Grow Like a Pro: How to Care for Succulents Indoors
Succulents are an absolute must-have for any houseplant collection, but for those of you who are new to plant care, you might be a bit unsure of how to care for them. While they certainly aren’t considered high-maintenance plants, succulent upkeep is a little different from your typical pothos or philodendron. All this means is that you need to take a different approach if you want the best results.
If you haven’t had much success with these desert-dwelling plants in the past, don’t fret! Even if you’re a total beginner at houseplant care, you’ll be growing succulents like a pro in no time if you follow this simple guide.
How To Care For Succulents
These cacti cousins are a pretty diverse group: you’ve got your echeverias, senecios, haworthias, kalanchoes, and several more colorful, peculiar varieties! Though they may look quite different, they generally tend to have similar sun, water, and soil requirements. Here are the basics, so you can fill your shelves with pots and planters full of these colorful cuties and enjoy them for many years to come.
Succulents have thick, fleshy leaves that store a lot of water, just like cacti, which helps them survive hot, dry temperatures. That being said, they still need a good, thorough watering now and again to keep them from shriveling up.
Instead of frequently watering small amounts to keep the soil consistently moist, water generously so the moisture drains through the container and comes out the holes in the bottom. Then, allow the soil to dry out completely before rewatering. In the summer, depending on how warm it is, you may need to water them every 1–2 weeks, but in the winter, you can reduce watering to every 3–4 weeks.
Since you’ll be watering large amounts less frequently, you need to have soil with good drainage, or else that water won’t drain through—instead, it will just remain stagnant. This can lead to fungal growth and root rot, which can harm or even kill your succulent.
Find a potting medium specifically formulated for cacti. It will be looser and lighter, with chunks of material like shredded bark. This will be the perfect material for your succulents to live comfortably in, and water will drain through with no issue.
Direct sunlight is essential to keeping succulents happy! Ideally, you’ll want to aim for 6+ hours of bright, direct sunlight every day. New plants might be a bit more light-sensitive than mature plants, so you can start by exposing them to indirect sunlight and slowly move them closer to the light source as they develop.
If your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, it may show signs of stretching. A short, spiraled echeveria could start growing tall and skinny with its leaves pointing downward, looking like some strange hybrid between a succulent and a Christmas tree. If your plants are sprouting up quickly, but the growth doesn’t look very strong or healthy, then see if you can move it to a spot with more sunlight.
How to Repot Succulents
The most important thing to keep in mind when you are repotting succulents is the timing because if you repot while the plant is in dormancy, you could disrupt its growth cycle. The thing is, some varieties are summer-dormant, and some are winter-dormant. So, while you could check and verify when your plant is dormant based on the variety, the easiest option is to just save repotting for spring or fall.
When repotting a houseplant, you’re probably used to watering generously directly after planting to help the roots establish. But in this case, you’ll want to wait a few days before watering to avoid shocking the roots. When you do start to water your plant after repotting, don’t water quite as much as you usually would.
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