Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
With their diverse shapes, colors, flowers, and textures, succulents can be a great feature indoors and out.
Succulents are tolerant plants, and though they are durable and tough, they still need some attention once or twice a year. Remember, they don’t grow in deserts; their natural habitats are semi-arid regions with irregular rainfall. Even succulents need help in hard times.
Succulent General Care
Your primary winter activity is to shield your succulents from frost by moving potted plants under a tree or the eaves of your home.
A covering little heavier than a sheet can be used to protect outdoor succulents.
Covers should be removed in the morning to allow trapped moisture to escape, as excessive foliage wetness can cause pathogens to spread.
Also, keep plants relatively dry during winter as expanding water may burst plant cells, turning the plant into mush.
A freeze right after a particularly hard rain is one of the trickiest situations for succulents. You will need to exercise caution at this time.
Keep the hail off of them. The delicate leaves’ hail damage is still noticeable months or years later.
Feed your plants with a slow-release fertilizer or a half dose of fertilizer in the spring when you see the plants showing signs of growth (and not before).
Remove debris and fallen leaves that have fallen into the plant and the dead leaves from its base.
Cut off any plants’ spines if they could harm someone. Keep an eye out for snails, which can potentially cause lifelong harm. Pull or cut weeds off just above the ground as they emerge.
In some circumstances, you might need to wash away the old soil, especially if you’re working with oxalis. In pots, succulents offer striking forms and hues.
You must choose between developing the primary plant and raising pups close to your initial plant. The pups or plantlets can be given away, or you can propagate new plants to expand your collection.
Check out my Succulent Propagation article for more detail on how to do this.
Spring is also the best time to repot succulents, allowing you to check root health. Remember that you need good draining soil, so create a mixture of organic and inorganic materials like shale or pumice.
Ensure the pot has adequate draining holes that aren’t blocked with pebbles.
Watch your succulents over the summer to prevent sunburn. If a plant’s tips appear unhappy, discolored, or scorched, it should be moved and will likely require additional hydration.
Develop the habit of checking your soil moisture levels before watering. The soil must be dry before the succulent gets its next soaking.
Soak the plant thoroughly, allowing water to run through, and empty the catch tray of any water.
Light requirements depend on the plant’s ability to photosynthesize.
The higher the chlorophyll content (greener plants), the more able it is to handle shade. Lighter hues of white, grey or red require more light.
These are general guidelines to follow when taking care of succulents and are effective for most plants.
Gardening issues can be resolved with succulents.
Keep an eye on them all year long, and your garden will benefit from the easy-going additions.
Possible Causes for Succulent Not Doing Well
Growing plants is not a simple feat even with plants like succulents that don’t require much maintenance.
Several things can cause a succulent to wither or stop growing, and it can result from something you do (or don’t do), and other times outside variables cause it.
In either case, it’s important to identify the potential causes of your succulent’s failure to grow so that you may take the appropriate action to help it come to life as quickly and fully as possible.
Here are a few causes of your succulent’s difficulties:
Succulents Do Poorly When They Get Too Much Or Too Little Water
Your succulent receiving too much or not enough water is one of the key causes of its subpar growth.
You must have a suitable watering regimen for these plants adapted to their requirements.
In general, it is sufficient to water succulents once a month in the winter and once a week or every two weeks during the summer when temperatures are high.
Succulents that get too much or too little water look similar – the leaves wilt and lose their plumpness, making them seem lifeless and changing hue.
The plant is far more likely to require less water if you notice these signs, as succulents are quite tolerant of dry environments and rarely require more water than given to them.
If you want to be absolutely certain, consider purchasing a soil moisture meter that assesses the soil moisture level.
This will allow you to decide whether your succulent needs watering right now or can wait a few more days.
Succulents May Do Poorly When They Lack Food
Suppose you observe that your succulent is no longer growing and that the leaves are beginning to turn yellow. In that case, it’s conceivable that the plant suffers from nutrient deficiency or imbalance.
In such cases, it is wise to consider the application of fertilizer that includes all the elements and nutrients the plant requires for optimum development.
Regular water leaches nutrients out of the soil, so regular replenishment is needed.
Remember, however, that succulents and cacti don’t need a lot of nutrients, and giving them too much can have the opposite effect by encouraging the growth of pests and plant rot – allow moderation to triumph over what you think the plant would like.
Add fertilizer to the water When watering the plant every two weeks during the growth phase.
Allow succulent vendors to inform your choice of succulent fertilizers. To reiterate, in case you missed it – succulents are light feeders.
Succulent Do Not Do Well In Pots That Are Too Small For Them
Planting succulents in the appropriate-sized pot will ensure they develop as healthily as possible.
People frequently plant succulents in the right pot for them at the time but fail to replace them as the plant develops and outgrows the container.
The succulent then runs into issues since it needs room to grow properly.
Without that room, the root won’t be able to expand as widely as it needs to, the entire plant will be deformed, and its growth will stop, which you can see quite clearly.
To encourage the succulent to develop freely and unhindered, try transplanting it into a bigger pot once a year. It is not ideal to be transplanted into a larger container, so avoid doing it.
The new pot needs to be larger than the old one to accommodate normal plant growth.
Succulents Do Poorly If They Don’t Get Enough Light
Another crucial factor for proper succulent growth is a sufficient amount of sunlight. As you may already know, succulents naturally flourish in desert regions with regular access to enormous amounts of direct sunlight.
It loses the ability to carry out its normal food-producing activities and, as a result, ceases development if not given enough light.
The absence of sunlight can also cause a succulent to stop growing by twisting its branches and leaves in the direction of a window or other source of light, which is an obvious indication that something is wrong.
Ensure that the succulent receives constant exposure to light. Get grow lamps to ensure the plant gets enough light even indoors if this is not possible.
Your Succulent is in Dormancy
Finally, remember that even if you can’t see your plant growing, it can still be doing just fine. How do we interpret this? Succulents manifest their development throughout a period known as the growing season.
Even if you give your plant the necessary care, you won’t see any changes after this season. And that is entirely typical.
Some succulents are also slow-growing plants, so it may take months to see any development.
As we’ve discovered, there are several ways to revive a flaying succulent. Research the needs of your specific succulent and respond with adequate moisture and light levels, temperature management, and feeding regimes. Even tough little plants need the occasion TLC.
If you notice that the plant has not been growing for months or some changes indicate something is wrong, try to find out what it is and follow my advice to bring it back to life.