When I was first introduced to succulents, I was intrigued by the idea that they were impossible to kill. People were always saying that they were a very low maintenance plant and that they loved neglect. Hmm, that sounds easy enough.
To further my confusion, often when I heard the term “succulent,” it was commonly grouped with the term “cactus.” There is already a really great article on this site dedicated to explaining the relationship between cacti and succulents, so we won’t go there, but a common thought about cacti is that they never need water. Therefore, in my head, succulents needed little to no water, and instead of watering them, I lightly misted them every once in a while. They love neglect, right? They are low maintenance, right? Hmm...well I hate to break the suspense, but my succulents barely survived this neglect.
So here’s the scoop on watering and misting:
*Water: Drown your succulents in water once the soil is dry. Soak them to the point that water comes out of the bottom of the pot. If you have a catch pan, empty any left over water that collects in the pan. Unglazed, porous pots with drainage holes are the way to go (think terracotta pots). They allow your succulents to breathe, and they will thank you!
*Low Maintenance: In nature, succulents have shallow roots that take in water quickly and store it in their leaves, stems and in the roots themselves for harder times. This is why succulent lovers call them low maintenance. You don’t have to water them every other day like some plants; they are made to store water for longer periods of time. You can go on vacation and rest assured that they will not wither and die. Just keep in mind that when you do water them, give them a big drink!
*Type of Water: The best type of water to use is rain water or distilled water. Tap water has a lot of minerals that can build up in the soil and even show up on the leaves of the plant.
*Frequency of Watering: How often you water depends on a lot of factors (climate, season, humidity, pot size, pot type, drainage etc). The best rule of thumb is to let the soil dry before you water again. If the soil doesn’t have a chance to dry, or if you leave water in the catch pan, you can cause the roots to rot. To check the moisture in the soil, you can put your finger into the dirt and feel around, or use a Moisture Meter (commonly sold in gardening centers or online and relatively inexpensive).
*Misting: Leave misting for the babes! Full grown succulents don’t actually like to be misted. They thrive in arid climates, so when you mist them, you are changing the humidity around the plant. This can lead to rot as well. Use misting for propagation babes to lightly provide water to their delicate little roots.
Once you get a feel for what your succulents want, they do become relatively low maintenance. If you’re like me, there is a learning curve when you first start out. Don’t give up! For more tips and information, follow my account on Instagram: @HowToSucculents
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