Succulents and cacti have been taking over the blogosphere for a while now. They are so simple to take care of and are known for their ease-of-care, but some how, some way, I wasn’t able to keep all of mine alive last year.
From what I read online, it was nearly impossible to kill these drought-friendly plants, yet I somehow found a way to do it. To avoid another “Pinterest fail”, I thought this time around I would do things the right way and actually learn how to properly take care of my succulents.
After a lot of research, I thought I would share with you all the key points in taking care of succulents and cacti. I’ve also got an exciting post coming up tomorrow with Wayfair and Porch.com, so stay tuned for more! *Update: Check out my garden makeover here!
A huge myth when it comes to cacti and succulents is that they don’t need to be watered frequently. Yes, this is partially true, but you don’t want to go without ever watering them. They do require a specific watering schedule when they are “in-season” and “out-of-season.”
In season: When cacti and succulents are in their growing season (the warmer months of the year), they need to be watered (at minimum) about once a week. Depending on how large your succulent plant is, you may even need to water a number of times a week. When watering, make sure to really soak the soil so that the water drains out of the pot.
Off season: When the cooler months roll around, these plants go into a “resting” period. This is when you lay off the intense watering schedule. You will begin to water these plants a lot less and even wait until the soil is completely dried out until you water them again.
The amount of sun exposure succulents and cacti should receive is based on species. You can’t simply say all succulent plants need “x” amount of light, because they are all different! I typically test out different plants in different areas of my yard, patio or window sill. That way, if I notice one particular species isn’t doing so well (and it starts to shrivel) you know you may need more or less light for that plant. Another sign to look out for is if your plant begins to lighten (or bleach) – this is telling you your succulent is getting too much sun. If you’re plant isn’t getting enough sun, you might notice it start to grow towards the sun. If you see this happening, your plant is telling you it needs more light!
No matter what pot you decide to use (because I’m sure the Pinterest world has inspired you to get creative), just make sure it has proper drainage. I use to plant my succulents in just about anything (disregarding the fact that they NEEDED drainage), and although they did last a long time (a lot longer than I thought they would), they won’t actually grow (and last) in a pot without the proper drainage.
Soil is another factor to keep in mind. If you’re a hard-core succulent enthusiast (you probably won’t be reading this post actually) BUT if you are, some of you may want to create your own soil. In this case, a balanced ratio of compost and potting soil will really make your succulents thrive. BUT if you’re a “I’m just trying to make them NOT die” kind of gardener (like me), then you might want to go with something a bit more simple (and more readily available, like soil found at Lowe’s or Home Depot). I’ve found that buying a standard potting soil will do the trick as long as I water as I should and provide my plants with the correct amount of sunlight. Whatever you decide to buy, just make sure your soil drains correctly!
I think it’s pretty clear that cacti and succulents can survive a lot, but nasty pests can ruin the party. Look out for some common bugs like snails, slugs, aphids and mealy bugs. There are a number of other critters that can eat away at your beautiful succulents, so if you’re worried about a certain species, do some research if you think the critter isn’t one of the common bugs listed above.
Want to print my beginners guide? I’ve created a simple 3 page E-Guide for you to download – click here for the free printable PDF.