Top 5 Care Tips for Happy and Healthy Succulents
Succulents are the darling of the gardening world. If you take a peek at any décor magazine or Pinterest page you’ll see this diverse range of conversation starters are the hottest plants around. There are hundreds of varieties, with new ones being grown every year. They also come in a rainbow of colours from green, turquoise, purple, and pink! It’s no wonder that succulents are so popular, from their low maintenance easy-to-grow nature to their jaw-dropping variety and beauty — succulents are here to stay.
Here at West Coast Gardens all our succulents are homegrown (and we grow over 40 varieties!) and this has taught us a few tricks to achieve happy and healthy succulents. Here are our top picks for basic care tips:
1) Let your succulents see the sun!
Succulents offer brilliant colours and are at their best when exposed to long days of direct sunlight (6 hours+ of direct light). While you can grow succulents in the shade, their colours won’t be as intense. The more sun the better!
If your succulent is growing a bit lanky, with a long stem and lots of space between leaves, then it’s probably not getting enough light and is “reaching” for the sun. You can use alternative artificial lights to supplement your succulent’s light requirements. Take a look at the grow lights we carry and recommend over here.
2) Water Gently…
Your best bet for succulents is to water thoroughly, but less often. Succulents like to dry out between waterings and hate having their roots continuously wet. This is the rule whether the plants are indoors or outdoors. Stay away from ineffective misting that can encourage unhealthy bacteria. Always water deep and saturate the soil to give your succulents a good long drink.
During the winter months of December and January, your succulents will go to sleep and show little to no signs of growth. This is where overwatering can do real damage to your plants and where most of the losses can occur. Check to make sure your soil has very little moisture before you water. Once the days get longer, near the middle or end of February, you will see your plants actively growing again and that’s your cue to start watering more regularly.
Year round tips
The rule of thumb when watering any plant is to water in the mornings so they have time to absorb the moisture before the heat of the day hits. If the soil seems to repel the water because of rock or silt concentration, try using a small tool to break up the surface so water can saturate. If your plant’s leaves start to shrivel, then that’s a sign you are not watering often or thoroughly enough. You won’t lose the plant entirely but you may have to remove a few leaves.
3) Keep succulents warm in the winter
Most of these sun-loving plants are not hardy below 4 degrees Celsius. Always use the nighttime temperatures as a guide for when your non-hardy succulents can be placed or planted outside. a good rule to follow is a consistent nighttime temperature of 10 degrees Celsius so the plants don’t get too stressed out or freeze overnight.
In late summer and into early fall, watch the nighttime temperatures to know when to bring the succulents inside to rest for the winter. bring them indoors once night temperatures maintain a 5-degree average. Just don’t leave them out during a frost.
4) Give succulents the right home!
Use a mix of soil that is free draining so that your succulent roots aren’t consistently soggy. Special cactus and succulent potting soil can be purchased which has the correct mix of ingredients to help your plants flourish. (Grab a bag over here)
If you are mixing your own, we suggest using a mixture of 40% peat, 20% coir, 20% perlite, and 20% coarse washed sand.
Create a natural look by topdressing the exposed soil with small stones, sand, wood, and other natural accents. This also helps to keep the soil from blowing away or dislodging as well as preventing water evaporation after watering.
Choose pots that have good drainage or make sure to only water when the soil is dry. Shallow clay or concrete bowls, and standard pots with holes in the bottom all work well with succulents. However, because succulents are slow-growing, they also work quite nicely in small glass terrariums! If you are planting in pots without drainage, check out our useful video guide over here.
5) Easy on the fertilizer
We like to keep this simple. You can give your succulents regular indoor plant fertilizer in their weekly waterings during their growing months (June-Aug), or use specific cactus and succulent fertilizer varieties. Stay away from using fertilizer during the sleepy months from December through mid-February. Just clear tap water is enough to keep them hydrated and happy.
Wondering which succulents to start growing?
With so many varieties it can be tough to know where to even begin! Here is a list of a few of our favourites:
Echeveria – Perle Von Nuremberg, Round leaf, Nodulosa, Elegans, Topsy Turvy, Blue, and Red Grey
Sedum – Nussbaumerianum, Darley Sunshine, Angelina, Fine Gold, Lemon Ball, Adolphii, and Adora Blue
Senecio – String of Pearl, Blue Chalk, Sting of Bean
Kalanchoe – Tomentosa Panda, Flapjacks, Orgyalis, Mexican hat and your common flowering types like Calendiva
Crassula – Jade, Small Red Carpet, Variegata, Princess pine, Hobbit, Campfire, and Pagoda
Aeonium – Zwartcop, Kiwi, and Sunburst
Sempervivium – (hardy types zone 3) Forest Frost, Black, Hopewell, Red Rubin, Green wheel, and Sir William
If you already have succulent plants but aren’t sure what varieties you are growing, check out our handy succulent identification guide over here.
Have fun planting up your succulents!! West Coast Gardens also carries a variety of succulent planters (with more always available in-store) for anyone looking to add an easy pop of plant life into their home or office.