Succulents are revered for their beauty, minimalistic style, and easy-to-keep nature. However, these cactus cousins still have basic needs that must be met in order to flourish. Succulents thrive in a dry, warm environment, but keeping your house at a California-inspired climate here in Roanoke is near impossible. However, with just a few basic provisions, you can create a space they’ll love. Get a few quick tips here and find out how to join our upcoming Succulents 101 workshop!
Succulents need a minimum amount of sunlight per day to create nutrients through photosynthesis. Lack of proper sunlight exposure can lead to a variety of issues, including leaf drop and “legginess.” Legginess happens when the plant is using its energy to reach toward sunlight instead of creating new leaves, so it will have a stretched appearance from root to tip. While this isn’t a grave situation for your succulent, it is indicative of a plant under stress. Leaf drop is characterized by the leaves closest to the roots becoming limp and shriveled and dropping off. This can be caused by a lack of light as well as other environmental issues. The key takeaway here is to ensure your plants are receiving enough light in order to thrive. Southern-and western-positioned windows are ideal for gaining the most exposure throughout the day.
It occasionally rains in the desert.
Keeping in mind that succulents are desert dwellers, it’s easy to assume that going months without water is the norm. Not so much. When it does rain in the desert, it pours. Succulents are designed for this kind of environmental situation. They hold water in their leaves—this is where their almost bubble-like, signature appearance comes from. Without enough water, they’ll shrivel to the point of decay. To mimic the desert’s natural rhythm, soak your succulents as you notice the soil becoming very dry. Whatever doesn’t soak into the soil, you can pour off to prevent rot. There are also a number of specially designed pots you can get to make this step much easier.
Give ‘em space.
If you’ve spent any time browsing the internet for succulent inspiration, you’ve likely seen the adorable little wagon filled to the brim with succulents. While beautiful, it’s not ideal if you want your plants to thrive. A common succulent-keeping tragedies is overcrowding. Succulents need plenty of space for roots to spread out and leaves to expand. In an overcrowded pot, the plants won’t be able to get enough nutrients to sustain each of them. Providing enough space for each succulent is critical to a long-term relationship with this flora.
They don’t play well with others.
Across the internet, you’ll often see succulents combined with other varieties of plants. And while this is okay as a temporary arrangement, it can be costly long term. Most plants require far more watering than a succulent, and if they’re both bunking in the same pot, this can be nearly impossible to maintain. Keep it easy and plant succulents with similar friends, like aloe, cactus, or a mix of succulent varieties. Just make sure, as mentioned above, that there’s ample amount of space for everyone.
Ready to learn even more?
Join Kathleen Reed from the Virginia Cooperative Extension for the Succulents 101 Workshop at Mountain View Recreation Center. Kathleen will walk participants through everything they need to know from planting to propagation. Participants will get their own starter pot of succulents to go home with. All supplies and learning materials are included for $18/person. Register today.