Succulents are the rage right now and everyone is interested in how to grow them both indoors and out. There are a few basics that need to be understood before you embark on your succulent gardening experience.
Succulents get their name from the fleshy leaves and stems that store water. This characteristic allows them to survive in low-rainfall areas. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy weekly downpours provided they are planted in well-draining soil that dries out quickly. Soggy soils kills a succulent off in record time!
What about soil? Since it is imperative that succulents are planted in a well-draining soil, you should use a cactus and succulent soil that has excellent drainage. If you buy a cactus soil and it seems very similar to regular potting soil, then you can Doctor it up. Here is a great DIY recipe for Cactus and Succulent soil:
3 parts potting soil
2 parts coarse sand
1 part perlite
Additionally, you can add some fine gravel at the top of the soil to keep the base of the plant from rotting. It is also very attractive!
Pots for succulents: In general, succulents like to be planted in pots that drain. Then they can be thoroughly watered once a week and any excess water will flow through. During the winter, the watering may be reduced because of less light and warmth. Make sure you check the soil to ensure it is dry before you water. If you are a beginner gardener, I would stick to pots that have drainage holes. If you are planting outside in pots, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE POTS HAVE SUFFICIENT DRAINAGE HOLES!
That being said, many of the succulents displayed on Pinterest or in magazines are in pots or various containers that do not have drainage holes. So you will need to have more awareness of what is happening with the soil. Instead of watering automatically once per week, you need to stick your finger in the soil to ensure that the soil is dry, then water a little less than what you would do with a pot with drainage. Again, after the water has absorbed, check with your finger to make sure it has gone down to the roots. You want to give them a good watering and then let them dry out completely before doing it again. They will forgive you for not watering them but they will not forgive you for over-watering! Pots without drainage can only be grown inside or outside under protection from the heavy rains. Another option to having a pot with no holes is to drill holes in the base. I found a very good reference on how to do this:
What about grouping succulents together? Succulents look great in a combination but there are a few things to think about when grouping them in the same container. First off, some succulents like more sun that others and may not be happy when combined with more shade tolerant varieties. Additionally, all succulents do not grow at the same rate. Therefore if you have a fast growing plant mixed with a slow growing plant, it will overtake the container. So, the answer to this is to know your varieties- sun or shade tolerant or fast or slow growing? Plant like varieties together. Another option is to put all the different varieties in separate pots and group the pots together in an arrangement. Then when one plant grows faster you can shift it to the back of the group.
What about sun? Despite widespread belief, most succulents do not thrive if blasted with the hottest temps and the fullest sun exposure. While they appreciate a lot of light, most succulents need sun protection.They prefer 5-6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight a day. That means putting them in a bright window that does not receive the direct light. If you putting your pots outside, place them under trees or on a porch that does not get intense sun.
I found a very informational website that goes over many, many varieties of succulents. Check it out at www.worldofsucculents.com
If you would be interested in coming to a workshop about succulents with access to hundreds of plants directly from the grower, please email me at email@example.com