It’s time to talk about succulents! If you’ve caught the succulent bug I am very sorry… I’m sorry to say it’s highly contagious and there is no known cure. Luckily it’s a pretty great bug to get since the result is gorgeous plants!
So many plants that I’ve gone from keeping a few succulents on my mantle to an entire row of bookshelves on my side porch (not to mention my prized succulent planters on the front porch!). I also sell quite a few of my favorite arrangements in our antique booth so if you’ve found this page after picking up one of my creations welcome! Don’t forget to leave a comment at the bottom letting me know you stopped by… I absolutely love meeting new succulent friends.
If you’re looking for the basics on succulents then you’ve come to the right place. I’m not an expert by any means but I have gained quite a bit of knowledge along the way. So here its is… my crash course on succulent care for beginners.
Succulent Tools for Beginners
Alright y’all when you’re just starting out you don’t need much but I thought I would share my list of must-haves with you so you don’t have to run out to the store fifty million times like I did so many moons ago!
Once you’ve mastered the basics (keeping succulents alive!) you can check out my post on how to plant succulents to start potting your own creations!
Use a Cactus and Succulent Soil
Succulents are from the dessert y’all which means they are use to a different climate, a different soil and that they retain water differently than other plants. They prefer a soil that’s lighter, faster draining with more aeration… which is a fancy way of saying that succulents need a soil that doesn’t hold a lot of water and has more air.
My Mom is an amazing gardener… her yards have amazed people for years while I have struggled to grown any kind of green plant under the sun. However this succulent thing? That I get! Mom helped me water my succulent babies on the porch last week and was amazed at how the water was already draining through the soil. Succulents are so different from regular plants so it makes sure they would need a different type of soil… I went through 9 bags of succulent soil just last week!
Use a Large Syringe to Water
One of the hardest parts of keeping a succulent alive is watering… simply because people tend to water the same way they would a house plant. Remember how I said these little guys are from the desert? They are use to big bouts of rain followed by several days or weeks of drought.
That sounds scary but what it really means is that succulents do best with a little bit of neglect (which is why I like them!) I use a big syringe to water my succulents right down at the roots… you want to soak the soil so that your succulents get a nice long drink and then wait until the soil is bone dry before watering again.
Depending on your climate that could mean watering once a week or even once a month… living in Alabama my succulents on the porch get quite a bit of moisture naturally so I only water them about once every 3-4 weeks.
The easiest way to tell is to use a bamboo skewer… I leave mine in the pot all the time and when it comes time to water just pull that baby out. If any dirt clings to the skewer than the soil still has moisture and it doesn’t need watering… if the skewer comes out clean with no dirt at all then you can go ahead and water. Just like a toothpick when you’re checking a cake to see if it’s finished.
That’s still a thing right?
Of course, watching your succulents leaves will tell you a story as well: wrinkly leaves means your succulents need a drink while yellow succulent leaves mean it has too much water already.
Give your Succulents Light!
They are plants after all so these babies do need a bit of light! Typically 4-6 hours of morning light is perfect and with the exception of a few plants (like hens and chicks) they love dispersed light instead of direct sunlight.
Light filtered through a tree or under a porch is perfect. Of course, I love having succulents in side and find that as long as they are near a window they are good to go. If your succulents start to get a bit brown or wilted they probably need a bit more light… so move them closer to a window or try a grow light.
Remember I love succulents because they thrive on neglect so I definitely need something you can set and forget… I want to enjoy my pretty plants!
I don’t love the look of a big ugly grow light but when you don’t have the sun on your desk or in your bedroom sometimes it’s necessary… I love this long bar grow light because it gives great coverage over the entire arrangement and has a built in timer so I don’t have to remember to turn it on or off. I love that it clips on so that you can clip it to a nearby chair or dresser and then cover the ugly parts with a throw blanket or pillow.
Can you see the little grow light clipped on the chair up above? It lets me keep succulents in our antique booth which has absolutely no sun at all! Score.
Keep your Succulents Clean
You can’t get around it… succulents are planted in dirt which means from time to time you get dirt on your succulents! When I first started out I used my fingers to gently clean off the plants but I learned that a lot of succulents have a powdery coat that you don’t want to lose.
Not only is this powdery coat good for the plants it looks a little janky when you can see fingerprints or streaks on the leaves… yuck. Luckily a small paint brush is an easy solution to brushing the dirt off without making a mess of your plants.
Alright y’all that’s your crash course for the day! I’ll be back soon to chat about things like leaf propagation, planting your own succulents, root rot and a bunch of other fun succulent info! Of course, if you’re just looking to keep a couple plants alive you should have all the info you need but once you’re bitten with the bug I’m sure you’ll want more plants!
Leave me a comment with your questions… I love talking about succulents almost as much as I love planting them!