How To Successfully Grow Succulents

Succulents are more popular than ever. There are countless different types available, providing a practically unlimited choice in terms of color, shape, and style. Different succulents can be combined together to create a dazzling display for your garden. Alternatively, you can also grow them indoors, using them to bring a natural element into your home. Best of all, they are easy to grow and require very little maintenance. That makes them the ideal choice for inexperienced gardeners or for people who don’t naturally have a green thumb.

If you live in a cold climate, you can grow succulents outdoors during the summer months but will need to bring them inside when the temperature drops. Alternatively, you can grow them inside your home all year long. In fact, many popular houseplants like jade plants, snake plants, and aloe vera are succulents.

Ideal Environmental Conditions

When it is warm outside, you can grow succulents outdoors. If you are growing them inside, on the other hand, you should put them in a place that gets a lot of sun. Windows that face to the south or the west are usually the best option.

Inside your home, you should try to keep the humidity level higher than 10% but lower than 30%. You should also avoid placing your succulents in areas of your home that are particularly drafty.

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Light Requirements

When growing succulents inside your home, it is always best to use natural light.

If necessary, however, you can also supplement with artificial light. Cool white fluorescent lights are a good choice. Ideally, they should be anywhere from about half a foot to a foot above the succulents. You should keep them turned on for a minimum of 12 hours each day, with a maximum time of about 16 hours on a daily basis.

Soil Conditions

Succulents do best in soil that is sandy and that drains well. The experts at Cornell Cooperative extension recommend using a 2:2:1 mixture of garden soil, sharp builders soil, and peat. Alternatively, you can combine equal parts sand and potting soil according to the Minnesota State University Extension. The key is to choose well-draining soil so that the roots of the plants don’t rot.

Succulents do best when planted in containers that have excellent drainage. Planters made out of clay or terra-cotta are a great choice.

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Water Requirements

Compared to other plants, succulents have very low water requirements.

Avoid overwatering them. Make sure the soil is thoroughly dry before adding more water. Wait until the water has drained through the soil. Don’t allow the water to sit in the saucer. Instead, dump it out so it is not reabsorbed back through the drainage holes. Overwatering your succulents can cause the roots or stems to rot. If you notice the leaves of your succulents wilting, however, you may need to add more water.

To keep the roots of the plants from becoming too weak or shallow, water deeply but infrequently. Succulents become dormant during the winter. You should avoid giving them too much water during this time.

Adding Fertilizer

If necessary, you can add a phosphorus-rich fertilizer such as food that is designed for houseplants to the soil. To avoid going overboard, add half the recommended amount of fertilizer. Consider fertilizing a couple of times each month during the peak of growing season.

Controlling Pests

On occasion, pests like spider mites or mealy bugs may infest your succulents. Applying rubbing alcohol to any affected plants with cotton swabs is an effective way to control scales or mealy bugs. For spider mites, on the other hand, consider applying insecticidal soap using a spray bottle.

If you need more advice, check out this planting succulent guidebook for tips.