Succulents Kinda Do Suck (But They Don’t Have To)

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If you can't stop killing your succulents, this post is for you!

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You always see the quote “succulents don’t suck” slapped onto all of the cutest tees and totes, but in reality sometimes succulents do suck. This is a common misconception that most people have when it comes to these drought-resistant plants because they can require more than just sunlight for them to thrive. So many people come up to me and say, “Ren. I kill everything! I even kill succulents and cacti! Aren’t cacti supposed to be the easiest?” In response, my answer has been: not at all

Succulents have a reputation for being relatively easy to care plants to own and grow; which makes things all the worse when you manage to kill them anyway. Sick succulents can develop symptoms such as leaf discoloration, collapsed leaves, etc. Healthy succulents in good condition will be healthy-looking, plump, and often will have a glossy finish. If you can’t stop killing your succulents, this post is for you! I promise my succulent care tips will help you keep your succulents and cacti alive!

So, how do you properly care for your succulents and develop the green thumb they deserve? It’s pretty straightforward, but not always intuitive.

Water, Water…

The most common way people kill succulents is simple: They give them too much water. Indoor succulents are not just drought-tolerant plants, they love drought. They store water. Make sure you grow your succulents in well-drained pots and use soil that drains well. Some soil mixes are specifically labeled for succulents.

Succulents must not be watered every day. They should be watered about once a week, and when you do water them, give them a lot of water so they can fill up their stores. Check for your specific plant, as some have slightly different needs. Basically, succulents should be allowed to dry out to the point where the soil is dry but still soft, then given lots of water. You can dry a succulent out if all you do is mist them and they don’t really do well with spray bottles. In fact, very small succulents should be watered using a pipette. Then drain the excess water away. If you let it sit in a saucer that too can drown your succulent…or cause it to rot.

In most cases, outdoor succulents won’t need supplemental water unless you’re in the middle of an actual drought.

Correct Temperature

Succulents like warm temperatures. They like 70 to 80 degrees in summer and 50 to 60 in the winter. At lower temperatures, they will go dormant. They are not frost-tolerant, so if you keep succulents outside, bring them in for the winter. This means it’s generally easier to keep your outdoor succulents in planters so you don’t have to transplant them. When taking your houseplants outside, make sure to do it properly. If you live somewhere with extremely hot summers you may also want to bring them in on heat advisory days. Proper care for succulents includes keeping them at the right temperature.

Don’t put your succulents too close to the vents. This can easily cause them to get too cold in summer or too warm in winter.

You Are My Sunshine

Succulents do not like shade – they love bright light! They need at least six hours of sun every day, so position your succulents inside a window that gets that amount of sun. If you are living further north, put them in a southern window (reverse this if you happen to be in the southern hemisphere). If planting succulents outdoors, they are perfect for that part of the yard which gets blistering sun, where other plants might not thrive as well.

An ideal succulent lifestyle is on your porch or balcony, as long as it gets direct sun, where it can be moved inside easily if the temperatures become too extreme. When you move them away from more direct strong light – remember they will need less water.

During the winter when the daylight is minimal I like to supplement light for my houseplants. I like to use the Haus Bright bulbs or GE Plant Bulbs. I buy mine from Amazon.

Repotting

Although many types of succulents tend to grow slowly, they may eventually need to be transferred to a larger pot. Succulents can do better in a small pot than most plants, as they can handle having a tight root system and are less likely to become rootbound. Many succulents will stay the shape and size of their container quite comfortably for a long time.

However, you should still keep an eye on your potted succulent and make sure that their home stays big enough for them.

Soil Mixture

In addition to well-drained soil, succulents appreciate soil with pumice, coarse sand, or perlite added. You should be able to get this at a nursery or garden center. I like using sand and perlite in my potting soil. I mix all of my own soil for my houseplants.

Again, there are also soil mixes specifically for succulents that you can buy, which is often the easiest option. Regular potting soil tends to hold too much moisture and be too heavy for succulents to thrive.

Succulents are easy plants to take care of, but that doesn’t mean they’re no maintenance. Understanding their needs, especially in terms of watering, can help you keep your succulent healthy. Following this basic succulent care guide is the best way to keep your succulents alive in your living space for a long time.

I like to order my succulents from Etsy’s online nursery stores. They are very healthy and reasonably priced.

If you enjoyed this post you may also like reading these other helpful houseplant tip blog posts:

succulent plant care tips

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