You've bought your first succulent. Now what?
Succulents are possibly the easiest plants to care for and require the bare minimum. If you are a neglectful person like I am, then you have met your PERFECT match.BASIC CARE INCLUDE:
- Sunlight - Lighting is CRUCIAL. It is almost always recommended that succulents should be kept outside. Without adequate lighting, succulents will either grow tall (etiolation) or they will look pale and unhealthy. These plants prefer direct to indirect light, however, introducing them to direct light is recommended since succulents can burn easily if not acclimated to direct light correctly. Succulents do very well indoors near a very bright window. Light should be shining down on the plant for at least a good amount of the day. If sunlight is not an option, indoor grow lights do just fine as well.
- Water - Succulents DO NOT need to be misted with water EVER. NEVER mist a succulent. Succulents prefer to have their soil SOAKED in water and then dried out for a few weeks. These plants naturally thrive in desert-like conditions, so they need that environment mimicked. Pouring water into their soil several times until it runs out the bottom of their pot is fine, or, fill a container with water and let the potted plant soak it up from the bottom. The second method is called 'bottom watering' and is the most effective way to water a succulent, although it is time consuming. Succulents can become victim to root and stem rot when exposed to excessive water for extended periods of time, so make sure the leaves and stem are free of water drops after a good watering. Some gardeners water their plants on a specific schedule (example: once every two weeks), but succulents should not be watered that way unless you know for a fact that it needs water on a consistent basis. Succulents can go a couple months without water when in the right environment. The best time to water a succulent is when the plant asks for it. Cheesy, I know, but your new plant will show you that it needs water when the leaves wrinkle or when the soil is bone dry. If you are unsure if it needs water, wait another two weeks. It is always better to ere on the side of caution since it is easier for these plants to recover from a long drought as opposed to rot. Water the plant again when it asks for it. This "drought" could be as long as one week or even one month - there is no real answer and there is no incorrect answer. Only your plant will tell you.
- Air Circulation - Succulents need to be in an area with good air flow. No, they don't need to be placed by a fan or an open window, but they do need to have their dropped leaves picked up and emptied from their pots since moisture and darkness will attract fungus, pests, and allows a higher chance for rot to set in.
- Soil - Succulents are different from most plants in that they don't like their soil constantly moist. Succulents love a good flood of water, but then they need a drought period (just like a desert). Because they can't handle constant moisture, they do best in well-draining soil. There are resources online where you can make your own soil mix, or you can go to your local garden center and purchase soil specifically made for succulents and cacti. The soil should not retain too much water. Check your new plant's soil, too, before watering each time. The soil should not be in a constant soggy state.
Don't feel too overwhelmed with your new plant! You'll do just fine. The best advice anyone has ever given me about succulents is When in doubt, wait it out.
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