Variety of succulents

A growing trend in the gardening community, succulent plants are defined as a plant of thick and fleshy appearance from retaining water. All succulents are cacti, but not all cacti are succulents.

Succulent is a broad term that has been adapted to describe many plants that store water in their leaves, stems, or roots. The only difference between succulents and cacti is that cacti have Areoles – the bumps on a cactus that produce fluffy or spike-like material.

Do Succulents Like Sunlight?

Succulents like the heat, but also thrive well in cooler temps. They can take sun, but do not confuse them with being full sun-loving plants. They actually prefer bright light, like what a southfacing indoor window would provide, over direct sunlight.

Like overwatering, the symptoms of an overly sun-exposed succulent will typically be wrinkling of the leaves, but also can include black spots on the leaves. Typical signs of too little light are when the leaves are few and far between or the plant looks as if it’s stretched and not full like a normal succulent would appear. If that happens, you will more than likely want to try propagating the plant or moving it to a brighter location.

Watering your Succulent

Watering succulents can be tricky. These plants absorb a lot of moisture from the air, so if you live in a humid climate or if your succulents are indoors in a humid house, they will more than likely need less watering.

Succulents lay dormant between fall and early spring, and require even less watering then. Come summer growing season, they will need more water.

A good rule of thumb is to water the succulents when the dirt surrounding them becomes dry. If it constantly remains moist, do not water; overwatering will kill succulents very easily.

Underwatering and overwatering have very similar symptoms. You are likely underwatering if your succulent does not produce new leaves or any additional width or height in prime season (summer).

Overwatering will result in the leaves or stem of the succulent getting dried up and wrinkly in appearance. You will also more than likely notice that the soil around it is still moist and, therefore, overwatered.

Choosing the Right Soil and Container
Succulents in bowl

Soil and container also play a role in your succulent’s health. A container with a drainage hole is important, as well as soil that can drain properly.

Though succulents can be planted in regular potting soil, it’s recommended to use a more porous soil so that water will flow in and out easily. One easy way to prepare a good soil for succulents is to use one-part potting soil and one-part crushed granite or perlite.

Splitting your Succulent
Succulents with roots showing

When your succulent becomes leggy or stretched out looking, it’s time to propagate. The first step is to remove the leaves starting from the bottom. You can grow from these leaves too, so be gentle trying to remove them. You need the entire leaf for it to work properly.

Gently wiggle the leaf back and forth until it breaks away from the stem. Continue this process until a good majority of the stem is bare but leave a nice head on the succulent.

Trim the succulent’s stem that’s now void of leaves, leaving about an inch of stem below the succulent head. The leaves and head that you trimmed away from the original plant need to be left out to dry until raw ends callous over before replanting.

If you plant a propagated succulent too soon, the leaves and stems will absorb too much water, rot, and die. The process of drying out can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week. Lay them out on a counter or towel somewhere safe.

When the leaves are dry enough, lay them in a pot with good drainage and a porous soil. Water them about once a week until you start to see regrowth on the calloused end.

Eventually the mother leaf will wither and die and be easily removable from the new baby plant. Be careful trying to remove the new plant from the leaf too soon; it’s better to let the mother leaf die and fall away on its own.

The stem of the succulent that you removed the leaves and head from is still good too! Water it as needed and eventually the old stem will sprout new plants from where you removed the leaves.
The head of the succulent you removed can simply be placed in a new pot to begin growth. From one little succulent you could have many.
Be Creative
Succulents are fun, unique, and come in so many varieties. They make great indoor and outdoor plants. Experiment with different draining flower containers – think outside the box. Use bright colored fish rocks as the top soil to make your succulents pop.