Succulents 101: Care, Watering, Soil & Pots

Succulents are trendy little plants that are derived from the world’s most arid regions. One advantage of succulents as house plants is that, thanks to their natural design, they are able to retain water and sustain themselves for periods of time.

They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors and are able to adapt to a wide array of growing conditions. In addition, they require minimal amounts of care, which makes them a fail-safe option for both indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as plant parents who are just starting out.

What Are Succulents?

In the world of modern gardening, technical terminology can be a challenge. For example, any plant that is usually from an arid climate and has fleshy leaves/stems to store water is considered to be a succulent. These plants include agave, aloe, sedum, kalanchoe, echeveria, crassula, sempervivum, and numerous others.

However, most of the time, the term succulent is used to describe only the species with fleshy leaves. All plants with spines are typically called a cactus, even though all cacti fall under the succulent group.

Watering Succulents

When it comes to watering, succulents are a pretty basic plant to hydrate. They don’t require a ton of water and have very relaxed requirements when it comes to moisture. You could say that succulents, unlike other perennials, thrive when they are slightly neglected.

Watering succulent

Succulents don’t do well with too much water. You need to make sure that succulent soil is not water-logged, which can be done by providing adequate drainage. During the growing season, succulents should be watered roughly once per week. They should be allowed to dry out between watering so that the soil never gets soggy, as this can cause root rot.

If you live in a climate where succulents go dormant during the cooler winter season, you can likely increase the time between each watering session. When caring for succulents indoors, however, a set, the consistent watering schedule is best regardless of the climate outside.

What’s the Best Succulent Soil?

Whether you decide to make your own succulent soil or opt to buy a premixed version, it’s important to remember that although they are arid plants, succulents do still need some level of moisture every now and then.

If you buy premixed soil, choose one that is made specifically for succulents. Or, if you’re making your own, use some potting soil with sand or a handful of small-medium sized pebbles or stones are your substrate.

What’s the Best Succulent Pot?

Succulent pots are simple. They need to be deep enough for the succulent to grow its roots and have enough ventilation that excess water can easily drain out.

Potting succulents

You can find some really great terracotta pots, or alternatively, simply use the everyday basic plastic pots – the ones with the long slits in the bottom.

Caring for Succulents

Of course, succulents need proper soil and good watering practices to thrive – but they also need two other things: fertilizer and sunshine.

Succulents need 6-8 hours of full sun per day. This range is dependant on the specific species of succulents you have and what their requirements are.

They also need high-quality fertilizer. The fertilizer should be balanced and have equal portions of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. It should be applied during the spring. Natural fertilizers work well, too, and if you live on a farm, you could use cow manure like you would in a vegetable garden or for a lawn.

Once your plants are established and flourishing, the taller varieties will need to be trimmed yearly to keep them from getting too tall.

Ideal Climate for Succulents

Before adding any succulents to your outdoor landscape, be sure to check their label. Some succulents are hardy growers that can grow nearly anywhere while others are more specific in where they will thrive. Tender succulents are great for regions that have little to no frost and for indoor purposes.

Using Succulents

Succulents attract gardeners due to their quirky appearances and growing flexibility. They woo decorators with their interesting colors, shapes, and textures and they are attractive to first-time plant parents because of how easy they are to take care of and how little attention they require.

These hardy little plants can be used in containers such as low bowls or pots, the only requirement being that they still need drainage. Different types of succulents can be planted together to create a creative, all-natural mosaic.

Succulents care

They can also be used in outdoor gardens. Low-growing types make good ground cover options for sunny, open areas while succulents like sedums can be placed in areas with shade to cover any gaps or holes in the landscape.

Using succulents indoors is quite popular, too. Indoor maintenance is simple but needs to be regular and consistent. They should be kept in an area with bright light and only be watered once their soil has dried out. In front of a window is the best place to put indoor succulents.

Depending on the level of moisture in your home or office space – wherever you’re placing your brand-new succulent- the soil could dry out anywhere from once a week to just once a month. The soil should be monitored for a while; this will help you determine an appropriate watering schedule for your plant.

Now, if all else fails and none of these succulent uses tickle your fancy, you could get really creative. Have you ever considered using succulents to make an all-natural, living wreath for the holidays? How about making a living bracelet out of them?

Succulents in glass terrariums

There are tons of fun ways that succulents can be used but one of our favorites is creating table-top gardens or vivariums. These are small-scale garden-like landscapes that are contained in a jar, fishbowl, or other open-type container and contain plants like succulents and air plants.

If you plan to use succulents for these, just be sure to allow drainage, or all your hard work will be for nothing when your succulent fades away due to root rot.