When it comes to succulents, less is more. They don’t need a lot of water or fertilizer to stay alive and too much of either can actually do more harm than good. Water your succulents about once a week, making sure the soil is fully dry in between waterings.
In the winter, you can water even less. As for fertilizer, we recommend using a low-nitrogen succulent fertilizer about once a month during the growing season. If you want your succulents to thrive, make sure they’re getting plenty of sunlight. Most varieties need at least six hours of sunlight a day to stay healthy and prevent them from getting leggy (stretched out).
If you don’t have a spot in your home that gets that much sunlight, you can supplement with grow lights. Just like with people, first impressions count for succulents too. Be sure to start your plants off in the right potting mix. A well-draining succulent potting mix is key to success. We like to mix in a little extra perlite to our potting soil to make sure it’s extra draining.
How to Water Succulents
It's best to water succulents thoroughly but less often. They like to dry out between waterings and hate having their roots continuously wet. This goes for plants indoors and outdoors. Avoid ineffective misting, which can encourage unhealthy bacteria. Always water deep and saturate the soil to give your succulents a good, long drink.
During the winter months of December and January, succulents will go into a dormant state and show little to no signs of growth. This is when overwatering can do real damage to your plants. Check to make sure your soil has very little moisture before you water. Once the days start getting longer—around the middle or end of February—you'll see your plants actively growing again. That's your cue to start watering more regularly.
General Watering Tips:
No matter what time of year it is, you should always water your plants in the morning. This gives them time to absorb the moisture before the heat of the day sets in. If the soil has a high concentration of rocks or silt, water may seem to bead up and run off it. To help water penetrate the surface, loosen the soil with a small tool. If the leaves of your plant start to shrivel, that is a sign that you are not watering often or thoroughly enough. You won't lose your succulent entirely, but you may have to remove a few leaves.
Succulents thrive in direct sunlight
Succulents are known for their vibrant colors, and they reach their full potential when exposed to long hours of direct sunlight (6 or more hours).
Although you can grow succulents in shady areas, their colors will be less intense. The more sun, the better! If your succulent is growing tall and lanky, with a long stem and lots of space between leaves, it's probably not getting enough light and is "reaching" for the sun. You can supplement your succulent's light requirements with artificial lights.
Succulents need to be kept warm in the winter
Most succulents are not hardy and cannot withstand temperatures below 4 degrees Celsius. Use the nighttime temperatures as a guide for when your non-hardy succulents can be placed or planted outside. A good rule to follow is to ensure that the nighttime temperature is a consistent 10 degrees Celsius; this will help to prevent the plants from freezing overnight.
In late summer and early fall, keep an eye on the nighttime temperatures to know when to bring the succulents inside for the winter. Once the nighttime temperature averages at 5 degrees Celsius, bring the plants indoors. However, make sure to bring them in before there is a frost.
Potting a succulent
It is important to use a mix of soil that is free draining for succulents so that their roots are not soggy. A combination of 40% peat, 20% coir, 20% perlite, and 20% coarse washed sand is recommended.
To create a natural look, topdress the exposed soil with small stones, sand, wood, and other natural accents. This also helps keep the soil from blowing away or dislodging, as well as preventing water evaporation after watering.
Choose pots that have good drainage or only water when the soil is dry. Shallow clay or concrete bowls, and standard pots with holes in the bottom all work well with succulents. However, because succulents are slow-growing, they also work quite nicely in small glass terrariums! If you are planting in pots without drainage, make sure to only water when the soil is dry.
How to fertilize
- Regular indoor plant fertilizer can be used for succulents in their weekly waterings during their growing months (June-Aug), or specific cactus and succulent fertilizer varieties can be used.
- Stay away from using fertilizer during the sleepy months from December through mid-February.
- Clear tap water is enough to keep them hydrated and happy.