succulent in sun in planter with drainage holes

Are you a brand new succulent owner eager to give your new friend the best possible care? Perhaps your little plant friend isn’t looking too healthy.  Either way, the information in this post will guide you towards having a happy, healthy plant baby. 

Given the right conditions, succulents are some of the easiest plants to care for.  Properly cared for, these amazing plants can produce spectacular displays of color all year-round.

These plants have evolved to endure some of the harshest environments on Earth, including deserts with extremely low rainfall or barren plains with extreme difference in temperature from day to night.  In other words, succulents are durable and sturdy plants that cope well in dry harsh conditions. This makes them them some of the lowest-care house plants for busy plant lovers.

How Often To Water Succulents

colorful succulent with water drops on leaves

Succulents thrive on little water. In fact, they can store water and nutrients in their leaves, stems and roots.

The key to a happy and healthy succulent is not to over water it. In fact, make sure to let the soil and the plant completely dry between waterings. Make sure that the soil is dry throughout the whole pot and not just on the top. When in doubt, don't waterDon't worry, your succulent will be fine for a while in dry soil!  

One practical way to determine whether your succulent needs water is by the weight of the planter in which the succulent is planted. A planter with wet soil is going to weigh a lot more than a planter with dry soil. Pick up your planter after watering it to get a feel for the weight and then do it again to feel it after it's dry. After a while, you will know when your succulent needs water just by picking up the plant pot. 

Over time, you will also learn to recognize some signs that your succulent is thirsty. A well-watered succulent will have leaves that are firm.  On the other hand, a thirsty succulent will likely have wrinkled, thinning or curling leaves. 

How To Water Succulents

These hardy plants come from some of the harshest environments on earth, such as deserts with very low rainfall.  In the desert, it may not rain often, but when it does, it really rains. Given that their natural habitat offers a rare and occasional soak, we recommend doing the same for your indoor succulents. Water only occasionally, but when you do, give them a full soak.

There is no need to give your succulent water by the tablespoon. In fact, all succulents can benefit from a full soak. Saturating the pot until water drains from the bottom can help make sure water gets to all areas of the soil, as well as flushing out any lingering minerals which might otherwise have accumulated. After a complete soak, wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.

Do Succulents Need Sun?

cactus succulent in planter pot in direct sunlight

While you may not need to worry too much about watering your succulents, by and large, they need plenty of sunlight. In fact, succulents love sunlight and depending on the type of succulent, they may need as much as six hours of direct sunlight every day.  Direct light means the sun is shining right on the plant for about half the day. 

In order to maximize the amount of direct sunlight your succulent gets, you should place your succulents near a window that gets the most sunlight throughout the day. If you are in the northern hemisphere, like in the United States, a south-facing window is the perfect home for your succulents. For those who don’t have a south-facing window, you should place your succulents near the brightest window or brightest area of your office or home. If none of these options are available to you, you may wish to consider a succulent that does not require as much direct sunlight, such as Aloe.

For newly planted succulents, it is best to try and start them in their previous lighting conditions and gradually introduce them to full sun exposure.  Otherwise, you run the risk of your plant getting scorched in the direct sunlight.  Therefore, try and start them out in a level of sunlight that the plants would have been accustomed to in their previous location.  For example, if you bought your succulent from inside a store with minimal natural sunlight, take your time getting your succulent accustomed to sunlight, whereas if you got it from a sunny outdoor greenhouse, full sunlight is likely fine.

Get a pot with drainage holes

 blue plant pot for cacti or succulent

Choosing the right succulent pot or planter can make a big difference in allowing your succulents to thrive. Since many succulents are deep rooters, you should choose moderately deep pots with drainage holes in the bottom.  A planter with ample drainage will help to keep water from pooling at the pot’s base. This is critical because succulents need their roots to be completely dry and any pot without drainage holes will result in moisture and water being trapped in the bottom, leaving the roots sitting in damp or soggy soil, which increases the risk of rot or overwatering.

Ideal Size of Succulent Planter

 The size of the succulent planter is important when it comes to water retention. Generally speaking, larger pots will retain more water than smaller pots.  For this reason, don’t use a larger pot than is needed. As a general rule, we suggest that you buy a planter pot that allows you to leave about a half-inch of space between the succulent and the edge of the pot after it has been planted. So, if you buy a 2-inch succulent, you should look to buy a pot that is about 2.5 inches.

Some people like to plant a lot of succulents together, creating beautiful arrangements.  If you are going to do this, be careful to leave space between the plants to ensure that the plants do not become overcrowded, which can lead to mold and insect infestations.  Also, remember that different succulents have different needs for water and sunlight, so make sure that when you are planting succulents together, that they are compatible. For example, cacti should not be paired with fleshy succulents, because cacti don’t need as much water.

Ideal Potting Mix

Indoor succulents prefer fast-draining soil and therefore an ideal potting mix for succulents should drain freely and dry quickly.  Soil that remains damp or soggy for days on end can quickly lead to rot. An ideal succulent potting mix will have a combination of soil, perlite, pumice, fine gravel, and sometimes sand, as well as light organic materials, derived from once-living matter, such as peat moss, compost, and fine aged bark. The ideal potting mix has just enough organic material to retain some moisture, while the inorganic matter (like rock or sand) helps with fast drainage.

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