Do you struggle to keep your succulents alive? Last Spring I posted Succulents for Beginners, a general beginners guide to planting and caring for your succulents. It was a big hit and I’m so glad it’s been useful to tens of thousands of people. During the Summer I followed up with another post on how to propagate your plants. But I have left you hanging, succulovers and for that I apologize. You’ve now purchased your succulents, chosen a whimsical planter and even learned how to propagate the clippings but what about the middle part? How do you keep your succulents alive in the first place?!
After a disastrous first round (RIP) I have managed to keep my second lot of succulents alive. That’s a year now despite quite frankly, sometimes forgetting they exist. Considering I kill every other other plant (that isn’t a cactus/succulent), I call that a victory. One of them even survived a near fatal Labradoodle munching attack. Did I mention they’re hardy little guys?
8 Key Steps To Keeping Indoor Succulents Alive
Space. Avoid overcrowding. I’m guilty of this, especially if I buy a pre-arranged dish garden. I later re-pot them if they begin to suffer. Your succulents need space to breathe and grow. There’s nothing stopping you planting multiple succs in one terrarium/container just make sure they aren’t on top of one another. Even succulents like personal space.
Light. Give them enough of it. Because succulents are hardy and need less watering than normal plants, people tend to think they don’t need to be cared for in other areas either. Don’t neglect your babies! Succulents love light just not direct sunlight. Make sure they are positioned to get a few hours of light a day. If your plants don’t get enough light they’ll stretch toward the light and get ‘leggy’. This is a good time to propagate.
Temperature. Make sure they’re warm enough…and cool enough! Succulents like to be warm in the Summer and cooler in the Winter months.
Ventilation. If you can, have some air flow around your plants. An open window or where all else fails, an air vent. This helps with the draining/drying of the soil and you can keep track of their watering needs.
Watering. Don’t over-water. Succulents only need to be watered when their soil is completely dry so check if the soil is still soggy before their next drink!
Drainage. They love well draining, gritty soil. Ideally your container of choice needs to have a drainage hole so that the soil doesn’t remain soggy and drown your succulents.
Food. Give them a treat! Get a plant food made specifically for cacti & succulents and feed them once in a while.
Species. Knowing which varieties you have and their specific needs is a good start to knowing how to keep them alive.
Succulents don’t ask for much making them a beginners favorite. Most varieties can be planted in small containers and because of this you can be as creative as you like when it comes to your planter of choice. I’ve planted them in teacups, terrariums, regular clay pots and even shallow dishes. Here is a roundup of some really unique succulent arrangements and planter ideas. Hopefully you will be inspired to come up with something just as wacky and wonderful!
My love of succulents is not a secret. It couldn’t possibly be, even if I tried. In Succulents for Beginners, I outlined how to plant a succulent and keep it alive. So be sure to check back there for the nitty gritty. I was at a loss for where to plant my newest cactus (Blue Candle Strawflower) and crassula. A quick trip to the dollar store to buy a birthday balloon for Darby (yes, the dog) solved my conundrum! I picked up this large white coffee mug to serve as my succulent planter and some white stones to decorate. The plants cost around $3 the week prior so for a grand total of $5 I put together this little cactus garden, knocking the socks off the $15-20 pre-made counterparts!
Since this mug has no drainage holes, I lined the bottom with a mixture of pea gravel and well draining soil. I then added some soil and planted the cactus. Those suckers will stab you so be careful to grip it in the right place! Once I secured it in place I added the crassula, dispersed around the free space slightly.
You can add colorful sand, pebbles or moss to decorate the planter or leave it au natural. That’s the fun part and entirely up to you. You can plant these bad boys in virtually anything so be creative. I have a white container theme going on so this mug was perfect for me.
If you are really interested in keeping and propagating succulents then I would advise you to buy the industrial sized bag of pea gravel for drainage. I find the small single-serve bags of pebbles over-priced and gimmicky.
Propagating succulents is a magical experience. Ok well it’s not and it’s got a scientific explanation but once you see it happen, you will have to restrain yourself from hacking your succulents apart continuously to multiple them. Then you will become a crazy succulent lady which quite frankly I think is far more economical than a crazy cat lady.
Those of you who follow the blog and/or my Pinterest will know about my new found love of succulents. Back in March I posted Succulents for Beginners which much to my delight, was a hit!
My Original Plants
If only my succulents were as successful as the blog post. Yes. RIP, my flower babies, I hardly knew ye! As you know, I was home in Ireland for an extended stay and I entrusted my my dear sweet (soon-to-be ex) husband with the care of my succulents. Bless his heart, he clearly didn’t read my blog post! Those bad boys died a serious death. Some were scorched, some drowned, others I assume died of broken hearts. In fairness I only gave husfriend a watering timeline and little instruction. I just assumed their location was fine and casually forgot to consider that the sun’s position coming through my skylight would change in six weeks. Oops! He redeemed himself though by buying me a beautiful Pachyveria and a prickly but cute, climbing Aloe.
Of course that couldn’t be the end of the story. As I was shooting photos for this post I went out to the back porch where my Aloe was sunning itself and I found my brazen-faced Labradoodle out there munching its roots! Soil everywhere and a mouth full of roots, that Dood RAN, fast. Watch this space for a post on the fate of my Aloe which I semi-saved and re-potted.
Propagating my succulents wasn’t on my agenda just yet but alas, it’s time. I sadly disposed of my shriveled leaves and trimmed what healthy stems remained. Placing the cuttings aside, I removed any healthy leaves I could salvage by carefully wiggling them away from the stem. My biggest loss was my Eceheveria ‘Pearl von Nurnberg’ which saddened me as it was so beautiful! Once you have all stems and leaves that you want to propagate, you will need to leave them to dry away from bright light for a few days to a week. After they are dried and have calloused you can place them in a shallow dish or tray that has a layer of well draining soil (mixed with sand and small pebbles). Dampen the soil but do not drown it. Watch the magic happen! Within a week you should see tiny succulents budding from the parent leaf/stem. The parent leaf will loosen after a while and it can be easily removed. This is when you can plant your brand new succulents!
It is said that when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade. When life hands you a husband who can’t keep your succulents alive, propagate more!
P.S. No husbands were harmed during the writing of this post 😉
Firstly, I have to say succulents are simple adorable! They come in all shapes and sizes and are incredibly resilient little things. They have become so popular lately and are now appearing in bridal bouquets, home decor and can even be given as stunning homemade gifts!
CALLING ALL PLANT MURDERERS!
Do you love the idea of house plants or garden flower beds but have a bad case of the black thumb? Then succulents might be for you! What’s better than living art that virtually takes care of itself?!
How To Keep Succulents
The key to planting succulents is proper drainage. They can thrive in virtually any container but without sufficient drainage your succulent will die from sitting in soggy soil. If your chosen container does not have drainage holes or where holes cannot be drilled, a pebble drainage system must exist. Placing pebbles beneath the soil in the bottom of your container will allow water to run out of the soil so it can dry out. Succulents tend to have shallow roots and small containers are best. If planting in a large container I would advise you to use some form of filler. The more soil in the container, the longer it will take to dry out. See below for some pretty planting ideas.
Just because Cacti are part of the succulent family don’t assume all varieties can withstand extremely hot conditions. Succulents like bright sunlight but NOT direct sunlight. This is important as they will scorch! These little guys are built to withstand drought and only need to be watered whenever the soil has completely dried out from the last watering. If you can’t tell when it’s time, stick your finger in the soil to make sure. Try to water the soil not the plant. Be gentle, don’t flood it!
There aren’t many flowers that will flourish elsewhere when snipped from the original! This is what I love about succulents – they are super easy to multiply! You can read about succulent propagation here.
My Succulent Babies
There is no end to the quirky solutions you can find for planting succulents. My personal favorite is the teacup! This one was accidental as I purchased more plants than I had containers. I was enjoying an espresso from this days before. Until I find a dainty porcelain tea cup, in it he will stay! Both of glass containers came from Dollar Tree (!) and the green geometric vase and glass saucer are more clearance section finds. The green vase reminded me of a huge terrarium we had growing up that I despised but of course now wish I had!
Plant them in Mason jars and give as a gift or hollow out a narrow strip in some driftwood to create a nifty window sill garden, the possibilities are endless.
Let me know in the comments if you suffer from obsessive succulove. Even better, let me know how you’ve planted them and be sure to check out my Easy $5 Succulent Planter idea!