It’s true that succulents are some of the easiest plants you can grow. But knowing that doesn’t help if you’re missing a little background on basic care. And if you’ve had a less-than-ideal outcome with a succulent in the past, you’re in the right place.
We thought it would be best—and most memorable—to break it down to three main ingredients for success: soil, sunlight and water.
Start with a fast-draining succulent and cactus mix or create your own with one part regular potting soil, one part peat and one part non-organic material like perlite, crushed granite or small gravel. These rough materials give your succulent room for drainage.
We’ve found that mixing in a little more regular soil helps your succulents retain water in the drier summer and winter months (having your heat on is especially drying).
Just be careful if you use a container without drainage—you don’t want your succulents to sit in water (we’ll talk more about that just below).
You’d think that cactus and other plants that are found naturally in hot, dry climates would like as much sun as possible. Not quite. Try to find spots where your succulents are close to a light source, but not in the hottest direct sun, which can burn tender, fleshy leaves.
Play around with your pots and take notice of which succulents do best in certain spots. You’ll know if your plant isn’t getting enough light because it will ‘stretch’ toward the light, with leggy, long stems that look like they’re leaning. You can avoid this by moving your plant closer to the light and/or rotating the pot now and then to expose both sides.
This is where we get the most questions, by far. Because we’ve all heard that succulents—especially cactus—don’t require as much water as other plants. And it’s true that overwatering can be a problem because succulents store water in their fleshy stems and leaves. Too much water and plants can rot.
But low-water doesn’t mean no-water. Your succulents need a little love to flourish.
So, let’s clarify: for smaller pots, water about once a week, or when the soil feels dry. Larger pots, about once every two weeks, or when the soil feels dry. As for the amount of water? If your pots have drainage, put them in the sink or tub and give them a good soak. You can skip moving your plants if they have a tray or dish for runoff.
If your pots don’t have drainage holes (think antique wooden crates or trugs, coffee cups or terrariums), give them a drink, enough to wet the soil without water pooling at the top.
Watch for more information and how-tos on succulents coming soon and in the Altum’s Planting Resource Center year round. You’ll find Succulent themed Make & Take workshopsand can sign up online. Plus, visit the garden center any time for a full and fantastic selection of hand-selected premium succulent varieties.