Succulent Care: 7 Simple Tips & Tricks for Beginners

succulent care

Succulent Care: 7 Simple Tips & Tricks for Beginners

If you’ve clicked on this article, you’ve been sucked into the succulent club one way or another! Welcome! We hope you’re here to stay. Of course, that depends on whether you can keep your plant alive, and for that, you’ll need some tips on succulent care. Let this article be your guide!

 

Succulents are growing in popularity thanks to the wide variety of colors, shapes, and textures they come in. There is definitely a succulent out there that matches any decor and fits into any houseplant collection.

 

These durable, hardy plants don’t require much watering, and they can endure a lot of sunlight. But that doesn’t mean succulents don’t have some special needs. No matter what type of succulent you choose, keep some of the following tips and tricks in mind if you want your plant to live a long, happy life.

 

 

What Is a Succulent?

Succulents are a variety of plants that have thick and fleshy leaves. They come in a seemingly endless amount of shapes, textures, colors, and patterns. You’re bound to find a Succulent that’s perfect for your home. And luckily, many of these plants thrive inside when given the proper care.

 

This plant variety gets its name from the Latin word “sucus,” which means juice or sap. Succulents are indigenous to many parts of the world. You can find several native species in Africa, Central America, and South America.

 

One defining feature of a succulent is the way it stores water within its leaves. This is why their leaves tend to be thick and fleshy. Succulents are not as delicate in appearance as other plants — and they are hardier, too. They’re easy to care for and can survive extreme conditions.

 

While succulents do need water to survive, they have adapted to thrive in dry climates. In fact, succulents can tolerate drought. Some succulents can even withstand freezing temperatures, though cold weather often leaves these plants mushy — and can cause them to die.

 

Remember, succulents store water in their leaves. So, colder temperatures freeze that water and cause the tissues to die. These plants grow best with plenty of light and sunshine.

 

 

Is a Succulent Easy to Care for?

Succulents are a great beginner plant for people looking to add some natural beauty to their home decor. The succulent requires less care than the average plant due to its hardy and versatile nature. But, this doesn’t you should neglect a succulent. There are some tips to keep in mind if you want your plant to thrive.

 

 

How to Care for Succulents

When caring for a succulent, you always want to remember where this plant is from. Often found in warmer climates, the succulent adapted to dry conditions. That means they need less water and more sunlight than the average plant. Here are some other things to keep in mind when caring for your succulent.

 

Plant Your Succulent in a Pot That Drains

The best pots for succulents are terracotta (clay) or ceramic. These pots drain more efficiently than plastic options. Always look for pots with drainage holes.

 

You want to minimize the chance of overwatering the succulent. If the plant sits in too much water, it will develop mold, fungus, and root rot. These conditions eventually cause it to die.

 

You can prevent excess moisture from wreaking havoc on your succulent by keeping it in a well-draining pot, like the ones we mentioned above.

 

 

blue clay pots

 

 

Give Them Room to Breathe

Most succulent varieties come from warm, arid climates. That means they depend on good air circulation to breathe. For this reason, you shouldn’t stuff a bunch of succulents in the same pot.

 

Even though it’s popular to make “succulent terrariums” that house various succulent types, this is not ideal for this plant. In fact, while there are varieties of succulents that thrive indoors (think Aloe and Kalanchoe), the succulent’s need for air circulation often means they will do best in your garden.

 

Of course, succulents can also do well inside with the right care!

 

Use Succulent Soil or a Soil That Easily Drains

Often times, you’ll purchase succulents in tiny little plastic containers. It’s adorable, but you just rehome the succulent within 24 hours! These containers don’t allow for proper drainage or have enough room for the Succulent.

 

But, the rush to move also has to do with the soil. Many nurseries keep succulents in highly-absorbent planting soil that isn’t ideal for this unique plant.

 

Plant your succulent in soil that dries quickly. One option is adding pumice or perlite to the gardening soil mixture you have at home to make it drain faster.

 

Or, you can purchase soil made exclusively for succulents, which mimics the natural soil they thrive in. This soil won’t retain moisture as much as basic soil, ensuring your succulent won’t drown.

 

Give Them Lots of Sunlight

Succulents need access to bright light. Look for the sunniest window in your home and place the succulent there for at least six hours of the day. Most times, this will be a south-facing window. Newly planted succulents may need some time to get used to the light, so expose them to the window slowly. But mature succulents will flourish with plenty of sunlight.

 

Rotate Indoor and Potted Succulents Regularly

While succulents love direct sunlight, sitting all day in the same exact spot may result in the succulent only getting enough light on one side. The side facing away from the window may not receive enough light for its liking.

 

Succulent experts recommend rotating the plant quite often. This ensures that all sides of the succulent get the proper light and nutrients they need for overall health.

 

Water Accordingly

Since overwatering can kill succulents, many plant owners are scared to give their plants water. But, succulents require water to survive. The most common watering routine is once a week or once every two weeks.

 

Succulents might require more water in the spring and summer months. This is when succulents thrive and grow. During the fall and winter, succulents are less active. So, you’ll want to diligently check the soil and ensure it’s dry before watering a succulent in the colder months.

 

Here’s another important watering tip: Water the soil directly. Soak the soil until the water runs out of the drainage holes. An alternative option is to place the pot in a pan of water, allowing the succulent to absorb through the drainage holes. When the top of the soil is moist, remove the pan.

 

Either way, never spray water directly on the succulent. Misting can cause brittle roots and moldy leaves!

 

Should You Fertilize Succulents?

Succulents don’t require fertilizer, but it can help during the spring and late summer months if you use it properly. Buy a balanced, all-puropse, water-soluble fertilizer that is diluted to half its strength. In the winter, don’t use fertilizer at all since the succulent isn’t actively growing.

 

Clean Your Succulents Regularly 

Indoor plants, including the succulent, can gather dust on their surface. Clean them by wiping their leaves and spines gently with a damp cloth. You can even utilize a paintbrush to get hard-to-reach spots. Cleaning your succulent regularly will also allow you to check for pests.

 

Maintain a Warm Temperature

Moderate climates are the best for succulents. While this plant can tolerate most weather in any region, you should be ready to protect your succulents from freezing temperatures and temperatures above 100 degrees.

 

Since succulents are mostly water (thanks to their insane ability to store water in their leaves), their cell walls can burst in freezing temperatures. This will turn the leaves to mush and kill your plant.

 

Protect your succulent from frost by keeping them indoors, away from these conditions. It helps to have them in a light enough container that allows you to easily bring them inside during these times. Just make sure they still get enough light.

 

 

an array of succulents sitting on a sunny patio

 

 

Common Succulent Care Issues

Succulents might be easy to maintain, but they can still face complications — and even death — without proper care. Luckily, they usually let you know how they’re feeling with their actions and appearance. So always pay attention to your plant’s looks and behavior.

 

  • Extreme weather conditions: If it’s too hot or too cold for your succulent, you’ll see a drastic color change. Succulents will “blush” when they are in shock. Their blushing can range from pinks and purples to orange, red, and even black.
  • Not enough sunlight: If your succulent isn’t getting enough sun, it will often reach towards the nearest source of light. If you see that your succulent is bent towards a window, they need more sunlight. Sometimes this can happen when one side of your succulent isn’t getting enough direct sun, making them not stand upright.
  • Too much sunlight: While mature succulents love direct sunlight, they must get acclimated to this over time. Most nurseries don’t keep succulents in direct light, so they have to be slowly introduced to light when you take them home. Put them in a shady area so they can start with indirect exposure. Succulents with too much sunlight too soon can get sunburnt and even die.
  • It’s been overwatered: If you water your succulents too much, you’ll notice their color change from yellow to almost transparent. Succulents will also get soggy and even the slightest bump will make a leaf fall off.
  • Pests: Most indoor succulents won’t really have pest problems, but you should be on the lookout for gnats and mealybugs. These bugs become attracted to soil that is overwatered and not draining properly. To remove eggs and larvae, spray the soil with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Remember to move infected succulents away from your other plants until the pests are gone.

 

 

Where Are Succulents Commonly Found?

Succulents can be found in a variety of climates and regions. These plants are native to Africa, Central America, South America, and even the European Alps. Because of their durability in almost every climate, you can grow succulents almost anywhere. You’ll find them at most nurseries and flower stands at farmers’ markets.

 

How Many Succulent Varieties Are There?

There are more than 500 varieties of succulents! Each has its own leaf shape, petals, stems, spikes, colors, and flowers. One of the most popular succulents is cacti. But not all succulents are a type of cactus.

 

With so many succulents to choose from, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one is right for you. There are some varieties of succulent that do better indoors. Here is a list of succulents that thrive inside.

 

Jade Plant

This resilient houseplant is known for its longevity. People often pass them down from generation to generation.

 

The Jade Plant has thick, woody stems and leaves shaped like ovals, giving them the appearance of a miniature tree. They usually get about three feet tall. This makes the Jade Plant a popular decoration in almost any decor.

 

Jade Plants prefer warm, dry conditions, which is why they thrive inside. Just make sure to give them water during the growing season (spring and summer). But always check that their soil is dry before watering them again.

 

 

snake-plants-upclose-and-personal

 

 

Snake Plant

This is one of the easiest succulents to care for. It’s often said that you actually have to put in some effort to kill this versatile and hardy plant.

 

The Snake Plant is known for its long, tall leaves that are often bright green with a gold outline. When given the proper light (bright, indirect) and a pot with proper drainage (try terra cotta), the Snake Plant will become one of the most striking succulents in your collection.

 

Aloe Vera

This striking succulent thrives indoors. The plant is stemless and has thick, fleshy leaves that fan out from the central body. Their green leaves are serrated with small teeth. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind succulent that spices up any room.

 

Aloe Vera plants need bright, indirect sunlight.  Too much direct sunlight can dry them out. You’ll notice their leaves turn yellow when they get too dry.

 

If kept healthy, the Aloe Vera is also a very useful plant! The juice from its leaves (if green) can soothe pain and heal burns and scratches when applied topically.

 

Christmas Cactus

This holiday cactus is very popular due to its colorful pink and lilac flowers. These beautiful blossoms have a long bloom period, meaning you can enjoy their stunning looks for a while. The Christmas Cactus is not only unique because of its glorious appearance. It also has a bit of a different care sheet than most cacti.

 

This cactus is from the tropical rainforests of southern Brazil rather than the desert, so they don’t like the same sunny, dry conditions as other cacti. You’ll need to water them more regularly than most succulent varieties.

 

Related: Christmas Cactus Care: How to Keep Your Cacti Alive & Healthy

 

Burro’s Tail

This is often thought to be a cactus, but it’s not! But like a cactus, the Burro’s Tail requires gritty soil, plenty of sunshine, good drainage, and protection from cold temperatures. They make a great houseplant, often kept in hanging baskets due to their dangling nature.

 

This succulent is quite popular because of its unique looks. It’s often green, gray-green, or even blue-green. It has a fascinating texture that sort of resembles a rattlesnake’s tail with its thick stem and plaited leaves.

 

Panda Plant

Panda Plants are popular succulents because of its adorable furry leaves. Some say they look like cat ears. The Panda Plant has a thick stem that produces branches and groups of leaves, giving it a tree or bush-like appearance. Velvety little hairs cover the leaves.

 

Panda Plants are easy to care for and require little water. Always make sure the soil is dry before watering again since they store a ton of moisture in their leaves. They love basking in bright light!

 

 

Final Thoughts – Succulent Care

From fuzzy fur to spiky leaves (and even a String of Dolphins), succulents come in a wide variety of looks and textures. It’s no wonder they’ve continued to soar in popularity over the years. There’s a perfect succulent for any home, whether you want one basking in your window or as a plant hanging from a basket.

 

Succulents are also in demand because of their hardy nature. They’re just such easy plants to care for! Really, you have to try to kill a succulent. This versatile group of plants is great for beginners. They require very little care and can withstand extreme conditions. Of course, there are certain things to do if you want your succulent to be healthy and happy.

 

Always remember to give your succulent plenty of light. And don’t forget to rotate them so each side gets the sun it needs. Water your succulent only once the soil is dry — and never put water directly on the plant itself. Keep the plant away from freezing temperatures and give it a gentle dusting here and there.

 

Succulents make the perfect addition to any room so grab a big variety of these fun plants. Just remember to give them plenty of space.

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