How to plant and care for succulents: Simple tips to keep yours thriving

Bring a bit of desert oasis to your home with these hearty and beautiful plants.

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how to care for succulents
Succulents Photo, Instagram/leedyinteriors.

Beautiful succulents — plants such as cactus with thick leaves that thrive in dry conditions — can grow well indoors. And, once you’ve mastered the basics, they’re pretty easy to care for.

Pots

First step: transplanting your succulent from its plastic container into a pretty pot. Get yourself some pre-mixed potting soil meant for succulents or cacti. (They need a quick-draining soil.) It’s very important to also choose a pot that has drainage — terrariums, as pretty as they are, will not look good for long — such as a terracotta pot with a drainage hole. Terracotta is porous, so it will help the soil drain more quickly and provide extra oxygen to the roots. Choose a pot not much wider than your succulent (or succulents).

Water

The quickest way to kill a succulent is by over-watering it, which causes root rot. In the summer, when they are in their growing period, they do need regular water (about every two or three weeks) depending on the size of the pot and their conditions. In the winter months, the plants go dormant and their water needs go way down. Watering every month or two is fine, as succulents prefer a thorough, infrequent soaking. When you do water, let the water run right through the pot and out the drainage hole. The soil should dry out between waterings, but if the leaves shrivel it means you need to grab your watering can.


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Light

Keep your succulents in a bright window — east, west or south facing are best. If you have an outdoor space, gradually acclimatize them to the sun in the summer by putting them in a shady spot and then gradually introducing them to more direct light over several days. They don’t mind cool weather, but bring them inside before frost hits. If you keep them outside, be sure not to keep the pot in a saucer as rain water will accumulate, leaving the soil too moist.

Propagation

Many succulents are easy to propagate. There are a few ways to do this: remove a leaf, keeping the base where it joins the stem intact. Let the cut end callus over for a few days until it feels dry (so it doesn’t rot) and them place on the potting mix. A new baby will grow from the broken end. When the mother leaf has shriveled, and you can see the baby’s roots, gently plant in the mix.

Here are some varieties that are suited to indoor growing:

Agave
Aloe Vera
Jade Plant
Echeveria Glauca
Echeveria Elegans
Zebra Cactus
Burrows Tail

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