If you find yourself obsessed with succulents, welcome to the club!
Succulents are, in my opinion, the easiest plants to grow – IF you know how to properly care for them.
Knowledge is key- it’s the difference between succulents that thrive and succulents that wither away to nothing.
They’re the perfect plants for both beginners and experienced gardeners alike – and trust me – you CAN’T say that about all plants.
If you crave a low-maintenance garden that’s full of color, texture, and interesting aesthetic, then succulents are your best option.
These hardy plants look beautiful in a variety of spaces, including outdoor gardens, balconies, and patios. You can even use them to create table decor- as I did with this Holiday centerpiece.
Aside from their low-maintenance nature, succulents provide us with endless variety. You’ll never want for diversity when it comes to them.
Take the Echevarria Lola, for example. It’s often referred to as a “rosette succulent” because of its rose-like appearance.
It’s an elegant plant and one of the most popular, plus it’s far easier to care for than actual roses!
(This post may contain affiliate links).
What EXACTLY Is a Succulent?
Succulents are a popular plant, but you might be wondering: what exactly is a succulent?
Put simply, succulents are plants that store water in their leaves and stems, which is what makes them drought-tolerant and thus, so low-maintenance.
Succulents come in different sizes, shapes, and colors – something any plant lover can appreciate.
Succulents are also known for being hardy, independent plants that don’t like to be fussed with, so they’re the perfect plants for beginners or those with a tendency to neglect their plants.
While succulents are indeed low-maintenance, they still require a few things to thrive.
If you’ve attempted to grow succulents in the past but ended up with shriveled plants a few weeks later, you’re not alone – this is actually a common problem.
How to Take Care of Succulents SO THEY can THRIVE
In order to grow succulents successfully, you’ll need the right supplies so you can provide them with an ideal environment. You can find the supplies below at your local garden center or on Amazon.
You’ll need a good cactus mix aka succulents soil, a terracotta planter (or any planter that has a drainage hole at the bottom), a watering can, succulent fertilizer, and a top dessing or decorative stones (for visual appeal, you can skip this!).
If you can remember a few simple guidelines, caring for succulents will come much easier to you. Here they are:
–Succulents need moisture and sunlight.
That’s pretty simple, right? OK – it’s more complex than that but for the most part, succulents can survive if they get water and sunlight.
Give them too much of each, however, and you can very well end up with rotting or sunburned plants. This is why learning how to care for succulents and getting hands-on experience is so important.
I’m going to share a a few tips I’ve learned that will make your plant’s life more comfortable. They’ll help you provide the best environment for your succulents so you can keep them looking beautiful year-round.
USE CACTUS MIX OR Succulents Soil
Yes, you should aim to use succulents soil aka cactus mix when you plant your succulents. Regular potting soil is not ideal, especially if you have a tendency to overwater plants.
Here’s why cactus mix is important: it’s made to be fast-draining. It consists of soil, pumice, sand, and twigs, as shown in the photo below.
This soil allows for better drainage and better airflow – two things that succulents need to grow strong, healthy roots.
Cactus mix is easy to find – just head to your local garden center or buy a bag online for a few dollars.
Planting Succulents correctly is crucial
After you purchase your potted succulents, take the plants out of their plastic pots and transfer them to your terracotta pot or any pot that has a drainage hole.
A drainage hole will prevent excess moisture in the soil that leads to root rot, so don’t forgo good drainage when picking out a pot for your plant.
Since succulent leaves are prone to rotting if they sit in wet soil, you need to make sure that all the leaves sit above the rim of the pot and atop the soil.
The base of the succulent plant should sit parallel to the rim of the pot, as shown in the photo above.
Add soil around the succulent, and then press down gently to make sure the soil and plant are in place.
Important note: Do not water your succulents immediately after planting! You’ll probably be tempted to water your newly potted plant, but hold off.
Try waiting a few days before the first watering; this will give any damaged roots time to heal and callus over; you don’t want them drinking up any water because this can lead to root rot.
how to use a Top Dressing for Your Succulent Arrangements
When you hear the term “top dressing”, it simply refers to small particles like stones and rocks that can be used to cover the topsoil of a planter in an effort to make the plant more visually appealing.
I like to place decorative stones on top of my succulent arrangements because it adds visual dimension.
However, leaving the soil bare can make for a nice, earthy look, too, so it comes down to preference.
My advice is to choose a top dressing that will complement the pot you’re using, and the color of your succulent.
You’ll be amazed at how beautiful your potted succulents can look when they’re sitting above a pretty top dressing!
It’s not an absolute must when it comes to succulent care, but it does make for a prettier plant arrangement.
Top dressings also help to keep the soil cool and the water from evaporating too quickly.
Care for Succulents year-round by Watering Them Properly
Learning to care for succulents means mastering how and when to water them.
If you’ve never learned how to properly water your succulents, now is the time to learn, because this step can make or break your succulents garden. Yes – it’s that important!
Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula when it comes to watering because every succulent has different needs and several factors need to be considered, such as climate and hardiness zone, and whether they’re being grown indoors or outdoors.
There is, however, a rule of thumb here: water succulents ONLY when the soil is dry.
If the soil is dry to the touch about an inch deep into the pot, then its time to water. Water thoroughly and make sure that water drains from the bottom of the pot.
Never let your succulents sit in water and always discard the water that has drained into the saucer.
TIP: When you water your succulent, use a watering can and make sure to water the soil, not the leaves, as shown below.
Other watering tools you can use include a succulent watering bottle and a watering syringe.
Since they have thin tips, these tools come in handy when you have compact succulent arrangements in which all of your plants are packed tightly together.
Plenty of gardeners use this watering method and it’s a favorite because it prevents spills, plus it’s easy to designate different amounts of water to different areas of the pot with a simple squeeze of the bottle.
Signs of overwatering
If you notice that your plant’s leaves are turning yellow and feel mushy to the touch (as shown below), then you’re over-watering your succulent – a common mistake.
Yellow leaves indicate too much moisture, which means the leaves of your succulent are storing more water than they need.
Unfortunately, the plant below began to rot due to too much water in the pot.
(My post about how to water succulents has more information on proper watering).
Caring for Outdoor and indoor succulents
While most succulents are drought-resistant, they actually don’t do well when placed in a full-sun area, particularly during the Summer. This is how many people unintentionally kill their plants!
It’s a misconception that all succulents can tolerate long hours of intense heat and full sun.
Succulents actually need about 6 hours of indirect sunlight each day.
They prefer morning and indirect sunlight to direct afternoon sun, especially if you live in a climate where the temperatures reach above 90 degrees.
Unfortunately, succulents are prone to sunburn if they sit under direct sunlight outdoors for an extended period of time.
It’ best to offer them some protection during hot days – they’ll appreciate some shade.
Remember: if you’re learning how to take care of succulents, then you need to protect them from the blistering sun.
When growing indoor succulents, place them near a window because they’ll need access to indirect sunlight.
If you place them too close to a hot window during the Summer, however, they might burn and dry out too fast, so a few inches or a foot away is best. Always keep an eye on them to make sure they’re holding up.
using Fertilizer to help your succulents grow
Succulents can benefit from fertilizer, but they’re not heavy feeders, which means that fertilizing won’t be the most important step in your succulents care routine.
Most fertilizers that are designed for cacti and succulents contain a healthy amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
These three nutrients help the plant grow and develop healthy stems and leaves. They can even help revitalize a lackluster plant.
Some succulent growers apply fertilizer only once during the active growing season (Spring and Summer), while others apply it once a month during this time.
You can do either, but NEVER add fertilizer during their dormant season. Only fertilize during their active months when the plant can actually use it to grow.
Plants need plenty of sunlight when beng fertilized, or they’ll end up looking leggy from lack of light.
Mealybugs on Succulents: how to Deal with them!
You won’t encounter a huge insect problem when growing succulents, but upi will need to keep an eye out for mealybugs.
Mealybugs on succulents look like white, cotton-like mounds that sit within the leaves and crevices of the plant. They spread quickly so you’ll need to act fast.
Fortunately, you can get rid of mealybugs on succulents easily and inexpensively.
Whenever you see a mealybug on your plant, simply take a Q-tip and dip it into rubbing alcohol.
Swipe away the mealybug with the Q-tip and this should take care of a small infestation. For a step-by-step post on how to get rid of mealybugs on succulents, click here!
Caring for succulents includes dealing with dead, crispy leaves.
You might even find a few browning leaves on your plant after you purchase them from the garden center. Don’t panic! This is a natural process.
If the browning leaves are coming from the bottom of the plant, then this is normal. Your plant is simply creating new leaves to replace older ones.
To get rid of these dry leaves, simply tug at them until they break off from the stem, then discard.
However, if you find brown, shriveling leaves at the top or middle of your succulent plant, then your succulent is most likely in dire need of moisture.
Make sure to water your plant thoroughly and water again once the soil goes dry.
You’ve Now Learned How to Take Care of Succulents!
Now that you’ve read through this guide, you’re ready to take care of succulents on your own! Head to your local garden center to pick up a few succulent plants and get started.
Remember that less is more when it comes to succulents care, so don’t try to do too much in the way of care. Soon, you’ll amass many different types of succulents and cacti for your new garden!
For more information on how to care for succulents the right way, head to the posts below: