Customers approach us all the time feeling frustrated that they’re not having much luck with the world’s “easiest” plant. Succulents are low maintenance as far as plants go, but that doesn’t mean they’re foolproof. In this article, we’ll clear up common succulent misunderstandings, helping you care for your plant in a minimal-effort, highly-effective way.
What type of light is right?
The truth is a lot of succulents need bright, indirect light. If they get too much direct light, they tend to suffer, but if they don't get enough light, they get leggy and stretch towards the sun. Many of the most popular succulents are really meant to live outside rather than indoors because of how much light they require. Oftentimes, when individuals come with us with issues, they are trying to place a succulent indoors that really doesn't belong there!
That said, there are succulents that can tolerate lower light contexts. For example, Haworthia Zebra are extremely flexible, so are Sansevieria, and Aloe. But, for those of you living in areas with four seasons, while we can't speak to the experience firsthand, we've been pretty intrigued by individuals finding ways to work with artificial light when the sun is in short supply!
How much should I water it?
Succulents may not need frequent watering, but they do need consistent watering. It’s easy to under- or over-water them, which is a death sentence for your beloved plant. Succulents should be watered only when the soil is completely dry, and the water should be able to drain through the bottom of the pot without the plant sitting in it for long. For succulents in general, and especially succulents with rosettes, like an Echeveria, make sure to water the soil and not the plant. If water collects in the rosette it can lead to rot.
What kind of soil should I use?
Soil and good drainage are important for succulents. We opt for an organic cactus and succulent mix and add pebbles as well as charcoal to assist in drainage when there aren't drainage holes in the pot already.
What signs should I look for to know if I need to adjust my care routine?
Succulents don’t droop as much as other plants, but they may lean, have brown or brittle leaves, or look less vibrant and more muted than usual. These are all signs that your succulent needs more TLC.
An under-watered succulent will be softer than when it’s fully hydrated. Droopy leaves, a stalk that’s not standing up tall, sagging tips, or even a bit of leaning can all be signs that your succulent is getting dehydrated.
On the other hand, some of these signs can point to the very opposite issue. If only some parts are soft, it could point to root rot, which is the result of over-watering. Over-watering also leads to puffiness in the leaves or stems.
Over-watering may look like under-watering, because the leaves will shrivel up and you won’t see any new growth. The plant needs water, but it’s had so much that the roots drowned and can no longer take water up the water.
When and how should I repot my succulent?
Succulents vary according to breed, size and other factors, but a general rule of thumb is to consider a larger pot when you see new growth on the plant, about once every two years. It’s really not something you will do often.
That said, when it does come time to re-pot your succulent, it’s important to consider size and not just pick the prettiest pot on the shelf. You’ll want to leave about ½” between your plant and the pot. If you choose a pot that’s too small, your plant will be root-bound. But choosing a pot that’s too big won’t do much for you either, since you succulent’s roots will grow into the space while the plant itself may not grow as quickly.
Succulents are still some of the best luxury gift ideas out there, and when you’re armed with the right information, they’re easy to take care of. Have any additional questions about succulents? We’re always happy to chat!