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How To Keep Succulents Alive

I'm not afraid to admit it; I killed a lot succulents as a novice succulent owner. It seemed like no matter what I did they just continued to die and...

I'm not afraid to admit it; I killed a lot succulents as a novice succulent owner. It seemed like no matter what I did they just continued to die and go to succulent heaven. I felt like I was doomed to have a black thumb forever! It was only after I did a little research that I discovered I was making some simple, yet very fixable mistakes. I always believed succulents to be indestructible plants that require little care and attention, but that's not necessarily true. Take a look at this simple guide of basic care tips to learn how to keep succulents alive.

Watering Your Succulent:

Overwatered SucculentThis succulent was drowned in a storm, so I let it dry out. Turns out, I let it dry out too much! This is what an underwatered succulent looks like. The leaves are shriveled (much like an overwatered succulent, which can make this confusing), but they're dry and hard to the touch. Don't overwater your succulents. Some may require more water than others, but if their roots sit in water, they will rot. Always remove excess water from pots' saucers. Also, try to keep leaves (fleshy leaves, in particular) dry. Leaves will begin to rot if pools of water rest on them repeatedly or if they rest on top of wetted soil. As a general rule, let the soil dry completely before watering. These plants are pretty drought tolerant, but they still need water! While they'll survive longer periods of no water than most plants, they need water (when soil is dry) to thrive.

When you water your succulent, pour small amounts in the soil at a time to ensure absorption. Some soils drain so well that the water will drain before it is absorbed. Be sure the soil is wet all the way through.

Succulent Soil:

Succulent Soil
Choosing soil is important. You need a soil that drains well (to prevent rotting roots), but you also need soil that retains a little moisture. There are pre-mixed soils made specifically for succulents, but people like to make their own mixtures. Using equal parts all-purpose potting soil and sand/perlite will work for most succulents.


Succulents require a reasonable amount of sun. If your climate is very hot and dry, indirect sunlight is best. If you live in a more coastal climate, direct sunlight is usually fine. Succulents do not thrive in complete shade or harsh sunlight, so depending on your climate, find a moderate place for them. With that said, be sure that your succulents are slowly introduced to full sunlight, especially if it's harsh.  If they are placed in direct sunlight immediately, they will likely sunburn!

Potting/Repotting Succulents:

Succulents need to be repotted when they begin outgrowing their planters. While some prefer the look of an overflowing planter, this will restrict the plants from reaching their full size. Pick a planter that is a few inches larger than your succulent to give it room to grow. Also, be sure that the new planter has at least one drainage hole to prevent root rot. A terra-cotta or clay pot with an unglazed interior will help wick away excess moisture, whereas a glazed interior will lock moisture into the soil. Pay attention to the type of planter you're using, and adjust your watering accordingly.repotting succulents 

To repot your succulent, remove it from its original planter, and gently loosen the roots, brushing away the old soil. Before placing a succulent in a new pot, fill the planter ¾ full with potting soil. Some people like to wet the soil (don't drown it) before placing the succulent in its new planter. Some people will repot their succulent and wait a week before watering. If your soil is already moist, hold off on watering until the soil is dry. Dig a shallow hole for the plant, place it in its new planter, and gently stabilize it with more soil.

Please note that these are general rules. You will have to closely monitor your succulents when you first get them to learn what does and doesn't work for each plant. Do your research for each type of succulent, and use the information as a general guide to start and adjust accordingly. 


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