Succulents (and cacti) have become very popular recently, which is great because I am a big fan of the fleshy leafed plants. However I see a lot of people buying succulents and not knowing how to look after them so I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt about growing them.
First things first, succulents come in many varieties and each has different needs. I know from experience with market stalls and florists that many plants don’t come with identification, or care instructions, so you might need to do some googleing. There are also a bunch of succulent help tumblrs you can ask for help from; Save Your Succulents is a good one.
Now you know what kind of plant you have and it’s particular needs, the issue of drainage should be addressed. Succulents are very prone to rotting and need proper drainage or they will die. Yes it is cute to put them in old cups or tin cans but it wont last long – especially if you over water it. You can get away with putting some rocks in the bottom of the container when planting varieties that don’t mind a bit more water. Using small planters isn’t great for you succulents either, they aren’t bonsai trees and will out grow tiny pots.
Terrariums aren’t really great for succulents either for the same reason – they may also stop the plants from getting direct sunlight. I got this terrarium as a birthday gift and was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep the plants healthy but they’re doing fine. There are stones in the bottom and I only water when I can see it needs to be. Yes there is a toy elephant in there.
Plants that aren’t getting enough light will become ‘leggy’ this is when the stem stretches out with very few leaves. The plant is searching for more sun, if you catch this early move the plant to a sunnier place. If you don’t have a sunnier place, maybe keeping plants that need a lot of sun was a bad idea. If you don’t catch it in time to save the plant you can try your hand at propagation! This will lead to you having more plants just fyi. Needles and Leaves has a great post about it here.
With succulents I’ve found that there is a fine balance between over watering and under watering. The rule of thumb is to water them when the soil is almost completely try. How much you water depends on the size of the pot, the type of plant, and the amount of drainage. Once you’ve had the plant for a little while you should be able to tell how much/how often to water it.
These are just some basic tips, if you have questions about specific plants or want some other advice feel free to ask me in the comments. I hope this helps any novice gardeners out there.