Fertilizing Succulents: How and When

We all love our succulents for their beautiful form and vibrant color, but let’s face it, sometimes succulents lose their luster. Learning how to fertilize succulents at the appropriate time can really pay off and I’ll tell you why.

When you purchased your succulents, you probably picked them out very carefully and made sure you loved their compact form and lush leaves.

succulent arrangements

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You most likely made sure you didn’t see any sunburned or stretch-out leaves.

After a few weeks of taking care of your succulents, however, they may have shriveled up, stretched out, or even rotted. (If your plants rotted, you probably overwatered them. Don’t worry, it’s a common mistake. Head to my how to water succulents post for a few tips.)

While succulents don’t require extra fertilizer to grow, they do benefit from it, particularly during their active growing season, which is generally Spring and Summer.

Since succulents are slow-growing plants, they’re not heavy feeders. They usually get all the nutrients they from their soil, as long as they’ve been planted in a quality cactus mix.

cactus mix for caring for succulents

Why should you add fertilizer to succulents?

Adding fertilizer will help your succulents grow faster, retain their color and keep a good form. Fertilizer can even help promote bloom growth on certain succulents. Fertilizing too often, however, can promote weak and artificial growth, which you definitely want to avoid. You want strong succulents!

What Kind of Fertilizer Should You Use For Succulents? 

A quality liquid fertilizer is the usually the best, easiest, and most affordable fertilizer to use for succulents. 

Liquid fertilizer also distributes fertilizer quicker and more evenly than slow-release fertilizer. All you need to do is add the liquid fertilizer into your watering can the next time you water your succulents.

A good fertilizer will contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

As with other plants and flowers, you want to choose a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen; your fertilizer should contain more phosphorous and potassium than nitrogen. 

liquid fertilizer for succulents

These are some of the most popular liquid fertilizers for succulents and catci

Schultz Cactus Plus 2-7-7 liquid Plant Food
Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food
Espoma Organic Cactus Plant Food
Grow More 3130 Cactus Juice 1-7-6

When to Fertilize Succulents

The best time to fertilize succulents is at the beginning of their growing season. While this time may vary between plants, you’ll generally want to apply fertilizer once in the Spring, and once in the Fall, before their dormancy begins.

However, you can also fertilize more often if you want your succulents to grow faster. Many succulent growers prefer feeding their succulents once a month, especially if they’re growing they’re them outside. Outdoor succulents naturally get more sun exposure and better airflow, so they can handle extra doses of fertilizer without stretching out and losing their compact form. 

Fertilizers in their full suggested amount may be too much for your succulents, so I recommend cutting the recommended amount by half. Too much fertilizer can actually burn your succulents, so cutting the amount is crucial.

What to Avoid When Fertilizing Succulents

There are a few things you should avoid when adding fertilizer to your succulents. The bullet list below highlights things that can actually kill or paralyze your plant, so make sure to avoid them!

  • Don’t feed succulents during their dormancy season
  • Don’t feed succulents if you’ve just repotted them; wait at least a month. You want to give the roots time to adjust.
  • Don’t feed succulents that are in dry soil. Always water beforehand, even if you’re using liquid fertilizer.
  • Don’t fertilize succulents that don’t receive adequate light
  • Don’t use liquid fertilizer without adding it to water first 

How to Add Fertilizer to Succulents

  1. Make sure your succulents will be getting access to 4 to 6 hours of indirect sunlight each day. If they don’t have access to enough sunlight, succulents that are fertilized will grow quickly and start to stretch out and up towards the light. This will cause them to lose the compact look their famous for.
  1. Fill your watering can with water at least half way.
  1. Choose a fertilizer that is specifically made for cacti and succulents. Make sure fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  1. Divide the recommended dose by half and add the fertilizer to the watering can. (Dividing the suggested amount by half will help ensure your succulents adapt to the fertilizer and don’t get burned by the solution.)

add liquid fertilizer to succulents

  1. Take the watering can and water your succulents as you regularly would. (If you’re unsure about when and how to properly water succulents, visit this post, it’s full of really useful tips that’ll help your plants thrive.)

fertilizing succulents

  1. That’s it! Make sure you wait at least a month before the next feeding!

Fertilizing succulents is another step in your journey to grow the best succulents of your life! If you need a refresher on how to care for succulents – which let’s face it, we all do every now and then! – this post will help you out a ton.

Remember that while succulents are indeed low-maintenance plants, a little TLC from you will reap you prettier and stronger plants. If you’re growing your succulents outdoors, you can grow them amongst other low-maintenance perennials that don’t need a lot of water!

And if you’re looking for a fun succulent craft you can do for the Holiday season, check out my post on these pretty DIY Christmas Ornaments with Live Succulents

Let’s Connect

About Me

Hi, I'm Natalie! I'm so glad you're here learning about your favorite plants. My hope is to encourage your love of succulents and help you understand how to care for them and make them a part of your home, too, via plant crafts and beautiful arrangements!

  1. 7.28.19
    Didi said:

    I’ve always been too scare to fertilize my succulents, mostly because I’m scared every time I water them. Haha! Now I know how to do it properly! I just might give a bit of fertilizer this time around. They’ve been growing very slowly this season. Thank you for the post!

    • 7.31.19
      Natalie Linda said:

      Glad I could help, Didi!

  2. 11.16.19
    Barbara said:

    Hi! I am new in this hobby, and I like the form that you explain the cares of the succulents. You mention that they have a dormancy period. When it manifest and what happen to them? Thank you to share with us your knowledges! Best regards!
    Barbara

    • 12.2.19
      Natalie Linda said:

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for reading! Most succulents go dormant in the Winter, meaning they stop growing until Spring, which is when they start growing again and thus need more water, sunshine, and fertilizer. They don’t get smaller or die back during dormancy, though, they just take a rest for a few months.

      Hope this helps!

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