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Beginner’s Guide To Keeping Succulents Alive

September 05, 20234 min read

Beginner’s Guide To Keeping Succulents Alive

Lifestyle Collective, September 5, 2023

By Iolee Anagnostopoulou

So, you’ve ventured into the world of succulents, those charming little desert plants that seem impossible to mess up—or so you thought. But before you start planning their welcome party, hold your watering can and take a moment. Caring for these quirky, drought-resistant darlings requires more than just a laissez-faire attitude. 

Fear not, fellow green-thumbed adventurer! In this guide, we’ll embark on a succulent survival journey to ensure your new plant babies don’t just survive but thrive.

Soil: Desert Digs

First things first—their home. Don’t be a soggy host; give your succulent baby a new place in desert soil. No waterlogged parties here! 

These plants thrive in light, coarse, fast-draining soil with a loose and grainy texture. You can buy ready sand/cactus mix or simply combine potting soil half-and-half with perlite or pumice.

The Pot: Ditching Dampness

Now, about their rooms—pots. Always opt for containers with drainage holes because standing in a swimming pool isn’t their idea of fun. 

Succulents don’t have deep roots and therefore don’t need a mansion; a cosy, well-draining pot a couple of inches bigger than their current one will do just fine.

That said, don’t crowd them either, as it may result in mould and insect infestations. 

Start with terracotta pots—the no-fail choice for succulent rookies—and upgrade to fancier containers and terrariums as you ascend the plant-care ladder. 

Temperature: Heatwave Haven

Being hotshots from arid lands, succulents fancy warm temps with low humidity, but species also play a part. They’re tough cookies and can generally handle weather swings within reason, except for frosty winters. 

Most varieties are comfy at 7°C to 29°C and 40-60% humidity. Give them enough sun, and they’ll high-five humidity up to 70-90%. But constantly muggy locales? Nah, not their gig.

The Sun: UV Cravings

Let’s talk about sunbathing. Succulents are fanatic sun-seekers and need around six hours of sunlight daily, adjusting for their variety. If you live in a dry and hot climate, give them bright, indirect light to prevent sunburn or hang a sheer curtain for some shade and coolness. 

If you’re growing in a cooler climate, then place the pot in a south or west-facing window for more rays. Frequent rotation is also key to ensuring all sides get enough light and the plant doesn’t lean towards sunnier spots. Remember that newbie succulents need a sun-slow introduction, as full exposure can burn them. 

Water: The ‘Sip, Don’t Chug’ Rule

As desert dwellers, they are used to a drought-like existence. Overwatering is like dragging them to a rainforest rave—a bit much, right? Much like us, they pig out during growth spurts, making summer their feast season. 

The golden rule is to thoroughly water your succulents weekly during summer, twice a month in spring and autumn, and monthly during their winter snooze mode. 

A good way to avoid drowning their roots is to test the soil with your pinky; if the top 1.25 inches are parched, it’s watering time. Dry soil between drinks keeps them alive and not waterlogged. If you notice wrinkly stems and brownish leaves, you’ve probably overdone it – time to water up! 

Pest Control: Uninvited Guests

Your succulent sanctuary should be solid with proper care, but pests might still gatecrash your green party. Gnats? Keep the soil dry—they’re swimmers, not sunbathers. Mealybugs? Rubbing alcohol is the bouncer. Scale? Show ’em out with horticultural soap and oil, and isolate affected plants. 

Mould’s a humidity fan, so keep things dry. If pests triumph, cut unaffected parts and replant, tossing the tainted and scrubbing the stage clean. Your succulents will stay strong with a little bug-beating bravado.

Fertiliser: A Treat, Not A 5-Course Meal

Feeding your succulents is a bit like slipping them a treat under the table. Skip the daily feasts—we want steady growth, not quickly developed weaklings. 

So go easy on the fertiliser—a few sprinkles in the spring and summer growth fiestas will do the job. And here’s the trick: use half the dose advised on the fertiliser pack.

Pruning: A Haircut, Not A Full Makeover

Give your succulent some pruning and pampering every now and then. Bugs adore lounging on dead or decaying leaves, so tidying up is like a spa day for your plant pals. Remember, it’s a gentle touch, not a redo. 

Discard dry or rotten leaves, investigate roots for overwatering hints, and wipe dust off leaves for a growth boost. Your plant will thank you with thriving flair.

And there you have it—the succulent survival guide to lead you on your green adventure! With the right balance of light, water, and care, you’ll have your succulent haven up and running in no time. So, go ahead, embrace your inner plant parent, and let those mighty plants thrive like the champs they are. Happy succulent-tending!

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Iolee Anagnostopoulou

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