I'm asked quite frequently on Instagram to share tips for growing succulents, so I decided it would be a good idea to share them here as well. Let me start off by saying, I consider myself a succulent enthusiast, but I am by no means an expert. (Feel free to correct me anytime!) That being said, I do have a lot of plants and they are all very healthy, so I'd love to share with you what has worked for me.
I've found that there are three main factors to consider when growing succulents:
Soil + Water + Sunlight
What kind of soil should I plant my succulents in?
Succulents love well draining soil. I've been buying a Palm & Cactus mix from Lowes for sometime now and it has been great. In the dryer summer months, I've found that my soil drys a little too quickly. If you feel like your soil is just not retaining water long enough, you can mix your cactus soil with a bit of regular potting soil to increase the water retention to your liking. Sometimes, I like to keep my plants in containers without drainage holes, such as tea cups, mason jars and baby food jars. In this case, I will either layer the bottom of the container with pebbles or add sand to the soil to help with drainage issues.
How much and when should I water my succulents?
There is a common misconception that succulents don't need much water. While it's true that they can go longer periods of time without it, they will not "thrive" in a drought-like situation. I learned this the hard way when I first started my collection. I would go weeks without watering and my plants were not growing. They weren't dying either. My mom on the other hand, would water her plants frequently and her plants were flourishing! I decided she was on to something and began watering my plants more often. Now, my general rule of thumb is water when the soil is dry. For me, that is about once a week during hotter months and a little less when the weather cools. When I water, I water the soil not the plant. (I've heard that letting water settle on the leaves can cause rot, in addition to leaving unsightly markings.) I give it a good soak so that the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. (For plants without drainage holes, I don't soak. I give more of a "sip.") I see a lot of people killing their succulents by overwatering. You can avoid this by making sure the soil is totally dry between waterings.
How much sunlight do succulents need?
In general, succulents do best in bright but indirect sunlight. I've found that different species can tolerate different amounts of light, but most of my plants tend to suffer in extended periods of direct sunlight. To avoid burning and scorching your plants, keep them in a place where they get a lot of shade but still receive adequate light. My healthiest plants are outside on window sills where they are protected from direct sunlight by small over hangs. Like I said, some plants can tolerate direct sunlight better than others. You just need to experiment with your plants to see what works best where you live. If your plants are not getting enough light they may become leggy and stretch toward the light. If your plants are stretching out or bending toward the light, you can slowly move them to a brighter spot or rotate the pot from time to time to keep them growing straight up. You might also like to propagate your leggy succulents. (See my post on Propagating Succulents for more info.)