We sell a lot of small succulent arrangements at Kudos and also hold classes on planting them from time to time. One of the most common questions we hear about succulents is “How much should I water it?” These small, exquisite-looking plants are pretty easy to keep alive, but need much different care than other types of houseplants. Let’s go over watering, plus some other basic care tips.
What are Succulents?
Succulents are plants that survive on limited water resources. They typically have thick, fleshy leaves that store water efficiently so they can thrive in desert conditions, making them great for anyone who doesn’t have a particularly green thumb. Most prefer warm—but not humid—climates and cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
Where to Keep Succulents
Succulents like sun. Most varieties need six hours to a full day of sunlight. If you’re keeping them indoors, place them near a south or east-facing window. Some of the best succulents to grow indoors include:
● Jade plant
● Mother-in-law tongue aka snake plant
● Crown of thorns
● Aloe vera
● Christmas cactus
● Zebra plant
If you’re keeping your succulents outdoors during the warmer months, give them time to acclimate by gradually increasing the amount of sun they receive. In extremely hot conditions—like the “dog days” of a Minnesota summer—your plants might need some afternoon shade. Newly planted succulents can also be scorched in direct sunlight, so introduce them gently.
You’ll notice if your succulent gets “shocked” by more sun than its used to because it will “blush” or turn a different color. And you’ll know when your succulent isn’t getting enough sunlight, because it will lean toward the source. You can prevent this by rotating the plant often.
How Often to Water Succulents
Succulents can go a long time without water, so you don’t need to water them as frequently as most indoor plants. However, when they do need water, they like to be watered thoroughly—enough to soak down to the roots. Water to the point that the liquid runs out the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. Check the soil a week later. If it’s still slightly moist, do not water again. You want to wait until the soil is completely dry for a few days before you soak the succulent again.
Additional tip: the more sunlight your succulent is getting, the more water it may need.
This means your plant will likely need less water during the fall and winter and more during the spring and summer months. Outdoor succulents typically need more water than their indoor cousins for the same reason.
Repotting a Succulent
If you bought your succulent at a nursery, there’s a good chance the pot or container is too small and the soil too moisture-retaining. You may also need to learn about repotting if your succulent grows too big for its container. There are three basic things to know about repotting succulents:
● Choose a well-draining pot or container. Avoid glass containers, like mason jars or terrariums, which don’t allow roots to breathe.
● Use a coarse potting soil with adequate drainage and aeration. You can usually find special cactus and succulent potting mixes at your local nursery.
● Give your succulent the right sized pot. The bigger the container, the more moisture it holds. Remember, your succulent likes its soil to dry out completely after being watered. Select a container that’s about five to ten percent bigger than the plant.
Additional Succulent Care Tips
● Fertilize your plant each spring when it’s growing.
● Research the specific type of succulent you have. Each has its own preferences!
● It’s okay if your succulent’s leaves are falling off—if the leaves are lowest on the stem. This is a natural process for many plants. But if the topmost leaves are dying, you might be overwatering your plant or dealing with pests/disease.
Love plants? Sign up for a fun class at Kudos! We offer interactive classes on succulent planting, building your own terrarium, floral arrangements, and more! Swing by the shop at 809 Dominion Drive, or contact our team for more details.