Succulents are so much fun! Plus they are pretty easy to take care of once you’ve learned just a few basic tips. Lucky for you, that’s what I’m here to do: help you learn to grow succulents! I’m going to guess that most of you will be growing succulents indoors so my tips will apply specifically to indoor growing.
The biggest problem people encounter when growing succulents is over watering. Succulents do not like to sit in soaking wet soil as they absorb water from the air rather than from direct contact with water. They love to have a good soak and then dry out for a little while (think cactus in the desert with heavy rainfalls followed by drought). Generally with my indoor succulents I water this way about once a week. Sometimes in the peak air conditioning and heating seasons I have to water a little more because they dry out more quickly. A good rule of thumb is to water about 1-2 days after the soil dries out, assuming you have a soil that drains well. That leads me to the next thing…
Soil. You want soil that doesn’t stay soaking wet for a long time. I used to recommend diatomaceous earth (aka: oil dry) that you can find at just about any car parts store. Kitty litter is also diatomaceous earth but tends to have more chemicals in it so I don’t generally recommend that. I’ve recently found that coconut coir is also a great soil for succulents. Plus, it’s a renewable resource so it’s very eco-friendly! If you can’t find either of these, try to find something that is porous. You can add pearlite or pumice to a standard potting soil with a 1:1 ratio. If you do use standard potting soil you will likely water less often than with a faster draining soil.
Another major problem I see with succulents is using pots without a drainage hole (Find succulent pots with drainage holes here). It’s so hard to do this indoors, but you don’t want your succulent to sit in a pool of water. It needs to drain out. If you don’t want a little catcher under your pot, just water it in the sink and wait until the water stops dripping out to put it back on the shelf.
Your succulents will want quite a bit of light, but not too harsh. The best place is a foot or two away from a window that receives bright light, preferably in the morning when it’s not as hot. Being too close to a window that gets hot, direct light can actually cause the plant to sunburn. A sunburned succulent will get blackish brown spots on the leaves. Those spots won’t go away once they show up. You can either remove the leaves that are sunburned if you don’t like how it looks or just leave them until they die eventually. A succulent needs about 6 hours of indirect sunlight a day. If they don’t get enough sunlight they will start to stretch out and lose their compact shape. If this happens, don’t worry! Your plant is still healthy. If it starts to get too unsightly just cut off the top and propagate it! You can check out my blog for more details on succulent propagation.
Hopefully that helps you keep your succulents happy and healthy!