5 Tips for Succulent Success

Succulents are all the rage, and they’re the perfect low-maintenance plant for indoors. But don’t mistake low-maintenance for no maintenance. These 5 tips from Success with Succulents will help you keep your succulents healthy all year long.


Let there be light!

As pointed out throughout this book, sufficient light is paramount to raising healthy succulents, and that goes for both outdoor and indoor gardening. Etiolation is a condition that occurs in plants when there is insufficient light. While it can affect all types of plants, succulents are highly susceptible—they can begin to show the effects after being deprived of proper light conditions for as little as two weeks. This highly disfiguring condition causes severe stretching, blanching and fading of color, and general feeble, weak growth. Plants can morph to such an extent as to be unidentifiable, a mockery of their natural form. sometimes the genus can still be determined, yet even that can come into question for someone who never saw it in its healthy form.

Getting the right soil

As a general rule, use 50 percent potting soil and 50 percent perlite or pumice. This combination will work problem-free for almost all succulents available at garden centers. However, succulents that are plumper have thick water retentive stems and leaves can benefit from a higher ratio of drainage materials to potting soil, and those that are thinner and stemmed with smaller, more delicate leaves can benefit from an increase of the potting soil percentage. The ideal ratio is also affected by your watering regime and how much attention you pay to your plants. You can learn and fine-tune the best ratio for your particular plants and growing conditions with experience, by trial and error.

The well-draining container

Part of the learning curve for proper watering and growing depends on choice of containers too. Beautiful ceramics, plain clay, plastic, and the unconventional solutions—like an old shoe or hollowed pumpkin—all have different effects on watering practices and the retention of moisture in the soil. Whatever your choice, it is imperative that the container has at least one if not several drain holes in the bottom. Otherwise, all your effort to develop a well-draining soil mix will be for naught: if the water can’t get through all of that good, porous soil and exit the container, it will just become a swamp in a pot! In particular, indoor plants are usually sitting in some kind of saucer to avoid damaging furniture or other surfaces in the house. Be sure that when you water your succulents they don’t end up sitting in saucer water, as this will inevitably end up as a root rot problem. The safest practice is to water all of your plants in a sink or bathtub and return them to their saucers after they have stopped dripping.

The importance of moisture

Indoor succulents are happy with a good thorough drink with a slight drying-out period before repeating during their active growing period, namely what are considered the warmer months of the year, in spring through summer. During these growth months is also the time to feed, if you choose. Winter gets a bit trickier indoors—this is the inactive growth period, so succulents don’t want to be taking up vast quantities of water, and definitely not food! What they really want is an occasional watering, just enough to keep the roots plump so they don’t collapse. To compound matters, winter is the time when houses have fireplaces burning or central heating running, which is great for keeping everyone warm and cozy, but any type of potted plant will suffer from the soil being totally sucked dry by the ambient warm and very dry air. This means it is imperative to keep an eye on the soil of your succulents, as it will dry out faster than might be expected. Although it is normally better to err on the side of dry with succulents as opposed to them staying too wet, if the soil goes bone dry for too long, it can cause the roots to desiccate to the point of collapse, and then there is little hope of the plant coming back.

Dealing with pests

If your succulents are permanent indoor residents, pests are not typically a problem. However, if they spend the nicer days of the year outdoors, or you recently acquired any of them from a nursery or another succulent-loving friend, then you might be transporting and introducing unwanted critters into your home. The most likely intruders are mealybugs, brown scale, aphids, and spider mites. Snails and slugs are primarily an outdoor problem but can sometimes be found hitchhiking on or in a pot that is being brought indoors as well. So be diligent about inspecting a pot before bringing it in.

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Success with SucculentsLoved the world over for their unique beauty and lower maintenance requirements, Success with Succulents shows you how to get the most out of your desert dwellers.

Cactuses and other succulents are wildly popular in homes the world over, regardless of climate. They’re resilientbeautiful, and easy to care for as long as you know what you’re doing. Whether you live in a warm, dry climate and want to grow a whole cactus garden outdoors or you’d like to add one of these alluring species to your indoor windowsill, this book has what you need to pick the perfect plants for you and make them thrive.

Success with Succulents is filled with both well-known and unusual species of cacti and succulents, as well as tips and techniques for caring for these water-sipping species indoors and out. With this all-inclusive guide, you’ll get all the information you’ll need on:

  • Color combinations
  • Sizes and shapes
  • Placement and ideal soil selection
  • Container growing
  • Watering
  • Fertilizing
  • Grooming
  • Propagation
Learn everything you need to know about growing succulents! Success with Succulents also includes more than 100 plant profiles, with details that will help you succeed in gardening prickly and waxy varieties of all kinds.