Simple practices for happy succulents

I’ve had a small indoor succulent collection for at least the last two years and I have almost never killed them, until very recently.

I say almost never because last week I went off to work in the morning and had what I thought was a healthy succulent only to come home in the afternoon to a collapsed and dying succulent. This shocking discovery led me to do a bunch of research, calling a good family friend who is a gardening aficionado and doing many searches on Google and Pinterest.

In the end, I wasn’t able to save that particular succulent but I found out a few things that helped me save my remaining plants, which I thought I would share to help you avoid a sad succulent death.

Choose the right kind of dirt

Succulents and cacti love having their own special potting mixture, but you don’t have to go out and buy specialty soil to keep them happy. Instead, you can make your own potting soil quite easily – the key is to remember to create a mixture that allows for optimal drainage. You want soil that the water can move completely through so that the roots of your plants are able to get the hydration they need while also being able to dry out completely. To do this you can take traditional indoor potting soil and mix it with sand, keeping a ratio of one-third sand to two thirds indoor potting soil. This way your succulent or cacti will have the ideal drainage conditions for growth and you lessen the risk of them dying due to too much water.

Don’t overwater

Overwatering can come in many different variations. You can have a watering schedule based on your plants’ individual needs and miss a few days and water too much, shocking your plants in the process. Or you can water very rarely and flood your plants with too much water when you do get around to it, causing their roots to remain too wet. Or you can do everything right but not have a good drainage system set up, so your plant never gets the chance to fully dry out.

Check out the texture

How does your plant feel? Succulents and cacti should be hard to the touch. If your cacti or succulent is starting to feel rubbery, soft or mushy there is trouble ahead. It might be getting too much water and need time to dry out before the next dose of hydration. Also, keep an eye out for leaves that have turned yellow or transparent as this is another sign that the plant has been overwatered.

Give them Sun

Although succulents and cacti are hardy plants they do need a lot of bright and direct sunlight and are quite sensitive to dips in temperature. A succulent that was living quite happily on your sunny kitchen counter might suddenly take a turn for the worse if moved to a shady corner of your living room. Depending on the colour of the leaves and the height of the plant different levels of sunlight will be required. All succulents and cacti like bright light, preferably sunlight from a south facing window, but brown or white leafed plants will require more shade then tall or leggy plants, which is something to keep in mind when picking the perfect home for your plant babies.

Up the support

If your plants aren’t getting enough sun they will lean in search of sunlight. Recently I started to notice some of my taller house plants bending but didn’t think much of it. Some of them even looked cute that way, but it is essential to add in wood stakes or chopsticks and string to help your plants stand tall. Without the added support they will bend until they break and you will have to start the growing process all over again with a whole new succulent or propagate a new one using the leaves.



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