Caring for Succulents: The Basics

Succulent plants
Succulent plants

Beginner and advanced gardeners alike appreciate succulents for their beautiful and enduring qualities. You’ve heard of the most famous succulent plants such as aloe, agave and cacti. No matter which type you choose to grow, here are some simple rules to follow to keep your succulents happy and healthy all year long.

Light

Succulents require bright light and prefer to be placed near a south-facing window. Fortunately, succulents’ leaves are able to tell you if the plant is getting the correct about of light. Brown or white leaves mean the plant is getting too much direct sunlight. Stretched out stems and widely spaced leaves indicate the plant is underlit.

Temperature

Often found in the desert, succulents are used to extreme temperature contrasts between night and day. Although they can survive colder nights with temps down to 40°F, their preferred temperature range is between 70ºF and 85ºF during the day and between 50ºF and 55ºF at night.

Water

Generously water your succulents in the summer, but allow the potting mix to dry between waterings. During the winter, succulents need water only once every other month. Overwatered plants will appear soft and discolored. If this happens, try removing the plant’s dead roots and repotting into drier potting mix. On the flip side, underwatered plants will develop brown spots, stop growing and shed leaves.

Soil

Look for a potting mixture that is designed for cacti and succulents. You could also use a normal potting mix with added perlite for increased aeration and drainage. The mixture should be, most importantly, fast-draining. Fertilizer should be used only during the summer growing season.

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