A Guide To Succulent Plant Care

If you are a time poor gardener or don’t have the best track record when it comes to caring for plants, succulents are the ideal plants for you! Suitable for both indoor and outdoor spaces, they can easily brighten your space without extensive care requirements.

When it comes to choosing what type of succulent to grow, you are overwhelmed with choice! The colour variations of succulents seem endless! You can choose from pink, chartreuse, yellow, white, red, blue-green, variegated and almost black. Moreover, the leaves can be berry-like, spiky, ruffled or rounded. There are large succulents that are ideal for garden beds and smaller succulents which are great for smaller balcony gardens or a windowsill inside. This wide range of shapes, colours and sizes means you’ll easily find a succulent which will look stunning in your home or garden.

Although some types of succulent plants have specific care requirements, most are quite easy to grow since they have evolved with special water-storage tissues. This means they can thrive in surroundings that are too dry for other plants and don’t mind a little neglect. However, to ensure your succulent is healthy and happy, read our guide to taking care of succulents and how to resolve any problems that might arise.

How to Grow Healthy Succulents

Regardless of the kind of succulent plant you intend to cultivate, the rules are somewhat similar when it comes to caring for most types of this plant. Here are our tips for growing healthy succulents.

1. Create a watering schedule

The rule of thumb when watering succulents is to water them monthly during winter, twice a month during autumn and spring, and once a week in summer. Increasing or reducing the amount of water depends on different factors: time of year, the depth and type of soil, duration and intensity of sun exposure, the type of plant, and ambient temperature.

Between watering sessions, allow the potting mix to dry. To prevent under or over-watering, set a reminder on your phone or calendar and avoid watering your succulent outside of these times.

2. Find their light requirements

Succulents love bright light! The condition of the leaves will indicate if the light level is correct. There are some species that will scorch when exposed to direct sunlight; the leaves turn brown and the soft tissues are destroyed.

On the other hand, some succulents will start to stretch when they need more light, and so they end up having widely spaced leaves and an elongated stem. In order to save the plant it will be necessary to prune the plant back to the primary shape and place it in an area with more sunlight.

Placing your succulent in a small pot will make it easy to manoeuvre your plant around the space and find the ideal lighting for its needs.

3.  Add potting Soil

Succulents must be potted in a fast-draining mixture that is designed specifically for them. But if you do not have access to this specialised mix, modify a normal potting mixture by adding an inorganic agent. This will help increase drainage and aeration.

When you are growing desert succulents, minimise the amount of compost and add large-grained sand like decomposed granite or builder’s sand.

4. Use fertiliser

To ensure that your succulent is getting the nutrients it needs to grow healthily, you can use fertiliser. Apply a balanced liquid fertiliser during the summer growing season and once or twice in spring. Stop adding fertiliser entirely during the winter months.

5. Monitor for pests

Even succulents aren’t immune to pests! You can help prevent pests by giving your succulent plants excellent air circulation and avoid overwatering. Common pests that enjoy succulents include mealy bugs, aphids and whiteflies. Aphids prefer flower buds while mealy bugs burrow into the leaf axis.

We recommend isolating infested plants immediately to prevent the infestation from spreading. When the pests are winning, take cuttings from healthy growth and pot them in fresh, good soil. Discard the diseased plant and its soil, and make sure to clean the pot before using it again. In humid climates, mould can become a huge problem, so always keep succulents dry.

Common Problems For Succulents

Having issues with your succulents? Even the most experienced gardeners can still run into some common problems when growing their succulent plants. Here are some of the common issues with succulents and how to best solve them.

1. Over- and Under-watering

If your succulent is being under or overwatered, it’s likely it is unhappy. Overwatered succulents become discoloured and soft, and the leaves may turn white or yellow. If your plant reaches this condition, it is beyond repair. However, you can still remove it from its pot to inspect the roots. Remove the dead roots and replant them into a drier potting mix. If this does not work, gardening experts also recommend taking a cutting and propagating the parent plant.

Underwatered succulents will stop growing at first. Then, they will start to shed leaves or they might develop brown spots on the leaves. If your succulent is still alive, give it a thorough watering and ensure that the water is reaching the roots. Once it begins to pour out the drainage holes of your pot, you’ll know that it has absorbed enough.

2. Bad Soil

The number one killer of succulent plants is bad soil. Succulents grow best in a well-draining mix which isn’t too dense and won’t retain extra moisture. If your soil isn’t able to dry out then this could lead to your succulent becoming overwatered and rotting in the moist soil.

3. Frost

If you are in a cooler climate and you have your succulents outside in the cold, they may be affected by frost. To ensure your succulent survives the winter, you can either cover them with a frost cloth or bring them indoors into the warmth.

4. Sunburn

Although most succulents grow well under the bright sun, there are some species that prefer partial shade. Your plant might be experiencing too much sun exposure when their leaves display black spots. If you wish to cultivate them outdoors, make sure to acclimatise them around springtime. If the plant endured any kind of damage, the scar will not go away. But despite this injury, it can still grow and thrive.

5. Uneven growth

You may notice that your succulent is growing unevenly, such as stretched leaves or elongated stems. This is likely due to the plant reaching towards the light and may need to be moved to a different location with more light. You can also turn the plant around to help even out the growth.

Enlist the experts

If you want to grow succulents, but need some additional assistance then enlist the experts at Jim’s Mowing NZ to help! Our gardening services will take care of your garden, including your succulent plants, and ensure that it is in tip-top shape. Simply get in touch with our friendly team to learn more or Book online!