Welcome to section 301 of our Succulent Care course! In Succulent Care 101 we went over watering, types of light, soil, and fertilizing succulents. Our last course, Succulent Care 201, we dove into water-related issues, pruning, and propagation. Time to move on up towards plant-pro.
Let’s Get More Advanced
Becoming the ultimate plant parent takes attention to detail and experience. Kudos to you for wanting to learn more about your succulents! Remember, beginner and experienced plant parents have to google “What is wrong with my plant?!” every now and then.
In this course we’ll build on the skills we learned in 101 and 201 by focusing on repotting, blooms, and sun-related issues. This is not the first time we have said it and it will not be the last, all succulents are different! Your space’s specific conditions and the weather where you live affect how to properly care for your bbs. Keep that in mind as you read through, and when in doubt, take a peek at your specific succ’s care instructions to make sure you are providing the best care.
Let’s Get Schooled
Before we dive into how to repot your succulents, first we need to understand when and why we might do that.
When to Repot
There are a few simple signs your bbs will give you when they’re ready to be repotted. If your succulent is much larger than the circumference of its pot, the soil has become very dry, gritty, and grey or its roots have grown to the bottom of its original pot, it might be time to repot!
A general rule to follow is to repot succulents every two years. Even if your bbs do not need a larger pot, repotting is a great way to give your succs fresh fertile soil. It is best to repot succulents just before their growing season, which varies depending on the variety of succ.
Your little succs won’t stay little forever! While they are slow growers, they will eventually outgrow their home and need a larger pot. Overtime succulents absorb all of the nutrients in soil, causing it to become dry and gritty. Basically meaning the soil was old and poor quality.
Picking the Right Pot
Before we start repotting succs, we need to pick the right pot! Whether your succulent has outgrown its pot or you’re dying to get your succulent into something more stylish, consider these factors to keep your bb happy in its new home.
Things like size, depth, and drainage play major roles in determining the right pot.
Select a pot that will leave a 2-inch diameter between the succulent and the edge of the pot. This gives your bbs room to grow and #thrive.
Succulents are happiest in a shallow pot. When putting succulents in deep pots, there will be lots of extra soil which will retain more water and can lead to root rot. Shallow pots quickly drain water and will hold just enough moisture to keep succs healthy.
In Succulent Care 101, we went over the Drench + Dry Watering Method in detail, take a peek back if you need a refresher! Drainage holes are so important for healthy succulents, especially if you are a newer plant parent. Overwatering is the easiest and quickest way to kill a succulent and drainage holes help make a huge difference in watering and succ care.
If you are looking to use a pot without a drainage hole, try adding a layer of river rocks to the bottom (1-2 inches thick) to give excess water somewhere to drain. This will keep soil from sitting in water.
How to Repot
We have covered all of the information you need to know before repotting and now it is time to get your hands dirty! Let’s get to repotting!
First you will need:
Well-draining cactus soil
If you are repotting your SucStu baby with its original biodegradable pot, you can pop right into your new pot and surround it with soil. If your new pot is taller than your biodegradable pot, add a layer of soil to the bottom of the new pot.
If you are repotting a succulent that is not in our biodegradable pot, first you will need to remove it from its current pot. Wait for the soil to be completely dry to make for easier removal. Use your fingers or a shovel to loosen the dirt around the edge (or give it a squeeze if it’s in a flexible pot) and gently remove the plant by pulling it by the base of its stem.
Pour cactus soil into the bottom third of the new pot and if you are fertilizing, sprinkle the granular fertilizer into the fresh cactus soil.
Place your succulent on top of that soil and fill the remaining empty space with more cactus soil.
Gently press the soil down to secure the succulent and if necessary add more soil. If the cactus soil was completely dry, give your bb a good drench, if it was a little moist, allow the soil to completely dry out before watering.
Eek! What is that long thing growing out of my succulent?! Your plant is blooming! Flowers and blooms on succulents are often a special surprise, but what do they mean and what should you do with them? In the right conditions, almost all succulents and cacti have the ability to bloom.
Most succulents will bloom in late spring to early summer, but remember all succ varieties are different! Plants like Jade, kalanchoe, and some hoya also bloom in fall and winter. If your succs are summer bloomers, dry climates can help blooms last longer.
Add an hour of more sun per day when you begin to notice blooming. You can even continue adding more sun until your succ is in full sun all day! As we will go over in the next chapter, Sun-Related Issues, keep watch for sunburn. Often, blooming succs will require more water to reward you with beautiful flowers. Slightly increasing water intake will help your bloom last longer. Be careful if your blooming succ is in a pot with other succulents, they may not want increased water and in that case you may want to skip on that.
Keeping or removing the bloom stem and flowers are totally up to you, neither will damage your plant. It is totally up to you and your aesthetic!
3. Sun-Related Issues
Sometimes we have a love-hate relationship with the sun. She provides amazing, life-giving light for our bbs, but not enough leads to stretching AKA etiolation and too much can cause leaves to burn.
Etiolated succulents are bbs that are literally reaaaaaaaaaching for the sun in hopes of soaking up extra rays. If you find yourself thinking “OMG my succulent grew a foot in 2 weeks,” your succ is probably begging for more sun.
The first sign of etiolation is succulent leaves turning pale. Pay really close attention to your succulents to see if you notice a slight lean towards the light source. The second and most obvious sign is extra spacing in between leaves along the stem, AKA stretching.
Let’s Fix it!
When you catch it early, the fix is simply more sun! It can really be as easy as moving your succ from the coffee table and into a south-facing window. If your space doesn’t get much sunlight, grow lights can be your succulent’s new bestie! Once your bb starts receiving sufficient light, it will return to its normal growing pattern.
If your stretched out succ isn’t fitting your aesthetic, cut that succ-er up and propagate her! Follow the propagation instructions we gave in Succulent Care 201.
*Like the look of your stretched succs?! Etiolated bbs are totally healthy and cute, tbh! You do not HAVE to do anything about it. Succulents are hardy plants and can continue to grow and thrive in a potentially curvy and creative way when etiolated.
Just like us, succulents can get sunburn! Unfortunately, we cannot throw some SPF 30 on their leaves to protect them. Unlike etiolation, sunburn is a cause for concern in succulents. Black/brown patches on succ leaves is a sign of sunburn on some varieties of succulent. In some other species, sunburn is a dramatic darkening or browning of the entire plant.
Sunburn can look pretty nasty, but it does not mean your plant is dead! As soon as you notice sunburn, move your plant to a shadier spot. Burnt leaves will not get their normal color back, but with time your bb will naturally shed them and grow new ones.
You can prevent sunburn in a few simple ways! Slowly introduce your succulent to direct sunlight overtime. Adding 1-2 hours of sunlight every couple days will help your plant acclimate to more light at a pace it can handle. Ease the transition to direct sunlight by providing some shade. Place succulents under a tree where they can catch a few rays without the full effects of the sun. Do not expose your plant to more than 6 hours of direct sunlight. This is the most an adolescent succulent can tolerate, but if your plant is young or a fresh propagation (like a new SucStu bb), indirect sun is best.
Congrats! You are more than halfway through our course! We have one more course coming out in July – stay tuned for Succulent Care 401.
Go on and grow with confidence! Want to take a step back and revisit Succulent Care 101 or Succulent Care 201? Go ahead, bestie!