How to Care for Succulents: A Complete Beginner Guide

Succulents are a family of drought-resistant plants that store water in their leaves, stems or roots. Adding succulents to your house helps keep your fresh air and remove toxins from the environment. This article is going to be a complete beginner guide on how to care for succulents, I’m going to share with you 13 quick beginner tips on planting and caring for succulents.

Choose a Healthy Succulent

Don’t buy a succulent that is etiolated, infested with pests, has soggy and dry leaves or is basically unhealthy looking. You want to start your collection by choosing healthy succulents with nice color, form and shape. This is why it is important to choose your trusted seller when buying online and to carefully check the succulent when buying on a local garden store.

How to Care for Succulents

Choose a Pot with Drainage Hole

Succulents in pots without drainage holes are prone to become overwatered. Waterlogged can result in root rot which is a condition that can kill your succulents easily. Drainage holes allow water in the soil to drain freely so that air exchange will be available for the roots. The best type of pot is clay or terracotta since it also allows moisture and air exchange in its wall.

Plant Pots With Drainage Holes

Use a Soil Specifically Blended for Cactus and Succulents

Unlike other plants, succulents are quite picky and choosy with their soil. A suitable soil mix should be well-draining, able to hold the right moisture and nutrients, provide enough air channel to allow the roots to breathe, and doesn’t contain excessive fertilizers.

Don’t Water Your Succulent After Repotting

This one is a common mistake that beginners make. Unlike other plants that require water right after transplanting, succulents  on the other hand will benefit if watering is postponed for a week. This will allow the cuts in the roots and stems of the succulent to have enough time to heal and be callous since opened wounds can cause bacterial rots.

Sunlight Requirements

Succulents do well in bright areas with some protection from intense sun exposure. Do not put them inside the house. Succulents require at least six hours of sunlight and a very bright exposure the rest of the day. But for newly potted succulents, you need to slowly introduce them to the sun. A simple guide will be an additional hour every 5-7 days until the succulent can handle longer sun exposure.

But on the flip side, in the winter time, you may need to provide extra light when the days are shorter and the light is not as intense.

During summer, succulents will benefit from a garden net and a UV plastic sheet that will protect them from the harsh scorching sun that can easily burn the leaves of your succulents. In addition, UV plastic sheets will also protect your succulents from too much rain.

Water When the Soil Mix is Dry

Succulent also needs water, but too much water can lead to overwatering. Thus, the rule of thumb is to allow the soil mix to dry completely in between watering. This will depend on the soil mix, climate, and the type pot you use. One indication that a succulents need water is when its bottom leaves start to wrinkle. Usually I water once every 7-15 days depending on the succulents and the factors I mentioned. 

You need to water until just a little bit as coming out the bottom of the pot, but you don’t want any excess to collect in the saucer. So if you have any extra, you want to make sure to pour it out. When watering, I use a watering can that has a long nozzle or spout. 

If the leaves begin to pucker. It’s a good sign that your plant needs water, but if the leaves start to look translucent and soggy, that could mean that the soil is holding too much moisture. Basically, you just want to make it a habit to check on your succulents often to see if they need water.

Impact of Temperature on Succulents

Succulents can handle heat as well as cold. Succulent can live in temperatures down to even 40 degrees  Fahrenheit and up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But Succulents tend to prefer a temperate climate with the temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Always try to keep the temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizer for Succulents

Just like all other plants succulents need food. And how often you fertilize will depend on what variety of succulents you have, so I do recommend that you research what you plant. But generally you want to fertilize about once a month with a succulent specific food.

You’ll always want to read the directions on the fertilizer bottle.. Make sure not to water extra though, just incorporate fertilizing into your normal watering schedule.

Keep Your Eyes Out for Insects. 

If you see anything starting, you’re going to want to take care of it immediately. Maybe take a picture or a sample down to your local Garden Center so they can help you identify what you’re dealing with and how to take care of it. Most succulents do not like to be sprayed with insecticide, so I don’t recommend doing that. The insects that I deal with the most are Mealy Bugs, which are tiny little insects that look like they’re covered in cotton. When I see those starting to form on my plants I take a q-tip and dip it in isopropyl alcohol, and then just gently wipe them off.

Groom Your Succulents

Dry and decaying leaves will result in poorer air circulation. It will also make the base of the succulent stay moist for a longer period. These two are some factors that encourage the growth of fungi and attract pests. Thus, keeping your succulents clear from dry and decaying leaves will lessen the likelihood of these pests.

Protect Them from Other Factors

You have to protect your succulents from pets. Succulents are tender plants, and most of them can be easily damaged. You can place your succulents in cages or in elevated locations wherein your fur buddies can’t reach them. Moreover, you also need to protect your succulents from the itchy hands of your neighbours. There are several succulents that produce farina which is a fine powder on the leaves. The farina protects the succulent from too much sunlight. Thus, try to refrain from touching the foliage.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

There are several groups on Facebook that can help you. National Cactus and Succulent Organization of the Philippines, World Cactus and Succulent Society, All about succulents etc are FaceBook groups you can join. If you have any question about your succulent you can take a picture of it and post it in the groups so people can help you identify what’s the problem or help you with the ID.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Don’t get discouraged when your succulents die. It’s normal for beginners to kill some of their succulents. Treat it as a part of learning, even seasonal and experienced growers experienced the death of plants. Be patient and enjoy gardening. Time makes everything better. Instead of getting discouraged, do some research and don’t hesitate to experiment. Remember that each grower will need to find the best-growing methods for his or her condition.

So this was all about on How to Care for Succulents. If you have any questions feel free to ask!

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