Get your books and pens ready (OK, Boomer. It’s 2021 – iPads and Apple Pencils), we are taking you to school. Welcome to Succulent Care 101, this multi-part “course” will guide you through learning the basics of succulent care. We will build on the skills learned in each section to develop your knowledge of caring for your plant bbs!
Succulent Care Basics
The absolute basics when caring for succulents are understanding watering, light, soil, and fertilizer for your bbs. An understanding of these topics will keep your succulents healthy and happy. Remember that all succulents are not created equal, some go dormant in the winter and others go dormant in the summer. Take a peek at your specific succ’s care instructions to make sure you are providing the best care.
Let’s Get Schooled
Even desert plants need water! Getting the watering method right will make or break your experience as a succulent parent. Once you get in the groove of how to water succs, they will be the easiest plant you’ve ever taken care of. When dealing with rare succulents, like the ones we deliver monthly, we want to make sure you get it right.
Drench + Dry
If you have read our other blogs, you may have heard of the Drench + Dry method. We have found this is the best way to promote healthy, strong root growth. The trick is making sure soil is completely dry in between each watering. Each time you water your succ, drench the soil until you see water dripping out of the pot’s drainage hole. After drenching, let it completely dry. Once the soil dries out, repeat!
When to Water
How often you drench your plant depends on climate, sun exposure, time of season, and humidity. Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty to figure out if it’s time to water! Test your soil by sticking your finger down into the soil. If you feel the soil is completely dry, give your bbs a good soak. If it is still moist, leave the soil alone and wait until it’s dry.
Typically, succulents will require more water when it is outside or the weather is warmer. UNLESS, you live in a very humid environment. The humidity adds moisture to the air and this will cause dirt to dry more slowly. Succulents take in moisture from the air and their soil! In dry warm climates, succs will likely need more frequent waterings. If you are in a cooler climate, the best practice is to give more time in between watering.
Similar to watering, it really depends on the climate of your area and the type of succulent you are raising. Baby succulents are more likely to get sunburn, so keep an eye on the amount of direct sunlight those bbs are receiving. Succulents derive from the desert and typically love light, but even in their native habitat baby succs will grow in the shade of other plants until large enough to handle direct sunlight.
Direct Sunlight Vs. Indirect Sunlight
You’ll often hear the terms direct vs indirect sunlight when reading about the best care practices for succulents. Use the shadows casted by succs to determine if they are receiving direct or indirect sunlight. Dormant succulents will typically do fine with a grow light and staying indoors during this period. Actively growing succs will usually thrive in bright indirect sunlight.
When bbs are in direct sunlight, the shadow casted will be very sharp and easily seen on the surface the succulent is placed on.
This type of light exposure will cast shadows that are fuzzy or very faint. These shadows will be less obviously noticed on surfaces plants are located.
Succs have no choice but to bloom where we plant them! Planting succulents in the correct soil is extremely important to encourage growth. There are many types of soil out there and trust us, we know it can get confusing. Think of it this way, succulents are desert plants, similar to cacti, AKA they need a desert-like soil.
This chunky and lightweight mixture easily allows water to run through your pot and drain almost immediately. Cactus soil mimics the natural environment succs grow in. Succulent roots are very delicate and cannot push through other denser types of soil. Cactus soil is strong enough to support the plant physically, while holding little moisture and drain in a way that will not cause root rot. Want to make your own succulent-happy soil? It only takes three ingredients.
Succulent food? Full send, right? Wrong… kind of. At least for baby succulents, be careful of added nutrients as they can burn roots or lead to deformities through fast growth. Succulents are cacti are slow growing plants, fertilizer that promises accelerated growth rates are typically not the best. Remember! A little goes a long way when fertilizing succs, so unless you’re using a succulent-specific fertilizer we recommend cutting the suggested dose in half.
When Should I Fertilize?
Succs do not need frequent fertilization! Twice a year will provide all of the nutrients succulents need, once in the fall and again in the spring. When you first receive baby succulents, they will not require fertilization. Succulent Care 201 will jump into repotting succulents, which is a great time to add a granular fertilizer to the soil. Note: Wait a few weeks before repotting when first receiving your succ. If you want to give you bbs a little fertilizer, but are not repotting, use a liquid fertilizer or compost tea to mix with water.
Reminder: Only use 50% of the recommended dose when fertilizing! Wait, didn’t we already say that? Yes, we did. But it’s so important we had to say it twice. Too much fertilizer can harm bbs, and we love our bbs too much to let that happen!
Pro Tip: Succulents are desert plants! When moving these bbs into homes all over the country, it is vital to imitate their natural environment as much as possible. We do not mean turning your home into a literal desert, but give these bbs the care they deserve! This means lots of sun (or a grow light), soil that imitates the desert (cactus soil), and watering methods that replicates infrequent desert downpours (drench + dry method).
Go on and grow with confidence! Ready to learn more? Stay tuned for Succulent Care 201.