Succulents have long been known as the “unkillable” plant. After all, who can kill a plant that barely needs water? However, anyone who has actually owned a succulent knows this moniker is far from accurate. In fact, caring for succulents can seem somewhat overwhelming and is often a little finicky.
Following these seven simple tips will keep your indoor succulents healthy and thriving.
1. Give your succulents enough sunlight, but not too much
Most indoor succulents love light since they’re from sunny desert climates. There are shade-tolerant succulents, but for the most part, you should aim to give your succulents ample sunlight for six to eight hours per day. During winter, succulents go dormant and don’t need as much light.
Look out for signs that your succulent needs more light, and move it into a sunnier spot as soon as you notice that your plant is struggling.
Here’s how to identify a light-starved succulent:
- The plant is noticeably leaning toward the light
- New leaves are smaller and/or turning a pale color
- Leaves are more spaced out than usual
Don’t be too aggressive when correcting the amount of sunlight your plant is getting. Switching from three hours of sunlight per day to seven, for example, will likely harm the plant. Take it slowly to avoid burning the foliage or causing damage to your succulents.
Tip: Most succulents love a sunny windowsill.
2. Water your succulents regularly, but be careful not to overwater them
Succulents are a type of plant known for storing water in their leaves, stems, and roots. As a result, they can survive in arid environments where other plants would quickly wither and die.
However, this does not mean that they do not need water. Succulents still require regular watering but are extremely susceptible to overwatering. If the soil is kept too moist, it can lead to root rot, which can damage or kill the plant.
Maintaining this balance is a delicate dance that requires you to pay attention to the leaves of the succulent and perhaps keep it on a watering schedule. When watering succulents, allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Tip: Check your succulents every 10-14 days to see if they need water.
3. Make sure your succulents have adequate drainage
It’s critical to make sure that your succulents have adequate drainage. The best way to do this is to plant them in a pot with a hole in the bottom and then set the pot on a dish or saucer filled with gravel. This will help to ensure that excess water can drain away from the roots, preventing them from becoming waterlogged.
In addition, when potting a succulent, make sure to use a well-draining potting mix and avoid container sizes that are too large for the plant.
Tip: If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, add a thin layer of small pea gravel or pebbles to the bottom of the pot before adding the soil. This will help keep the roots from getting waterlogged.
4. Keep your succulents at the right temperature
While most succulents are native to warm, sunny climates, there are a few that come from cooler regions. As a result, it’s important to research the specific needs of your plants before selecting a location.
If you live in a warm climate, placing your succulents in an area that receives partial shade will help to protect them from excessive heat. Conversely, if you live in a cooler climate, you’ll need to place your plants in an area that receives full sun. By keeping your succulents at the right temperature, you’ll help them thrive and produce beautiful blooms.
Tip: While succulents love a sunny windowsill, avoid placing them by a drafty or poorly insulated window.
5. Fertilize your succulents sparingly
Fertilizing too frequently can do more harm than good. When succulents are overfertilized, they can get lanky and stop producing leaves.
In extreme cases, it can even cause the leaves to fall off. This results in a plant that is less aesthetically pleasing and more susceptible to pests and disease.
As a general rule, succulents should be fertilized once every few months or not at all. If you choose to fertilize your succulents, use a light hand and only apply a small amount of fertilizer. However, if you notice that your plant is starting to look unhealthy, it’s best to err on the side of caution and hold off on fertilizing until it has recovered.
Tip: Many people overfertilize when their succulent starts looking sad — instead, it could be the fertilizer that is causing it stress. Make sure you have good quality soil, and you shouldn’t need to worry about fertilizing your succulents.
6. Repot your succulents when necessary
Over time, succulents can become rootbound, leading to several problems. The roots may crowd the pot, preventing the plant from receiving the nutrients it needs. The plant may also stop growing or produce fewer flowers. If you notice any of these signs, it might be time to repot your succulent.
The best time to repot is in the spring before the plant starts actively growing.
- Choose a pot slightly larger than the current one, and use a well-draining potting mix.
- Gently remove the plant from its pot and untangle any roots that are tightly bound.
- Next, place the plant in the new pot and fill with fresh mix.
- Finally, water thoroughly and allow the plant to drain completely before placing it in its final location.
With a little care, your succulent will soon thrive in its new home.
Tip: Don’t be scared of repotting! Succulents have shallow root systems, making them well suited to being uprooted and replanted.
7. Check for pests and diseases
Pests and diseases can quickly damage or kill a succulent. Therefore, it’s important to inspect your plants regularly for signs of problems.
Some common pests include aphids, mealybugs, fungus gnats, and scale insects. If you notice any of these pests on your plant, you’ll need to take action to remove them. Otherwise, they could quickly spread and cause serious damage.
Diseases that affect succulents include root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot. If you notice any of these diseases on your plant, you’ll need to take steps to treat them as soon as possible to avoid more serious issues with your succulents.
Tip: Each issue will need to be handled differently. Spend some time researching what disease or pest is attacking your succulent so that you can get rid of it effectively.
Following the tips above will help your succulents survive and will keep that graveyard from growing any bigger.
Remember, make sure to provide them with plenty of sunlight, water them sparingly, and fertilize them only when necessary. Inspect your plants regularly for pests and diseases, and repot them when necessary.
It takes a few years to become an experienced plant parent, so try to be patient with yourself as you learn the tricks of the trade! Before you know it, you’ll be able to identify and fix issues with your succulents as they arise, keeping your plants healthy, vibrant, and thriving.