How to Care for Succulents

*By: Christi Shingara*

Photo: Angèle Kamp

Succulents are one of the easiest plants to care for and make great houseplants. This very large plant family includes varieties that range from hardy types that will survive winter freezes to tropical ones that work well outdoors in warm climates and can be planted in pots indoors in regions where the temperature begins to drop in the fall. If you want to make sure your succulents thrive check out the tips below.

Light

Succulents roughly need at least four to six hours of sunlight to grow properly. Because of the reduced light indoors, plants mature much more slowly. Given their highly adaptable properties, succulents will survive for quite some time in the shade or low light but will not thrive.

Water

The “soak and dry” method is the best way to water succulents. It is simple, basically soak the soil completely then let the soil dry out completely before watering again. And make sure the succulents are in a well draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole.

Soil and Drainage

Porous sandy potting soil is best for most succulents. This is due to them being native to dry climates. If you were to use the soil in your vegetable garden, which is formulated to retain water for thirsty plants, your succulents would quickly die off. Succulents need good drainage or their roots will rot. They also hold water in their tissues, leaves and stems. It is very important to have drainage holes in the planter for these reasons.

Temperature

Succulents do best in temperatures ranging from 40-80°F. While a few degrees outside of this range are tolerable, anything 5° or more can cause irreversible damage.

Pests

Gnats are attracted to succulents that are planted in soil that is too wet and doesn’t have proper drainage. To get rid of eggs and larvae, spray the soil with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. Mealybugs are another pest succulent owners have to deal with. Overwatering and over-fertilizing are the common causes of mealybugs. Move infected plants away from other succulents and spray with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.

If you follow these tips above you should have years of thriving beautiful succulents!

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