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How to Grow and Care for Succulents

Confessions of a Serial Succulent Killer

I’ll admit it – I have a checkered past when it comes to succulents. As much as I adore their quirky shapes and carefree dispositions, I’ve been known to kill more than my fair share of these hardy little plants. Whether it was overwatering, underwatering, or just plain neglect, my poor succulents never stood a chance.

But you know what they say – the third time’s the charm! After countless trips to the nursery to replace my latest victims, I’ve finally cracked the code on keeping these low-maintenance marvels alive and thriving. And I’m here to share my hard-won secrets with you, my fellow succulent enthusiasts.

Mastering the Basics of Succulent Care

The first step to becoming a succulent superstar is understanding the fundamentals of their care. These plants hail from arid, desert-like environments, which means they have some very specific needs when it comes to light, water, and soil.

Lighting Requirements

Succulents are true sun-worshippers and require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. As the experts at Architectural Digest note, these plants “will not survive with full shade” and can even scorch in intense direct sunlight if they’re not gradually acclimated to it.

If you’re growing your succulents indoors, be sure to place them in the brightest spot possible, like a south-facing window. You can also use a grow light to supplement their sun exposure. And don’t forget to rotate your plants regularly, as they’ll naturally lean towards the light source.

Watering Wisdom

When it comes to watering succulents, the key is to err on the side of underwatering. As HGTV explains, these plants “are prone to rotting if overwatered, so it’s important to let the soil dry out completely between waterings.”

The best way to gauge when your succulents need a drink is to stick your finger into the soil – if the top inch or two is dry, it’s time to water. When you do water, be sure to soak the soil until it runs out the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. And never use a spray bottle, as this can lead to brittle roots and moldy leaves.

Soil Essentials

Succulents require a well-draining soil mix to thrive. Regular potting soil or garden dirt just won’t cut it, as these plants are prone to root rot in heavy, moisture-retentive soils. According to Architectural Digest, the ideal soil for succulents should be “porous and sandy” to ensure proper drainage.

You can purchase a pre-made succulent or cactus soil mix, or create your own by blending potting soil with sand, pumice, or perlite. Just be sure to use a container with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

Caring for Succulents at Different Stages

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the unique care needs of succulents at different stages of their life cycle.

Newly Planted Succulents

When you first bring home a new succulent, it’s important to ease it into its new environment. As Architectural Digest warns, “Newly planted succulents in particular can scorch in direct sunlight,” so you’ll want to gradually introduce them to full sun exposure.

Start by placing your new succulent in a spot with partial shade, and then slowly move it to a sunnier location over the course of a few weeks. This will help the plant adjust and prevent any unsightly sunburns.

Mature Succulents

As your succulents grow and mature, their care needs will shift as well. According to the succulent enthusiasts on Reddit, “Succulents need more energy when they’re in a period of growth” – that is, during the spring and summer months.

This means you’ll want to water your mature succulents more frequently during the growing season, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. And you can even give them a light fertilizer boost to fuel their lush new growth.

In the fall and winter, when succulents are actively resting, you can cut back on watering and skip the fertilizer altogether. This will help your plants conserve their energy and avoid becoming leggy or weak.

Troubleshooting Common Succulent Issues

Of course, no matter how carefully you care for your succulents, there’s always the chance that something could go wrong. But fear not – I’ve got your back with some tried-and-true troubleshooting tips.

Pests and Diseases

While indoor succulents are generally pest-free, Architectural Digest warns that you may occasionally have to deal with pesky gnats or mealybugs. Gnats are attracted to overly wet soil, so make sure you’re not overwatering. And mealybugs can be controlled by isolating affected plants and spraying them with 70% isopropyl alcohol.

As for diseases, the number one culprit is root rot, which is caused by – you guessed it – too much moisture. If you notice your succulent’s leaves turning yellow or mushy, gently remove it from its pot and inspect the roots. If they’re brown and squishy, it’s time to take action.

Carefully cut away any damaged roots, then repot your succulent in fresh, well-draining soil. You can also let the plant sit out for a day or two to allow the cut ends to callus over before watering again.

Leaning or Stretching

If your succulents are starting to lean or stretch towards the light, it’s a telltale sign that they’re not getting enough sun exposure. As Architectural Digest explains, “Leaning may also be a sign that they need to be in a sunnier spot.”

To remedy this, simply move your succulents to a brighter location, such as a south-facing window or under a grow light. And don’t forget to rotate them regularly to ensure even light distribution.

Bringing It All Together

So there you have it – my comprehensive guide to growing and caring for healthy, happy succulents. From mastering the basics of light, water, and soil to troubleshooting common issues, I’ve covered all the essential information you need to become a bona fide succulent superstar.

And remember, the key to success is patience and a little bit of trial and error. As with any plant, it may take some experimentation to figure out the perfect care routine for your specific succulents. But once you’ve got it down, the rewards are endless – your home will be filled with an array of quirky, low-maintenance beauties that will bring you joy for years to come.

Ready to get started? Head on over to Today’s Gardens to browse our selection of stunning succulents and start your journey to becoming a green thumb extraordinaire!

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