GardenSMART :: Six Simple Tips for Growing Spectacular Succulents Indoors
Six Simple Tips for Growing Spectacular Succulents Indoors
By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms garden expert Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms
Grow elegant, easy-care succulents in your home or apartment! These easy-care plants don’t need a lot of water, so they may be perfect if you’re always on the go.
Succulents have always sounded a bit like the plants are dreams are made of: They’re colorful, slow-growing, and don’t need a lot of water. Sounds pretty perfect, right? Succulents definitely can be. But like any plant, if you don’t have the right conditions, they won’t thrive (I’ve certainly killed my share of them). To enjoy gorgeous succulents, make sure you cover these basics.
This is the number-one key to success with succulents. The more light you can give them, the better. If you’ve heard that houseplants shouldn’t get direct sun, that doesn’t apply here. Most succulent varieties love to bask in the sun. A good-sized south- or west-facing window should be just fine. If you don’t have a bright window but love succulents, try artificial lights. A simple shop light hanging about 6 inches above them should provide the light succulents need to thrive.
When I talk houseplants, everyone always asks, “how often should I water?” To be honest, there’s no simple answer. Frequency depends on how much light the plant gets, temperature, how big the pot is, the type of succulent, and a host of other factors. It’s best to let the top inch or two of potting mix become dry before you water again. That’s often once every two weeks or so, but again, it depends. The good news is that if you’re in doubt, it’s better to wait and water a little later.
A pot that has drainage holes so excess water can escape is important for all houseplants, but most especially succulents. If the potting mix stays too wet (either from too-frequent watering or because excess water sits in the pot too long), the roots will suffocate, rot, and die. Happily, most potted succulents already come in a pot with drainage. If not, it’s quick and simple to slide them out of their existing pot and into one that won’t hold water.
Succulents can be sensitive to hot or cold blasts of air, so it’s best to keep them away from heating/cooling vents and drafty doors or windows. Drafty conditions can cause the leaves to yellow or go brown and drop prematurely.
A Safe Spot In addition to good growing conditions, give succulents a place where they won’t be bumped or damaged. Many have brittle stems or leaves and are easily damaged by children, pets, or other types of movement around the plant.
A little fertilizer goes a long way with succulents. I’ve known more than a few friends who have inadvertently killed their plants by feeding them too much or too often. Because succulents grow slowly, you really only need to fertilize them a once in the spring and once in the summer. Use any general-purpose houseplant fertilizer, following the directions on the packaging.
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