupedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus