How to Care for Succulents
We have found the most uncertain aspect of succulent care to be watering. Many people are unaware that succulents are drought tolerant plants, meaning that they can withstand long durations of time without copious amounts of water. Usually people encounter the most problems with succulents and watering when they over water them, as this generally results in the succulents turning to mush and dying. We recommend watering succulents once every 1 to 2 weeks, as we have found this to be the most effective and reliable method in our experiences dealing with these plants. The 1 to 2 week time frame really depends on where the succulents are located and how much sun they are receiving. You want to allow the soil in which the succulents are planted to dry out in between waterings and a good way to ensure this is happening, is to simply stick a finger in the soil and see if it is moist still or if it has dried out. Typically, the more sun an arrangement receives, the faster the soil will dry out thus requiring water more often.
When a pot does not have drainage holes we recommend watering less often. Cacti can go for much longer periods without water, being that they are much more hardier than many other succulents (All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti). A good rule of thumb to stick to for all succulents is "When in doubt, go without". But please note this, if it has been longer than 3 or 4 weeks since you've last watered your plant, chances are most of its roots have dried up so be sure not to drown your soil in water as your plant might very well experience root rot. Instead, give it a smaller amount than you normally would that first go round and then gradually increase it's dosage as you get it back on a regular schedule. This way you can be sure the plant has grown some new healthy roots that will be able to absorb all that H20.
You want the soil to get moist, but not soggy.
We recommend providing your succulents with 4 to 6 hours of bright sunlight per day. You can acclimate them to longer periods and more direct sun, however sunburn is very much a thing to consider when it comes to succulents. Therefore, you want to make sure they are ready for a lot of direct sun before you stick them in it. We have noticed that the more colorful a succulent is, the more sun it requires to keep that color. The more green or neutral the color is, the more shade/ indirect light tolerant that plant will most likely be. This does not mean that these plants, however, are meant for indoors... they are just more tolerant of the conditions as all succulents grow best in outdoor environments with proper care.
Succulents will begin to elongate, and pale in color when they are not receiving enough light.
If you want to increase the amount of sun exposure your plant in receiving, be sure to do so gradually. You don't want to take a plant that has been indoors or in the shade and stick it directly in full sun. Chances are very high that your plant will experience severe burns. Instead, move the plant to a place that receives an extra 1-2 hours of brighter light per day and leave it there for at least three days. You can repeat this process until you find the plants happy place where it grows well and is vibrant in color.
The most suitable planting choice for succulents is a well draining soil. Succulents do best when they are planted in a soil that can breath and dry out in between watering. We are big supporters of organic gardening and organic soils, due to their harmonious and supportive effects on the environment and there are many brands today that have soils particularly for succulents. You can also mix your own soil as well by combing traditional soils with aeration materials like pumice.
While succulents don't necessarily require fertilizing, it can help in providing essential nutrients. We have found that when a fertilizer is used every three months or so in succulent care, often the plants look fuller, more vibrant and also tend to grow more abundantly. Fertilizing amounts will vary depending on the type of fertilizer you use and recommended amounts, however too much fertilizer has the potential to burn the roots of succulents, so beware. Fertilizing may be an overlooked step for many people in succulent care and succulents can grow just fine without it, however adding in a fertilizer can't hurt if done properly. If you do decide to use a fertilizer, we recommend choosing an organic or natural blend. Typically, we will only fertilize our succulents that are planted in the ground and in large containers when we want the plants to get larger and fill in. In smaller container arrangements that have a lot of detail, we don't fertilize because the plants will end up growing too large, loosing design quality, and will need to be transplanted into a larger space sooner than desired.
Stay tuned for a followup post on caring for succulents indoors!