9 Large Indoor Succulents

Many people think succulents are tiny and fragile houseplants that are displayed unobtrusively on top of tables. But if you look more succulents, you will see that these low maintenance plants can become the focal point of any room.

1. Jade Plant

Jade Plants
Image: istockphoto.com / Andrey Nikitin

The Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) is the quintessential indoor succulent, primarily because of its popularity. Known by names like Lucky Plant, Money Plant, and Money Tree, the succulent is often given as a housewarming gift. Due to its longevity, some specimens are passed down from one generation to another.

The plant can grow as high as six feet. However, many Jade Plant owners prune their plants to keep the height at around three feet.

Your Jade Plant requires five to six hours of indirect sunlight. It thrives in daytime temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius, and nighttime temperatures between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius.

This succulent does not need too much water. Water it only after its soil is dry.

Like other succulents, the Jade Plant is not a heavy feeder. You can fertilize it every six months using a water-soluble fertilizer.

2. Christmas kalanchoe 

Christmas kalanchoe
Image: istockphoto.com / Tatyana Abramovich

The Christmas Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is native to Madagascar and goes by other names like Florist Kalanchoe and Flaming Katy. Like the Poinsettia, this succulent is often sold during the Holidays and thrown away once its flowers have died. However, the Christmas Kalanchoe can be kept for the whole year. With proper care, it can be coaxed to blossom the following year.

Like the Poinsettia, the Christmas Kalanchoe is photoperiodic. This means that if you want it to produce flowers, you should give it enough time to spend in complete darkness. Around September, the plant should receive 10 hours of sunlight and 12 to 14 hours of total darkness. After two to three months, the plant will produce buds.

Like most succulents, this plant requires well-draining soil. It prefers indirect sunlight but can tolerate the full sun. It also needs to be fertilized monthly.

3. Snake Plant 

Snake plant
Image: istockphoto.com / Grumpy Cow Studios

Along with the Jade Plant, the Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is probably one of the most popular succulents. The plant is a perennial favorite among new and old succulent collectors because of its seeming indestructibility. If you are close to giving up on keeping a plant, do not give up until you have owned this plant.

Originating from tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the Snake Plant has over 70 species. Among the most popular of these are the Cylindrical Snake Plant, the Golden Hahnii, and the White Snake Plant.

A mature specimen can grow anywhere between half a foot to 12 foot.

Although this succulent can survive in low light conditions, it prefers a few hours of direct sunlight. For this plant’s potting mix, use a sandy soil. Water it only when its soil is dry.

4. Crown of Thorns 

Crown of Thorns
Image: istockphoto.com / pichaitun

The Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is another succulent that originates from Madagascar. According to a legend, the plant was used as a crown by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Capable of reaching a height of three feet, the Crown of Thorns has brown thorns all over its branches and shoots. Yellow, pink, or red flowers grow from the plant’s tips.

The succulent is often recommended for beginners because it is easy to care for. It thrives best under direct sun. The more hours it spends under direct light, the more colorful its flowers will be.

But be warned: this succulent is not ideal for homes with small children and pets. Apart from being poisonous, the plant contains latex which irritates the skin and mucous membrane.

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera
Image: istockphoto.com / Sundaemorning

Many homeowners keep the Aloe Vera, not only to spruce up their living spaces. More importantly, the plant is esteemed for its medicinal properties. Specifically, the clear gel from the plant is used for aiding in the healing of small cuts and minor burns. The gel can also be used for treating acne, redness, and mild psoriasis.

Some people use the plant’s juice for cosmetic purposes like removing makeup and hair conditioning. But be aware that there is no conclusive evidence that supports the efficacy of the plant for cosmetic uses.

You can extract the juice from the Aloe Vera by making a lengthwise incision from the plant’s spikes. 

The plant is fairly easy to keep. It thrives best if you plant it in a terracotta pot filled with well-draining soil. This succulent prefers sunny locations and should be watered every two weeks or when its soil is completely dry.

6. Christmas Cactus 

Christmas Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / Kathy Reasor

The Christmas Cactus is actually not a cactus. In reality, it is a succulent that has been produced by breeding two different plants that grow in the rainforests of Brazil. The plant is called by its common name because it blooms red, white, yellow, pink, or purple flowers near the Holidays.

The green segmented branches of the Christmas Cactus can grow as long as three feet. The flowers grow from the tips of these branches.

To encourage this cactus to bloom, you need to plant it in a well-draining potting mix. Compared to other succulents, the Christmas Cactus is a heavy feeder. As such, it needs to be fertilized every other week until it is ready to produce flowers.

Water the plant deeply but infrequently. It prefers indirect light. Do not put it under the full sun because its leaves can become sunburned.

7. Panda Plant 

Panda Plant
Image: istockphoto.com / TatianaMironenko

Also known as the Chocolate Soldier, the Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is a succulent that originates from Madagascar.

The plant can grow up to two feet tall and is characterized by its interesting looking leaves. The thick and fleshy leaves are fuzzy and can grow up to three inches long. The edges and tips of these leaves have brown markings. From afar, the leaves look like the ears of a panda or rabbit.

Outdoors, the plant is typically used either as a groundcover or as an accent plant. Indoors, it can be kept in a small pot or hung in a basket.

This succulent can tolerate full to partial shade. Because of its thick leaves, the plant can store a sizable amount of water. As such, it does not need frequent watering.

8. Sticks on Fire

Sticks on Fire
Image: istockphoto.com / Katharina13

Also known as the Pencil Cactus, African Milkbush, and Finger Tree, the Sticks on Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) is a shrub or tree-like succulent that is known for its colorful vertical stems. The thin, pencil-like stems have a golden red color which fades into yellow during the summer. 

The plant grows up to eight feet tall and is a favorite among landscape artists because of its resilience against diseases, pests, and even small mammals.

This easy to care for plant prefers the full sun and rocky soil. Typically, you will find it used in garden beds and borders.

Be careful in handling the plant. Its milky sap is a skin and eye irritant.

Currently, numerous studies are focusing on the diverse use of this succulent. For example, medical experts are looking into how the plant can be used to treat cancer. Other studies are looking into the possibility of using the plant as an oil source.

9. Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm
Image: istockphoto.com / SzB

Despite its name, the Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is not a palm. It is actually a member of the Agave family. Although the succulent can grow over 20 feet in height, it is a notoriously slow-grower. As such, many keep the plant as a bonsai specimen. 

The Ponytail Palm is close to what may be considered as the perfect indoor plant. For starters, it is a very forgiving plant. It can survive weeks without being watered. And although it requires bright light to thrive, it can be kept in low light conditions for several months, as long as you put it under bright lights for half of the year.

Like most succulents, the plant does not require constant watering. It does need dry, well-draining soil. Additionally, it is not a heavy feeder. You can fertilize it one to two times a year.

Pros and cons of keeping succulents indoors

Keeping succulents indoors has a few advantages. For one, these plants can instantly add beauty to your living or office space. Plus, succulents require minimal care, making them ideal for busy people.

An indoor environment can also protect succulents pests and the elements. When you keep your succulents inside your home, you do not have to worry about changes in the temperature or weather, especially if you live in an area where the climate may not be particularly suitable for the succulents that you have chosen to keep.

Finally, keeping a succulent indoors lessens the chance of it succumbing to pests and some diseases. 

But despite these benefits, you also have to be aware of the disadvantages of keeping succulents indoors. One of the greatest challenges that you will need to overcome is providing your plants with enough sunlight.

Although there are a few succulents that can thrive under low light conditions, many prefer six to eight hours of sunlight. And more often than not, placing your succulents near the windows may not be enough. In such a case, you can invest in grow lights.

Soil takes a bit longer to dry inside an indoor environment. This can be attributed to both lower indoor temperature and the lower level of airflow. This is why it is critical to choose the right potting mix for your succulents and to water them infrequently.

Before buying a succulent, be sure to check its care requirements. For beginners, it is a good idea to stick with green succulents which are easier to care for compared to succulents with exotic colors.

Tips for keeping succulents indoors

Part of the charm of keeping succulents is that these plants do not need much to thrive, whether indoors or outdoors. That, however, does not mean that you should not make an effort to provide for their needs. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your plants happy and healthy.

1. Use well-draining soil

Succulents can withstand drought. Living in arid environments, these plants evolved to adapt to what would otherwise be an inhospitable environment. However, succulents do not like getting their roots soaked. As such, it is imperative to use well-draining soil, whether you plant them on the ground or in a container. For most succulents, a potting mix specially formulated for cacti and succulents will do.

2. Choose the right container

Whether you choose a container made out of glass, plastic, or terra cotta, be sure that it has enough drainage holes to wick away moisture from the potting mix.

3. Pick the right spot

Most succulents require at least six hours of sunlight. Some need more, others less. Indoors, many succulents can thrive in south or east-facing windows. But do check your plants from time to time. If you notice that your succulents are stretching, it means that they need more sunlight.

4. Water deeply but infrequently

Succulents do not need to be watered daily or regularly. Overwatering makes these plants vulnerable to root rot, which in turn, makes them likely to die. Water your succulents until you see the fluids drain out from their containers. After that, wait until the soil in the containers is completely dry before watering again.

If you are unsure if you need to water your succulents again, err on the side of underwatering. Wait a few days before watering your plants.

5. Fertilize annually

Succulents are not heavy feeders. In fact, most originate from locations where the soil offers little to no nutrients. However, that does not mean that you should deprive your succulents of the nutrients they need. Most succulents will benefit from fertilizers during their growth phase. Avoid applying fertilizers when your plants are dormant.

The perfect indoor companion

If you are new to keeping plants indoors, there can be no better choice than a succulent. They are easy to care for and yet they can be rewarding to keep.

Best Soil for Jade Plant

Best Soil for Jade Plant

The Jade Plant is one of the more popular houseplants since time immemorial. And there are plenty of reasons why. For starters, the plant can be grown indoors. Whether at home or the office, this succulent can brighten almost any space. The plant is also known for its long life. This is why a single specimen can be passed down from one generation to another. Finally, the plant is easy to care for, with a minimal amount of requirements.

But if there is one important thing to remember when keeping this plant, it is that it requires the right type of soil.

What is the best soil for Jade Plants?

The best soil for Jade Plants is a mix of coarse sand and organic matter. In general, you can use commercial potting mixes specially formulated for succulents and cacti. However, some plant owners prefer mixing their potting soil, using three parts of coarse sand mixed with one part organic matter and another part of peat moss.

Jade Plant soil characteristics

The succulent originates from Mozambique and South Africa. In its original habitat, the plant can be seen growing in sandy and rocky soil. This type of soil offers little to no nutritional value to plants. As a succulent owner, you want to mimic your plant’s natural environment to give it the best chance of survival.

However, using sandy and rocky soil is not enough. You should also consider the fact that as your Jade Plant grows, it will become top-heavy. Furthermore, the succulent grows shallow roots, compared to other plants with extensive root systems. What this means is that the combination of these factors can make the Jade Plant susceptible to tipping over.

Additionally, the Jade Plant is classified as a succulent. This means that it does not like to get wet feet. Exposure to excessive moisture can cause the plant’s roots to rot and eventually die.

The solution to these problems is to provide a balance between drainage and structural stability. That balance is achieved by mixing organic matter with coarse sand. The addition of organic matter, especially peat moss, may sound counterintuitive. However, the presence of organic matter in this potting mix means that your Jade Plant will have a steady platform to anchor its roots.

At the same time, the organic components of the potting mix provide the plant with vital nutrients that a purely inorganic potting mix cannot provide. Additionally, any drawbacks caused by the addition of peat moss can be counteracted with proper watering.

Problems associated with poor soil

It does not take much to keep your Jade Plant healthy and happy. But even if you think that you are giving it proper care, some things can go wrong if you do not use the proper soil.

Poor drainage due to the use of the wrong type of soil can lead to root rot, a common problem among succulents. Like most succulents, the Jade Plant does not like having its feet or roots wet. Initially, you will notice symptoms like the darkening and softening of the plant’s leaves. At the same time, you will also notice leaves dropping off from the plant or the plant drooping.

Below the soil, the roots turn brown and mushy. As the rotting progresses, the roots can no longer carry water and nutrients to the other plant parts. In turn, the whole plant declines and eventually dies if the problem is not corrected. 

On the other side of the coin, if your Jade Plant does not get enough water, either due to infrequent watering, poor water retention of the soil, or a combination of both, the plant can suffer from drought stress. A Jade Plant suffering from drought stress will exhibit a few symptoms. These include slow or stunted growth, leaf drop, leaf spots, and discoloration.

Choosing the right pot for the Jade Plant

Today, succulent keepers can choose from a wide variety of materials used for pots, including ceramic, plastic, glass, wood, and metal. Each of these materials has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages that you should strongly consider looking into before buying. Whatever type of material you end up choosing, make sure that the pot has several drainage holes which can aid in the fast-drainage of water.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to choose a pot that has sufficient heft, especially if you have a mature Jade Plant.  As Jade Plants mature, they can get top-heavy, and tipping over is a strong possibility. A heavy pot can serve as a counterbalance, preventing that issue.

One potting material that combines drainage and heft is ceramic. When it comes to wicking excess water, ceramic pots are considered superior over other types of containers. Plus, these pots carry considerable weight, more than enough to maintain the balance for your Jade Plant.

Repotting Jade Plants

You do not need to repot your Jade Plant regularly. Like some succulents and cacti, the Jade Plant does not have an extensive root system. The succulent’s roots are shallow and relatively small compared to the main plant. As a rule of thumb, you should repot a Jade Plant every two to three years if you want it to grow more. 

For older and more established specimens, you can get away with repotting every four to five years. Being root bound is not a major cause of concern for Jade Plants.

Ideally, you should choose a new pot that is one to two sizes larger than the current pot. Any larger and you risk your plant going into shock.

Every time you repot your Jade Plant, it is a good idea to use a new batch of potting mix. Over time, the soil can lose nutrients. Using a new potting mix allows your succulent to get a steady supply of the nutrients it needs.

Water your Jade Plant two weeks before repotting it. This will ensure that your succulent is completely dry once you repot it.

Start by pulling the root ball from the pot. After that, fill the new pot with your potting mix. Once you put in your plant into the new pot, it should be about even with the pot’s top. Because of the density of the potting mix, your plant will eventually sink.

After placing your plant, you can add compost around the rootball. Finish off by pressing down on all sides of the potting mix.

Allow your plant to rest for about a week before watering it again.

Conclusion

It does not take much to take care of a Jade Plant. Water it infrequently, give it ample light, and use the right type of soil. Make a wrong choice in any of the three and you can expect problems with your succulent. 

Image: istockphoto.com / Gheorhge

How Fast Do Cactus Grow?

How Fast Do Cactus Grow

Some cactus varieties can grow incredibly high, but it will take a very long time to get there. For example, the Saguaro can grow as high as 45 feet. However, it will take as long as 200 years for that cactus to reach that height.

How fast do cacti grow?

Generally speaking, cacti grow slow. In some types, you can hardly notice visible signs of growth. Others grow at a relatively faster pace. On average, you should expect your cactus to grow anywhere between less than half an inch to about an inch per year. And there are some cacti that can grow as much about six inches annually.

To better understand the pace of growth of most cacti, it is worthwhile to look from the vantage point of their growth stages.

Germination

Like many plants, cacti grow from seeds. However, you can also grow cacti from cuttings. If you are starting with a seed, you will first have to wait for it to germinate. The germination of cactus seeds will vary from one type to another. Some cactus seeds will germinate in a matter of weeks while others take several months.

In general, cactus seeds germinate faster in an indoor environment compared to an outdoor environment. This is because an indoor environment can be easily controlled. If a cactus seed is germinated outdoors, it may take several years for germination to take place. This is because the seed needs to wait for the right environmental conditions.

1 month

If you are starting from a seed, you might see spines growing from the seed in one month. However, take note that not all cactus species grow spines. Instead of waiting for spines to grow, you should wait for a seedling to appear from the soil.

If you do not notice spines or seedling growth in a month, do not despair. There are just some cacti that take more time to germinate. Just be patient.

Half a year

If you have successfully germinated your cactus seed, you may hardly see any difference within six months. It is not unusual for many cacti to remain the same size as a marble ball within six months. 

One year

In a year, your cactus will essentially look the same as it was a few months ago. Although there might be no visible signs of growth, your plant’s needs have changed. Specifically, it needs to be moved from the propagation tray to its own pot.

Two years and beyond

Most cacti take years, decades even, to reach full maturity. As such, do not expect significant growth from your cactus.

Are you doing something wrong?

Although cacti have the reputation of growing slowly, it is also entirely possible that you are doing something wrong that is causing your plant to grow at a sluggish pace.

1. Using the wrong pot size

From germination to a year later, you will need to repot your cactus. Here, it is crucial to use the right size of pot for your plant. Placed in a container that is too small, your succulent is deprived of the nutrients it needs to grow further. Simply put, if you use the wrong pot size, you are limiting your plant’s growth potential. You may need to repot your cactus several times in its early stages.

2. Stress

After moving your cactus to a new pot, you should give it ample time to recover. Otherwise, you are subjecting it to stress. Cacti are extremely adaptable. However, they need to be given enough time to adjust to a new environment. After repotting, keep your plant away from direct sunlight for a couple of days. This will give it the time it needs to recover fully. After a few days, you expose it to more sunlight on an incremental basis.

3. Overwatering

Cactus can withstand long periods of drought but like other succulents, it cannot tolerate excessive moisture. In fact, overwatering can be downright fatal for these plants. One possible reason why your cactus is not growing is that you are overwatering it. 

The signs of overwatering in young cacti are not always readily apparent. In fact, you might be overwatering your plant without even knowing it. Cacti can continue to grow and show no signs of overwatering for weeks or even months. But when these signs do begin to emerge, it may be too late to save your plant.

Excessive moisture is the number one cause of death in cacti and succulents. When you give an excessive amount of water to your cactus, the roots sit in the water for a long time and this leads to root rot. When the plant’s roots begin to rot, they lose the ability to supply the whole plant with water. 

That is when you will see visible signs of overwatering. These signs include discoloration, soft leaves and mushy texture. If the root rot is not extensive, you might just be able to save your plant. If there are just a few rotten roots, you can cut these away and plant your cactus in another pot.

4. Lack of ventilation

Between germination and the early stages of growth, the container of the cactus seedlings needs to be wrapped with a plastic cover or a transparent lid. The purpose of the plastic cover is two-fold. First, it helps the cactus to get access to enough sunlight. Second, it helps the soil retain moisture.

Once the seedling is established, you will need to remove the wrap gradually. Removing the plastic wrap facilitates ventilation which is an essential ingredient for growth in young cacti.

Are there ways to make a cactus grow faster?

The best way to make your succulent grow faster is to avoid the things that impede its growth. However, there are a few tricks that you can use to speed things up a little.

1. Repot your cactus

Choose a ceramic container that is a bit larger than your cactus’ current pot. Make sure that you fill the pot with a soil mix specially formulated for cacti. Alternatively, you can create a potting mix made up of one part organic soil and another part made of coarse sand. Also, be sure that you plant your cactus at about the same level as it was in its original container.

2. Move your cactus to a brighter spot

Find the sunniest area in your home. In most houses, this will be in a south-facing area. Make it a point to keep that area warm for your plant. Cacti prefer areas with a temperature range of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Water your cactus correctly

Cacti need more water during the summer months and less during winter. The best way to water cacti is to give them just enough water to moisten their potting mixes. After watering your plant, be sure to allow excess moisture to drain out of the pot’s drainage hole. 

Water your plant again only when the soil is dry. Watering frequency will vary depending on the age of the plant, the season, and the size of the pot.

4. Use the right fertilizer

Providing your plant a low-nitrogen fertilizer formulated for cacti can give it the boost it needs for growth. However, avoid giving your cactus fertilizer during winter when it will probably go dormant. As a rule of thumb, fertilize your cactus once or twice during its growth phase. Fertilizing it weekly can lead to more harm than good. Overfertilization can lead to uneven growth or even deformities.

Why are cacti such slow growers?

If you have kept other plants before, you will see a marked difference in the growth rates of those plants and your cactus. There are a few reasons behind this difference.

Survival adaptations

If you look at the places of origin of many cacti, you will instantly notice that these locations can barely support life. For the most part, that makes cacti such amazing plants, being able not only to survive but thrive in conditions that are downright hostile to plant life.

In the desert, the soil can be dry for most of the year with rain falling intermittently. Aside from that, desert soil is practically infertile, providing little to no nutrients to support growth. To thrive in this type of situation, cacti have evolved and adapted by putting their focus on survival and taking advantage of what little resources are available to them.

Instead of allocating resources toward growth, cacti use those resources to keep themselves alive until the rains come in.

Absence of leaves

Leaves serve a few critical functions in plants, including transpiration. Transpiration is the process by which plants lose water through evaporation. Transpiration is important for two reasons. It helps cool the plant and enables nutrients and water to be distributed throughout the plant. According to studies, a plant can lose as much 99 percent of water through transpiration.

If you look at a few cacti, you will see that most do not have conventional leaves. In place of leaves, these plants have spines which perform multiple functions. These include protection against animals, airflow reduction, and sun protection or shade.

The lack of leaves means that cacti do not lose as much water as other plants do. However, the absence of conventional leaves means cacti cannot produce as much food as other leaves.

The absence of leaves also translates to lower levels of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives plants their green color. It is also a critical part of photosynthesis, a process by which plants use the sun’s energy to create their food.

Without leaves, cacti have to rely on their stems for photosynthesis. This means that these plants can produce a considerably lower amount of food which they use mainly for survival instead of growth.

Fewer stomata

Apart from lacking leaves, cacti also have fewer stomata compared to most plants. Stomata are plant structures that open up to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Carbon dioxide is integral to photosynthesis. When the stomata open to absorb carbon dioxide, water is also released.

Cacti evolved to have fewer stomata to limit water loss. However, this adaptation means that these plants cannot absorb as much carbon dioxide needed for fast growth.

The patience game

Even if you implement the hacks mentioned above, do not expect your cactus to grow as fast as other plants. Cacti are slow growers and there is not much you can do about it. But that is part and parcel of the beauty of keeping cacti.

Image: istockphoto.com / fotocelia

Do Succulents Need Fertilizers?

Do Succulents Need Fertilizers

Succulents have earned a reputation of being plants that can thrive in the harshest of conditions. Many of these plants grow in areas where the soil offers little to no nutrition. And if the best way to keep a plant is to mimic the conditions of its natural habitat, why should you fertilize your succulent? Are you not just wasting your money on something that your plant does not need?

Do your succulents need fertilizers?

Succulents, including cacti, do not need fertilizers to survive. However, if you want your plants to thrive and reach their full potential, giving them fertilizers is essential, depending on the conditions.

Technically speaking, succulents do not need fertilizers to survive. After all, these plants have adapted to live with few resources readily available in their places of origin. But surviving is not the same as thriving and feeding your succulents with the appropriate nutrients benefits them in many ways.

For starters, well-fed succulents grow faster compared to those that can barely get nutrients from the soil they are planted. Fertilizers also enable succulents to better respond to environmental conditions that can cause stress.

And even if your succulents derive nutrients from the soil, over time, these nutrients are washed away the more you water your plants. From time to time, the nutrients in the soil need to be replenished.

What fertilizer should you use for succulents?

Before discussing which fertilizers are suitable for your succulents, it is worthwhile to know which ones to avoid.

As much as possible, avoid giving your plants fertilizers that have a high amount of nitrogen. The high concentration of nutrients in this type of fertilizer is detrimental to the health and form of your plants. If you overfeed your succulents, you will notice that your plants become more prone to leaf and root problems.

1. Commercial fertilizers

If you have no other option but use a commercial fertilizer, choose one with an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 formulation. More importantly, lower the strength of the fertilizer by half or even a quarter. 

For example, if it says on the label that you should dissolve a tablespoon of the fertilizer for every gallon of water, use half or a quarter tablespoon of the fertilizer. The quarter-strength formulation works best for tropical succulents like the Christmas Cactus.

2. Manure tea

Since time immemorial, farmers and savvy gardeners have relied upon manure to fertilize their crops.

The droppings from grazing animals like cows, horses, and sheep contain a diverse number of nutrients and minerals. These nutrients and minerals do not just feed crops. More importantly, manure conditions the soil to make it viable for longer periods. Animal droppings also feed the beneficial microorganisms that live in the soil.

Studies also indicate that manure offers other benefits like improving soil aeration and making the soil’s carbon content more available to plants. But despite these benefits, it is understandable why manure can be off-putting to some people.

If you want to reap these benefits without the associated hassles like the smell of manure, consider using manure tea. Manure tea offers all the benefits of animal droppings without the smell and other downsides. Plus, you are assured that your plants get the nutrients they need without the risk of getting burned and disfigured.

To use manure tea as a fertilizer, you will need to soak one tea bag for every five-gallon of water. You need to soak the tea bag anywhere between 24 to 36 hours. Once the nutrients leach into the water, you will notice that the water will turn brown. You can then use this solution to water your succulents. One batch is enough to water several succulents.

You can use one tea bag to create another batch of fertilized water. However, you will need to steep the tea bag longer, usually for three days.

Because manure tea is milder than commercial fertilizers, you can use it to fertilize your succulents monthly, especially during the growing season of your plants. Most succulents enter their growth phase during the summer.

3. Worm castings

Another organic alternative to chemical fertilizers that you might want to consider using is worm castings i.e. the droppings of worms. Almost all plants, including your succulents, can benefit from worm castings.

Worm castings contain over 60 minerals and other nutrients that are essential for plant growth and health. These include magnesium, nitrogen, zinc, carbon, and iron. 

Worm castings can fix a few problems related to soil quality. These can be used to balance soil with high or low pH and even protect the plants from the presence of heavy metals in the soil. Worm castings also improve soil aeration.

Finally, worm castings protect plants from pests in two ways. First, the enzymes found in these repel common succulent pests like mealybugs and aphids. Second, worm castings contain the enzyme known as chitinase. When your succulents absorb this enzyme, they become more resilient against insects that feed on their leaves.

Insects instinctively sense chitinase in plants because the enzyme breaks down their exoskeleton. Better yet, chitinase poses no harm to beneficial insects like the ladybug.

You can add worm castings to the soil before planting your succulents. Alternatively, you can just put a few spoons to a handful of worm castings over the soil.

When should you fertilize succulents?

Succulents can be fertilized once a month in perfect conditions and this is a common practice among professional nurseries. The main drawback of monthly fertilization is that the plant seems to be incapable of thriving or even surviving in an environment where there is less control of the conditions, like in a home or a garden. In short, the plant loses its inherent ability to adapt. This is why it is advisable to feed your succulents just once a year. 

If you want to fertilize your succulents, whether you keep them outdoors or indoors, the best time to do that would be spring, except for some succulents that go dormant in the summer. The logic behind this schedule is that you should feed your succulents when they need more nutrients, which is during their growth phase.

There is no need to feed your plant when it is about to go into hibernation. You are only wasting precious resources and you might end up doing more harm than good.

You should also be aware that when you feed your succulents, they will go into overdrive and grow at a faster pace. If you do not provide your plants with enough sunlight, they will stretch themselves even further to gather more light.

Providing adequate light for your succulents after feeding them allows them to remain compact.

Should you fertilize your succulents?

Succulents are exceptionally resilient plants, able to survive in environments that are downright hostile. It is amazing to see them thrive in their natural habitats with little to no nutrients available to them. But of course, using the right type of fertilizers, given at the right dosage and timing, can help your plant to thrive.

Image: istockphoto.com / Singkham

Succulent Growing Roots From Stem

Succulent Growing Roots From Stem

A succulent growing roots from its stem is something to take note of as it is often an indication of larger issues at hand that you may need to address immediately to ensure the well-being of your plant.

Roots growing on the stem of succulents

But what exactly are these growths on the stems of your plants? Are not roots supposed to grow below the plant, hidden in the soil? The proper name for these growths that you see on your succulent’s stems is aerial roots.

Plants rely on their roots for different functions. These functions include securing moisture and nutrients, transporting both to different parts of the plant, and holding the whole plant firmly in place, usually in the soil.

In most plants, you will find the roots attached to the base of the plant, buried in the soil. However, there are instances where these roots cannot perform their designated functions optimally and in such cases a plant may grow aerial roots to supplement the functions done by the main root system. 

The presence of aerial roots can indicate that your plant is missing something. That something may mean that the plant is not getting enough water or that it needs to anchor itself, usually on a surface as its stems grow longer.

Functions of aerial roots

Aerial roots, also known as air roots, grow on stems to perform multiple functions. Like the main root system, aerial roots extract water and nutrients. But instead of extracting these resources from the soil, aerial roots extract these from the air.

Although you cannot see it, the air is filled with water in the form of water vapor. Aerial roots are capable of absorbing water vapor from the air. But compared to the primary root system, aerial roots are not as efficient in absorbing water.

Apart from water vapor, the air can also contain a small amount of nutrients that are valuable to your succulent.

Plants also need gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. In most plants, these gases are acquired by the leaves. But in some plants, the aerial roots also perform this key function. 

Some plants called epiphytes use aerial roots to latch on securely to their host plants. Most succulents do not need to send out roots for structural support. If they do, it is because it has shallow roots that are close to the ground.

Finally, plants grow air roots to provide support to their runners. Succulents like the Haworthia are known to send runner stems. These trailing stems have aerial roots that aid in propagation. If those runners get cut off from the main plant, the aerial roots are converted into conventional roots which anchor and provide water and nutrients to the new plant.

Evaluating your succulent’s deficiencies

Although the appearance of aerial roots on a succulent is not a major cause for concern, they often indicate that your plant is not getting most of its needs met. In short, you can look at air roots as warning signals that prompt you to act to address your succulent’s deficiencies.

Light deprivation

One of the first things that you need to look into is the light requirements of your succulent. When a succulent is not getting enough sunlight, it will literally stretch itself to catch more light.

In this case, air roots appear, not to help in absorbing more light. On the contrary, these roots appear because the plant has become too top-heavy. Here, the main role of the air roots is to provide support to the plant once it tips over.

Dehydration

Aerial roots sometimes grow on stems because your succulent is dehydrated. Dehydration can arise due to two main reasons. Your succulent may be dehydrated simply because you are not giving it enough water. Some people think that succulents need little to no water because of their ability to store moisture.

Succulents like to get drenched in water. However, these plants do not need to be watered regularly. Imagine heavy but infrequent rains in the desert. If aerial roots appear, revisit your watering habits. Perhaps, you need to water your succulent more often than you have been doing.

On the other hand, you might be giving your plant enough water but it can still be dehydrated. In such a case, you should carefully examine the composition of the soil you are using. If there is a significant amount of organic matter in the soil, it can get too moist for your plant. This excessive moisture impedes the root system’s ability to draw water from the soil. If there is too much organic matter in the soil, change the soil to a different one, ideally one that is gritty.

Humidity

If you live in an area that has high humidity, you might see your succulent growing air roots from its stems. The appearance of these roots indicates that your plant is taking advantage of this situation. Specifically, your plant sees high humidity as an opportunity to get more water from the air.

For most succulents, high humidity is detrimental as it prevents water evaporation. Remember, your succulent does not like sitting on wet soil for an extended period. When it is too humid, it takes a long time for the soil to get dry. Eventually, this can lead to root rot. You can lessen humidity by increasing airflow. This can be done by opening the windows in your home or by using an electric fan.

It should be noted that not all succulents grow air roots from their stems.

Aerial roots typically appear in succulents that grow fast, like the Graptopetalum paraguayense and the Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives.’ You may also notice air roots on the stems of succulents that are in their growth phase.

What to do with aerial roots

You can leave the aerial roots and let them be. Their continued presence does not necessarily hurt your plant. However, these roots can become unsightly, especially when they become harder and thicker. If you want to remove these roots, you can just clip them off.

The more important issue at hand is determining your plant’s deficiencies. Try to look at the possible reasons for the presence of these air roots and remedy the underlying problem.

A warning sign

Although the presence of air roots does not necessarily mean that your succulent is in danger of dying, it indicates that your plant’s needs are not being met adequately. Consider the presence of aerial roots as a warning sign. Act fast to prevent grave problems from arising.

Image: istockphoto.com / Olga Beliaeva

7 Succulents That Stay Small

Succulents are excellent plants for small spaces. You can reap the same benefits of owning succulents (ease of care, longevity, etc.) in a small, manageable package.

Here is a list of seven succulents that stay small:

1. Echeveria amoena

Echeveria amoena
Image: istockphoto.com / Creative life, looking for special pictures.

The Echeveria amoena is known both for its compact size and its prolific production of offsets. The succulents leaves can measure up to two inches in length, forming a small rosette. The leaves are green in color and can sometimes have red tips.

The Echeveria amoena produces coral-colored flowers from red stems during late spring. These blooms usually last for a month.

Like most echeverias, this succulent does not require extensive care or maintenance. However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you want to keep this plant. For starters, you should not water this plant from its crown. Doing this will create small pools of water to form on the rosette. These small pools of water can make the plant vulnerable to fungal diseases and rot.

Over time, the plant sheds its old leaves. Be sure to remove these immediately because mealybugs like to stay in the dead leaves. If you need to repot your plant, do it during the summer and make sure that you are using dry soil.

2. Echeveria minima

Echeveria minima
Image: istockphoto.com / owngarden

In English, the Latin word “minima” translates to small. The Echeveria minima is a miniature succulent that is known both for its beauty and its size. Originating from Mexico, this plant can grow between three to five inches in height. 

Its chubby, blue-green leaves form a tight rosette that has a diameter a hair below two inches. The rosette is tightly-packed that you cannot see much except the upper halves of the leaves.

When exposed to full sun, the leaves become stressed and their tips take on a pinkish hue.

The Echeveria minima produces bell-shaped, peach and orange-colored flowers during spring.

Like most succulents, the plant needs well-draining soil and deep but infrequent watering.  The plant prefers full sun and without adequate light it may start stretching. It can be kept in partial shade or indoors, especially during winter.

3.  Zebra Cactus 

Zebra Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / Saowakon Wichaichaleechon

Often mistaken as a variety of Aloe, the Zebra Cactus (Haworthia fasciata) is characterized by its fleshy leaves which have distinct white markings like that of a zebra. Despite its name, the Zebra plant is not a cactus.

A native of South Africa, this succulent is a slow grower. Mature specimens can reach a height of close to six inches.

Although the plant can be grown outdoors, it thrives indoors. Unlike other succulents that require hours under direct sunlight, the Haworthia prefers indirect light, making it one of the best plants to keep indoors. A lot of that has to do with its original habitat. In the wild, the Zebra Plant can be seen growing beneath rock formations and bushes.

When exposed to too much sunlight, the plant turns to a deep red color, a sign of stress. Eventually, the leaves turn white which is a sign that the plant has dried up.

4. Blossfeldia liliputana

In the book Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift describes a fictional island called Lilliput which is inhabited by small people. As such, it should not come as a surprise that the smallest cactus in the world is called  Blossfeldia liliputana. And it is not just this cactus’ small stature that makes it also one of the most interesting succulents in the world.

Originating from Argentina and Bolivia’s arid regions, this tiny cactus grows up to less than half an inch.

Unlike other cacti, this plant does not have ribs nor spines. Instead, it has areoles that have tufts of wool. In the wild, the cactus can be found growing between rocks with barely enough soil to support its growth.

The plant can also lose as much as 80 percent of its water weight, capable of surviving in such a state for as long as two years. Once the rains come, the plant regains its normal size and shape without being harmed or undergoing significant change.

5. Gasteria ‘Little Warty’

Gasteria ‘Little Warty’
Image: istockphoto.com / Anothai Wimolkaew

Despite its off-putting name, the Gasteria ‘Little Warty’ is one of the most beautiful succulents. A cross between two Gasteria species, Gasteria batesiana and Gasteria ‘Old Man Silver’, Little Warty can grow up to five inches tall and four inches wide. The plant’s nickname is derived from the small bumps which appear all over its thick green leaves.

Gasterias are close relatives of Haworthias and share the same care requirements. This means that Little Warty can tolerate partial shade.

This succulent is particularly vulnerable to fungal infections especially when there is high humidity. An infected Little Warty will exhibit black spots on its leaves. Fortunately, the succulent has a defense mechanism against fungi. When subjected to a fungal attack, the plant attacks the microorganism and seals off these invaders.

6. Sempervivum ‘Little Bobo’

Sempervivum ‘Little Bobo’
Image: istockphoto.com / Helen Davies

The Sempervivum ‘Little Bobo’ is a charming little plant that possesses a few endearing qualities that make it one of the best houseplants. This type of Hens and Chicks plant achieves a maximum height of fewer than three inches and roughly the same width. Its lime-green leaves form a tight rosette.

Like other Hens and Chicks plants, Little Bobo is a prolific producer of offsets or chicks. These offsets can be left with the main plant or transplanted to different pots.

During summers, the plant requires weekly watering. It prefers coarse and gritty soil which will provide it with sufficient drainage.

The succulent is frost hardy and can be left outdoors during winter. However, like most succulents, it should be protected against heavy rainfall.

7. Lithops 

Lithops
Image: istockphoto.com / Nutsara Rukbangboon

Lithops, more popularly known as Living Stones are succulents that originally come from the southern parts of Africa. In their native habitat, it can be hard to distinguish between rocks and these plants primarily because of their appearance.

These slow-growing plants grow up to barely an inch in size. Each plant consists of two leaves that are fused together. The degree of fusion between these leaves can vary from one species to another. In some, the fusion is barely noticeable, while in others, the fusion is deep enough to give the impression that the plant has been cut in half.

To keep these plants happy, they need to get as much sunlight as you can give them. Deprived of sunlight, the leaves will elongate and their patterns can disappear.

Lithops are dormant during the summer. Avoid watering these plants during that period. However, if you notice that the leaves are starting to shrivel, the plants can be watered lightly.

Keeping your succulents small and manageable

A few succulents grow just a few inches even upon reaching maturity. And others seem to remain small because of their slow growth. However, if you want to keep any succulent small and manageable in size, there are a few things that you can do.

Prune

You can slow down the growth of leafy succulents like Jade Plant and the Christmas Cactus by pruning their leaves. Succulents like the Snake Plant and Aloe Vera can also be kept small by trimming their older, more mature leaves.

On the other hand, succulents like the Hens and Chicks plant that regularly grows small pups can be kept small by removing their baby plants. Removing the pups keeps the main plant relatively smaller. Plus, separating the pups prevents crowding in the pot.

Use small containers

Some succulents remain small while planted in small pots. These plants can stay in these small containers for several years. But there are also small succulents that need to be repotted to achieve their full potential.

But how do you know if you need to repot your succulent? If your plant is unhappy with its current container, it has a few ways of telling you it needs a larger home. First, you will notice that its pot can barely contain it. The plant’s various parts may look like they are spilling all over the container. You may also notice that the roots are growing out of the drainage holes.

Once you notice this, you can either keep your plant in the same container or move it to a larger pot. If you opt to keep your succulent in its current container, you should trim its leaves to maintain its small stature.

Mother of Millions vs. Mother of Thousands

Mother of Millions vs. Mother of Thousands

Many people confuse the Mother of Millions with Mother of Thousand, due largely in part to the similarity of their names. However, these are two distinct plants. The easiest way to distinguish one from the other is to look at their leaves.

Mother of Millions vs. Mother of Thousands, which is which?

The Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) has broad, tear-shaped leaves that grow in pairs that are located on the opposite side of the stem. One pair is positioned about 90 degrees away from the other pair. This leaf growth pattern ensures that one pair of leaves does not block out the sun for the other leaves. The leaves of the Mother of Thousands contain ridges where the plantlets grow.

On the other hand, the Mother of Millions (Kalanchoe delagoensis) has narrow leaves. Typically, this succulent has four leaves that grow from the same node.  Additionally, the plantlets of the Mother of Millions only grow on the tips of the leaves. As such, the plant has fewer plantlets, usually between two to five per leaf.

Apart from their leaves, the plants are different in their growth patterns. The Mother of Thousands has only one central stalk that grows upward. As the plant grows heavy with the sheer number of leaves and plantlets, the central stalk will droop.

The Mother of Millions, on the other hand, has several stems that also grow upward. However, these stems typically cause the plant to grow like a bush.

Similarities between the Mother of Millions and the Mother of Thousands

If you look closely at both plants, you will notice that they share a few similarities, apart from their names and their production of plantlets on their leaves. For starters, both plants come from Madagascar. 

Both share similar care requirements. Both thrive under direct sunlight but can tolerate partial shade. As succulents, both plants need to be watered deeply but infrequently. They also thrive in well-draining soil.

But if there is one uncanny similarity between the two, that would be their ability to spread their plantlets with such great ease. In fact, both species can easily overgrow a garden. That is why these plants are often considered invasive species because of their efficiency in crowding out native plant species.

The plantlets produced by both plants are more than ready to grow upon reaching the ground. In essence, these plantlets are just miniature versions of the main plants. They can grow and survive even before they drop to the ground. All of these give the plantlets a distinct advantage over most plants.

Although both plants produce flowers and seeds, they do not flower often and rely almost exclusively on their plantlets for propagation. 

Finally, both plants are known to be poisonous, especially to animals. That is why many governments seek to actively control the growth of these plants. Both plants secrete a milky sap when their stems are broken. This sap contains a dangerous toxin that is poisonous to pets and livestock.

A tale of 2 Kalanchoes

Kalanchoes are succulents that originate from Madagascar and Africa. This plant genus consists of 125 species, including the Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions.

Kalanchoes share a few similarities. For one, their leaves are thick. Second, these plants open their flowers by producing new cells on the inner surface of the petals. The production of these new cells forces the flower to open outwards.

The flowers are star-shaped and bloom from winter to spring.

Kalanchoes thrive best in fast-draining soil and mild temperatures.

Like most succulents, Kalanchoes need minimal care and are susceptible to only a handful of pests and diseases.

Mother of Thousands

Also known as the Devil’s Backbone, Alligator Plant, and Mexican Hat Plant, the Mother of Thousands is a succulent that originates from Madagascar. Typically kept as a foliage plant, the succulent is often recommended to beginners because it is easy to care for and propagate.

Like most succulents, the Mother of Thousands requires soil with good drainage. If you are planning on keeping this plant, you can use a commercial cactus potting mix. Some succulent keepers use common potting soil mixed with coarse sand to boost drainage.

Unlike other succulents, the Mother of Thousands likes its soil moist. However, do not water the soil to the point that it gets too soggy.

This plant prefers bright but indirect sunlight. If you are keeping this plant outdoors, do not place it under direct sunlight.

Terracotta pots work best for these plants. Remember to repot your Mother of Thousands only after it outgrows its current container, ideally during spring. 

The most interesting aspect of this plant is that it is easy to propagate. The Mother of Thousands is a prolific multiplier, evolved to reproduce like no other. While other plants reproduce through seeds or cuttings, this succulent relies on its plantlets. Although the Mother of Thousands produces flowers, it rarely does so, especially when kept indoors.

Upon reaching maturity, spoon-shaped spurs develop on the edges of the leaves. These spurs carry plantlets which, in essence, are clones of the mother plant. Over time, these plantlets grow bigger and produce their own roots. As the plantlets continue growing, the leaves carrying these droop due to the weight they carry.

To propagate this plant, you will need to take one to two plantlets and store these in a plastic bag. Keeping the plantlets is essential to keep these moist. Otherwise, the plantlets can become dry and eventually die.

After securing viable plantlets, you can then put these on top of a pot of soil. Avoid pushing the plantlets into the soil and give them enough space apart from each other. Once you have planted the plantlets, cover the pot with cling wrap. This ensures that the baby plants are moist. Place the pot in a place with ample sunlight. Keep the plantlets covered in plastic wrap just until they grow taller.

Mother of Millions

Like the Mother of Thousands, the Mother of Millions originally comes from Madagascar.

Also known as the Chandelier Plant, Mission Bells, and Christmas Bells, this flowering succulent can grow over two feet tall.

The Mother of Millions can be grown outdoors and indoors. Like most succulents, it prefers well-draining soil and partial shade. The plant should be repotted every two to three years, ideally with fresh soil.

The Mother of Millions can tolerate warm temperatures and prefers sunny locations. However, the plant should not be placed under direct sunlight.

Although the succulent is drought-tolerant, it should be watered one to two times a week, especially between spring and fall. You can water it less frequently during winter. When overwatered, the leaves begin to droop and the plant drops its plantlets.

Like the Mother of Thousands, the Mother of Millions is easy to propagate. To propagate this succulent, you will need to wait until the plantlets found on the edges of the leaves start to drop and take root. The plantlets can be planted in separate containers or small groups in a single pot. Either way, you have to make sure that you use well-draining soil. As the plantlets grow, these should be transplanted to larger pots.

The Mother of Millions is a resilient plant and rarely succumbs to pests and diseases. One particular problem to watch out for is mildew infection which typically arises when the air is too dry.

The plant has long been associated with cattle deaths. In the wild, the plant can be easily spread in pasturelands through floodwater, animals, and vehicles. This, combined with the plant’s toxicity, make the succulent a threat to livestock. When cows ingest the plant and its flowers, the animals can become poisoned, and when left untreated, die.

Keeping your plants in check

There is no doubt that both the Mother of Millions and Mother of Thousands are interesting plants because of their unique ability to propagate. But these same qualities can make these plants pests, especially when left on their own devices. This is particularly true if you live in an area where the climate provides these plants with the right living conditions.

To put it succinctly, keeping either of these plants entails responsibility, especially in terms of controlling the spread of their plantlets. Keep these plants in separate containers. This will make it easier for you to control the spread of the plantlets and prevent the young plants from making their way outside of your property.

Unless you are planning to propagate either of these plants, you should regularly check the mother plants and remove the plantlets before these take root and grow.

What makes a plant invasive?

Plants that are deemed invasive, like the Mother of Millions and Mother of Thousands, are not inherently harmful. The qualities that make these plants invasive are in fact adaptations that allowed them to survive and compete with other organisms in their native locations.

In their natural habitat, numerous factors keep their populations in check, ranging from predators to environmental conditions. Invasive plants cause problems when they are brought from their places of origin to locations where they may have an unfair advantage over indigenous plants.

When you bring a plant to a new location, two things can happen. It can die because it is unfit to survive in that new location or it can thrive because there is little to no competition that will keep its population in check.

Invasive plant species share a few qualities that make them successful. These include the ability to multiply and grow rapidly, qualities present in both the Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions.

These qualities are not inherently bad, especially when seen in the context of surviving in their places of origin. However, these same qualities put native plants at a disadvantage when both types of Kalanchoes are released outdoors.

A big responsibility

There is no doubt that both the Mother of Millions and Mother of Thousands make excellent additions to any succulent collection, but due to the nature of their reproduction, you should be aware of the associated responsibilities of keeping both plants in your garden. 

Be aware of the tendencies of both plants and put into place protective measures to prevent their spread in your local environment.

Image: istockphoto.com / skymoon13

How Long Do Moon Cactus Live?

How Long Do Moon Cactus Live

How long does a Moon Cactus usually live?

On average, a Moon Cactus can live anywhere between one to three years. However, there are a few anecdotes of succulent keepers who have kept specimens well over five years. On the other hand, it is not unusual for a Moon Cactus to live just a few months, especially if you do not have any experience caring for one.

The short history of the Moon Cactus

In reality, the Moon Cactus is actually two plants combined into one.  Or more accurately, the Moon Cactus is a product of grafting the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii with another species, typically the Hylocereus.

The Gymnocalycium mihanovichii is a small cactus that originally comes from South America. Collectors are enamored by its small stature and spherical shape. The plant is grey-green with deep purple accents. Its body can have anywhere between eight to 14 ribs. 

The Japanese commercial nurseryman named Eiji Watanabe is widely considered as the person who developed what is now known as the Moon Cactus. In 1937, Watanabe bought 300 seeds of the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii var. friedrichii. He was able to successfully germinate these seeds until most of these grew and produced their seeds. By 1940, Watanabe had 10,000 seedlings. Of these two seedlings, he found two mutants with reddish bodies which he then grafted. He continued propagating Gymnocalycium mihanovichii var. friedrichii with the hope of finding seedlings with better colors.

Understanding grafting

The remarkable coloration that Watanabe was able to develop out of his collection of Gymnocalycium mihanovichii comes at a steep price. His collection lacked chlorophyll, a pigment essential for energy production in plants. This absence of chlorophyll allowed the other colors in the cactus to come to the forefront. However, this also meant that the cactus cannot survive on its own for a long period.

To work around this issue, Watanabe grafted the cactus onto another cactus called Hylocereus. resulting in what is now known as the Moon Cactus.

What is grafting?

Grafting is a horticultural technique where two plants are combined. The purpose of this technique is to grow a single plant that possesses the good qualities of two plants. This technique has been widely used in fruiting trees and ornamental plants.

In grafting, you have the scion which is the plant that is chosen because of its fruit production or its ornamental qualities. On the other hand, you have the rootstock which supplies the scion with the qualities it needs to thrive.

In the Moon Cactus, the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii is the scion and the Hylocereus is the rootstock.

In general, grafted plants have long lifespans. But the Moon Cactus is a problematic combination of two seemingly incompatible cacti. The main problem with the Moon Cactus is that the scion and the rootstock are incompatible. Specifically, Gymnocalycium mihanovichii grows just a few inches while the Hylocereus is a tall cactus, capable of reaching a height of 30 feet. The disparity in the growth rate of the two cacti translates to difficulty in getting watering right for the Moon Cactus. Initially, this disparity may not be readily apparent. But as your Moon Cactus matures the rootstock grows faster.

But apart from the disparity in height and growth rate, another critical issue with the Moon Cactus is the different care requirements of the two plants that have been combined. Specifically, the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii prefers the shade, primarily because its lack of chlorophyll makes it susceptible to sunburn. The Hylocereus, on the other hand, prefers the full sun although it can tolerate partial shade.

Although most cacti live for several years, the Moon Cactus is fated to have a short lifespan because essentially, you have two plants, with one acting as a parasite.

Over time, the rootstock cannot produce enough food for itself and the scion. This unstable combination weakens both the scion and rootstock.

Saving your Moon Cactus

Fortunately, it is possible to prolong the lifespan of your Moon Cactus. To do that, you will need to separate the scion and the rootstock.

Grafting the scion

Before grafting the scion, you will need to get a new rootstock. Apart from the Hylocereus, you may use a Cereus or Trichocereus. Make sure that the new rootstock is more or less the same size as your scion.

Start the grafting process by making a clean cut on the top of the new rootstock.

Next, take the scion by cutting around the area near the old rootstock. Do not leave any part of the old rootstock on the scion.

Afterward, place the scion on top of the rootstock. The circle that you will find in the cross-section of both plants should be aligned.

Finally, secure both cacti by using a rubber band. Typically, it will take two months for the rootstock and the scion to make a full connection.

Saving the old rootstock

After removing the scion, the rootstock can now sustain itself. In fact, after the removal of the scion, new growth will appear on the rootstock.

Once the scion has been removed and grafted to a new rootstock, you will need to make another cut on the old rootstock, just below where the Gymnocalycium was previously positioned. 

Next, allow the old rootstock to callous over by placing it in a sunny location.

A short-lived beauty

Some succulent collectors oppose the sales and collection of the Moon Cactus.

They reason out that the plant damages their hobby because the plant sets up new collectors to fail because of the problems associated with keeping Moon Cactus.

If you are planning to get one for yourself, be aware of the issues mentioned above.

Image: istockphoto.com / TatianaMironenko

How Many Succulents Per Pot?

How Many Succulents Per Pot

How many succulents per pot? The number of succulents that you can put in a pot for a succulent arrangement boils down to your preferences and goals. If you have the time to wait, you can spread-out your arrangement and allow your succulents to slowly fill up the available space. On the other hand, if you are planning to give your arrangements or if you just want to have one that looks complete, you should strongly consider planting as many succulents as you reasonably can.

Consider the pros and cons of each option before settling for an approach.

Planting succulents together in a pot

When planting succulents together in an arrangement, there are two prevailing schools of thought that you can look into.

Tightly-packed arrangements

On one hand, you have people that advocate planting succulents in a tight arrangement, planting as many succulents they can reasonably pack in one container. There are a few advantages to this school of thought.

For one, you do not have to worry much about tending to your growing plants. When you fill your container with as many plants as you reasonably can, they will grow and spread at a slower pace.

Second, tighter succulent arrangements will hold their shape much longer. Plus, your succulent arrangement will have a more finished look which can be more visually appealing. That finished look means that you can give your arrangements as gifts anytime you want.

But along with these advantages come a few downsides.

One problem that you will likely encounter is the difficulty in watering the succulents in your arrangement.  Because the succulents are planted closely together, you may have a difficult time reaching each plant and the best workaround here is to use a watering spout with a thin and long neck.

When one or more plants in the arrangement grow too big, you might find it difficult to trim the excess growth on these succulents. It is also possible for the plants to become root-bound.

Although it is possible to remove plants from an existing arrangement, you will have to go through the hassle of removing the other plants as well so you can gain access to one or more of the bigger plants.

Spread-out arrangements

On the other hand, some people prefer giving ample space for their plants in an arrangement. The chief advantage of this philosophy is you are giving your plants enough room to grow and spread out. If you compare the plants grown in tightly-packed arrangements and those that are in spread-out arrangements, you will notice that the rate of growth is faster in the latter.

Maintenance is less of an issue in spread-out arrangements. Due to the extra space available, you can water the plants without hassles. If you need to prune one or more plants, you will have enough room to maneuver around.

But before you use this approach for your succulent arrangement, you should also be aware of its downsides. First, your arrangement may look incomplete because of the extra space. Your plants will eventually fill that space up. But be aware that many succulents are notorious for being slow growers. You can counter that disadvantage by filling the available space with large decorative rocks. Others prefer to put a top dressing on their arrangements to complete the look of their projects. Eventually, you can remove the rocks as your plants begin to fill up space on the container.

The extra space in the container may also cause the plants to grow slower, especially at the beginning. Because of the availability of space, succulents tend to expend their energy toward extending their roots instead of growth.

A matter of choice

Succulent arrangement tips

But no matter what approach you take in designing your succulent arrangement, the following tips will allow you to take better care of your succulents and prevent a few problems along the way.

1. Sit plants above the pot’s rim

First, make sure that you fill your container with as much potting mix as you can. The potting mix should reach the rim of the pot you are using.

Otherwise, water will pool inside the pot, leaving your plants more vulnerable to rot.

When filling up the pot with soil, fill it partially before placing your succulents inside. This will help you see if you need to add more soil to prop up your succulents.

2. Combine thoughtfully

Do not put succulents in your arrangements randomly.

To generate visual interest and appeal, you need to establish a hierarchy. You can achieve that by mixing and matching the heights of the plants that you put in the container.

You can complete the look of your arrangement by adding trailing plants that spill over the container when they grow.

In terms of color, there are three approaches that you can consider: monochromatic, complementary, and analogous.

A monochromatic arrangement uses succulents that essentially have the same color. A complementary approach to color uses plants with colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel. Finally, in an analogous approach, the colors used are placed next to one another on the color wheel.

3. Consider the plants’ needs

Finally, it is a good idea to use succulents that have the same light and water needs. This will prevent one or more plants from succumbing to problems while the rest thrive.

For example, avoid placing succulents that go dormant in the summer with those that go dormant during the winter.

Look beyond the number

Beyond the number of plants that you want to put inside a container, you should take into account your and your plants’ needs. You can put as many or as few as you want as long as you satisfy your design goals as well as your plants’ requirements for growth and development.

Image: istockphoto.com / kynny

White Spots on Ogre Ear Plant

White Spots on Ogre Ear Plants

Should you worry about the white spots on Ogre Ear Plant?

The white spots you see on your succulent’s leaves can be attributed to a few possible causes. These include powdery mildew, excess salts, insect infestation, and overfertilization.

What causes white spots on Ogre Ear Plant

If you see white spots on your Ogre Ear Plant, do not panic. In most cases, these white spots are no cause for concern. What is critical is to identify the underlying cause of this problem so you can take the appropriate actions.

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a type of fungal disease that affects various kinds of indoor plants, including succulents. A plant becomes vulnerable to this fungal disease due to a combination of different factors, including high humidity, poor air circulation, low temperature, and low light. 

The fungus that causes the white spots often begins its attack on the broadest part of the plant, usually the leaves. This is why you often notice the white spots on the foliage. Later on, as the powdery mildew spreads, you will notice fungal strings on different plant parts.

If you are not sure that the white spots are caused by powdery mildew, check your plant’s growing conditions. Once you have ruled out these conditions, you can check for other potential causes.

When caught early, powdery mildew is easy to treat and will not cause any long term harm to your Ogre Ear Plant.

To treat an infected plant, you will need a mixture of baking soda, non-detergent soap, and water. Spray this mixture on the affected parts of the plant daily.

Excess salts

Succulents like the Ogre Ear Plant store most of the water they take in their leaves. Now, if you give your plants water that is high in salt content, the balance in the water stored in the leaves becomes disturbed.

To restore balance in the moisture content of the leaves, your Ogre Ear Plant will try to eliminate the excess salt through the leaf pores through the process of transpiration.

In short, the white spots you see on your plant are simply salt residue.

Looking at the white spots caused by powdery mildew and those caused by excess salts, it can be hard to see any difference between the two.

Fortunately, there is a way to distinguish one cause from the other. To determine whether the white spots are caused by excess salt, all you have to do is to wipe away the spots with a damp cloth.

Wait for about a week before checking if there are spots left on your plant. If white spots appear after a week, those spots are caused by powdery mildew.

If the underlying cause is excess salt, those white spots will not appear again for quite some time.

Insect infestation

Two pests that can cause white spots on your Ogre Ear Plant are the mealybugs and spider mites. Mealybugs are small insects with flat white bodies that typically hide in the branches and stems of succulents. Spider mites, on the other hand, are tiny arachnids that often lurk beneath the soil.

If you suspect that your plant is infested by either of the two, shake the leaves of the succulent and see whether any of these insects will drop. You can wipe both of these pests using a cotton ball or cloth soaked in a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol.

Other insects to watch out for are aphids and thrips. However, these two rarely infest Ogre Ear Plants. As much as possible, avoid using commercial insecticides which can do more harm than good on your plant.

Overfertilization

Succulents are not heavy feeders and they can get by with the occasional application of fertilizers. If you are fertilizing your Ogre Ear Plant excessively, you will notice that its leaves have white spots which are likely the build-up of surplus nutrients.

Finding the cause of white spots on Ogre Ear Plant

In most cases, white spots are just cosmetic blemishes that appear on the top of the leaves. These speckles can be removed easily without posing long term harm to your plant. However, that does not mean that you should take white spots lightly, especially if there is a possibility that your Ogre Ear Plant is infested by an insect.

Fortunately, determining the root cause of the white spots is not rocket science. However, there are a few steps that you need to undertake.

First, it is a good idea to check the content of the water on your property. It will make it easier for you to rule out excess salt as the underlying cause of the white spots.

Second, you can check the spots if these are fluffy or stringy. In such a case, the white spots are caused by powdery mildew.

Finally, you can shake the leaves of your plant and check if any insect falls off.

Preventing white spots

Although in most cases, white spots are not harmful, you would not want to leave anything to chance. The best way to prevent white spots is to keep your Ogre Ear Plant healthy. Here are a few helpful tips to help you achieve that goal.

1. Light requirements

The Ogre Ear Plant can be kept indoors or outdoors, as long as you provide it with adequate light. Indoors, you should keep your plant in an window which will give it sufficient light.

Jade plants like the Ogre Ear tend to take on a deeper green color when kept in the shade. Putting your plant in an area with more sun exposure will lighten the color of the plant.

Ogre Ear Plants that do not receive enough light will stretch and become leggy. Remember that your plant cannot survive in poor lighting conditions for a long time and you must find a suitable place for it. If you cannot find such a place in your home, consider buying a grow light for it.

Outdoors, place your plant in an area that is bright but partially shaded. The plant can tolerate the full sun but needs time to adjust. Otherwise, it will become sunburned.

2. Soil requirements

As a succulent, your Ogre Ear Plant needs well-draining soil to prevent the build-up of excess moisture. Many succulent owners use commercial cactus mixes while others create their own potting mixes using coarse sand, perlite, and organic potting mix.

3. Water requirements

When it comes to succulents, the rule of thumb is to water deeply but infrequently. But what does it mean to water infrequently?

The number of times you will need to water your Ogre Ear Plant will depend heavily on the prevailing temperature in your area.

During the hotter seasons, you will need to water your plant around a weekly basis. When the temperatures begin to go down, you can lessen the number of times to water your succulent, typically every two weeks.

Another critical factor to consider is humidity. During humid days, you should lessen the water you give to your plant. Humidity makes it harder for the soil to dry up.

The easiest way to tell if your plant needs to be watered is to feel the top inch of its soil. If the soil is dry, you can water your plant again. If it is still moist, wait a few days more.

A cause of concern?

White spots are fairly common on Jade Plants, including cultivars like the Ogre Ears. You should not ignore these blemishes as these may signal a larger problem which should be addressed before it causes further damage to your succulent.

Image: istockphoto.com / Gids

11 Rare Succulents

You started with just one succulent you have received as a gift. Now, your house is filled with practically every kind of succulent. Where do you go from here? Maybe it is time to expand your collection to some rare succulents that are usually found only in the homes of true succulent aficionados.

1. Rose Pincushion Cactus

Rose Pincushion Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / Kridsadar Sanyear

A native of Mexico, the Rose Pincushion Cactus is now listed by the IUCN as a threatened species due to the low number of specimens living in their natural habitat.

It is estimated that about 250 specimens can be found in the wild. The main reason behind this saddening news is because of poachers who try to meet the demand for this cactus.

Unlike red-flowering cacti, the Rose Pincushion Cactus produces pink flowers at a young age. 

Initially, the plant is solitary. As it grows older, it produces green, globular stems. This cactus has raised tubercles where the plant’s spines are located. 

These tubercles function as the plant’s water storage system and become raised when watered.

Despite its rarity and conservation status, the cactus is surprisingly easy to care for. It remains small for a long time but produces easily.

Although it can be kept indoors, it prefers the full sun and can tolerate afternoon shade.

2. Parodia rechensis

Parodia rechensis
Image: istockphoto.com / OllgaP

The Parodia rechensis is another rare cactus that is critically endangered.

According to estimates by experts, there are roughly 70 specimens that can be found in Brazil where this cactus originates.

This small number can be attributed to different reasons. One of the main reasons for the small population of this cactus is widespread theft by poachers.

It does not help that the original location of this cactus has undergone drastic changes that undermine the plant’s ability to survive.

Furthermore, the plant is notoriously difficult to grow. It can be propagated through the division of its rhizomes, offsets, corms, and tubers or grown from seeds.

If you are lucky to chance upon this rare plant from a reputable source, you can add it to your xeriscape.

Like most succulents, the cactus has an average watering need and thrives in partial shade.

3. Pachyphytum compactum ‘Little Jewel’

Pachyphytum compactum ‘Little Jewel
Image: istockphoto.com / Kridsadar Sanyear

The Pachyphytum compactum ‘Little Jewel’ is literally and figuratively a gem of a succulent. 

This rare plant is characterized by its tubular and fleshy leaves which look like cut gemstones. The leaves have angular facets that are caused by the compression of the other leaves.

Usually, the leaves are blue-green. But when the plant is subjected to heat stress or cool temperatures, the leaves take on a violet tinge.

Like most succulents, this rare plant requires well-draining soil and deep but infrequent watering. It should be placed in an area that can provide it with bright sun.

Take note that this plant cannot survive harsh winters.

The plant thrives in benign neglect. In fact, you should not fuss over and touch this plant unless necessary.

Touching the plant can cause unsightly marks to appear on the leaves.

4. Giant Quiver Tree

Giant Quiver Tree
Image: istockphoto.com / YolandaVanNiekerk

The Giant Quiver Tree (Aloe pillansii), also known as the Bastard Quiver Tree, is a member of the Aloe family.

This majestic tree, which can reach a height of close to 40 feet. The succulent has a base that can grow up to six feet tall and branches that can reach a height of 32 feet.

The tree is crowned by green leaves.

The Giant Quiver Tree originates from southern Africa where its population is believed to be below 3,000. This has led the IUCN to classify it as an endangered species.

The dwindling number of the plant’s population can be attributed to factors like poachers, climate change, the increase of livestock farming, and mining.

It does not help that the plant does not propagate easily.

Unlike other members of the Aloe family, the Giant Quiver Tree has no known medicinal properties. However, the locals revere the plant for its majesty and longevity.

5. Living Rock Cactus

Living Rock Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / khuntapol

The Living Rock Cactus (Ariocarpus trigonus) is a succulent that can be found in parts of Texas and northern Mexico.

This low-growing cactus is also called Dry Whiskey, Star Cactus, Chautle, and False Peyote.

The plant is called the False Peyote due to its psychoactive or mind-altering properties. Native Americans have used the cactus as an alternative to Peyote. However, the Living Rock Cactus does not contain mescaline.

In the wild, it can be hard to find the cactus. Apart from its low growth, this spineless cactus’ lower half is almost completely submerged in soil. Its rosette is composed of wrinkled and triangular tubercles that have a dull color, similar to its surroundings of rocks.

The plant becomes less visible during times of drought because its leaves shrink even more.

But despite the plant’s seemingly lackluster appearance, it boasts of colorful flowers that grow on top of the plant between fall and winter.

The plant is protected by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES due to its dwindling population. The plant has been subjected to rampant poaching due to the high demand from rare plant collectors.

6. Variegated Hens and Chicks

Variegated Hens and Chicks
Image: istockphoto.com / PeterEtchells

The Variegated Hens and Chicks (Echeveria x imbricata ‘Compton Carousel’) is a rare succulent that was discovered in 2009 by David Sheppard, a garden designer.

Experts have yet to reach an agreement on the plant’s origins. Some say that the succulent is a cultivar of the Echeveria secunda. Others argue otherwise saying that it is a cultivar of the Echeveria x imbricata which is another hybrid.

This Hens and Chicks plant is currently sold under different names, including Compton Carousel, Serenity, and Lenore Dean.

The Variegated Hens and Chicks is characterized by its clumps that form tight rosettes, typically four to six inches wide.

The leaves have a blue-gray color and have cream margins that take on a slight pinkish hue when the plant matures and during winter.

The plant thrives in partial to light shade and can be kept indoors as long as there is sufficient light available.

Like other Hens and Chicks plants, the Compton Carousel produces offsets.

7. Vahondrandra

The Vahondrandra (Aloe helenae) is another rare Aloe plant that originates from Madagascar.

The IUCN lists the succulent as an endangered species. Estimates on the total number of species vary from 200 to 500.

The biggest threat to this plant’s survival in the wild is the decimation of its habitat, due primarily to mining and agricultural endeavors.

Although there are specimens kept in botanic gardens and private collections, the plant is considered a rare species. 

This succulent can reach a height of up to 12 feet and produces pale yellow flowers between spring and summer.

This flowering tree can be propagated through seeds and cuttings.

The Vahondrandra prefers the full sun and requires well-draining soil and deep but infrequent watering.

8. Discocactus subterraneo-proliferans

The Discocactus subterraneo-proliferans is recognized as one of the rarest and most expensive succulents.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN, the cactus is classified as critically-endangered.

The plant originally comes from Brazil. Unfortunately, it is believed that this succulent is already extinct in its native habitat due to cattle ranching and small-scale agriculture.

Today, it is believed that the total number of specimens is around 50 pieces, belonging to a handful of collectors who are working hard to propagate it.

Due to its rarity, not much is known about the Discocactus subterraneo-proliferans.

9. Aichryson dumosum

The Aichryson dumosum is another succulent that has been listed in IUCN’s Red List of threatened species.

This plant originally comes from Madeira, Portugal where the plant grows in a small area of over 1,000 square feet. 

Although there have been efforts to protect the plant’s natural habitat, its existence is still in peril due to a host of factors.

These factors include the presence of invasive species, landslides, fires, and drought. Apart from these natural causes, the dwindling number of this succulent has been attributed to the destruction of its habitat due to housing and road projects.

The plant is characterized by its long middle green leaves which have a brownish tinge. This succulent also produces bright yellow flowers.

10. Living Pebbles

The Living Pebbles succulent (Conophytum subglobosum) is a rare mesemb that originates from South Africa.

The plant is commonly found in areas with plenty of quartzite and shale rock crevices. In these areas, the succulent does not have too many competitors for water and space.

Typically, the succulent can be seen growing on rocky slopes along with other plants that prefer the shade, including lichens and mosses.

The Living Pebbles plant does not have stems. Instead, this slow-growing plant has two large leaves connected by a shallow fissure.

It forms clumps which develop into tight mounds. It also produces pea-shaped heads which can number to hundreds.

Each of these heads is comprised of a pair of leaves that will eventually be absorbed and regenerated annually.

The plant enters dormancy during the winter. During this period, the old body dies to make way for a new one. The new body absorbs the old body until the outer skin remains.

The skin protects the new body from both heat and evaporation.

11. Estevesia alex-bragae

The Estevesia alex-bragae is another rare and critically endangered cactus that originates from Brazil.

Little is known about this plant. Much of the available information about it comes from the German botanist named Pierre Josef Braun.

Braun has worked extensively with the Brazilian botanist Eddie Esteves Pereira in discovering new plant species in the country.

Most of what is known about the Estevesia alex-bragae comes from Braun’s 2009 research, describing the plant.

The plant is currently included in the IUCN Red List due to the low number of specimens currently living in the wild.

According to estimates, there are about 200 specimens found in Brazil. The main cause of this plant’s dwindling number is the conversion of lands for the production of soya.

What makes a succulent rare?

Why are some succulents considered rare?

Some of these plants are called rare because they are difficult to care for and propagate. 

Propagation, in particular, is one of the main challenges in rare succulents. Others do not grow roots as easily as most succulents. Some rarely produce seeds or offsets.

Some succulents that are classified as uncommon were previously available only to nurseries that specialize in rare species as well as a handful of collectors.

Advancements in tissue culture propagation have allowed many of these rare succulents to become more widely available.

Where to buy rare succulents

Itching to add one (or more) of these plants to your succulent collection?

Here are a few places that you might want to check out for that holy grail you have been searching for.

Succulent shows

Joining plant societies or associations is a great way to meet fellow enthusiasts and experts in your area.

And if you are keen on adding rare succulents, you will be happy to know that many succulent and cacti groups organize annual shows that showcase collectors and their plants.

Many succulent collectors, including those that specialize in rare ones, participate in these shows to sell plants and share their knowledge.

Some local groups even share their succulent cuttings to their friends. If you are lucky enough, you might chance upon a rare succulent owner who might give you a cutting of the rare succulent you have been searching for.

If you have not joined a local group, now may be the best time to search for one in your area. Social media is often the best place to start when looking for local groups.

Nurseries

Today, many succulent collectors get their plants from online sources. But if you rely solely on these sources, you might be missing a treasure trove of rare gems that may be hiding in plain sight.

Over the past few years, succulents have become more popular. And to cope with this increased demand, many local nurseries have expanded their collections to include rare plants.

The next time you pass by your local nursery, be sure to drop by and check their collections.

Public gardens

Another possible source of rare succulents that you might have probably forgotten about is public and botanical gardens.

Some of these institutions sell plants as souvenirs. Check out their collections. Who knows, you might find a rare succulent hiding in plain sight.

Online shops

If you prefer doing most of your shopping online, there are a few online stores that sell succulents, even rare ones.

Among the most popular platforms are Etsy and eBay. There are also a few brick and mortar stores that have established an online presence, allowing them to cater to customers outside of their local markets.

Expanding your collection

Whether it is comic books, stamps, coins, action figures, or succulents, part of the appeal of collecting is adding rare pieces that only a handful of collectors have. There is a certain pride in knowing that you have something that very few people have.

But in your search for rare succulents, make sure that you get plants from reputable sellers who procure their items ethically. The last thing that you would want is to get a plant that has been illegally sourced and contribute to the dwindling number of these plants found in the wild.

Jade Plant Leaves Turning Red

Jade Plant Leaves Turning Red

When your the leaves of your Jade Plant turn red, it is usually caused by one of two things: it is either your plant is stressed or it is infested by spider mites.

Reasons why Jade Plant leaves turn red

Although there are cultivars of the Jade Plant that have red leaves, most have green leaves.

Before you panic, you should do a little sleuthing to determine what is actually the cause of the sudden change in the color as well as the necessary steps that you need to take.

Reason 1: Stress

One possible reason behind the change in the leaves’ color is stress. Although stress has a negative connotation, especially when relating to humans, the term is not necessarily bad for plants. In fact, many succulent growers deliberately subject their plants to stress.

To better understand stress and its effects on your Jade Plant, it is worthwhile to tackle a few things first. First, succulents like the Jade Plant mostly come from places that are harsh or downright inhospitable to plant life.  For example, a desert environment lacks moisture and has intense heat. The soil has little to no nutrients that can support plant growth.

On the other side of the coin, there are succulents that originate from alpine climates where temperatures can plunge below zero degrees.

To a large degree, the adaptations succulents have developed to cope with these conditions are what makes these plants awesome.

Causes of stress in succulents

But how exactly does stress relate to you and your Jade Plant, especially if you are doing your best to care for it? A Jade Plant is said to be stressed if:

  • It is exposed to full sun for an extended time.
  • There has been a sudden increase or drop in the temperature, typically associated with the changing of the seasons.
  • The plant has been underwatered for a long time.
  • The plant is underfed with nutrients. It is either you have used poor soil, you have not given fertilizers to the plant, or a combination of both.

In the context of keeping a succulent in your home, stress means that your plant is reacting to one or more of these conditions.

How stress changes the color of the leaves

Apart from red, succulent leaves can change into other colors, including purple, blue, yellow, orange, and even black.

This change in color can be attributed to anthocyanins and carotenoids which are pigments that can also be found in fruits that are rich in antioxidants.

These pigments help succulents like the Jade Plant to cope with changes in the environment.

Distinguishing between good and bad stress in succulents

It is worthwhile to point out that there is a distinction between good and bad stress in plants.

If the plant is otherwise healthy and retains its normal shape, then that means that your succulent is under good stress.

Good stress can be beneficial, especially if you keep your succulent mostly indoors. Subjecting your plant to stressful situations can help bring out its full potential.

On the other hand, if your Jade Plant looks disfigured or distorted, it means that your plant is under bad stress and you need to act fast to change things around.

The key difference between good and bad stress is your plant’s response. In the case of your Jade Plant, changing the color of its leaves means that it is coping well with the things that put it under stress. 

Controlling the color of your plant’s leaves

One cool thing about Jade Plants is that you can control the color and amount of redness on the leaves.

If you wish to keep the leaves green all throughout, you should provide it with everything it needs, from quality soil to proper lighting to the appropriate amount of fertilizers.

If you want the tips of the leaves to take on a reddish hue, be sure to put your plant in a fast-draining potting mix. After that, water your plant less frequently than it is accustomed to. Soon, you will notice that the tips of the leaves take on a red color.

If you want maximum redness on the leaves, there are a few steps that you will need to take.

1. Use the right potting mix

If you are not using the appropriate potting mix for your Jade Plant, now would be the opportune time to make a change.

Succulents like Jade Plants do not require nutrient-rich soil. Remember, these plants typically grow in areas with poor soil.

If you want to ensure that your plant’s soil drains well, you can mix two parts of a cactus mix with one part of perlite. Alternatively, you can mix a part of each if you live in an area with high humidity.

2. Limit the application of fertilizers

Succulents do not need as much fertilizers as other plants.

If you want to achieve maximum redness of the leaves, apply fertilizers during your plant’s active growth phase. And if you are going to apply fertilizer, make sure that you use just half or even a quarter of the recommended dosage.

Avoid applying fertilizer when your plant is dormant.

3. Do not schedule your waterings

Scheduling waterings is convenient for most plants. But with succulents like the Jade Plant, you cannot stick to a specific schedule.

Instead, water your plant only when its soil is completely dry. The interval between watering sessions will vary, depending on factors like the season and container size.

4. Put your plant in a sunny location

Jade plants require full sun to thrive. If you want to achieve maximum redness of the leaves, you will need to increase your plant’s sun exposure by up to five to six hours.

But be careful. You need to help your plant adjust to prolonged exposure to the sun. Otherwise, it can get it sunburned. Gradually increase its sun exposure until you reach the recommended number of hours.

Stressing your plant to achieve maximum redness of the leaves can be beneficial to your Jade Plant. However, you will still need to monitor it from time to time to make sure that it is indeed thriving and not exhibiting signs of a larger problem.

Reason 2: Spider mites

If you have ruled out stress as the primary cause of the change in the color of your Jade Plant’s leaves, then it is highly likely that your plant is infested by spider mites. Some people mistakenly think of spider mites as insects. However, these tiny critters are actually arachnids. They are closely related to spiders and scorpions.

The arachnids target both indoor and outdoor plants, including Jade Plants. They live in colonies and are typically found on the underside of leaves. They feed on plant fluids by piercing the leaf tissue.

Signs of an infestation

One of the most common signs of a spider mite infestation is red marks on the leaves and stems of the plant.

You may also notice webbings on an infested plant. It is possible that the webbing is produced by spiders which do not harm succulents. However, their webbings can sometimes be a nuisance.

A spider mite webbing, on the other hand, is often accompanied by other changes in the leaves. The leaves may turn yellow or brown. In some cases, the leaves may turn crunchy.

Another trick that you can use to ascertain if you have a spider mite problem is to wipe the underside of the leaves with a paper towel. If you see green marks on the paper towel, it is highly likely that your plant is infested.

You can also touch the underside of the leaves with just your hands. Leaves of infested plants will feel grainy to the touch.

Getting rid of spider mites

Once you detect spider mites on your Jade Plant, it is crucial to act fast to avoid long term damage on your plant. Additionally, spider mites can also infest the other plants you might be keeping in your home.

There are several ways to remove these pesky critters from your plant.

  1. Cold water

These arachnids hate cold temperatures and water. Spraying cold water will remove a sizable number of these insects from your Jade plant.

  1. Soap solution

Instead of cold water, you can use a solution made out of water and dish soap.

  1. Neem oil

By applying Neem oil on the leaves of your succulent, you are providing them with a protective barrier against spider mites.

  1. Specialty products

Like Neem oil, leaf shine can be applied on leaves to provide them with a protective coating against spider mites. However, be aware that excessive amounts of this product can build up on the leaves and damage these.

There are supplements that are applied to the soil while watering plants. These supplements do not directly treat the infestation. Instead, these products strengthen the cell walls of the plants, making it difficult for spider mites to pierce through the leaves.

It should be noted that you cannot eliminate all the spider mites with just one treatment. It is highly likely that you will need to treat the infected plant several times before you actually get rid of the arachnid invaders.

Preventing an infestation

Spider mites can be downright troublesome to deal with. As such, prevention can go a long way. Here are a few helpful tips to keep these pests at bay.

  • As much as possible, avoid placing your plant under direct sunlight. Spider mites thrive in hot and dry environments.
  • Apart from direct sunlight, your Jade Plant is at a higher risk of an infestation if you place it near fireplaces, heat vents, and areas near open windows.
  • From time to time, check on the leaves of your plant. You should also wipe the leaves regularly with a soap solution, Neem oil, or even an insecticidal soap.

Learn the difference

When the leaves of your Jade Plant turn red, that is not necessarily a sign that something wrong is afoot. It is possible that your plant is just adapting to the conditions it is currently exposed to.

Of course, it is possible that it is infested by spider mites or it might be severely lacking one or more of its needs.

This is why it is crucial to learn exactly what a healthy Jade Plant looks like. Acquiring this knowledge will help you determine if anything is out of the normal.

Image: istockphoto.com / Andrew Waugh

9 Large Outdoor Succulents

Although succulents have garnered the reputation of being among the best indoor plants, there are a few varieties that are perfect for your garden.

Here are some large outdoor succulents that are popular among residential gardeners.

1. Fire Sticks

Fire Stick
Image: istockphoto.com / seven75

Also known by names like Pencil Cactus, Milk Bush, and Naked Lady, the Fire Sticks succulent (Euphorbia tirucalli) is the perfect addition to gardens located in areas that receive little rainfall.

With proper support, the plant can reach a height of 20 feet. This is why this stunning plant is often used as wall and window covers. Some homeowners keep the plant primarily because it makes a good burglar deterrent.

The plant thrives best when it gets anywhere between four to six hours of sunlight a day. It cannot survive harsh winters and needs to be brought in until the end of winter.

Be careful in handling this plant. The plant’s fingers have a built-in protective mechanism that is activated even with the slightest touch.

Touching the plant releases a white, milky sap which can irritate the eye and skin. Furthermore, the sap can be quite difficult to remove. 

Unless necessary, do not handle the plant. If you need to, make sure to wear the appropriate protective gear.

2. Mexican Grass Tree

Mexican Grass Tree
Image: istockphoto.com / ArtesiaWells

The Mexican Grass Tree (Dasylirion quadrangulatum) can be kept in a container or planted on the ground as an accent plant for xeriscapes and rustic or contemporary gardens.

The succulent can grow up to 10 feet, although there are specimens that reportedly reach 15 feet in height.

The plant is characterized by its symmetrical leaves which radiate from a woody trunk. 

The Mexican Grass Tree is a slow grower that can withstand droughts once fully established. Like many succulents, the plant does not require much water. However, frequent watering can make it grow faster.

If you want to coax more growth from the plant by watering it more frequently, make sure to avoid watering it from the crown to prevent rot.

The plant prefers the full sun although it can tolerate partial shade.

3. Variegated Fox Tail Agave

The Variegated Fox Tail Agave (Agave attenuata ‘Kara’s Stripes’) is a cultivar of the Fox Tail Agave.

This agave is often marketed as Kara’s Stripe and is named after the wife of Gary Gragg. Gragg is the person who discovered and removed the sport growing in his garden. This cultivar was granted a patent in 2008.

The plant can grow up to four feet in height and spread out at around four feet as well. It has butter-yellow leaves that have green margins.

It can be planted directly to the ground or in a container. The Variegated Fox Tail prefers the full sun. If you live in an area with harsh winters, it is advisable to move the plant indoors or to a greenhouse. Variegated plants are more vulnerable to frost.

Additionally, watch out for snails that can damage this agave.

4. Beavertail Cactus

Beavertail Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / BrianLasenby

The Beavertail Cactus can only grow by about a foot but it can spread up to six feet wide.

Its gray-green and oval-shaped stems look like the tail of a beaver, hence its quirky name. The stems or pads are covered with barbed tips and bristles. Around spring, the top of the stems bloom rose-purple flowers.

The cactus is one of the easiest to care for succulents. It is deer resistant and is almost immune to most diseases that plague plants.

It does not require much to thrive. As long as you place this cactus in a sunny location and well-draining soil, you do not need to do anything more, save for the occasional removal of pads.

You can remove the pads if you want to limit the spread of the cactus. Be sure to wear gloves when performing this task.

Keep this cactus away from areas frequented by people and pets. The spines are irritating to the skin.

5. Totem Pole Cactus

Totem Pole Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / viavado

The Totem Pole Cactus is a columnar cactus that can grow as tall as 12 feet.

The cactus has a short trunk that grows tall, smooth-skinned stems. Unlike other cacti, the Totem Pole does not have visible spines. Instead, it has areoles or small bumps all over its body.

These small bumps look like small faces etched on the cactus, hence the name Totem Pole.

Although the succulent can be kept indoors, it thrives in an environment that mimics its place of origin.

Typically, the cactus is grown in succulent gardens, placed along with other cacti and succulents which highlight its tall stature.

The plant prefers the full sun. In fact, it grows best in areas that are unsuitable even for some types of cacti.

But despite its tolerance of extreme heat, it cannot survive freezing temperatures.

6. Jumping Cholla

Jumping Cholla
Image: istockphoto.com / Delaney Cato

Also known as the Hanging Chain Cholla, the Jumping Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida) has earned a bad reputation because of its survival mechanism.

The cactus is called the Jumping Cholla because its barbed cactus spines seem to jump on and latch on to people or animals that come close to it.

Technically speaking, these barbed spines do not jump. However, these cactus parts detach easily. The plant uses this mechanism to help propagate itself.

When people or animals manage to remove the spines off themselves, the spines develop roots once reaching the ground.

If you are willing to give this tree-like cactus a chance, you will be rewarded with an interesting plant that is easy to care for.

Like most cacti, it requires several hours under the sun and well-draining soil.

7. Old Man Cactus

Old Man Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / Nature, food, landscape, travel

In Latin, the Old Man Cactus’ scientific name Cephalocereus senilis roughly translates to thin old man.

And it is easy to see why. This columnar cactus is covered by what seems to be white hair. The white hairs are soft to the touch and help protect the plant from temperature extremes. 

Apart from its white hair, the plant is fondly called the Old Man because of its longevity. In the wild, specimens can live up to 200 years, reaching a height of 20 feet.

Although the plant tolerates the full sun, it prefers the afternoon shade. If you want the plant to grow more hair, it is best to keep it under the full sun. 

Over time, the white hairs can become dirty and discolored. You can wash the hairs with a mild soap and water mixture.

8. Organ Pipe Cactus

Organ Pipe Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / LindaJohnsonbaugh

The Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) is a columnar cactus that can grow up to over 20 feet tall and 16 feet wide.

It is called as such because its branches look like the organ pipes typically seen in churches. Each branch has 12 to 19 ridges.

The whole plant is covered in spines. Initially, these spines have a black color. As the plant matures, these spines take on a lighter color.

This cactus is a slow grower, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor planting. It is estimated that the cactus can live up to 150 years old.

A native of southern Arizona, the Organ Pipe Cactus requires the full sun and hot temperatures to thrive. Like most cacti, you should not water this plant frequently. The only exception to this rule is during the summer months when it needs more water.

The cactus has been used both for construction and its fruits, as a food source.

9. Silver Torch Cactus

Silver Torch Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / Karin de Mamiel

The Silver Torch Cactus (Cleistocactus strausii) is a columnar cactus that is covered in fine, silver-colored needles and bristles. It is sometimes called the Wooly Torch because of these bristles and needles.

A native of both Argentina and Bolivia, the cactus is capable of reaching a height of 10 feet. 

The main stem produces branches from the base. Each of these stems has 25 ribs with roughly 30 whites spines and four yellow spines.

The plant produces magenta-colored flowers between spring and summer. These flowers only last four to five days and do not fully open.

Although the plant prefers the full sun, it is not like other cacti that can thrive under extreme heat. In fact, the plant should not be subjected to temperature extremes.

The Silver Torch can survive sub-zero temperatures, but only for a limited time.

Planting succulents outdoors

Some people believe that succulents can only be kept indoors. But no matter where you live, you can grow succulent outdoors. However, you will need to plan your succulent garden carefully, taking into account a few critical factors.

Selecting plants

If you are new to keeping succulents outdoors, you should stick to succulents that are fuss-free and easy to care for. Among the most popular choices are sedum, aloe, echeveria, aeonium, and sempervivum.

No matter what succulent you choose, it is important to remember that these plants require fast-draining soil.

Succulents are resilient and can easily overcome tough environmental conditions. However, their roots are sensitive to excess moisture, hence the importance of fast-draining soil.

Excessive moisture can cause root rot which is the number one cause of succulent deaths.

Ground vs. containers

Should you plant your succulents directly to the ground or should you keep them in containers?

Containers

Save for a few succulents, most of these plants cannot survive freezing temperatures. If you live in an area with cold weather, you have no other option but to keep your plants in pots.

Using planters allows you to move your succulents indoors or to a greenhouse. Plus, if you choose pots for your succulents, you can control the amount of water they receive.

Succulent growers have kept their plants in different types of containers, from glass to ceramic pots. Each of these has its pros and cons.

However, if you are keeping your plants outdoors, it is highly advisable to opt for ceramic pots with drainage holes. Ceramic pots can naturally wick away excess moisture. This is particularly important during the rainy seasons.

Ground

On the other hand, if you live in an area that has a warm climate throughout most of the year, you should strongly consider planting your succulents directly to the ground.

Before planting your succulents directly to the ground, be sure to check if the soil is well-draining. 

Dig a hole about one foot deep and one foot wide. Allow the soil to dry completely for a day. Cover the hole to ensure that no moisture gets in.

The following day, pour water in the hole, just enough to fill it up. After that, check the hole after 10 to 30 minutes. If all the water is gone, it means that the soil is fast-draining. 

If you are planning on planting succulents that spread out, make sure that you leave adequate space on the ground.

Caring for outdoor succulents

Whether you are keeping your plants in containers or if you have planted them on the ground, one of the most important things that you need to do is to water them correctly.

For container plants, you should wait until the soil is completely dry in between each watering session.

On the other hand, most succulents planted on the ground do not need as much water. However, you can give them more water during the warmer months or if you notice that their leaves are starting to shrivel.

If you are uncertain whether it is time to give your succulents water, err on the side of under-watering and wait a couple of days.

Succulents are not susceptible to a lot of pests and diseases. But if there is one insect that you should watch out for, that would be the mealybug.

Outdoor succulents are particularly vulnerable to mealybugs. If you notice signs of an infestation, be sure to treat the infected plant immediately.

If you live in an area where the temperatures can get below zero degrees, you will need to move your succulents indoors.

But before you move your plants indoors, make sure to check them for infestations. You would not want to infect your other indoor plants with an infected succulent.

Most succulents need ample sunlight. Be sure to pick a sunny spot inside your home. Alternatively, you can buy grow lights for your succulents.

The perfect outdoor plant

There is no perfect outdoor plant. But there are a few that come close: succulents.

If you are looking for a beautiful plant that requires minimal care and attention, check out the plants that made it to this list. If you prefer to plant using pots, see our article on large potted succulents.

7 Succulents That Grow Tall

Many people think of succulents as small and dainty house plants kept in cute pots. However, there are some succulents that grow tall. Consider adding these seven succulents to your collection if you are looking for a centerpiece.

Here is a list of 7 succulents that grow tall:

1. Palmer’s Agave

Agave palmeri
Image: istockphoto.com / Padrinan

Scientific name: Agave palmeri

Origin: Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora, Chihuahua

Common names: Palmer’s Century Plant

Palmer’s Agave, also known as Palmer’s Century Plant, is recognized as one of the largest members of the Agave plant family.

It can grow up to four feet tall and four to five feet wide. When it produces a flower, it grows a stem that can reach up to 16 feet.

This succulent thrives on benign neglect. After putting it in a location, you can forget it, save for the occasional watering and TLC. In fact, you should not handle it often as it has sharp thorns and an irritating sap.

Palmer’s Agave has been cultivated for thousands of years both as food and for the production of mescal.

2. Ocotillo

Ocotillo
Image: istockphoto.com / Christine_Kohler

Scientific name: Fouquieria splendens

Origin: Sonora, Chihuahua, western Texas, southern California

Common names: Jacob’s Staff, Flaming Sword, Candlewood, Coachwhip, Slimwood

It is hard to miss the Ocotillo in its natural desert habitat. The succulent can grow up to 20 feet which is why many people use it for fencing. 

Its name is derived from the Spanish words little torch which refers to its fiery orange flowers. Ocotillo flowers bloom between February and April.

For most of the year, the stems are bare. But with the arrival of rainfall, the stem produces narrow oval leaves. The leaves remain on the stems until the soil becomes completely dry.

Apart from its height, there is another impressive thing about this plant. Studies indicate that it can live up to anywhere between 60 to 100 years.

3. Fishhook Barrel Cactus

Fishhook Barrel Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / rdparis22

Scientific name: Ferocactus wislizeni

Origin: south-central Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas, Sonora

Common names: Compass barrel

The Fishhook barrel has a stocky body that can reach up to two feet in diameter. The body of the plant is surrounded by long spines that look like fishhooks.

Its flowers and fruits grow on top.

Although most specimens grow between two and four feet, it is not unusual to see some to grow close to 10 feet tall with bodies that have a diameter of about three feet.

This cactus is sometimes called the Compass Barrel due to its tendency to lean southwest.

4. Golden Barrel Cactus

Golden Barrel Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / hadot

Scientific name: Echinocactus grusonii

Origin: Mexico

Common names: Mother-in-Law’s Cushion, Golden Ball

The Golden Barrel Cactus is a popular cactus that is sadly endangered in its place of origin. The plant’s population was reduced drastically due to the construction of the Zimapan Dam in the 1990s.

Also referred to as the Golden Ball, the cactus grows over three feet tall and can spread to a width of two to three feet.

Like most succulents, the Golden Barrel is easy to care for. But be forewarned: because of its spikes, it is not advisable for homes that have pets and young children.

You can, however, use the plant to boost security in your home.

5. Senita

Senita
Image: istockphoto.com / hadot

Scientific name: Pachycereus schottii

Origin: Southern Arizona, Baja, Sonora, north-western Mexico

Common names: Totem Pole Cactus, Old Man Cactus, Whisker Cactus

The Senita towers at 15 feet tall and can grow as wide as 10 feet.

This cactus is columnar and forms thickets with thick branches that grow from the base. Each stem can produce anywhere between five to 10 ribs and has areolas that contain spines.

In spring, pink flowers bloom on the upper stems. These flowers are nocturnal, opening only during the night and closing during the daytime.

The plant’s fruit is edible and was a staple in the diet of the early inhabitants of both Mexico and Arizona.

Although the plant can be planted in containers, many plant it against walls as an accent piece.

6. Saguaro

Saguaro
Image: istockphoto.com / crbellette

Scientific name: Carnegiea gigantea

Origin: Arizona, Sonora, California

The Saguaro is indeed one giant of a cactus. Consider the tale of the tape. 

Although considered to be a slow-growing cactus, a fully-mature specimen in the wild can grow as much as 40 to 60 feet tall. In the residential setting, the plant will take as much as 10 years to reach a height of 1.5 inches.

When filled with water, a Saguaro specimen located in the desert can weigh close to 5000 pounds.

Still unimpressed? Saguaros are said to live anywhere between 150 to 200 years old.

The Gila Woodpecker, Gilded Flickers, owls, finches, martins, even Hawks, rely on the cactus for habitat and food.

7. Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night
Image: istockphoto.com / shuichi kadoya

Scientific name: Epiphyllum oxypetalum

Origin: Mexico, South America

Common names: Orchid Cactus

The Queen of the Night is as regal as its name. 

The cactus grows to about three feet high and is typically kept in pots, gardens, or near windows.

A native of Mexico, the Queen of the Night can be found in rainforests, growing atop trees, and other plants.

But the real star, the true queen of the night is the plant’s stunning white flower.

As its name suggests, the white fragrant flower of this cactus blooms only at night and stays open just before the afternoon heat sets in. Only one flower opens per night. 

Growing or stretching?

There is a big difference between a succulent that is growing taller and one that is stretching itself.

Although there are succulents that drive in low-light conditions, many succulents require ample light. Deprived of light, a succulent can exhibit changes, ranging from discoloration to the lengthening of stems.

How do you know if your succulents are growing tall and healthy or in much need of light?

Stretching

When a succulent does not get enough sunlight, it literally stretches its stems. Apart from stretching its stems, the plant will lose some of its color. Succulents do this to allow themselves to absorb more light.

Aside from the stretching of the stems, light-starved succulents will also appear to have large gaps between the leaves.

A week or two after transferring a light-starved succulent to a brighter location, it will grow more leaves and regain its original color.

However, there is not much that you can do about the leggy stems. 

Growing

A sudden growth spurt does not necessarily indicate that your succulent needs more sun. When succulents enter into their growth phase, they will grow taller.

How do you know if your succulent is indeed growing healthy?

First, ask yourself if you are meeting all your succulent’s needs, especially its light requirements.

It would also be beneficial to have a fair idea of the maximum height of your plant once it reaches maturity. If its current height is well within its expected height, then you have nothing to worry about.

Check its color and leaves. Both should look full while the plant’s color should be vibrant.

21 Purple Succulents for Home or Garden

Purple succulents can add an instant pop of color, breaking the monotony of a sea of green. Whether you are looking for a trailing succulent to hang in baskets or something to put on your office table, here are 21 regal-looking purple succulents to consider:

1. Santa Rita Prickly Pear

Santa Rita Prickly Pear
Image: istockphoto.com / thittaya itthithepphana

The Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia santarita) is a succulent owner’s dream come true.

Like most succulents, this succulent shrub is not fussy. It prefers partial shade to full sun and well-draining soil. 

Except for scale and mealybugs, very few animals infest this prickly pear species. You do not even have to worry about deer eating this plant. Plus, it is frost hardy.

For the rest of the year, this spine-covered plant is colored blue-grey. But with the onset of winter, it takes on an intense purplish hue.

2. Purple Beauty

Purple beauty
Image: istockphoto.com / ShySlug

The Purple Beauty (Sempervivum tectorum ‘Purple Beauty’) is a type of hens and chicks plant that is known for its pink rosettes that have purple shading. During winter, the rosettes sport a brilliant magenta color.

To coax out the majestic purple hue out of this plant, collectors place this plant under the outdoor sun.

The succulent looks stunning when grown outdoors where it can stay all year round, even during winter. It is a frost-hardy plant that can survive cold temperatures with a little help from their owners.

3. Black Rose

Black rose
Image: istockphoto.com / ShowOffSolution

At first glance, the Black Rose (Aeonium Arboreum ‘Zwartkop’) looks like a gigantic black flower. But those brightly-colored petals are actually leaves. 

Although the succulent thrives under partial shade, it can tolerate full sun. If you want the leaves to become darker, you need to place it under direct sun for about six hours.

However, too much sun can leave the plant sunburned. If you want to achieve a darker shade of purple for this plant, you have to watch out against sunburn.

The Black Rose can be grown outdoors directly on the ground. It can tolerate mild frost but can succumb to extreme cold when exposed for a substantial period.

4. Purple Heart

Purple Heart
Image: istockphoto.com / JADEZMITH

Collectors and gardeners use the Purple Heart (Setcreasea purpurea) in a variety of ways. The succulent is often used as a groundcover or as an accent plant.Its purple stems and leaves serve as the perfect backdrop for flowering plants as well as other succulents.

The Purple Heart is a low-growing plant, able to reach a foot in height and two to three feet in width.

Unlike other succulents that do not require too much water, this plant prefers its soil to be constantly moist.

It does well in both partial shade and full sun. However, when placed in a sunny location, you must keep its soil constantly moist.

5. Purple Pearl

Purple Pearl
Image: istockphoto.com / Peacefoo

The Purple Pearl (Echeveria ‘Purple Pearl’) is a stunning succulent that is used in wedding bouquets, floral arrangements and containers.

It can reach a height of six inches and a width of about a foot.

The rosettes grow up to 12 inches, sporting an olive green color tinged with lavender. The rosettes are also outlined by pink edges.

Like most Echeverias, the Purple Pearl is easy to care for. However, special attention should be given to the rosettes.

Avoid watering this succulent from the top because moisture can pool on the rosettes, causing fungal diseases or rot.

The dead leaves should also be constantly pruned to prevent insect infestation.

6. Dark Knight Prickly Pear

The Dark Knight Prickly Pear (Opuntia ‘Dark Knight’) goes by a few nicknames, including Hedgehog, Heacock’s Prickly Pear, and Juniper Prickly Pear.

The plant has pads that are green and purple. It is covered almost entirely in glochids which are barbed bristles.

These barbed bristles can pierce your hand, even if you are wearing gloves. Seasoned growers prefer handling the plant with tongs. Unless necessary, do not handle this succulent.

The succulent can grow up to two feet in height, requiring both full sunlight and well-draining soil.

It is a sturdy species, capable of handling temperature extremes.

7. Echeveria Taurus

Echeveria Taurus
Image: istockphoto.com / TYNZA

The Echeveria Taurus (Echeveria agavoides ‘Taurus’) is a compact houseplant that grows up to over three inches high and close to six inches in diameter. 

Its red-green leaves are fleshy and triangular. During summer, it sends out long stems that droop, bearing red and yellow flowers.

Propagating this succulent is difficult because it does not usually respond to traditional methods.

It can be kept both indoors and outdoors, especially during the warmer months. However, it is not cold-tolerant. And as such, it should be brought in before winter.

8. Violet Prickly Pear

Violet Prickly Pear
Image: istockphoto.com / Elizabeth Lara

The Violet Prickly Pear (Opuntia gosseliniana) is a cactus that grows in parts of Arizona, California, and Mexico.

This prickly pear bears the characteristic flat pads of its family. However, the whole plant has a violet to red color. The color varies depending on environmental conditions.

It looks like its relative, the Santa Rita Prickly Pear. However, the violet prickly pear can either have shorter spines or no spines at all. Additionally, the pads of the Violet Prickly Pear are larger and grow in clusters.

With proper care, the cactus can reach a maximum height of five feet.

9. Royal Flush

Royal Flush
Image: istockphoto.com / rfranca

The Royal Flush succulent (Pleiospilos nelii ‘Royal Flush’) is an interesting, if not odd-looking plant.

Just one look at the plant and you are left wondering if it is indeed a succulent or a rock split in two.

The plant’s leaves are its most interesting feature. Between each purple-colored leaf is a large fissure. The Royal Flush produces a new pair of leaves annually.

The Royal Flush is a small succulent, growing up to three inches tall and about four inches wide. 

The plant prefers filtered light. If you are planning to keep it indoors, it is best placed in a south-facing window.

Unlike other succulents that have adapted to extreme drought, this succulent has adapted to conditions where rainfall is predictable. As such, seasoned growers recommend watering the plant once every spring and summer.

10. Perle von Nürnberg

Perle von Nürnberg
Image: istockphoto.com / Tilli

The Perle von Nürnberg (Echeveria gibbiflora ‘Metallica’ × E. elegans) (Graessner) is one of the more popular succulent hybrids.

And there are plenty of things to love about this plant.

For starters, it is a real beauty. Its leaves have a pink and purple color coated with farina. 

Second, the plant is easy to care for. With ample sunlight and the right potting mix, it can grow up to six inches wide.

Among Echeverias, the Perle von Nürnberg is one of the most prolific, in terms of producing flowers. A single specimen is capable of producing five to six pink flowers annually.

Finally, the plant is easy to propagate. You can propagate it with its leaves or cuttings.

11. Desert Surprise

The Desert Surprise (Kalanchoe humilis) is an ideal plant for beginners looking for something beautiful but easy to care for.

This succulent shrub grows up to three feet. Originating from Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique, the Desert Surprise can be found growing in crevices and rock formations near bodies of water.

Its egg-shaped leaves are pale green in color with purple or maroon stripes or spots. The shrub produces purple to green flowers during the middle of summer.

Like other kalanchoes, the Desert Surprise prefers sunny locations, especially during its growing season in the summer. Additionally, the plant likes areas with ample heat and it should not be placed in an area where the temperature drops below 12.7° C.

12. Rubra

Rubra
Image: istockphoto.com / freedom_naruk

Also known as the Red Cap Cactus, Ruby Ball, and Hibotan, the Rubra (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii f. rubra) is a much-sought-after mutant cactus.

Its characteristic reddish-purple body is the result of the absence of chlorophyll which gives plants their familiar green color.

Chlorophyll is vital for the production of sugar in plants. Simply put, without sugar, a plant will die.

The Rubra overcomes this problem by relying on another plant for the production of chlorophyll. The Rubra is grafted to another succulent, usually the Hylocereus. 

Despite its seemingly delicate nature, the Rubra is easy to care for. However, the cactus is difficult to cultivate and can only be kept under direct sunlight.

13. Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop

Dragon's Blood Stonecrop
Image: istockphoto.com / skymoon13

The Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop (Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’) is a perennial favorite among landscape artists for a few key reasons.

For starters, the beauty of this succulent cannot be denied. Its fleshy and round leaves are green in color and are outlined by a burgundy margin. At the onset of summer, this margin takes on a bronze-red hue. 

The plant is versatile. Landscape artists use it as a groundcover, edging, and rock gardens.

It is also a resilient plant that rarely, if ever, succumbs to pests and diseases. It is also perfect for areas where there is a substantial population of deer and rabbits. These critters avoid the plant.

Finally, the Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop has minimal requirements, surviving with little fuss.

14. Trailing Jade

The Trailing Jade (Senecio jacobsenii) is often mistaken as the Jade or money plant.

Like the jade plant, the Trailing Jade has spoon-shaped leaves. But the leaves of the Trailing Jade are larger. Furthermore, the leaves overlap.During winter, the leaves of the Trailing Jade take on a purplish hue.

The succulent prefers sandy, well-draining soil. It is drought-resistant but needs more water during summer. In winter, the plant goes into dormancy and does not need as much water.

As a native of tropical Africa, the trailing Jade likes full sun to partial shade. It can be kept indoors. However, you have to make sure that you place it in an area that receives direct sun.

15. Purple Moon Cactus

Purple Moon Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / galitskaya

Like the Rubra, the Purple Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii and Hylocereus) is a mutant cactus that does not produce its chlorophyll.

The color of the cactus’ body can range from green to dark purple, depending on the amount of sun that it gets.

The body is barrel-shaped and has ridges that are lined up by spines.

It produces pink flowers that are roughly the size of the body of the plant.

The Purple Moon Cactus prefers direct sunlight. 

During winter, it is best kept indoors as it cannot tolerate frost.

16. Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus

Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / Dreamframer

A young Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus rigidissimus rubrispinus) takes on a pink to a magenta color. When the cactus matures, it changes its color to light pink to yellow.

The cactus produces flushes of flowers that are white in the middle and pink in the outer edges.

Much-sought after for its rarity, the Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus needs well-draining soil, adequate airflow, and bright light.

Although the cactus is cold-tolerant, it still requires protection from frost. The cactus is also fire-resistant, able to survive smaller grass fires.

17. Sunrise Succulent

Sunrise Succulent
Image: istockphoto.com / FeelPic

A native of South Africa, the Sunrise Succulent (Anacampseros telephiastrum ‘Variegata’) is a luxurious succulent.

The leaves have a combined color of green and pink to purple.

Although the plant can be a frustratingly slow grower, it is easy to care for.

The succulent prefers bright but indirect sunlight and ample airflow. And like most succulents, it does not like to sit on water as it is prone to rot.

It is a tough plant, rarely succumbing to pests and diseases.

Furthermore, because of its small size and minimal requirements, it can be put indoors to add beauty to a space.

18. Black Prince

Black Prince
Image: istockphoto.com / Satakorn

The Black Prince (Echeveria ‘Black Prince’) is another hens and chicks variant that has made it to this list of purple succulents.

This succulent is named as such due to its leaves which have a combination of deep green to dark purple. So deep is the purple color that it looks black from afar.

Initially, the leaves are green in color. But as the plant matures, their color darkens more. However, the plant loses its dark hue if it does not get enough light.

Like most hens and chicks plants, the Black Prince requires well-draining soil, preferably sandy soil. Plus, it thrives in full sun to partial shade.

19. Pachyveria Powder Puff

Pachyveria Powder Puff
Image: istockphoto.com / Dorjan Ivan Rener Sitar

The Pachyveria Powder Puff is a hybrid of Echeveria cante and Pachyphytum oviferum.

The succulent boasts of stunning leaves which have a silver-blue color. When subjected to full sun, the tips take on a pinkish or purplish hue.

Many succulent owners use this plant in their rock gardens and hanging baskets, allowing the stems of the plant to stretch. Each stem produces a rosette at the tip.

The plant is best kept in an area that can provide it with about six hours of sun. You can keep it indoors but you need to put in an area that gets ample sunlight.

20. Corsican Stonecrop 

Corsican Stonecrop
Image: istockphoto.com / ErikAgar

The Corsican Stonecrop (Sedum dasyphyllum) is commonly used as a groundcover due to its hardy nature, amazing color, and adaptability to different environments.

The succulent’s leaves have a turquoise or silver color. When exposed to full sun, the leaves take on a purple tinge.

Landscape artists like to use the plant in retaining walls and vertical plantings.

Although the plant may look fragile, it is frost hardy. And while it thrives under the full-sun, the Corsican Stonecrop is not heat-tolerant.

The plant is easy to propagate. Its fallen leaves and stems can easily re-root themselves.

21. Pink Frills

Pink Frills
Image: istockphoto.com / kynny

The Pink Frills Echeveria (Echeveria shaviana ‘Pink Frills) is another variant of the hens and chicks plant that has made it to the list.

The succulent got its name from the appearance of its leaves. The leaves are fleshy and spoon-shaped with pointed tips and edges that are pink in color. The leaves can vary in color, from purple to blue to green. As the plant matures, the edges become frilly.

The Pink Frills succulent, like other hens and chicks plant, is easy to care for. It thrives under the full sun but can also be kept indoors provided that it is placed in an area with bright light.

Why are some succulents purple?

Many plants, including succulents, have a green color. There are, however, some succulents that take on other colors apart from green. 

Some varieties of succulents come in red, blue, and other colors. Some have accent colors, like black, white, and yellow.

If the green succulent that you brought home recently changed into purple (or any other color), you might be surprised by this change.

Some types of succulents change their colors, depending on three key factors: water, temperature, and sunlight.

To put it succinctly, your plant is reacting to these factors due to stress. When some succulents are deprived of water, placed under direct sunlight, or exposed to temperature extremes, they become stressed. And often, this stress manifests in the form of color change.

Stress is not necessarily bad. You have to remember that succulents are resilient plants and have adaptations that help them deal with environmental changes.

Many succulent growers deliberately stress their plants to coax out colors from their plants.

9 Large Potted Succulents for the House

Keeping plants in pots is a great way to maximize space. Additionally, potted plants allow you to instantly add a dash of color to your garden or living space. If you are planning on keeping succulents in pots, here are a few varieties that grow large.

1. Agave Jaws

Agave Jaws
Image: istockphoto.com / Jack N. Mohr

Agave is the perfect plant to grow in containers, especially if you have limited indoor space without adequate light.

And one agave variety that you should strongly consider keeping is the Agave Jaws (Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’).

This succulent can grow up to a height of four feet and spread out to up to six feet. The plant’s leaves are blue-green in color and have deeply-serrated edges which give it the appearance of a wide-open jaw with several teeth.

The plant prefers partial shade, especially in hotter climates. However, it can also tolerate the full sun.

If you are keeping the Agave Jaws with other plants, choose plants that have thinner leaves which will highlight this succulent’s unusual leaves.

2. Fox Tail Agave

Fox Tail
Image: istockphoto.com / soniabonet

The Fox Tail Agave (Agave attenuata) is one of the few agaves that are evergreen.

Growing up five feet high and eight feet wide, this plant got its moniker its flower stalk. Upon maturity, this succulent sends up an upward arching flower stalk which can grow up to 10 feet high. 

The plant produces greenish-yellow flowers during summer. The flowers contain both seed pods and bulbils or plantlets. Unfortunately, the Fox Tail Agave does not flower often. Most specimens flower just once in their lifetime. Plus, it will take up to 10 years for this plant to bloom.

This agave is easy to care for, requiring full sun and minimal watering. Additionally, it is almost pest and disease-free.

3. Spider Aloe

Spider Aloe
Image: istockphoto.com / katerinakorovina

The Spider Aloe ( Aloe x spinosissima) is a hybrid of two plants, Aloe humilis and Aloe arborescens.

The plant grows up to three feet in height and spreads up to four feet. It prefers the full sun and requires good ventilation. The Spider Aloe should be moderately watered, except during its dormancy when its water requirements go down.

Although the plant’s name suggests something scary, the spines that line the leaves are not sharp. In fact, the leaves are soft to the touch.

Unlike other succulents that flower late in their lifetimes, the Spider Aloe produces flowers even when it is still young. The aloe’s orange-red flowers emerge between fall and winter.

Like its cousin, the Aloe Vera, the Spider Aloe can be used for treating sunburn.

4. Silver Dollar Prickly Pear

Silver Dollar Prickly Pear
Image: istockphoto.com / MrHinxman

The Silver Dollar Prickly Pear (Opuntia robusta) is a tree or shrub-like cactus that typically grows three to six feet but can sometimes grow as tall as 20 feet.

This cactus’s most appealing characteristic is its stems or pads which are often mistaken as specialized leaves. These pads are thick and can weigh as much as four pounds.

Some pads may or may not contain white spines that are one to two inches in length.

Come spring, the cactus produces yellow flowers that appear along the edges of the pod. The plant’s red fruits are suitable for use as animal feed.

The Silver Dollar is ideal for beginners because it is easy to care for and relatively disease-free. The plant can thrive in full to partial shade and can tolerate different types of soil as long as there is ample drainage.

5. Dinosaur Back Plant

Dinosaur Back Plant
Image: istockphoto.com / Sara Friesz

The Dinosaur Back Plant (Myrtillocactus geometrizans forma cristata), sometimes called Crested Blue Candle, Crested Blue Myrtle, or Crested Blue Flame, is an unusual-looking cactus that will surely draw the attention of your house guests.

This cactus’ thick branches spread out from the main trunk to form stems that crest and wave.

The plant requires at least six hours of sunlight although you can keep it indoors as long as you place it in an area that gets enough sunlight, like a south-facing window.

The Dinosaur Back Plant is classified as semi-hardy which means that it cannot survive sub-zero temperatures. As such, you should relocate it during winter when it enters dormancy.

6. Argentine Saguaro

Argentine Saguaro
Image: istockphoto.com / daboost

The Argentine Saguaro (Trichocereus terscheckii) is a fast-growing cactus that is often seen as an alternative to the Saguaro Cactus which can be difficult to acquire.

Like the Saguaro Cactus, this plant grows tall and can reach a height of about 20 feet upon maturity.

Young specimens start with a single column. But as the plant grows, it develops numerous branches. The deep green-colored stems each contain ribs that can number anywhere between eight and 14.

The whole cactus is covered in golden spines that lengthen and grow deeper in color as the plant grows older.

Like most succulents, the cactus does not need too much water. The amazing thing about this cactus is that it will tell you when it needs a drink. Once dehydrated, the pleats on the plant shrivel. As the plant grows older, you can water it just once a month.

7. Bunny Ears

Bunny Ears
Image: istockphoto.com / aapsky

The Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys albata) looks as quirky as its name. This plant is a perennial favorite among new and old succulent collectors for its unique appearance and its minimal care requirements.

Originating from Mexico, the Bunny Ears cactus typically grows two to three feet tall and can spread four to five feet in the wild.

However, like most cacti, this plant is a slow grower and can be kept indoors for years.

Young specimens grow pads or “bunny ears” which start with a rosy red color. But as the plant matures, the pads take on a green color.

Unlike other cacti that have spines, the plant has aureoles. Aureoles are composed of wool and bristles that appear in some cacti upon reaching a specific height or age.

Be careful in handling the aureoles. They may look soft but these can still prick your fingers.

8. African Milk Tree

African Milk Tree
Image: istockphoto.com / RussieseO

The African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona) goes about different names, including Friendship Cactus and Cathedral Cactus.

But despite these names, this plant is neither a cactus nor a tree. It is a succulent.

The plant looks exotic but is surprisingly easy to care for. In fact, it is considered to be a fast-growing succulent with a minimal amount of requirements.

The succulent has three-sided stalks. The stalks and cactus-like branches are all lined up with spines. The plant has small leaves that grow on the branches and stalks.

This plant grows tall, easily reaching a height of up to eight feet. The combination of tall height and a relatively sparse root system makes the plant top-heavy with a tendency to tip over.

You can use stakes for support or simply cut off the top part of the plant to keep it from falling over.

9. Variegated Snake Plant

Variegated Snake Plant
Image: istockphoto.com / flyingsky09

If you are close to giving up on keeping plants, do not. Not just yet.

The Variegated Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is near indestructible, perfect for people who may not have been blessed with a green thumb.

The succulent originally comes from China where it is kept due to the belief that it has been blessed by the gods with several of their virtues.

The plant has been subjected to numerous studies, including institutions like NASA. The plant is well-known for its air purifying ability.

Depending on the variety, the succulent can grow anywhere between six inches to eight feet. 

The Snake Plant prefers indirect light but is known to survive little to no light conditions.

Choosing a pot

Most succulents share the same needs: adequate sunlight, correct watering, and proper drainage. If you meet these needs, most of your work is done.

But if there is one thing many succulent owners miss out on, including those with some experience, is the importance of choosing the right containers for their plants.

Choosing a pot for your succulent is not exactly rocket science. However, there are a few important things that you need to consider. After all, the right pot does not only add more appeal to your plant. More importantly, the correct succulent container contributes to proper drainage.

Here are a few considerations that you need to take into account when buying pots for your succulents.

1. Size

When it comes to succulent pots, bigger is not necessarily better. If you use a pot that is too big for your succulent, you can end up doing a disservice to your plant.

As a rule of thumb, there should be a half-inch clearance between the base of your succulent and the edge of the pot. This will give your succulent enough room for growth.

Go a little bigger than that and you will stunt the growth of your succulent. When a pot is big for your plant, it will spend most of its energy spreading out its roots instead of spending the same amount of energy growing taller and bigger.

On the other hand, if you are making a succulent arrangement with multiple plants in a single container, the rule of thumb to follow is to give each plant half an inch to one-inch distance from one another.

A tightly packed arrangement may look amazing over the short term. However, over the long term, planting your succulents too close to one another does not leave them enough room to grow and spread out.

2. Material

Containers for succulents come in an array of styles, designs, and materials. And one part of the fun in keeping succulents is choosing aesthetically-pleasing containers for your plants.

But aesthetics should not take primacy over function. When looking at containers for succulents, consider the pros and cons of each material.

Ceramic

You almost cannot go wrong with a ceramic pot for your succulents. Ceramic pots are breathable and facilitate airflow. Plus, these pots work well both indoors and outdoors.

However, ceramic pots are heavier, especially once you fill these up with soil. That is one issue you will need to consider if you are considering keeping succulent varieties that need to be moved outdoors or indoors with the changing of the seasons.

Finally, take note that ceramic pots are fairly easy to break or crack.

Plastic

Over the last few years, plastic pots have emerged as a popular option for succulent owners. And there are a few reasons why.

For one, plastic pots are considerably more durable than ceramic pots. Plus, plastic is a lighter material, making moving pots around easier.

However, be aware that water evaporates slower in plastic pots. But that drawback can be easily overcome by using the right potting mix.

Glass

Succulents placed in glass containers undoubtedly look stunning. 

But be aware that most glass containers do not have drainage holes. Additionally, glass is not breathable. This means that you have to pay more attention to watering your succulents.

Also, apart from being fragile, glass can get dirty easily.

Metal

Although metal planters look quirky, you should not consider these as a long term option for your plants.

Metal can get hot or cold fast, depending on the prevailing temperature. Furthermore, unless you are using a container that is treated to prevent rust, your plant’s long term health may be compromised. To put it succinctly, rust is bad for your succulents.

Wood

Wood is an unusual container for succulents. But somehow, it just works.

Apart from the aesthetic appeal, wood allows succulents to remain cool, especially during hot days. Plus, soil retains more water when placed in a wooden container.

However, both of these can be a drawback if you place your succulent in an area that has low light and poor airflow. The wood can contribute to rotting.

Finally, wood is not a good long term option because it will eventually break down due to exposure to water.

3. Drainage holes

If there is just one thing that you should look for in a pot, that would be the presence of drainage holes.

Drainage is not just a matter of using the right potting mix. Drainage holes contribute greatly in wicking away excess moisture from the soil, helping prevent the succulent roots from sitting on water for an extended time.

If you are planning on using a pot without drainage holes or if you are recycling another material into a succulent pot, you can add drainage by boring a hole on these using a drill bit.

Succulent Leaves Turning Soft

Succulent Leaves Turning Soft

Succulent leaves can turn soft due to over-watering and cold weather. Dying succulents also have leaves that are mushy, wet, and wrinkly.

Here is a quick look at each of these possible causes as well as the actions that you can take to remedy the problem.

Reasons why succulent leaves are turning soft

When you touch a healthy succulent, its leaves and stems should feel firm and rigid. If you try to bend the parts of your plant, it should offer some resistance before breaking off.

This indicates that your plant has a full store of moisture. Deprived of water, the leaves and stems look limp and bend easily.

But what if your succulent’s leaves are soft and mushy to the touch? Here is an exploration of the possible causes.

Over-watering

Over-watering is perhaps the number one mistake that new succulent growers make. Because of the unique ability of succulents to store water in their bodies, they do not need frequent watering like other plants. Frequent watering is detrimental to succulent health. Over-watering can result in not only the leaves turning soft but also brown.

Think of the leaves and stems of succulents as water balloons. Now each of these balloons can only store a set amount of moisture.

When you over-water your succulents, their leaves and stems become overfilled. Eventually, the cells of these plant parts become too engorged. This is why your succulent leaves feel too soft. Plus, the slightest touch can make the leaves fall off.

Apart from feeling soft and mushy, the leaves may exhibit other symptoms. These include yellowish color and black spots.

Left unchecked, over-watering can lead to rotting. A rotting succulent has noticeably brown or black stems that feel and look and feel mushy. 

As the situation progresses, the plant dissolves and eventually dies.

Over-watering is often compounded by the use of poor-draining soil which keeps the plant’s roots constantly wet. Additionally, when the soil is always wet, air cannot get to the roots.

After some time, your succulent’s roots wither and become soft. And when the roots cannot function optimally, the leaves begin to feel soft.

1. Saving an over-watered succulent

If the damage is not extensive, it is possible to save your succulent. But, you need to act fast.

First, check the roots of your plants so that you can evaluate the extent of the damage. If there is a minimal amount of roots that are affected by rot, you can cut these off using either a sharp knife or a pair of scissors.

Remove the soil from the roots until you see the white tissues. If the succulent has soft or dead leaves, be sure to remove these as well.

Afterward, place your succulent in an area in your home that has adequate light and airflow. Do not put it under direct sunlight which can cause sunburn. This will give your plant ample time to heal itself.

Once your succulent has recovered, you can replant it. Make sure that you use a fast-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes.

At this point, your succulent will enter its growth phase. You can water it thoroughly but allow the soil to dry out partially in between each watering session. 

2. How to avoid over-watering succulents

Succulents should be watered deeply but infrequently. Plus, you should only water your plants when the soil in their containers is dry.

As much as possible, avoid watering your succulents from the top as you would usually do with other types of plants. This will only allow the water to pool on top of the plant.

The better way to water a potted succulent is to place the container over a saucer filled with water. The soil can then absorb water through the pot’s drainage holes.

After some time, the water should reach the top portion of the soil. When this happens, you should remove the saucer from under the pot.

This watering method ensures that the soil is evenly moisturized while preventing over-watering.

Freezing temperature

Although there are succulent varieties that can be grown outdoors all year round, some cannot survive freezing temperatures.

Tender succulents are vulnerable to frost damage. During freezing temperatures, the water stored in the plant’s cells expands and eventually bursts. In turn, this makes the succulent leaves feel soft and mushy.

Initially, the leaf tips will exhibit damage from frost burn. Left for hours under freezing temperature, the leaves become extensively damaged eventually leading to the collapse of the whole plant.

What to do with frost-damaged succulents

If you notice that your succulents’ leaves are suffering from the freezing temperature, the first thing that you need to do is to relocate your plants.

Afterward, allow your affected succulents to dry off completely. This can take anywhere between a few days to several weeks. 

During this time, the affected plants will recover by themselves. The mushy parts will eventually dry out and you will notice scabs forming on the damaged parts.

Do not water your succulents during this time. You will only worsen the problem.

Once the damaged parts are completely dry, you can cut these off. Sometimes, you will only need to cut off small parts. If the frost damage is extensive, you may need to cut off a substantial part from leaves.

If the frost damage has reached the stem, you might not be able to save the whole plant. However, you can cut the healthy parts, let these callous, and replant these.

Why you should touch your succulents regularly

As you progress in your journey as a succulent grower, you become more familiar with the appearance of your plants. With a single glance, you can notice subtle changes in your plants.

However, there is a case to be made for touching your plants regularly.

When you are starting, you should learn how a healthy plant feels like when you touch it. Healthy succulents should feel firm and rigid.

You should also learn how to compare the feel of succulents which have been recently watered and those that need to be watered again. When you have just watered your succulent, you notice  that it has become fuller and firmer to the touch.

As you become familiar with the feel of a healthy, well-nourished succulent, you will be able to take better care of your plants.

Saving your succulent

Soft and mushy leaves indicate that your succulent is in danger. With quick action, you can help your plant recover. 

This is why it is crucial for succulent owners, not only to learn what a healthy plant looks like. More importantly, succulent collectors should learn how a healthy plant feels like.

Image: istockphoto.com / Andrey Zhuravlev

Succulent Leaves Turning Brown

Succulent Leaves Turning Brown

Succulent leaves turn brown due to four possible reasons: over-watering, under-watering, sun damage and natural leaf loss.

Why succulent leaves turn brown

Identifying the real reason behind the color change in your succulent leaves can be tricky. Here is how you can distinguish each potential problem from each other.

1. Over-watering

If you have just started raising succulents, one of the possible reasons why you see the leaves of your plants turn brown is over-watering. In fact, over-watering is the number one mistake new succulent owners make. Unlike other plants, succulents do not need as much water. These plants are well-equipped to survive long, dry spells.

Before the leaves of an over-watered succulent turn brown, these change their color into yellow or transparent first.

If you touch the leaves, you will also notice that these feel mushy and soft. 

If you ignore these signs, the leaves will take on a darker color. When that happens, it means that rot has set in and your plant may no longer be salvageable. 

Once your plant turns black, you will see insects like gnats hovering around it. These insects are attracted by the moisture and rot.

At this point, your best option is to throw away your plant, especially if you have other succulents in your home. If you leave that rotting succulent indoors, the pests that have become attracted to it can infest and damage your other plants.

Saving an over-watered succulent

Can an over-watered succulent be saved? If you act fast and perform the necessary steps, yes, you can save your plant. And even though a plant that has begun to rot will still have salvageable parts that you can propagate.

If the affected plant has just started showing signs of overwatering, the first thing that you need to do is to remove it from the wet soil.

After removing the plant from the soil, allow it to dry out completely. This can take anywhere from a few days to a week.

Place your plant in an area with lots of airflow and sunlight. However, do not leave it under direct sunlight. Doing so will cause sunburn damage.

When the plant is completely dry, you can replant it. If the soil you used for it previously is appropriate for succulents, you can plant your succulent back in the same soil after it becomes completely dry. 

However, if you have used the wrong potting mix, you should use a different soil, and possibly, a new pot with drainage holes.

Do not water your succulent immediately. Instead, just wait for it to dry. After a week, you can water your plant. But before you do, take a quick check on the soil. It should be completely dry at this point. If it is still moist, you probably used the wrong type of soil.

Saving a rotting succulent

If the plant has begun rotting, the first thing that you need to do is to determine the severity of the rot. This will help you decide if some plant parts are still worth saving.

Save as many leaves and stems as you can. There are no guaranteed results when it comes to propagating succulent leaves and stems. This is why you need to save as many as you can.

Be sure to set aside complete leaves. Broken leaves do not usually propagate. As for the stems, look for the viable ones which should be colored green. If you see brown or black parts inside the stem’s cross-section, that means that rot may have started. Throw these away.

Allow the leaves and stems to dry out in an area with enough sunlight and airflow.

When the leaves are dry, you can either lay these flat on a potting mix or stick one end into the soil. You can also stick one end of a stem directly into the soil.

While waiting for the leaves and stems to grow new roots, you should mist the soil every few days. Do not put your new plants under direct sunlight.

2. Under-watering

Succulents have earned the reputation of being resilient and drought-resistant. But this very reputation can be detrimental to these plants.

Some succulent owners mistakenly believe that they need to water their plants too infrequently. As such, it is not uncommon for many succulents to be under-watered.

Apart from having brown leaves, under-watered succulents look deflated and shriveled. If you touch these plants, they will feel dry.

Saving an under-watered succulent

Fortunately, it is easier to revive an under-watered succulent compared to one that has been severely over-watered.

The first, and probably the most important thing that you need to do is to quench your succulent’s thirst. Water your succulent until you see water exit from the pot’s drainage hole.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, succulents love to be watered deeply. And if you are using a fast-draining soil mix and if you wait until the soil is dry before you water your plant again, you have nothing much to worry about.

After that initial watering, observe your succulent for about a week. Water it again once the soil is dry. After two or three waterings, you will notice that your plant looks livelier.

However, if things do not seem to turn around, you may have to take a more drastic measure in the form of water therapy. Water therapy entails soaking the plant’s roots in water.

Water therapy re-hydrates under-watered succulents quickly. However, there is no guarantee that it will work 100 percent. 

3. Sunburn

Like humans, succulents can also get sunburned. 

If you put your succulent under direct sunlight for a long period, it can succumb to sunburn. Initially, you will notice white patches on the leaves.

Eventually, if the plant continues to stay in its current location, the sunburn can become severe, manifesting in the form of brown patches. Typically, when these brown patches appear, it means that the sun damage has become extensive and the plant can eventually die.

Sunburnt succulent leaves are incapable of carrying out photosynthesis, adversely affecting the wellbeing of a plant.

Once you notice white spots on your succulents, move them to a shaded location. For succulents kept outdoors, it is a good idea to invest in a shade cloth that offers a formidable amount of protection against the sun’s scorching rays.

Natural leaf loss

Of all the possible causes of browning succulent leaves, natural leaf loss is probably the least concerning.

Like other plants, succulents drop leaves when these are no longer of any use or value to the plant. 

Before dropping its old leaves, your succulent will take all the moisture and nutrients from these leaves. This is why these leaves are brown and crispy.

Typically, these leaves will naturally drop from the plant. However, you can pick these dead leaves off the plant without risking any harm to your succulent. In fact, it is highly advisable to set aside time to prune dead leaves from your plant for aesthetic and functional reasons.

If you leave these leaves on the plant, harmful insects like mealybugs may become attracted to these.

You do not need any special tool to remove dead leaves from your succulent. All you have to do is pull these away.

Sometimes, you will encounter leaves that are not completely dried up. Do not attempt to pull these off. Pulling these leaves off when they are not yet completely dead can cause infections in your plant.

Wait a few more days until those leaves are completely dry.

Protect your succulent from discoloration

The discoloration of leaves of a succulent is often a sign that there is something wrong with it.

Fortunately, potential causes like over and under-watering and sun damage are easy to avoid.

Learn how to properly water your succulent and use a good potting mix for your plant. This minimizes the chances of discoloration and other problems significantly.

It is also a good idea to learn the light requirements of your plant. Ensuring that your succulent gets adequate and not too much sunlight is the key to preventing sunburn.

Succulent Leaves Turning Brown

Succulent leaves turn brown due to four possible reasons: over-watering, under-watering, sun damage, and natural leaf loss.

Why succulent leaves turn brown

Identifying the real reason behind the color change in your succulent leaves can be tricky. Here is how you can distinguish each potential problem from each other.

1. Over-watering

If you have just started collecting succulents, one of the possible reasons why you see the leaves of your plants turn brown is over-watering.

In fact, over-watering is the number one mistake new succulent owners make. Unlike other plants, succulents do not need as much water. These plants are well-equipped to survive long, dry spells.

Before the leaves of an over-watered succulent turn brown, these change their color into yellow or transparent first.

If you touch the leaves, you will also notice that these feel mushy and soft. 

If you ignore these signs, the leaves will take on a darker color. When that happens, it means that rot has set in and your plant may no longer be salvageable. 

Once your plant turns black, you will see insects like gnats hovering around it. These insects are attracted by the moisture and rot.

At this point, your best option is to throw away your plant, especially if you have other succulents in your home. If you leave that rotting succulent indoors, the pests that have become attracted to it can infest and damage your other plants.

Saving an over-watered succulent

Can an over-watered succulent be saved? If you act fast and perform the necessary steps, yes, you can save your plant. And even though a plant that has begun to rot will still have salvageable parts that you can propagate.

If the affected plant has just started showing signs of overwatering, the first thing that you need to do is to remove it from the wet soil.

After removing the plant from the soil, allow it to dry out completely. This can take anywhere from a few days to a week.

Place your plant in an area with lots of airflow and sunlight. However, do not leave it under direct sunlight. Doing so will cause sunburn damage.

When the plant is completely dry, you can replant it. If the soil you used for it previously is appropriate for succulents, you can plant your succulent back in the same soil after it becomes completely dry. 

However, if you have used the wrong potting mix, you should use a different soil, and possibly, a new pot with drainage holes.

Do not water your succulent immediately. Instead, just wait for it to dry. After a week, you can water your plant. But before you do, take a quick check on the soil. It should be completely dry at this point. If it is still moist, you probably used the wrong type of soil.

Saving a rotting succulent

If the plant has begun rotting, the first thing that you need to do is to determine the severity of the rot. This will help you decide if some plant parts are still worth saving.

Save as many leaves and stems as you can. There are no guaranteed results when it comes to propagating succulent leaves and stems. This is why you need to save as many as you can.

Be sure to set aside complete leaves. Broken leaves do not usually propagate. As for the stems, look for the viable ones which should be colored green. If you see brown or black parts inside the stem’s cross-section, that means that rot may have started. Throw these away.

Allow the leaves and stems to dry out in an area with enough sunlight and airflow.

When the leaves are dry, you can either lay these flat on a potting mix or stick one end into the soil. You can also stick one end of a stem directly into the soil.

While waiting for the leaves and stems to grow new roots, you should mist the soil every few days. Do not put your new plants under direct sunlight.

2. Under-watering

Succulents have earned the reputation of being resilient and drought-resistant. But this very reputation can be detrimental to these plants.

Some succulent owners mistakenly believe that they need to water their plants too infrequently. As such, it is not uncommon for many succulents to be under-watered.

Apart from having brown leaves, under-watered succulents look deflated and shriveled. If you touch these plants, they will feel dry.

Saving an under-watered succulent

Fortunately, it is easier to revive an under-watered succulent compared to one that has been severely over-watered.

The first, and probably the most important thing that you need to do is to quench your succulent’s thirst. Water your succulent until you see water exit from the pot’s drainage hole.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, succulents love to be watered deeply. And if you are using a fast-draining soil mix and if you wait until the soil is dry before you water your plant again, you have nothing much to worry about.

After that initial watering, observe your succulent for about a week. Water it again once the soil is dry. After two or three waterings, you will notice that your plant looks livelier.

However, if things do not seem to turn around, you may have to take a more drastic measure in the form of water therapy. Water therapy entails soaking the plant’s roots in water.

Water therapy re-hydrates under-watered succulents quickly. However, there is no guarantee that it will work 100 percent. 

3. Sunburn

Like humans, succulents can also get sunburned. 

If you put your succulent under direct sunlight for a long period, it can succumb to sunburn. Initially, you will notice white patches on the leaves.

Eventually, if the plant continues to stay in its current location, the sunburn can become severe, manifesting in the form of brown patches. Typically, when these brown patches appear, it means that the sun damage has become extensive and the plant can eventually die.

Sunburnt succulent leaves are incapable of carrying out photosynthesis, adversely affecting the wellbeing of a plant.

Once you notice white spots on your succulents, move them to a shaded location. For succulents kept outdoors, it is a good idea to invest in a shade cloth that offers a formidable amount of protection against the sun’s scorching rays.

Natural leaf loss

Of all the possible causes of browning succulent leaves, natural leaf loss is probably the least concerning.

Like other plants, succulents drop leaves when these are no longer of any use or value to the plant. 

Before dropping its old leaves, your succulent will take all the moisture and nutrients from these leaves. This is why these leaves are brown and crispy.

Typically, these leaves will naturally drop from the plant. However, you can pick these dead leaves off the plant without risking any harm to your succulent. In fact, it is highly advisable to set aside time to prune dead leaves from your plant for aesthetic and functional reasons.

If you leave these leaves on the plant, harmful insects like mealybugs may become attracted to these.

You do not need any special tool to remove dead leaves from your succulent. All you have to do is pull these away.

Sometimes, you will encounter leaves that are not completely dried up. Do not attempt to pull these off. Pulling these leaves off when they are not yet completely dead can cause infections in your plant.

Wait a few more days until those leaves are completely dry.

Protect your succulent from discoloration

The discoloration of leaves of a succulent is often a sign that there is something wrong with it.

Fortunately, potential causes like over and under-watering and sun damage are easy to avoid.

Learn how to properly water your succulent and use a good potting mix for your plant. This minimizes the chances of discoloration and other problems significantly.

It is also a good idea to learn the light requirements of your plant. Ensuring that your succulent gets adequate and not too much sunlight is the key to preventing sunburn.

Image: Istockphoto.com / kynny

17 Hanging Succulents

You do not need to have expansive space for hanging succulents. Even with little space to spare you can keep one or more trailing succulents hanging in baskets to spruce up your living space.

Here are 17 succulents that you can consider.

1. Burro’s Tail

Burro’s Tail
Image: istockphoto.com / jerryhopman

Scientific name: Sedum morganianum

Origin: Mexico and Honduras

Common names: Horse tail, Donkey tail

The Burro’s tail, also known as horse or donkey tail, is an absolute stunner that is difficult to miss, not with its unmistakable trailing stems which look like the tail of a burro or donkey.

This succulent can be kept indoors and outdoors. Plus, it is fairly easy to keep, requiring minimal care. 

The plant requires plenty of sunlight. Indoors, it should be placed in an area that gets adequate indirect light.

But be forewarned: its leaves are sensitive to touch. Even the slightest touch translates to dropped leaves. As much as possible, avoid handling this plant unless necessary.

2. Climbing Aloe

Climbing Aloe
Image: istockphoto.com / seven75

Scientific name: Aloiampelos ciliaris

Origin: South Africa

The Aloiampelos ciliaris, more commonly known as the climbing aloe, got its nickname from its ability to grow up to five meters or 16 feet.

This fast growing plant is often used with fences and boundaries, able to surround and climb over these and other plants.

Because it is a member of the aloe family, it requires minimal care. However, due to its fast growth, you may need to prune it from time to time to prevent covering the other plants in your garden.

The plant is best kept outdoors where it can produce orange to red flowers, typically around fall. It is known to attract hummingbirds.

3. October Daphne

October Daphne
Image: istockphoto.com / Jaimie Tuchman

Scientific name: Hylotelephium sieboldii

Origin: Japan

Common names: Stonecrop, October plant, Showy stonecrop, Siebold’s stonecrop

Originating from Japan, the October Daphne is a hardy succulent that is capable of surviving sub-zero temperatures.

The succulent produces clusters of pink star-shaped flowers which usually appear around fall.

This plant is an excellent addition to rock gardens,preferring light shade, especially during summer.

The plant can also be kept indoors. However, you should place it in an area with adequate sunlight. The drawback is that you cannot see as many flowers when it is grown inside a home.

The plant is named after the renowned botanist and plant collector Philipp Frranz von Siebold.

4. Trailing Jade

Scientific name: Senecio jacobsenii

Origin: Tanzania and Kenya

Common names: Trailing Jade, Weeping Jade

Despite sharing a name with the jade or money plant, the trailing jade belongs to a different genus. It is often mistaken as the jade plant because of the similarities in the appearance between the two. 

The trailing jade also has spoon-shaped leaves like the jade plant. However, its leaves are larger and overlap one another. Plus, the leaves take a purplish tinge upon the arrival of winter.

This succulent looks luxurious as its branches trail down from its container. When well-taken care of, the plant’s branches can grow as long as four feet.

5. String of Pearls

 

String of Pearls
Image: istockphoto.com / Tom_coultas

Scientific name: Senecio rowleyanus

Origin: southwest Africa

Common names: Rosary, String of beads

With its bead-like leaves, it is easy to understand why the string of pearls is one of the more popular succulents among collectors.

It is best kept in a basket as a hanging plant where its vines overflow. In its native habitat, these tendrils trail on the ground and overlap each other to form mats.

The succulent produces white flowers during spring. Many people say that these flowers smell like cinnamon.

It can be kept indoors or outdoors, preferring bright light.

Although the beads are beautiful, you need to throw these away once they fall off from the plant. These beads are toxic to pets and children.

6. Hindu Rope

Hindu Rope
Image: istockphoto.com / bentaboe

Scientific name: Hoya carnosa ‘Compacta’

Origin: East Asia and Australia

Common names: Hindu Indian Rope Plant, Wax Plant, Angel Plant, Krinkle Kurl

The Hindu Rope is a member of the Hoya family. Its name is derived from the appearance of its leaves which resemble a Hindu rope.

The leaves are cupped and curly and may either be green or variegated.

It produces clusters of star-shaped flowers between spring and summer. But unlike some flowering succulents, the Hindu rope takes years to produce flowers.

Hindu rope can be placed indoors or outdoors, preferring indirect sunlight. 

Kept in a basket, its stems can grow as much as six feet in length.

7. Ruby Necklace

Scientific name: Othonna capensis

Origin: South Africa

Common names: String of rubies, Little pickles

Originating from South Africa, the Ruby Necklace is a close relative of the String of Pearls.

Like its cousin, it also has bead-like foliage which grows from fast-growing stems. These beads come in different colors, ranging from green to dark purple. The stems also have a purple color while the flowers offer a nice contrast of yellow.

This summer-dormant plant prefers locations with partial shade to full sun with plenty of air circulation.

During winter, it is best to keep the plant indoors as it cannot withstand freezing temperatures.

8. Wax Ivy

Wax Ivy
Image: istockphoto.com / V_Sot

Scientific name: Senecio macroglossus

Origin: southern Africa

Common names: Natal ivy, Cape ivy, Wax vine, Flowering ivy

If you are looking for a hardy and no-fuss succulent to add to your garden, the Wax Ivy should be on top of your shortlist.

The Wax Ivy is a close relative of the String of Pearls and originates from South Africa. In its natural habitat, it can be found growing on forest floors.

Its leaves and stems have a pink to purple tinge while produces pale yellow flowers that look like daisy flowers.

This succulent is best grown outdoors where there is ample sunlight.

9. String of Hearts

String of hearts
Image: istockphoto.com / Exsodus

Scientific name: Ceropegia

Origin: Australia, Africa, southern Asia

Common names: Rosary vine, Sweetheart vine, Chain of hearts

The popularity of the String of Hearts has grown steadily in recent years. And it is easy to see why many people have fallen in love with it.

For starters, its heart-shaped leaves make the succulent an instant crowd pleaser.

The succulent is versatile. It prefers bright but indirect sunlight which means that it can be grown both indoors and outdoors.

It can be grown either as a trailing plant although some growers prefer to wrap it around to produce a compact plant.

When you take care of this plant properly, it can grow quite fast. Plus, it is easy to propagate.

10. Ghost Plant

Ghost Plant
Image: istockphoto.com / seven75

Scientific name: Graptopetalum paraguayense

Origin: Mexico

Common names: Sedum weinbergii, Mother-of-pearl plant

New to collecting succulents? The Ghost Plant ticks off all the right boxes. Easy to care for? Check. Pleasing to the eye? Check. Thrives even in the most adverse conditions? Check. Easy to propagate? Check.

A native of Mexico, the Ghost Plant is a close relative to the echeveria.

The succulent got its moniker from its triangular opalescent leaves which overlap one another to form a spiral.The leaves change their color, ranging from blue-gray to pink to yellow, depending upon the level of sun exposure, moisture, and quality of soil.

The Ghost Plant produces yellow, star-shaped flowers during spring.

11. Lantern Flower

Lantern Flower
Image: istockphoto.com / bonnynord

Scientific name: Ceropegia haygarthii

Origin: South Africa, Mozambique, Angola

Common names: Parachute flower, Snake creeper, Parasol flower, Necklace vine, Rosary vine

The word interesting is barely enough to describe the Lantern Flower.

Originating from Africa, the Lantern Flower is an unusual-looking succulent, that, contrary to its looks, is relatively easy to keep and care for.

Its fleshy stems can either climb or trail. Its flowers are among the most unique-looking ones that you will see, having a funnel-shape that curves upwards from the base.

Inside the flowers are hairs that trap flies. Once trapped inside, the flies become covered with pollen. Once all the flower’s pollen is attached to a fly, the hairs wither, allowing the insect to fly away.

12. Creeping Inchplant

Creeping Inchplant
Image: istockphoto.com / undefined undefined

Scientific name: Callisia repens

Origin: Central and South America

Common names: Turtle vine, Bolivian Jew, Basket plant, Jelly bean plant, Little jewel

The Creeping inchplant is a low-growing succulent that can be grown both indoors and outdoors.

The top leaves of the plant have a deep green color while the lower leaves have a purple color. The succulent produces small white flowers during spring and summer.

Due to its resilience and ability to thrive in almost any condition, the Creeping inchplant is a good starter plant for new succulent collectors.

Although it prefers partial shade, it can tolerate direct sunlight. Unlike other succulents, this plant likes its soil to be constantly moist.

13. String of Nickels

String of Nickels
Image: istockphoto.com / Noppamas Phanmanee

Scientific name: Dischidia nummularia

Origin: India, Australia, Asia

Common names: Button orchid

The name String of Nickels is derived from the shape of this succulent’s leaves. 

Also known as button orchid, the plant can easily spread up to 10 feet. The String of Nickels can be trained to climb, or if you are planning to keep it indoors, to trail.

Apart from being easy to grow, the plant can thrive in an indoor environment. Although it can tolerate short periods under direct sunlight, it prefers filtered light. It can even grow under artificial light.

This succulent also loves high humidity, making them perfect for bathrooms and kitchens.

14. Kitten Ears

Kitten Ears
Image: istockphoto.com / victimewalker

Scientific name: Cyanotis somaliensis 

Origin: Northern Somalia

Common names: Furry kittens, Pussy ears

A close relative of the inch plant, the Kitten Ears plant instantly adds texture to any succulent collection. The plant derives its name from its green and fuzzy leaves.

This low growing plant prefers bright lights but can be kept indoors with medium light. 

It is often kept as a trailing plant but some collectors keep them in pots or even terrariums due to their small size.

It produces fluffy, purple flowers that last for only a day.

15. Calico Kitten

Calico Kitten
Image: istockphoto.com / MichelR45

Scientific name: Crassula pellucida

Origin: South Africa

Common names: Crassula pellucida 

The Calico Kitten is another gorgeous looking succulent which has heart-shaped leaves. 

The leaves can come in different color combinations, ranging from green to cream and pink. When subjected to dry conditions, these leaves can take a deep purple hue.

The plant grows slowly and can be tricky to care for, especially at the start. But with perseverance, you will be rewarded with a stunning trailing plant.

The Calico Kitten can be grown indoors and outdoors, preferring bright locations. Outdoors, the plant thrives in a bright, partial light.

16. Rat Tail Cactus

 Rat Tail Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / Goja1

Scientific name: Aporocactus flagelliformis

Origin: Mexico

Over the last few years, the Rat Tail Cactus has emerged as one of the more popular cacti grown in homes. It has become so popular that there are more specimens in homes compared to its native home in Mexico. In fact, the cactus is classified as a threatened species in the country.

In the wild, the Rat Tail Cactus grows on rocky crevasses and on trees.

This succulent got its popular name from the appearance of its long trailing stems which have yellow hairy spines. The stems can grow as long as six feet.

Initially, the plant looks green. But as the plant matures, it takes on a beige color.

The cactus produces pink, red, and occasionally, orange flowers between spring and summer.

17. Rex Begonia Vine

Scientific name: Cissus discolor

Origin: Java, Australia

Common names:

Despite its name, the Rex Begonia Vine is not a true begonia. In reality, it is a member of the grape family.

Although many gardeners use the plant in trellises and arbors, it can be hung on baskets as a trailing plant.

Its heart-shaped leaves are green on the top while the undersides are bright red. The plant looks absolutely stunning when trained to display both the top and underside.

Initially, the leaves appear to be red or purple. Upon reaching maturity the leaves turn green.

The plant prefers warm locations with ample sunlight.

Be forewarned: the Rex Begonia is not for beginners. It grows slow and can be difficult to care for.

Caring for your hanging succulents

Compared to other trailing plants, succulents are relatively easy to care for. Most of these plants will thrive with minimal attention.

However, it does not hurt to learn a few basic succulent care ideas.

Proper watering

If you can only get one thing right, that would be learning how to properly water your succulents. Proper watering is one of the challenges that new succulent owners need to hurdle first.

Watering succulents runs counter to the conventional idea that plants need to be watered regularly. If you are keeping succulents, it is vital to know that these plants need to be watered deeply but infrequently, like lawn grass.

Many types of succulents can thrive on benign neglect, going on days or even weeks without water. These plants are more than capable of handling long, dry spells with great ease.

Water your succulents only when the soil in their containers is dry. If you use the appropriate containers and soil mix for these plants, that is basically all you need to know.

Soil mix

Well-draining soil is essential for succulents, whether you keep them in hanging baskets or pots.

You can buy soil mixes made specially for succulents or mix your own. The important thing to remember is that you cannot use organic soil or dirt from the ground. These types of soil are not suitable for succulents because these become compact when wet and inhibit the optimal flow of air to the roots.

If you are keeping hanging succulents, you can supplement your potting mix with natural liners like sphagnum moss and coco fiber. These liners help drain water away from the soil after you water your plant or after rainfall.

Containers

In general, succulents grow better in shallow plants. For hanging baskets, opt for those that are eight inches in diameter and about six inches deep. 

In most instances, your succulents will thrive in containers with these dimensions. If your plants grow over the summer, you can transfer them from their hanging baskets to pots to be kept indoors. 

Additionally, many types of succulents do not mind growing in crowded spaces, at least for the short term.

Learn your plants’ individual requirements

Many succulents share a few similarities in terms of their requirements for optimal growth.

But whether you are hanging your succulents in baskets or keeping them indoors in containers, it is essential to study each of your plant’s unique needs.

Calloused Succulent

calloused succulent

If you are trying to propagate your succulents through the use of cuttings, do you need to wait for these to callus? There are two schools of thought on propagating through the use of cuttings. One camp believes that you should not wait for cuttings to callus. Instead, they prefer planting the cuttings directly into pots.

The other camp prefers using callused cuttings. This means that you should not plant cuttings into the soil immediately. Instead, you should wait until the cuttings are callused.

When is a succulent calloused?

A succulent is calloused when cell tissues develop in the parts of the plant that have been damaged or cut. Apart from protecting the wounded areas in a plant, the cells in callus tissues can facilitate the growth of new roots, stems, and leaves.

Which succulents should you let callus first?

Both schools of thought are correct. Many gardeners have found success either way.

There are plant cuttings that you can place directly into the soil without waiting for these to callus. And there are plants, like succulents, that fare better after developing calluses.

Thin-stemmed cuttings

If you are propagating plants with soft and thin stems, do not wait until these develop calluses. These cuttings tend to dry up quickly and wilt when exposed to the air.

Wilting and drying up are signs that the cutting is under severe stress. Ultimately, the cutting may not survive this severe stress.

In this situation, you will gain more chances of success by planting the cutting directly into a pot. Covering the plant afterward helps create a greenhouse effect that minimizes, if not totally prevents moisture loss.

These cuttings should also be kept in slightly moist conditions just until new roots emerge.

Succulents

Plants with thick or woody stems, like succulents, have cuttings that do not lose moisture fast. Compared to the cuttings of soft-stemmed plants, succulent cuttings can be kept longer without drying up fast.

Before planting succulent cuttings, it is imperative to wait until calluses have formed. Otherwise, if you plant succulent cuttings without calluses, it is highly likely that these will rot.

Semi-succulents

Semi-succulents refer to plants that are not considered to be true succulents. These include hoyas and geraniums.

With these plants, you can either wait for calluses to develop or you can place their cuttings directly into the soil. Either way works fine.

How long will it take for a cutting to callus?

The amount of time it will take for a cutting to develop a callus will depend on the type of plant you are trying to propagate. In particular, you need to consider the thickness of the stem.

Broadly speaking, the thicker the stem, the more time it will take for a callus to develop.

Succulents like sansevierias and crassulas have moderately-thick stems. In general, it will take a few days before the cuttings from these plants are ready for planting. However, it is not unusual for the cuttings of these plants to develop calluses overnight.

Cacti and euphorbias which have thick stems will take weeks, even months, to form calluses. And even if these cuttings develop calluses, there is a high probability that these will rot or will not form roots.

To overcome this particular challenge, it is best to take cuttings during spring or summer. Additionally, harvest cuttings from the secondary stem.

Some succulents, like euphorbias, release latex or white sap after getting cut. This sap is both irritating and toxic. 

To stop the white sap from oozing from the cutting, you can dip it in cold water or spray cold water. Alternatively, you can cauterize the wound by exposing it to an open flame.

How do you callus succulents?

Callusing is a straightforward process that requires a minimal amount of tools and resources. 

One important thing that you should remember is that moisture is never a part of this equation.

Step 1

Check your cuttings. If you notice parts that have become rotten, trim these off. Be sure to make a clean cut using a sharp knife.

Step 2

Put your cuttings on a clean and dry paper towel. Be sure to put the paper towel and your cuttings in a dry and shaded area. Never put your cuttings in an area directly under the sun.

If your cuttings are long, be sure to turn these over from time to time. This will help prevent roots from forming from the sides.

Step 3

Once you noticed that calluses have formed on the cuttings, you can now plant these into pots. Be sure to use well-draining soil.

Do not water your cuttings. Instead, wait until your cuttings develop new roots. To check for root growth, you can lift the cuttings from their pots. Depending on the succulent you are propagating, you may need to wait anywhere between a few days to several weeks.

Step 4

Once you notice that roots have formed, you can now begin watering your new plants. Be sure to wait until the soil has become completely dry before watering again. Otherwise, there is a risk that your succulents will rot.

A few helpful tips

The thicker the cutting, the longer it will take for it to callus. If you want your cuttings to callus quicker, consider using leaves instead of stems.

Due to the smaller wounds, leaves tend to callus faster compared to stems.

It is possible to plant succulent cuttings into the soil without waiting for calluses to form. However, your cuttings should be thin. Furthermore, you should use a potting mix that is completely dry. The cuttings will then form calluses beneath the potting mix.

From time to time, you can water your succulent cuttings moderately. Your new plants will not need as much moisture during this period.

For thick-stemmed succulents, you have no other recourse but to wait for the calluses to form. This may take anywhere between several weeks and months.

Usually, it is okay to leave cuttings undergoing callusing lying on their sides. You can plant these immediately after the calluses develop.

But for thick-stemmed cuttings, it is best to put these in an upright position instead of placing these on their sides.

You can either prop your cuttings against a wall or tie a string around these to keep these upright. Some succulent growers keep their cuttings upright by placing these inside glass containers while waiting for the callus to form.

The primary benefit of keeping cuttings in an upright position is that you prevent their tips from growing upwards. When the tips grow upwards, the new plant will bend at the stem.

How do you care for your cuttings?

Young succulents do not need direct sunlight. As such, place your new succulent containers in an area with plenty of indirect light and airflow.

Indirect sunlight facilitates the growth of new roots. Airflow, on the other hand, keeps pests at bay.

Although mature succulents hate excessive moisture, young succulents need more water. As much as possible, do not allow the soil in their pots to dry completely. For succulents grown out of cuttings, the rule of thumb is to water two to four times a week.

Once the roots of the cuttings emerge and stabilize, you can transition them to deep but infrequent watering. At this point, you can water your cuttings two to four times a week and allow the soil to become completely dry in between watering sessions.

This is also the best time to repot your succulents to bigger containers. You should also help your succulents transition to their ideal lighting conditions.

Young succulents do not require fertilizers. In fact, using fertilizers on succulents grown from cuttings can be detrimental to their wellbeing. Fertilizers can burn the roots of young plants. It is better to wait until your cuttings mature.

An easy way to grow your succulent collection

Propagating calloused succulents is a quick and easy way to grow your collection. Follow these tips closely, and soon, you will have more succulents that you can give or even sell.

Image: Istockphoto.com / Phaisit

Why Is My Succulent Turning Red?

Why Is My Succulent Turning Red

Even the slightest changes in their plants can cause alarm in succulent owners and for good reason as even small changes in the color can be a sign of serious issues with the plant. This is, however, not always the case. Read on to find why succulents change color and when it is something to worry about and when something that you may event try to accomplish on purpose.

Why do succulents turn red?

Succulents turn red because of extreme conditions such as sun exposure, extreme temperatures, under-watering, inadequate nutrition and poor soil. Basically, succulents change colors when they are under stress. That change in color is an adaptive response to the changes in the environment.

For example, if you have recently taken your succulent to an outdoor location after being kept indoors for months, your plant will try to adapt to that new location. Changing colors is one sign that your succulent has begun making key adjustments.

You will also notice that many types of succulents change their colors coinciding with the changing of the seasons, especially during summer and winter. Again, this is a manifestation of your plants adapting to their environments.

However, changing colors is not just a sign that your succulent is adapting to its new environment. 

Sometimes, succulents change their colors due to owner neglect. When you deprive your plants of adequate nutrition or water or if you keep them in infertile soil, your plants will tell you that they need your attention, sometimes in a subtle manner, sometimes through bold signs that immediately catch your attention.

This includes taking on a different hue.

Stress in succulents

What does it exactly mean when you say that a plant is stressed? Is stress bad for your plant?

Before answering these questions, it is a good idea to get a quick glimpse of what it is like for succulents to live in their natural environment.

Many people, especially those who have nearly given up on gardening, are drawn to succulents for their hardiness and ability to thrive even with minimal care. It is these very same qualities that have allowed these plants to survive in their natural environments.

Succulents can come from different types of environments. Some originally come from arid, desert climates. Others originate from alpine climates. There are also species that originally come from rainforests and sea coasts.

Although these places of origin may seem diverse, there is one thing that these places have in common. Most of these places are inhospitable to plant life. Where other plants may die, succulents have found a way, not only to survive. More importantly, these amazing plants have found a way to grow and thrive.

Simply put, your succulent is a survivor, and a capable one at that.

Changes in the environment cause stress in succulents. But it should be noted that stress is not necessarily bad. Because of evolution and adaptation, succulents have developed the uncanny ability to grow more beautiful even when under duress.

Exposure to sunlight and temperature extremes mimics the changes in the environment that your succulent will likely experience had it been grown in its place of origin. 

And your plant is more than equipped to handle these changes as well as the accompanying stress.

A built-in mechanism

Apart from red, succulents can change into other colors. These include blue, purple, yellow, and orange. There are also some succulents that turn into black!

But what causes this change in color?

The main reason why some succulents change their colors are the pigments known as carotenoids and anthocyanins. If these pigments sound familiar, it is because these can also be found in some fruits, particularly those that have a high amount of antioxidants.

These pigments are your succulents’ built-in mechanism that protects them from changes in the environment like extreme cold or heat and a drop in moisture level.

It should be noted that not all succulents change their colors when stressed. 

Some succulents like the elephant bush and the miniature pine tree will remain green even if there are drastic changes in their environments. It is normal for these plants to slightly change to a different shade of green when there are changes in the temperature.

The only time these plants change to a noticeably different color like yellow or brown is when they are deficient in one of their needs. 

Stress in succulents: good or bad?

To put it succinctly, stress can be beneficial to your succulents. 

Stress allows a succulent to reach its true potential. Plus, stress is not necessarily bad for plants.

Your plant is more resilient than what you actually think. In the wild, your succulent constantly faces the challenges of living in an inhospitable environment. And along with those environmental challenges come your plant’s inherent ability, not only to overcome those but more importantly, to thrive.

However, it is critical to distinguish between bad and good stress. How do you differentiate between the two?

In a nutshell, you can say that a plant is doing relatively well even under duress when it looks essentially the same. It holds the same shape and there is no noticeable difference, save for its change in color.

When a succulent is unable to cope with stress, you will see a marked change in its overall appearance, not just in its color. It will look sickly and in some cases, disfigured.

For example, take a look at your succulents which have red tips on their leaves. These red tips typically appear when a plant is exposed to full sun or when the weather is hot. 

The appearance of these red tips means that your plant’s adaptations have begun to kick in. Although there is a change in color, your plant is otherwise healthy and able to cope with the arrival of a stressor, in this case, heat or sunlight.

On the other hand, if you notice red marks on a succulent that is not known to have leaves that turn red, your plant may be in trouble. The appearance of red spots, coupled with bite marks, indicates that insects have infested your plant. 

Apart from these red spots, you will notice a few distinct changes. These include deformities. In short, your plant’s health and wellbeing are at risk.

Other succulents change into different colors like yellow or dark purple, almost resembling the color black. In an otherwise healthy succulent, these changes in color are indicative of a plant’s response to good stress.

But in some instances, the appearance of a yellow tinge can mean over-watering. When black spots appear on a succulent, it is highly likely that it has succumbed to rot. 

In both situations, there is a clear and present danger to your plant that you need to immediately address.

Turning your succulent red

Subjecting your succulent to good stress is not absolutely necessary. There are some succulent growers that prefer to keep their plants indoors, away from the things that stress them.

That is well and good.

However, if you want to see your plant’s true appearance in a different environment, stress becomes a necessary part of the equation.

Here are a few things that you can do to stress your plant and coax a reddish hue out of it.

1. Increase time spent under the sun

Over time, many varieties of succulents become greener the longer they stay indoors. This is particularly true if there is inadequate natural light inside your home.

As such, if your goal is to make your succulent change from green to red, the most important thing that you need to do is to expose your plant to more sunlight.

Many succulents will take on a reddish hue if they get as much as six hours of direct sun exposure.

2. Expose to temperature extremes

In general, succulents thrive in a 60 to 80°F temperature range. Individual preferences will vary from species to species, with some able to tolerate temperatures lower than 40°F or higher than 90°F.

Soft or tender succulents that originally grow in arid conditions exhibit deeper colors when exposed to high temperatures. Hardy succulents, on the other hand, originate from alpine climates. And exposure to low to freezing temperatures can herald a drastic change in colors.

However, be forewarned that temperature extremes can be detrimental to your succulents. Too hot or too cold can be too much for your succulents.

3. Choose the right soil mix

Another trick that will help you facilitate a change in your succulent’s color is to use the right type of potting mix.

Ideally, your succulent’s soil should be composed of at least 50% inorganic content. If there is too much organic matter in the soil, the potting mix will not drain well.

Many succulent growers swear by the benefits of adding pumice and perlite to their potting mixes. Both inorganic materials offer a host of benefits. These include improved drainage, protection from root rot, and improved root health.

4. Water sparingly

Many succulent collectors fall into the habit of watering their plants on a schedule. 

That is not necessarily bad, especially if you have a busy schedule and you want your succulent to get enough water to grow.

However, if you want to make your succulent turn red, you must go away from what you are accustomed to, especially in watering your succulents.

In short, you have to make your succulent thirsty for water. The best way to do that is to change your watering schedule. 

If you are accustomed to watering your succulent every one or two weeks, you should let your plant go on without water for a longer period.

Eventually, you will notice that your succulent will turn into red while the leaves begin to store more water.

5. Pick the right container

Succulents need containers that have drainage holes.

But apart from picking the right type of pot for your succulent, you should also use the right size for it.

Pick a pot that is too small for your succulent and its roots will not have enough room to spread. 

Choose a pot that is too big for your plant and it will grow slowly. The reason behind this is that its roots spread out too fast and the whole plant cannot keep pace. Furthermore, big pots take in and hold more moisture. This increases your plant’s vulnerability to rot.

Red is good

Succulents are nothing short of amazing, able to thrive where other plants cannot. Your plants can surprise you with their ability to turn a seemingly bad situation to their advantage.

So go on, put your succulent under stress, and watch it turn into something more special. 

Image: Istockphoto.com / Creative life, looking for special pictures.

Succulents Safe for Cats

Many animals, including cats and dogs, seem to instinctively avoid succulents. Perhaps it is the taste, or maybe the smell, that makes these plants unpalatable to animals.

Broadly speaking, succulents are safe for cats. However, some varieties can cause harm when ingested while some may cause skin irritation.

If you are a cat owner thinking of collecting succulents, here is a list of nine succulents that are safe for cats:

1. Black rose

Black Rose
Image: Istockphoto.com / Andrew Waugh

Scientific name: Aeonium arboreum

Origin: Canary Islands

Common names: Black tree aeonium, Irish rose, tree houseleek

The black rose is a succulent that demands to be seen. And it can be pretty hard to ignore. 

The rosettes of this succulent are glossy and have leaves that are dark purple. Kept in partial shade, the leaves take on a reddish-purple color with a tinge of green. Grown outdoors with ample sunlight, the plant’s leaves turn dark, becoming almost black.

Although the plant needs to be watered more frequently, compared to other succulents, it is a resilient plant that can be kept outdoors or indoors in containers.

Pests rarely infest the black rose. Plus, it is resistant to deer and can tolerate salt. 

2. Prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear cactus
Image: Istockphoto.com / Lina Moiseienko

Scientific name: Opuntia

Origin: Mexico, American Southwest, Latin America

Common names: Tuna, nopal, sabra, paddle cactus

The prickly pear cactus has distinctive fleshy pads which are actually modified stems and branches. These pads perform different functions for the plant. These functions include flower production, water storage, and photosynthesis.

The plant is safe for both cats and their humans. In fact, both the fruits and pads of the plant are eaten. The fruits of the Opuntia are often sold as tuna, while the pads are sold as nopalito.

The prickly pear cactus has gained fame for its purported health benefits. The plant is touted as a treatment for hangovers, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The plant is also an excellent source of fiber, carotenoids, and antioxidants.

3. Living stones

Living Stones
Image: Istockphoto.com / JIAN YI LIU

Scientific name: Lithops

Origin: southern Africa

Common names: pebble plants

Lithops are curious-looking succulents that look like stones or miniature hoof prints. Found in their original desert habitats, living stones can be hard to detect due to their ability to blend with the environment.

An individual plant consists of two leaves that are fused. These leaves act primarily as water storage for the plant. African children sometimes use the plant as a water source.

The plant is a popular indoor plant, in part due to its unique appearance, and its minimal care requirements. It is known to live up to 50 years.

4. Hens and chicks

Hens and chicks
Image: Istockphoto.com / Jelena990

Scientific name: Sempervivum tectorum

Origin: northern Africa, southern Europe

Common names: hen-and-chickens, hen-widdies, houseleek

The hens and chicks plant is a perennial favorite among new and seasoned succulent collectors.

Its name is derived from its clusters of rosettes. The larger or parent rosettes are called hens, while the smaller ones are called chicks.

This succulent can self-propagate and comes in different shapes, colors, and textures.

The hens and chicks succulent is a hardy plant that requires minimal care. It thrives under the full sun but it can be kept in partial shade. But compared to other succulents, it prefers to have ample space to sprawl.

5. Zebra Haworthia

Zebra Haworthia
Image: istockphoto.com / WhiteLacePhotography

Scientific name: Haworthia fasciata

Origin: South Africa

Common names: Zebra plant

The zebra plant is another popular succulent that cat owners might want to add to their collections.

The plant is ideal for beginners because it can be grown indoors, with minimal care. It is also commonly used in arrangements.

Additionally, the plant is easy to propagate. All you have to do is to pull the offsets that sprout around the plant. Once the offsets are dry, these can be replanted in containers.

The succulent is often mistaken as Aloe which is toxic to pets. However, the zebra plant is safe for cats.

6. Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus
Image: istockphoto.com / ClaraNila

Scientific name: Schlumbergera bridgesii

Origin: Brazil

Christmas cacti can refer to any of the cacti that bloom near the holidays. These include the Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and the Easter cactus.

The Christmas cactus can be distinguished from the other holiday cacti with its flat leaves which are outlined by rounded teeth.

As the holidays near, the plant will produce brightly colored plants that come in a variety of colors, including yellow, red, pink, purple, white, and orange.

Unlike other succulents, this plant prefers high humidity and frequent watering. In its native home of Brazil, it is found attached to branches of trees in the rainforest.

7. Burro’s tail

Burros tail
Image: istockphoto.com / MAsummerbreak

Scientific name: Sedum morganianum

Origin: Honduras, Mexico

Common names: donkey tail

The burro’s or donkey tail is not one of those easy to care for succulents, making it a bad choice for newbies.

Although the burro’s tail is part of the Sedum family that is known for its hardiness, the plant is fragile. It frequently drops leaves, even with the slightest touch.

But if you are willing to face the challenge, you will be rewarded with an absolutely stunning plant that can be planted either in containers or hanging baskets.

The plant got its moniker for its characteristic long stems as well as its fleshy leaves which look like large grains of rice.

8. Chenille plant

Chenille plant
Image: istockphoto.com / Gennaro Leonardi

Scientific name: Echeveria pulvinata

Origin: Mexico

Common names: Plush plant, ruby blush, red velvet, ruby slippers

Also known as ruby blush, the chenille plant is characterized by its bright and fuzzy green leaves which are outlined by pink to red edges.

Looking closely at the leaves, you will notice that these have white hairs. These hairs help protect the plant from excessive water loss.

The Chenille plant grows up a foot but spreads out, covering a fewl feet as it sprawls. It produces a red-orange flower between late winter and early spring.

9. Gasteria 

Gasteria
Image: istockphoto.com / seven75

Origin: Southern Africa

Common names: Ox tongue, lawyer’s tongue

The Gasteria derives its name from the Latin word for stomach. It got that name because its flowers are stomach-shaped.

The plant is a close relative of both Aloe and Haworthia.

Because it prefers low light and cool temperatures, the plant is a perfect houseplant. It can be planted outdoors but must be put in a sheltered area.

There are 42 species of the plant. But apart from these, there are eight hybrids which are fairly accessible to collectors. There are also a few hybrids that are uncommon or rare which serious collectors seek.

How to Breed Succulents?

How to Breed Succulents

Breeding succulents can be both frustrating and rewarding, especially when you are just starting. 

With many variables that can come into play, it helps to have a guide on how to breed succulents.

Listed here are the steps you need to undertake as well as a few essential tips.

How to breed succulents in 7 steps

Unlike the flowers in other plants, succulent flowers do not blossom for a long time. This makes natural pollination with the aid of the wind and insects practically impossible. If the flowers do not pollinate, your succulent cannot produce seeds. 

Succulent breeding solves this problem and more. Through hybrid pollination, succulent growers can create new varieties and not merely clones that are produced by propagating through cuttings.

Succulent breeding or cross-pollination is not a resource-intensive endeavor. For this project, you will need a few tools. These include:

  • a few small brushes (eyeshadow or artist brush)
  • rubbing alcohol
  • nylon stocking

Here are the steps to breed succulents:

Step 1

Start by choosing two succulents that you want to cross-pollinate. Once these two plants begin producing flowers, place them together.

You can use the same type of succulents or cross-pollinate different types.

Wait until pollen appears on the flowers. You can find the pollen on the flowers’ stamens, which in turn, can be found around the middle of the flowers.

Unsure what pollen looks like? It looks like dust on the surface of the petals.

Step 2

Next, disinfect the brushes that you will use for cross-pollination. Rubbing alcohol is an excellent disinfectant because it kills various microorganisms that may be lurking in the brushes.

After disinfecting the small brushes, allow these to dry.

Step 3

Get the first plant and get the pollen from its stamens. To do this, gently swirl a small brush around the stamens.

Step 4

Now apply the small brush on the stigma of the flower of the second succulent. The stigma is the part of the flower that has a finger-like appearance. The stigma should be slightly open.

If the stigma is not yet open, wait a few more days and then try again.

Step 5

Get a new small brush and repeat the previous steps with the second flower.

Step 6

After completing steps one to five, cover both flowers with nylon stockings. The stockings will help prevent cross-pollination between the two succulents and the other plants not involved in this process.

However, you can skip this step entirely if your only goal is to make your succulent produce seeds. Leaving the flowers uncovered will attract pollinators and allow the wind to sweep off pollen.

Step 7

Now, all you have to do is to wait for the plants to produce seeds. Your waiting time will depend on the type of succulent you have chosen for this project.

Some succulents can produce seeds in a matter of weeks while others can take up to a year to make seeds.

A few important things to remember

As much as possible, use at least two small brushes when taking the pollen from both plants. This helps prevent self-pollination from coming into play.

Succulents can self-pollinate. However, it can be harmful because it can cause recessive traits to surface. At the same time, self-pollination can produce new colors and shapes.

How succulents produce seeds

Succulents produce their seeds. However, for this to happen, the conditions need to be right.

Seed production begins when a succulent’s flower begins to blossom. Take note that this process does not necessarily happen annually.

Once the flower blooms, it needs to be pollinated. Outdoors, the process is facilitated by the plants with a great deal of help from the wind and insects like bees and butterflies.

The flowers emit a sweet smell that attracts beneficial insects. These insects will then carry pollen from one plant to another.

Some succulents require cross-pollination to form seeds. Cross-pollination means that plants need pollen from other plants.

After pollination, the ovum begins its transformation into seeds. During this transformation, the flower dries out.

Once the flower has dried and wilted, the seeds can then be carried by the wind.

Succulent seeds are minute in size. This is why many people mistake the seeds as dust. Once you see the seeds, you should place these immediately into a propagation tray with moist soil.

Remember to keep the soil moist. 

Seed germination rates in succulents can vary from one plant to another. Some seeds germinate within a few days, ready to be transplanted after six months. Others take weeks to fully germinate.

Understanding hybridization

If you happen to visit your local nursery, you might notice new and unfamiliar succulents.

These plants are produced through the process known as hybridization. 

The goals of hybridization are varied. Some succulent growers produce hybrids to combine the best characteristics of two plants. Others use hybridization to eliminate the bad qualities of a plant. And then there are succulent breeders who wish to create new plants that they add to their collections or even sell at a premium to other collectors.

Take note that the products of hybridization are artificial hybrids. 

Typically, breeders hybridize plants that come from the same genus. The close relationship between these plants makes breeding easier and the chances for success are considerably higher. 

Challenges in hybridization 

Although the results of hybridization can be astounding, the process is not seamless. Hybridization poses a few problems.

For starters, the results are unpredictable. If you successfully produce seeds, there is no guarantee that the new plant that you created will have the characteristics that you are trying to get.

Often, it will take multiple breeding attempts to get the results that you desire.

Hybrids are also sterile, incapable of producing seeds. Luckily, succulents can be propagated through the use of cuttings. 

Breeding succulents can also be particularly challenging because the plants you have chosen will not produce flowers at the same time.

Unfortunately, pollen cannot be stored for use at a later time. You can, however, manipulate the plants’ environment to coax both plants to flower at the same time.

Finally, the new plants that you create may be more fragile than pure-breed succulents. This often comes as a result of altering plant DNA. Because of their delicate qualities, these plants can be difficult to keep alive.

This is why many rare succulent hybrids sold in markets carry a steep price tag.

Frustrating yet rewarding

By no means is succulent breeding an easy process. You will get frustrated, angry even. But if you have the patience and determination, and a bit of luck, you can produce a unique plant that you can be truly proud of. Who knows, you might even get your creation patented and sold at a handsome price.

While there is no guarantee for 100 percent success, following the tips mentioned here will help minimize your chance of failing.

Image: istockphoto.com / artas

When to Bring Succulents Inside?

When to Bring Succulents Inside

When is the best time to bring succulents inside your home for the winter? There is no straightforward answer to that question because there are a few critical factors to consider. These include the type of succulent you are considering bringing indoors, the zone you live in, and the temperature in your area.

But as a rule of thumb, you should bring your succulents inside your home before the arrival of the first frost.

Should you bring your succulent indoors?

Before you even consider bringing in your succulent indoor to protect it from the winter, you should determine first if there is indeed a need to bring it into your home.

Hardy and soft succulents

A lot of people associate succulents, especially cacti, with arid desert environments. These plants are called soft or tender succulents. These succulents cannot survive freezing winter temperature and must be brought inside your home.

On the converse side of the coin, some succulents come from alpine climates. These plants can easily handle cold and harsh winters. These plants are called hardy or hard succulents. They can be left outdoors even during winter, although they will fare better with some preparations.

Tender succulents need to be brought indoors. You can leave hardy succulents outdoors if these are planted on the ground or move these under a roof if planted in containers.

Plant hardiness zone

Another important factor to consider before asking if you should bring your plant indoor is the average low temperature in the area where you live.

The best tool to use for this is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

This interactive tool was designed to help gardeners compare the climate in the area where they live in with the climate conditions certain plants are known to thrive in.

Ideally, your plant should tolerate the lowest and highest temperatures and average rainfall distribution in your location.

If there is a mismatch, bringing your succulent indoor is advised.

Can you bring your plant inside immediately?

Should you bring your succulent indoors immediately?

No. You have to prepare your succulent for the change in its environment. Ideally, you should begin these preparations at least a few days before. This will give you enough leeway and your plant will have sufficient time to make the transition from living outdoors to indoors.

But how exactly do you do that?

1. Water your plant outdoors for the last time

Water your plant outdoors one last time two to three days before moving it indoors. 

Doing this allows your plant to have enough time to get moisture and ensure that the soil is completely dry.

An added benefit of this is that you can momentarily avoid the hassles associated with watering succulents indoors.

2. Amend the soil

This is an opportune time to check on the soil in your succulent’s pot.

You should be aware that indoor succulents require fast-draining soil and pots with drainage holes. 

If the soil in your succulent’s current container is not appropriate for it, now is the best time to change to a fast-draining soil.

3. Clean the succulent pot

Bringing your succulent indoor is not just a matter of saving your plant from the harsh winter. Bringing your succulent inside your home is also an opportunity to spruce up the area where you will put your plant.

As such, you might want to clean up your succulent’s pot. Give it a quick wipe to remove dirt and debris. You should also remove dirt and debris on top of the soil, especially dead organic materials which can cause plant infections.

4. Eliminate bugs

If you have a few indoor plants, the last thing that you want to do is to bring in an infected plant.

Bugs like ants and mealybugs can transfer from an infected plant to your other houseplants with great ease.

Avoid this problem by checking your succulent for bugs. If your plant is infested, treat it accordingly and then quarantine it is completely free of pests..

5. Remove dead leaves

Pruning away dead leaves is not just for cosmetics.

Removing dead succulent leaves helps prevent rotting. Although plants can drop dead leaves on their own, give it some help and remove these yourself.

How do you care for indoor succulents?

After moving your succulent indoors, there are two things that you need to pay special attention to: watering and sunlight.

Watering

Whatever the season may be, one thing that you should pay close attention to when caring for your succulent is watering.

The easiest way to kill a succulent is to give it too much water. Excessive moisture leads to root rot, which in turn, kills succulents.

Be aware that many succulent species go dormant during the winter. As such, these plants will require less water than they need during their growth phase.

When it comes to watering succulents, the rule of thumb to follow is to water only when the soil is dry.

This is particularly important when you relocate your succulent indoors where airflow may not be as much compared to outdoors. Airflow is a crucial factor in facilitating the quick-wicking of moisture away from your succulent’s soil.

Sunlight

When moving your succulent indoors, choose a spot that gets the most amount of sunlight.

During winter when days are shorter and the sunlight is limited, your succulent will need about eight hours’ worth of light.

Check your plant regularly for signs of stretching. Stretching in succulents indicates that the plant needs more sunlight.

If you cannot find a sunny spot inside your home, consider investing in a grow lamp.

Should you bring your plant indoors when it is raining?

Although succulents hate excessive moisture, these plants, especially cacti, love getting drenched.

Occasional heavy rainfall can, in fact, be beneficial to your succulents. These plants love to be watered deeply but infrequently. Heavy rainfall is particularly beneficial to succulents during hot and dry days.

Rainwater is also pure and free of harmful contaminants. Although tap water is safe for human consumption, it may contain additives that may be harmful to plants.

Rain also helps clean the various parts of succulents, including the leaves. Clean leaves are necessary for your succulent as this allows it to get more sunlight.

However, there are a few caveats that you should be aware of.

First, your succulent must have fast-draining soil. Planted directly on the ground, your succulent should be equipped with sufficient drainage. One way to do that is to plant your succulent on a slight slope that facilitates quick drainage.

If your outdoor succulent is placed in a pot, you do not need to bring it indoors. You can just move it to an area under a roof.

There is one exception to this advice. If it has been raining and the forecast says that there will be a frost, you should bring your potted succulent indoors or cover your outdoor succulent.

Rainfall and frost is a bad combination for succulents. Cold temperature can freeze the water stored in a succulent. When this happens, the plant’s various water storage parts expand and eventually explode.

Know your plant

Check whether your succulent is hardy or tender. This will inform the actions that you need to take to protect it against the elements, especially during winter. 

If you need to bring it indoors during winter, give it enough time to adjust to its new location and prepare to make minor adjustments to your watering and care routine.

Image: istockphoto.com / ThitareeSarmkasat

Hens and Chicks Plant Dying

Hens and Chicks Plant Dying

The scientific name of the hens and chicks plant translates to “always alive.” 

But what if your Hens and Chicks Plant is? There are two possible reasons: either the plant is at the end of its life cycle or you have neglected its needs.

Reasons your hens and chicks plant is dying

Here is a deep dive into each of these possible reasons.

A monocarpic plant

The hens and chicks succulent is a monocarpic plant. 

Monocarpic plants die after flowering and producing seeds once. In contrast, polycarpic plants produce flowers and seeds multiple times. 

Flowering does not necessarily translate to the death of monocarpic plants. However, when these plants begin to produce fruits and seeds, their bodies undergo hormonal changes that redirect resources to the fruits and seeds. These hormonal changes lead to the death of these plants.

These concepts apply to the hens and chicks succulent. The plant usually begins to flower during the summer, enticed by long hours of warm sunlight. Unfortunately, this also heralds the demise of the plant.

Hens and chicks plants usually live up to three years before they produce flowers. However, the process can be sped up when the plant is under stress. 

However, this should not worry you. Although you may lose your original plant, you will still have a new rosette to take its place.

Neglect

Like most succulents, the hens and chicks plant requires minimal care, making it ideal for both beginners and advanced succulent growers. 

As a type of succulent, the hens and chicks plant does not want to be overwatered. Too much moisture can harm the plant. However, underwatering can also be damaging to this plant.

One sign that you may be underwatering your hens and chicks plant is the presence of brown leaves. Left unchecked, a dehydrated hens and chick plant can die. 

Reviving your hens and chicks

Is it possible to revive a dying hens and chicks plant? That depends heavily on your plant’s current situation.

If your hens and chicks plant has produced a flower, there is nothing much that you can do. Your consolation is that you will still have rosettes to replace your original plant. 

However, if you have neglected your plant, it is still possible to restore it to its original condition.

For this task, you will need to do two simple things. First, move your plant out of direct sunlight into a place with bright but filtered light.

Next, water your plant once every week.

That is all there is to it. You do not need to apply fertilizers to revive your plant. Just follow this simple formula of bright, filtered light and weekly watering.

In just one week, you will notice that your plant will begin its recovery, its leaves beginning to unfurl.

At around six weeks, your plant should show some semblance to its original appearance. And by the eighth week, your plant should be fully recovered, looking like nothing happened to it. 

Planting hens and chicks

The hens and chicks succulent is ideal for beginners for a few reasons. 

For one, this succulent can instantly add beauty to any space, especially outdoors. Second, the plant is one of the hardiest succulents, able to survive with minimal water and cold winters. Third, the plant is easy to propagate.

If you are planning on adding this succulent to your collection, here are a few things to remember.

Location

Although you can grow hens and chicks succulent indoors, the plant will thrive under full sun. However, the plant can get sunburned, especially during the summer.

After getting your succulent from a nursery, make sure to acclimate it first to its new location before permanently planting it to the ground or moving its pot outside. Also, you should use a mesh or window screen to filter sunlight.

If you plan on keeping your plant indoors, you should be aware that it needs full sun. It can survive indoors, providing that you place it in a south-facing window. However, it cannot reach its full potential indoors in that location unless you invest in grow lights.

Soil

The Hens and chicks plant can adapt to different soil conditions. Like most succulents, it prefers well-draining soil, although it can grow in a mix made up mostly of inorganic materials like sand and rocks.

Planting your succulent

Before planting your succulent to the ground or a new container, be sure to remove all remnants of the old soil.

The simplest way to do this is to set your hose attachment to its jet setting and blast the roots with water. Do not worry. The roots will not be damaged.

After that, dig a hole about the size of the root ball. Then, place the plant into the hole before filling it up with soil. Make sure that you cover up all of the roots and pat down the soil lightly afterward.

Do not water your plant immediately. It is good to wait at least a week before watering your hens and chicks.

Caring for your plant

The hens and chicks plant is perfect for busy people who may not have the time to fuss over their plants.

However, there are a few important things that you need to remember when caring for this succulent.

1. Watering

As a succulent, the hens and chicks plant does not require frequent watering. It can even survive droughts.

Planted outdoors, it can get by with the occasional rains. However, during times when rainfall is sparse, you should water the plant until the soil is completely wet.

Indoors, water the plant only when its soil is completely dry.

During the cooler seasons, the hens and chicks plant will go dormant. When this happens, reduce the number of times you water it.

2. Fertilizing

This hardy succulent can get by without fertilizers. However, if you have kept the plant in the same container for a few years, it would not hurt to apply fertilizer annually, preferably during spring.

3. Repotting

You can repot your hens and chicks plant once it has outgrown its container or if it has become root-bound.

Choose a pot that is one size larger than its current pot. Do not go any bigger than this because the soil in bigger containers tends to dry up slower. And when the soil does not drain fast, the roots of the plant may become susceptible to rot.

4. Protecting your plant from winters

The hens and chicks plant can survive winters. However, it is a good idea to protect it from the harsh weather and frost by insulating its soil with mulch.

Propagation

The hens and chicks succulent is easy to propagate. The plant produces chicks after reaching maturity.

Before you propagate, it is best to wait until its chicks develop roots and are about the size of a quarter.

Begin by cutting the chicks with a sharp knife or scissors. Be sure to sterilize your cutting tool first. Cut between the stem that connects the chick to the hen. After that, all you have to do is place it on top of a container of soil.

Some prefer to allow the chicks to root in water. This method is ideal if you accidentally remove the chick from the hen while repotting.

Of course, you can leave the chicks with the hens. However, succulent growers prefer cutting off the chicks as this gives the hen more resources to grow and produce more chicks.

Do not lose hope

If your hens and chicks plant seems to be dying, do not give up on it, unless it has produced a flower. With some tender loving care, you can still revive it. 

Image: istockphoto.com / kynny

Succulents in the Bathroom

Succulents in the Bathroom
Image: istockphoto.com / Inna Fetjukova

Succulents are among the hardiest plants, recognized for their ability to grow in what would otherwise be inhospitable environments for other plants.

But can you place succulents inside the bathroom? The short answer is yes, you can place succulents in the bathroom but some succulents will thrive there more than others.

Bathroom is not suitable for all plants

When people bring plants indoors to beautify spaces, the bathroom is often the last place they think of.

And there are a few important reasons why. For starters, Most bathrooms receive little to no sunlight. Even the most popular indoor plants require some hours of sunlight daily.

Second, bathrooms have high humidity. Placed in areas with both high humidity and temperature, some plants cannot remain cool. This is simply because the combination of both factors inhibits a plant’s ability to cool itself by transpiration, a process by which plants eliminate water through its cell.

Which succulents are suitable for bathroom?

Of course, for every rule, there are a few exceptions. 

There are a few plants that not only tolerate high humidity and low light conditions. There are plants that actually thrive in such conditions.

These include tropical plants like ferns, air plants, and ferns. But how about succulents?

Succulents are popular, especially among new collectors because these plants require relatively minimal care. Although there are some species that cannot survive the humidity and low light conditions inside the bathroom, there is a handful that you should strongly consider adding to your shortlist of plants to grow in your bathroom.

1. Snake plant

Snake plants
Image: istockphoto.com / serezniy

Also known as the mother-in-law plant, the snake plant ranks as one of the more popular succulents, especially among beginners.

And there are a few reasons why. For one, the plant is virtually indestructible and seems to thrive in benign neglect.

This succulent grows in low light conditions, making it one of the best indoor plants. Furthermore, it doesn’t require too much watering, much less than other succulents in fact.

If these reasons are not good enough, there is one more benefit that this plant offers: it helps purify the air. The snake plant converts CO2 into oxygen while removing harmful chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde.

In the bathroom, a snake plant will not need much watering because it has the ability to get moisture from humidity.

2. Echeveria

Echeveria
Image: istockphoto.com / fotojv

A native of Central America, the echeveria is another popular succulent grown indoors. The plant is available in various shapes and colors. Plus, it is also non-toxic to animals.

Like the snake plant, echeveria can absorb carbon dioxide and harmful toxins from the air. 

The plant is easy to care for. Like most succulents, it dislikes excess moisture and needs a fast-draining soil. Check your echeveria from time to time to keep a mealybug infestation in check.

3. Aloe vera

Aloe Vera
Image: istockphoto.com / Denise Hasse

Low light and high humidity? That is no problem for the aloe vera which thrives in such conditions.

Although the aloe vera requires more sunlight than the other two succulents, it can fare well in bathrooms with sills and windows that face the east.

Like the snake plant and echeveria, this succulent helps purify the air. But more than that, the plant is an excellent remedy for both dry skin and sunburn, making it the perfect addition to practically any bathroom.

Decorating the bathroom with plants

Apart from humidity and low lighting conditions, another issue you need to deal with before bringing plants into your bathroom is the small space available inside.

Here are a few tips that will help you work around this problem.

Choose smaller plants

You do not need to bring big plants into your bathroom to make a huge visual impact. Sometimes, small gets the job done.

Smaller plants are perfect for small spaces like niches, shelves, and countertops. They also pair well with planters.

Make space

You do not have to renovate your whole bathroom to make room for your bathroom plants. To make extra space for your indoor plants, some ingenuity can go a long way. Consider using a stool as a platform for pots or simply leave a few pots on the floor. If you have a tub with a wide ledge, you can also put smaller pots there. You can even use a shower caddy to create additional space.

Rearrange your bathroom

It may seem that you no longer have space in your bathroom but if you look around closely, you can make a few adjustments. For example, you can use baskets and storage bins to hold a few bathroom essentials, giving you extra room for your new plants.

An easy way to brighten up your bathroom

For the most part, people think of the bathroom as a utilitarian space. Go inside, do your business, and then you are done. But because bathrooms often have a monochromatic adding a touch of green can give life to what may seem like an otherwise drab space. And for this task, succulents are the perfect candidate.

White Spots on Succulents

White Spots on Succulents

White spots on succulents are a cause for concern as they often indicate a bigger problem at hand which needs your immediate attention.

White spots on succulents are most often caused by powdery mildew, insect infestation, excess salt, or edema. It is also possible that the white stuff you see on your plants is just farina.

What is farina?

Some types of plants, including varieties of succulents with glaucous leaves, develop farina or epicuticular wax.

This type of wax is a mechanism used by plants to help them cope with droughts. Apart from that, plants use the wax for protection from the sun and predators, especially insects.

In succulents, farina imbues glaucous leaves with a tinge of white, blue, or gray. If you try to wipe the leaves, the wax can be removed easily.

Although the wax tends to collect in the stems and the leaves, owners should not see this as a cause of concern and they should just let the farina remain and perform its functions.

You should not wipe the farina off your succulents. You can end up doing more harm than good. This is because of the critical functions of the wax on succulents. Worse, if you wipe the farina off your plants, it will take a long time for the wax to come back completely. This leaves your succulents looking patchy. 

But how do you know if it is farina on the succulents or something harmful? In succulents that produce farina, you will notice that the whitish coat is more or less even. Typically the wax can be found on both sides of a leaf. Over time, farina can accumulate in some parts of a succulent. 

You can distinguish farina from the harmful causes of white spots with the overall health and appearance of your plant. If your plant looks otherwise healthy, then you should not worry at all.

Powdery mildew

The presence of powdery mildew on a plant means that it is suffering from a fungal disease. Apart from the white spots, you will notice that some of the plant’s leaves become yellowish. Soon after, these leaves drop.

Mildew is harmful to your succulents because it competes with your plants by leaching vital nutrients from the leaves.

Unlike farina which coats plants evenly, powdery mildew looks patchy and fuzzy.

Usually, the infestation begins with one or two leaves. The white spots form slowly. And as such, some parts of the affected plant may not have white spots.

Powdery mildew infests plants during the summer, thriving under warm and dry conditions. The spores are spread by the winds, making infection between plants easy.

One of the best remedies for powdery mildew is milk diluted with water until you get a 10% solution. All you have to do is spray this solution over the affected succulent every week. 

However, there are some concerns that using a milk solution to treat powdery mildew can lead to fungi developing resistance to the treatment. As such, you should alternate using the milk spray with other remedies for powdery mildew.

One part of baking soda mixed with two and a half parts of horticultural oil and a gallon of water is another effective solution against powdery mildew. 

This baking soda solution helps affected plants develop their resistance against the fungi that cause powdery mildew. 

But be warned: there are a few issues associated with using baking soda. For one, you will need to keep a watchful eye on infected plants. Baking soda can also accumulate in the soil which can leach off vital nutrients.

Powdery mildew can also develop on succulents during the winter due to the combination of low light, poor air circulation, high humidity, and low temperatures. Fungal spores can also accumulate on leaves that receive overhead watering.

You can avoid powdery mildew during winter by increasing indoor air circulation through the use of fans. 

If you see powdery mildew on your succulents, cut off the affected leaves and apply the aforementioned solutions.

Insect infestation

White spots on succulents can be a sign that you might be dealing with an insect infestation.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies feed on the water and nutrients of the plants they attack. And as they feed on the plants, they leave a honeydew residue. 

The larvae of whiteflies look white and fuzzy on affected plants. Usually, whiteflies leave their eggs on the underside of plants.

To determine whether you are dealing with a whiteflies infestation or not, check if the plant has mildew which is sticky to the touch.

Worm castings are effective both as a treatment and preventive measure. Worm castings, which is essentially worm manure, also doubles up as a fertilizer.

Plants absorb chitinase from the worm castings. This enzyme destroys insects by breaking down their tough outer shells.

For a whiteflies infestation, you can use worm castings as a foliar spray to target pests.

Mealybugs

Another insect that can cause white spots on succulents is the mealybug. On infected succulents, mealybugs look like tiny balls of cotton. 

Mealybugs can easily infect multiple plants, attracted by both overwatering and overfertilizing. These bugs commonly infest indoor succulents, although it is not unusual to see them on outdoor plants.

An infected plant will have whitish webs in its crevices. 

To get rid of mealybugs, you can soak up balls of cotton in isopropyl alcohol. Alternatively, you can spray the alcohol directly on the insects.

Spider mites

Spider mites can lurk beneath leaves and stems of succulents or even in the soil. Technically, these small critters are not insects. Rather, they are arachnids, related to ticks and spiders.

Spider mites feed on the juices of succulents. A colony of these arachnids can kill an affected plant in a matter of days.

Although spider mites are not easy to detect, they can leave signs of damage, usually on the parts of the plant they feed off. Infected plants usually have small spots which may be white, yellow, or brown.

Get rid of spider mites by spraying alcohol directly on the infected plant.

Excess salts and edema

Some plants, like the jade plant, store water in their leaves. 

Now sometimes, the rain and groundwater in your area might have a significant concentration of salt. In jade plants, white spots appear when they transpire or evaporate water.

This leaves excess salt on leaves. The presence of excess salts on the leaves is not necessarily harmful and can be quite easy to remove.

All you have to do is to wipe off the salt with a moist cloth.

Another water-related cause of white spots in jade plants is edema. This condition occurs when the plant takes in more water than it needs, often a result of overwatering.

The increased uptake of water causes the formation of blisters on the plant. Although the plant can recover with reduced watering, be aware that the blisters will remain on the leaves.

Should you worry?

You do your best to take care of your succulents. And as such, it can be disheartening to see unusual blemishes on your plants.

Before you panic, determine the possible cause of the white spots on your succulent. It can be just farina or excess salt or something more alarming like powdery mildew.

If you are unsure what is the actual cause of the white spots, consult the experts in your area. Alternatively, you can join online fora and ask members for help.

Image: istockphoto.com / jaboticaba

Do Succulents Need Direct Sunlight?

Do Succulents Need Direct Sunlight

Succulents need three things to grow and thrive: adequate water, ample light, and the right type of soil. But just how much light do these plants need? Do succulents need direct sunlight or can you keep one in a room with limited light?

There is no straightforward answer to this question because the needs of each variety of succulent will differ from another’s

Broadly speaking, succulents need about four to six hours of sunlight. However, some types of succulents are happy to receive less sunlight.

Too much of a good thing

When most people talk about succulents, especially cacti, they think about arid deserts with little to no moisture and the sun’s rays in full blast.

However, it is crucial to note that many succulents grow in semi-desert environments. In a semi-desert environment, a succulent receives more rainfall, compared to a real desert.

Furthermore, the plants that live in semi-desert environments are typically found in low-lying areas where they are shielded from direct sunlight by hills, trees, and rocks.

As a general rule, succulents need plenty of sunlight. However, direct sunlight can also prove to be harmful to these plants, causing sunburn damage. Prolonged exposure to intense sunlight and heat can even fry and kill a succulent. It can take less than an hour of direct sunlight to damage some types of succulents.

Some species of succulents that prefer the shade are vulnerable to sun damage. But even sun-loving species grown indoors are susceptible to sun damage when they are brought outdoors and not given enough time to acclimate to their new location.

The best way to acclimate a succulent to a new location is to put it there for a few hours each day. Increase its sun exposure daily until it gets used to more sun and heat.

It is also a bad idea to bring newly-propagated succulents outdoors. You have to wait for your new plants to mature before bringing them outside.

Bear in mind that sunlight hits a location differently, depending on the time of day. Take this into account when choosing a new outdoor location for your plant.

Growing succulents with little sunlight

As mentioned earlier, most succulents require hours of sunlight. But is it possible to grow these plants under the shade or in areas that receive minimal sunlight?

There are succulent varieties that prefer growing in the shade. This is a type of area that receives bright light but also provides shade. In such a location, the succulent gets the best of both worlds: enough sunlight to grow and protection from sun damage.

Some species of succulents have evolved to thrive in areas with minimal lights. But for the most part, you should provide your succulents with enough light, whether natural or artificial.

Succulents are hardy plants and can survive in low light conditions. But there is a major difference between surviving and thriving. Deprived of sunlight, your succulent will stretch its body, trying hard to reach a light source. Inadequate light also prevents succulents from reaching their true potential.

Another drawback of inadequate sunlight is that when combined with overwatering, it can make a succulent succumb to root rot.

Keeping sunlight-hungry succulents indoors

But what if you do not have a location in your home that provides enough sunlight for the succulent you are eyeing to get?

Is it possible to keep a sunlight-hungry succulent indoors? You can. However, you may need to make a few key adjustments if there is little natural light available in your home.

Different types of light

Before thinking of ways to add more light to your home, it is worthwhile to learn about the different types of light inside a home.

1. Direct light

This type of light refers to sunlight coming from windows located in the southern or western portion of your home.

Here, you are assured that your plants, especially your succulents, will get enough light directly from the sun.

2. Bright light

An area is said to have a bright light if it gets about an hour of sunlight before being obstructed. This type of light works for most indoor plants.

3. Medium-light

Medium-light falls on an area in a home that is between a window and a wall.

For the most part, the light is bright but not direct.

4. Low light

Areas with low light can refer to any of two things. First, that location does not get natural light. Second, if that area gets natural light, it is about seven feet away from the light source.

If you are unsure about what type of light comes into a room, you can do this simple test. First, get a piece of paper. Hold it about 12 inches away from your body. Next, face the light source and stand in front of it.

If there is a bright light in that room, you should be able to see a clear shadow. If the shadow is blurry, there is a medium-light in that location. Finally, there is low light in that room if you cannot see a shadow.

A remedy for low light

If there is little natural light inside your home, do not give up on your dream of collecting succulents, even varieties that require hours of direct light.

You can use grow lights to mimic sunlight or even provide better quality light to your succulents and other plants that may require direct light.

Sunlight is superior to both fluorescent and incandescent lights because it can provide plants with blue and red spectra. Fluorescent lights can only provide a blue spectrum while incandescent lights emit the red spectrum. A full-spectrum grow light mimics sunlight, providing both spectra.

Another advantage of using full-spectrum grow lights is that these can provide plants with a consistent amount of intense light.

Plants placed near windows get filtered light which is not as intense as direct light from the sun. Furthermore, sunlight filtered through windows often becomes obstructed, giving plants barely enough to grow.

To mimic direct sunlight, all you have to do is to position the grow light about six inches above your succulent. Grow lights use reflectors to intensify the light they emit.

Compared to direct sunlight, grow lights have less intensity. However, this deficiency can be easily offset by placing your plants under artificial light between 12 and 14 hours. That is more than enough to approximate four to six hours of direct sunlight.

Finally, grow lights can help you overcome the problems posed by temperature extremes.

Windows can intensify sunlight, making these locations virtual greenhouses. This can leave your plant damaged, especially during times of the day when light and heat can become too intense.

Grow lights can also help protect your succulents during winter, giving plants a steady supply of light and heat even when the sun can be barely seen.

Know your succulent’s requirements

There is no definitive answer to the question of whether succulents need direct sunlight. A lot of that stems from the fact that succulent varieties differ in their needs, including the type and amount of light they prefer.

Put ample time researching about the succulent you want to get before buying one.

Image: istockphoto.com / diliananikolova

Do Succulents Survive Winter?

Do Succulents Survive Winter

Can succulents survive winter or do you have to resign yourself to the idea that you will need to get new plants come springtime?

Some succulents can survive winter even in sub-zero conditions when they are left outdoors. Other varieties and species need to be brought indoors to seek shelter from freezing temperatures.

Classifying succulents

When people talk about succulents, they often picture cacti in arid deserts.

While that may be partially correct, succulents come from diverse origins. Indeed, some varieties originally come from hot and dry climates. However, there are also some succulents that originate from alpine climates.

But how exactly does a plant’s origins figure in its ability to survive winter?

A lot, actually. You see, succulents can be broadly categorized into two: soft and hard succulents.

Soft succulents

Soft succulents, also known as tender succulents, come from dry and hot climates where they have adapted to environments with little moisture. 

These succulents cannot be left outdoors during winter, especially if the winters in your area get too cold and wet.

Left in an environment with sub-zero temperatures, the water stored in plant cells becomes frozen. Over time, these frozen cells turn the plant’s various parts too soft and mushy.

Hard succulents

Hard or hardy succulents, on the other hand, originate from alpine climates where winters can get pretty harsh.

Left outdoors, you should not worry much about the survival of these succulents. These plants can easily handle temperatures up to negative twenty degrees.

Distinguishing between the two

You cannot distinguish between the two types of succulents by simply looking at a plant. Some plants may seem equipped to handle freezing temperatures but actually cannot. And there are delicate-looking succulents that can easily handle harsh winter conditions.

If you want to know whether your succulent is soft or hardy, you should consult the USDA plant hardiness map. This map is an online tool that divides the American map into growth zones. Each zone has a specific temperature range and lists the plants that can thrive in that zone.

If your zone matches the preferred zone of your succulent, you can just leave it outdoors over the winter. However, if there is a mismatch, it is highly recommended that you bring your succulent indoors until the end of winter.

Helping your succulents survive winter

Learning how to take proper care of your succulents during winter is as important, if not more important, than being able to distinguish what type of succulent you own.

The type of preparation you need to do will depend largely on what type of succulent you own.

Hardy succulents

On their own, hardy succulents can survive freezing temperatures. However, you should not leave your plant’s survival to chance or luck. The combination of excess moisture and cold temperature can make the hardiest of succulents vulnerable to rot.

Here are the steps you need to do to help your succulents better adapt to winter conditions outdoors.

1. Transfer your succulents.

Before winter arrives, you should transfer your succulents from pots into the ground. Although it may seem counterintuitive, hardy succulents fare better when they are planted directly into the ground.

Compared to pots, the ground can provide succulents with better insulation from the cold. 

But time is of the essence. Transplanting your succulents during fall will give them enough time to stretch out their roots and acclimatize to their new location.

If you cannot plant your succulents to the ground, the next best thing that you can do is to move them to a location that provides shelter from rainfall.

2. Minimize exposure to water.

Hardy succulents have evolved to handle freezing temperatures with ease. However, when exposed to excess moisture, these plants can become susceptible to rotting.

If you are moving your plants, whether directly to the ground or any other location, make sure that rainfall or any other form of moisture will not get to the plant, especially its roots and leaves.

3. Trim off dead leaves.

Hard succulents shed their basal leaves from time to time. During the warmer seasons, you can allow your plants to shed their leaves on their own.

But before winter arrives, you should remove basal leaves off your succulents. This helps you accomplish two things.

First, you make your plants look better. Second, and probably more important, you can prevent these leaves from being susceptible to rot.

Tender succulents

Like hardy succulents, soft succulents need sufficient time to adjust to their new locations.

Ideally, you should bring in your succulents around September, just right before the first frost arrives.

Here are a few other tips that you need to know.

1. Water your plants first

Before bringing your succulents indoors, water them two to three days ahead. This will give your plants ample time to get adequate moisture and allow the soil to dry.

2. Amend the soil

Check if you are using the appropriate soil for your succulents. Make sure that you are using a soil mix designed for your plants and not ordinary organic soil which retains too moisture.

3. Clean up the pots.

Give your succulents’ pots a quick wipe. You might also want to remove debris off the pot as well as dead organic materials.

4. Say no to pests.

Many pests that target succulents can easily jump from one plant to another. And when you are bringing plants indoors, the last thing that you want are unwanted guests hitchhiking their way into your home.

Inspect each succulent closely and look for signs of infestation. Treat each infected plant before putting it into quarantine. You should only bring uninfected plants indoors.

5. Provide adequate light and water.

Place your succulents in an area that has plenty of natural light. If it is too dark indoors, you can use grow lights to ensure that your plants get enough light.

Some succulents go dormant during winter. These plants can go by with less water during this phase. Typically, you will only need to water your succulents every three to six weeks. Make sure that the soil is completely dry before watering again.

Safe from the cold

Whether you own hardy or tender succulents, they can survive this year’s winter. However, your plants will need your help to ensure that they have a fighting chance against freezing temperatures.

Image: istockphoto.com / Ekaterina Drokina

Do Deer Eat Succulents?

Do Deer Eat Succulents

Deer have been known to wander into gardens and eat succulents. However, deer do not target succulents if there are other tastier treats available. Plus, some succulents are deer-resistant.

Deer-resistant succulents

When their usual food sources are scarce, deer will try eating anything at least once, with try being the operative word. That means that a hungry deer is more likely to take a bite off your prized succulent compared to a well-fed deer.

But apart from this, there are some types of succulents that seem to be deer-resistant. These include succulents that have built-in defense mechanisms, like the spikes on cacti.

If you are keen on keeping succulents outdoors but are afraid that they will be eaten by deer, there are a few types of these plants that are worth considering. These include the prickly pear cactus, yucca, agave, sotol, aloe, and hens and chicks.

Take note that there is a difference between deer-resistant and deer-proof. Deer can still eat the aforementioned succulents. However, the likelihood of these animals eating these plants is relatively low.

Why do deer come to your yard?

Before outlining the steps you need to undertake to prevent deer from eating your succulents as well as other plants in your garden, it is vital to learn why these mammals visit your property in the first place.

The most common reason why deer enter gardens is because you have plants that they love to eat. Although these animals are voracious eaters, they can favor specific trees, shrubs, and flowering plants. Mushrooms can also attract a herd of deer. Deer simply love to eat these fruits of fungi.

These include blackberry, juniper, hawthorn, asters, clover, verbena, geraniums, and fruit trees. 

Fortunately, deer will ignore succulents if there are other delicious plants available on your property.

Deer also enter yards seeking water. Apart from ponds and trenches, these animals can use kiddie pools and birdbaths as watering holes. Typically, deer prefer water sources that are partially hidden or those that are located in parts of the property that have less human activity.

Strategies for keeping deer off your property

Keeping deer away from your plants may seem like an insurmountable challenge, especially when you consider the fact that a hungry animal will go out of its way to find a food source. Deer often give the impression of being timid but these animals will wander into a garden when given the opportunity.

Listed here are a few strategies that will help you prevent deer from entering your property and eating your beloved succulent collection.

Build a fence

Although some property owners dislike the idea of building a fence, adding a physical barrier between your plants and deer is an effective strategy worth considering.

If you are planning to secure the perimeter of your property with a fence, here are a few design considerations.

First, be aware that some species of deer can jump as high as eight feet. As much as possible, build your fence at around this height. If that is not possible, slant the fences outwards. This will make it harder for deer to jump over your yard.

Privacy fences made out of wood offer better protection against deer invasion. Although deer have a keen sense of smell and can be attracted by plants on the other side, they are wary of the unseen and will not take the risk of venturing into your property.

If you want to save on money, you can try using commercial deer netting. This option is ideal for low to moderate deer pressure. Plus, commercial deer netting is easier to handle compared to wire mesh.

Another low-cost option that you might want to consider is monofilament twine, like the ones used for deep-sea fishing. This option is ideal for low deer pressure.

If you are using either commercial deer netting or monofilament twine, you should also hang streamers on the lower portion of your new fence. Deer have poor depth perception and these animals might not be able to see your fence.

Add companion plants for your succulents

Companion planting operates on the principle of planting together two or more different types of plants to reap a few benefits.

One such benefit is pest control.

Planting other plants along with your succulents is an effective way to keep deer away from your precious plant collection.

Before selecting companion plants for your succulents, it is a good idea to survey areas near your property to find ones that grow naturally in your area.

Here is a brief list of the plants that you can grow side by side with your succulents.

1. Lavender

Lavender is a welcome addition to practically any garden, adding beauty and an amazing scent. Like many succulents, lavender is relatively easy to care for and can survive with minimal watering.

The plant’s oils can ward off deer. Just one bite off the plant and ruminants will look elsewhere for food, leaving your succulents safe.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is an herb used in many chicken dishes. Planting this herb beside your succulents gives you the benefit of having a stash of fresh ingredients nearby. Plus, rosemary is an excellent deterrent against deer. Just one whiff of this plant is enough to drive off these animals.

3. Hyssop

Hyssop is a member of the mint family, farmed primarily for its medicinal properties.

At the same time, hyssop can attract beneficial animals like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Furthermore, the plant can be used to ward off deer and small mammals like rabbits that abhor the plant.

4. Maximilian sunflower

The Maximilian sunflower grows up to 10 feet tall, providing ample shade for your succulents that do not like full sun.

This sunflower attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies with its yellow flowers which usually blossom around fall.

Other companion plants that you might want to add to your garden are the Oenothera, foxglove, salvia, and agapanthus.

Deer repellents and other tricks

Deer repellents are readily available in stores, both online and offline. To get the most out of these products, you will need to spray these regularly. Deer repellants can supplement companion planting.

Some gardeners swear by the effectiveness of human hair in warding off deer. If you know a salon or barbershop owner, you can ask for clippings and scatter these around your garden beds, just like mulch.

Bar soap is a cheap but effective deer deterrent. The scent from bar soap interferes with the animals’ sense of smell, driving them away. Just make sure that you choose soap with a strong scent and place bars near trees and shrubs.

If you are planning on investing in motion sensors to drive away deer, choose ones that spray water or emit sounds from the radio. Deer can become accustomed to repetitive sounds and flashes of lights when they detect that there is no real harm coming their way.

One of many outdoor threats

Deer can and do eat succulents. However, you may have to watch out for other animals that also eat succulents. These include small mammals like rabbits and rats.

Furthermore, if you want to rely on companion planting, you may need to do some experimentation to see which plants work best to ward off deer from your property.

If you can afford it, your best option is to secure your property with a fence.

Image: Istockphoto.com / LeeYiuTung

Succulent Leaves Are Wrinkly

Succulent Leaves Are Wrinkly

If you notice wrinkly leaves on your succulent, it might be caused by you are either over or under-watering it. For new succulent keepers, it might be difficult to distinguish between ove-r and under-watered succulents.

Here are a few important facts that will help you discern whether your succulents are indeed under-watered or over-watered.

The difference between over and under-watering

In the wild, succulents can survive in arid conditions, getting by with intermittent rains. These plants have adapted to these conditions by learning how to store moisture in their leaves and other parts.

That, however, does not mean that you can forget watering your succulents. Just like any other plant, succulents require water, just a little less.

On the converse side of the coin, one of the very first things that succulent keepers must learn is that their plants do not like excessive moisture. In fact, the easiest way to kill these resilient plants is to over-water them.

But how exactly do you know if you are under or over-watering your succulents?

Signs of under-watering

Succulents have a way of telling their owners that they are under-watered and need more moisture. As such, it is your duty to learn what these signs are.

If you look closely at an under-watered succulent, one of the first things that you will notice is that its leaves are wrinkled and shriveled.

This occurs because the plant’s stores of water have become severely depleted. If the plant remains under-watered for an extended time, it will droop.

Another sign that you might have been remiss on your duty to water your succulents are the presence of brown or dead leaves.

Deprived of enough water, succulents drop their bottom leaves. These plants do this as a means of conserving both energy and water which are vital for their survival.

Touch your succulent’s leaves. Do these feel flat and soft to the touch? Healthy succulents have plump and firm leaves. If you have been under-watering your succulents, the leaves will look and feel deflated.

Signs of over-watering

Succulents can surprise you with the amount of water they can store in their leaves and stems, enabling them to survive sustained periods without moisture.

However, storing an excessive amount of moisture can be detrimental to succulents. When a succulent’s water storage capacity has been breached, its tissues begin to swell up. Over time, these tissues can burst.

But how do you know if you have been over-watering your plants?

The leaves of an over-watered succulent will also look shriveled. The key difference between over and under-watered succulents is that in over-watered succulents, the leaves are soft and mushy. Additionally, the leaves take on a translucent color. You can instantly notice that your over-watered succulent looks sick.

If this situation continues, your succulent will begin to rot, starting with its leaves. Eventually, the translucent color of the leaves will turn into black. 

Typically, this change in color begins at the lower portion of the plant, with the discoloration moving upward. 

In turn, this can mean any of two things: you have a rotting succulent or fungi have taken advantage of the situation and have infested your plant.

Just like under-watered succulents, over-watered succulents also drop leaves that have become too engorged with water. However, there is a big difference between these two situations.

Over-watered succulents can easily drop their leaves. Even the slightest touch is more than enough to remove a leaf from the affected plant. In under-watered succulents, you will see that the leaves are dried up and have a brown color.  

Saving your succulent from watering mishaps

Is it possible to save an over or under-watered succulent?

That depends on whether your succulent is over or under-watered. You will also need to factor in the severity of the case.

Reviving under-watered succulents

Between an over and under-watered succulent, the latter is easier to deal with. But what exactly are the steps you need to take to revive your plant if you have under-watered it?

One of the most important things that you need to do is to stay calm. The worst thing that you can do is to panic and compensate by overwatering your succulent.

Instead of panicking, give your plant its usual dose of water. Do not water it again until the soil in its pot is completely dry.

Later on, you will notice that your succulent will begin to perk up and look more lively.

This is an opportune time to adjust your watering habits. For example, if you usually water your succulent once a month, you may need to water it more frequently, like every two weeks.

Reviving over-watered succulents

Saving an over-watered succulent is trickier. You need to act fast to turn things around for the affected plant.

For less severe cases, you can start by stopping yourself from watering the plant. You need to give it time to recover and allow the soil to wick away excess moisture. 

It is also a good idea to relocate the plant to an area where it can receive adequate sunlight and airflow. Both of these can facilitate quicker drying of the soil. 

From time to time, check the soil in the pot. If it seems like it is not drying, you might have used the wrong potting mix for your plant.

In such a case, you should remove your plant from its pot. Remove excess soil from the roots and allow the plant to air dry for a couple of days, preferably in a shaded spot in your home.

Afterward, you can repot your plant in a container with drainage holes and the appropriate potting mix.

But what if your plants look like they are dying from being over-watered? Is revival still an option?

There is no definite answer to this question. You have to look at the plant and assess the damage wrought by over-watering.

In some cases, succulent owners found success in reviving their plants by removing rotten or dead parts. In other instances, succulent owners took away the green parts from affected plants for propagation.

Technically, propagation does not mean that you are saving the original plant. However, propagation is always a better option when you have a dying plant. Having a new plant is always better than having a dead plant.

Mastering proper watering technique

When it comes to succulents, it can be difficult to nail down the proper watering. This is why many people who are new to the hobby contend with dead succulents in a matter of weeks.

There is no specific formula for watering succulents. This is because there are numerous factors to consider, including the type of succulent you own, the climate in your area, and the prevailing temperature during a particular season. There is also a marked difference in the water requirements of a plant in its growth phase compared to one that is dormant.

But for beginners, or even advanced succulent owners, the rule of thumb to follow is to water succulents only when the soil is dry. And the easiest way to check if the soil is dry is to feel it. Ideally, the upper portion of the soil should be dry before you water your plants.

Never mist your succulents. This is unnecessary and potentially harmful. The only exception to this rule is if you are propagating your succulents.

Erring on the side of caution

Watering is a vital task that you need to learn to keep your succulents happy. However, it is crucial to find the right balance. Too much or too little can be harmful to succulents. If you are unsure about the water requirements of a particular succulent, err on the side of under-watering and then make the necessary adjustments later on.

Image: Istockphoto / bbbrrn

Do Rabbits Eat Succulents?

Do Rabbits Eat Succulent

Do not let a rabbit’s cute appearance and shy demeanor fool you. If you let these tiny critters wander around your garden, they will eat your plants, even your succulents!

Like deer, rabbits do not usually feed on succulents if there are other tasty options available on the proverbial buffet table but rabbits do eat succulents if there is no tastier food available.

Who is the real culprit?

Before you point an accusing finger toward the neighborhood rabbits, it is a good idea to determine which pests are actually invading your garden.

First, look at the plants that you suspect that you think rabbits have eaten. If rabbits are the real culprit, you will notice the shoots of the affected plants are practically gone. Rabbits prefer to gnaw on tender shoots during spring. Come winter, they will turn their attention to the plant’s bark.

Look at the bite marks. Do they look clean? Do you notice 45-degree cuts? Is the damage located in the lower portion of the plant?

Rabbits make a clean cut on fresh stems, usually with a 45-degree angle. And because of their small size, they can only reach heights of about two to three feet. 

In contrast, deer tear off parts of the plant, leaving stems and leaves with a ragged appearance. Plus, these ruminants can reach plants about six feet high.

Rabbit-proofing your garden

If you are sure that rabbits have been feasting on your succulents and other plants, you might be tempted to hunt them down.

However, using firearms to get rid of a rabbit infestation is tricky, if not downright impractical.

For one, you will have to contend with gun laws in your area, especially if you live in a city or the suburbs. Plus, you will have to dispose of the carcasses. Not to mention the fact that you will alarm your neighbors.

Shooting rabbits is an uphill battle where you might be the inevitable loser. Rabbits can easily multiply and you will have a hard time getting rid of a colony. Also, you may have to waste a whole day hunting your prey with no assurance when they will come out to venture into your yard.

Instead of attempting to shoot Bugs and his friends, there are a few strategies that you can employ.

Eliminate potential hiding spots

You might be unknowingly and unintentionally inviting rabbits into your property.

Although rabbits venture into gardens in pursuit of their next meals, some of these small mammals come into landscapes to find a haven from their predators.

Take a close look at your yard. Do you have piles of dead leaves, undergrowth, and weedy patches? Rabbits might find these appealing. If you want to protect your plants from these invaders, make sure that you eliminate potential hiding and nesting spaces.

On the other hand, if you can live with the idea of coexisting peacefully with rabbits on your property, earmark a portion on your yard, away from your main garden.

Use that small spot for planting the plants that rabbits find edible. These animals tend to go for food that is the most accessible for them. Plus, you can attain some measure of peace of mind, knowing that your garden will be the least of the rabbits’ concern.

Use plants as weapons

Like deer, rabbits prefer some types of food over others. In particular, these critters prefer veggies, young stems, and fruits.

In particular, rabbits love to feast on tomatoes, corn, carrots, cucumbers, and hot peppers.

But as opportunistic eaters, rabbits will eat almost anything. Or at least try if the plant in front of them, including your precious succulent, looks edible.

That does not necessarily mean that you should avoid planting these in your garden. Instead, you might want to add plants that rabbits avoid.

These include butterfly weed, Russian sage, celandine poppy, dusty miller, lavender, yarrow, Mexican marigolds, garlic, onions, leeks, and chives.

These plants can thrive hand in hand with your other plants, including your succulents.

Build a fence

You do not need a tall fence to prevent rabbits from entering your property. Contrary to what some people might believe, these small mammals are not strong jumpers. That means that your fence can be effective even if it just stands around two feet tall.

However, you need to make sure that the space between the rails or mesh is narrow enough to keep rabbits from squeezing in between these. 

It is also a good idea to bury your fence about 10 inches beneath the soil. That depth is enough to keep rabbits from digging their way through into your property. 

Use repellents

Want something quick and easy? Consider using repellents to ward off rabbits from your property.

Many gardeners found great success using bone meal to keep rabbits away from their crops. Rabbits hate the stink of bone meal. But be forewarned, bone meal stench can be overwhelming even to humans.

If you have a pet dog, you can let him loose in your yard to mark his territory by leaving his scent. Ideally, you should do this during the night.

Avoid using mothballs. Mothballs work best in confined spaces, never in large spaces like gardens. Furthermore, you might end up doing more harm than good. Mothballs contain chemicals that may not be safe for the environment and your plants. You can even kill beneficial insects that your plants love.

Succulents and your pet rabbits

But what if you keep rabbits as pets? Can succulents poison your furry little pals?

There are some varieties of succulents that are known to be poisonous to small mammals or even humans when ingested. These include the pencil cactus, aloe vera, and the Euphorbia.

If you would like to keep both your rabbits and succulents inside your home, you should take a few precautions. Although rabbits do not usually eat succulents, they are curious creatures who will not pass on the opportunity to nibble on anything that looks palatable, including your plants.

As much as possible, keep your succulents in a secure location, away from your pets and young kids.

Consider keeping succulent species that are known to be safe for rabbits. 

As an added protective measure, put decorative rocks on the top of the soil of your succulents. Rabbits like to dig and will not pass up on the opportunity to mess up your succulent’s potting mix. 

Apart from creating a huge mess and potentially damaging your succulents, rabbits that dig succulent pots can be poisoned by the fertilizer residue left in plant containers.

Small size, big damage

Rabbits may be small in size, but do not let that fact lead you into thinking that these critters cannot do big damage in your garden.

Rabbits will attempt to eat almost anything that seems edible to them, including your succulents. Take the necessary precautions and follow the tips listed here to protect your plants, especially your succulents, from these little rascals.

Image: Istockphoto.com / kynny

Do Gophers Eat Succulents?

Do Gophers Eat Succulents

Gophers are voracious eaters. These rodents will eat practically any type of plant, especially the roots and tubers. When these small mammals invade a garden, they often target carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes.

But do gophers eat succulents?

Like deer, gophers are opportunistic feeders and yes, gophers do eat succulents when food and water are in short supply.

There are anecdotes of gophers eating succulents like jade plants, agaves, and crassulas.

Meet your enemy: the gopher

Gophers are fairly distributed around different parts of North and Central America. These rodents prefer to burrow beneath loose and sandy grounds.

Gophers are larger than mice but are smaller than rats. Apart from its large incisors, gophers have cheek pockets that run up to their shoulders. That is why they are often called pocket gophers. These animals use their cheek pouches to transport food.

These animals have stout and compact bodies built for burrowing. They are most active during the day, moving in around the tunnels they build.

They rarely venture above ground, preferring to do most of their activities underground. Burrows are composed of a network of tunnels. Each tunnel has a specific purpose. Some are used for storage, others for nesting.

Gophers are solitary creatures, except during mating season. However, it is not unusual for these small critters to share their burrows with other animals.

The dangers of gopher infestations

Gophers may be diminutive in size but the dangers an infestation can bring are big.

It can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days for a gopher to wreak havoc in a garden, negating all the hard work you have put in cultivating your crops.

But the destruction of your crops may be the least of your concerns if a gopher decides to burrow beneath your property.

For one, the holes and dirt mounds made by these rodents are a major tripping hazard for both humans and their pets.

But even more alarming is the fact that gopher burrows can compromise the structural integrity of the soil. There have been many incidences of structures like walkways and patios collapsing, triggered by the compromised ability of the soil to support heavy loads.

Signs of a gopher infestation

But how do you know that you are dealing with a gopher infestation?

Gopher infestations are a recurring problem. But left unchecked, these can be a year-round problem that you have to contend with.

Fortunately, there are signs of a gopher infestation that you can watch out for.

Dirt mounds

Dirt mounds are a visible sign that you might have unwanted guests on your property. These mounds typically have a fan-shape, and often appear seemingly out of nowhere.

Gophers discard soil above ground while constructing their burrows. Once the construction is finished, these small animals will plug these holes. 

You will also see mounds of dirt scattered around different locations. This usually happens when these critters build additional chambers and tunnels.

Damaged plants

Sometimes, gophers build their burrows on a neighboring property and travel below the ground onto your garden.

When this happens, you will hardly notice dirt on your lawn. Instead, you will notice missing or damaged plants and trees.

Typically, these rodents feed on plants from below the ground, starting with the roots. Eventually, they will pull down the whole plant. 

Gophers rarely venture out of their burrows. But when they do, they will do so to forage for food. It is not unusual for these creatures to take a bite off plants and trees which leave noticeable marks.

Dealing with a gopher invasion

If you have a gopher on your property, your best option is to catch it alive and then relocate it. These critters are prolific breeders, capable of producing three to five litters in a year.

Trapping your prey

To catch a gopher, place traps near the main tunnel. This tunnel is usually found five to 10 inches below the ground. Many people recommend using Juicy Fruit gum as bait.

However, if you want the job done right the first time and eliminate the guesswork from your part, enlist the help of professionals. This solution is ideal if you have a large property or if you feel that you are dealing with several gophers.

Do not use water to flush out these critters out of their burrow. Water can moisten the soil, further compromising its structural integrity.

Fires ignited with butane, propane, and natural gases can kill gophers. However, you might have to pay a steep price for your success in the form of permanent damage to the roots of your plants.

Pumping exhaust into the burrow is ineffective. Gophers can move quickly to seal off their nests once they detect fumes.

Poisons can work. But this method is only recommended if you do not own pets. If you have pets, they can either eat the poison you use or eat the poisoned carcass of your prey. Predators like hawks and owls can also eat the tainted carcasses of gophers.

Protecting your plants

Once you have eliminated gophers off your property, your job is not yet done. You may have to deal with these pests later on.

Your best recourse is to place a few protective measures on your property.

1. Barriers

Surrounding your property with a mesh barrier is an effective defense against gophers. Position the barrier one to two feet below the ground.

If you are just starting a new lawn or flower bed, consider using an under-lawn barrier. Although the installation process is labor-intensive, you can reap benefits for several years.

If installing a mesh barrier or under-lawn barrier is not feasible, you can use gopher baskets. Place these near the plants that you want to protect. 

2. Repellents

Although gophers have a keen sense of smell, using repellents against them can be a huge gamble. 

One of the challenges of using scent-based repellents is that you have to make sure that the product you are using goes deep into the ground to reach your target. 

Among the most popular repellents used by gardeners are pine disinfectants, castor oil granules, peppermint oil, chili powder, and garlic stakes.

If you want to go high-tech, you can use ultrasonic repellents. These devices are powered either by solar energy or batteries. These work by emitting vibrations that annoy gophers but not humans.

3. Predators

There are a few predators that feed on gophers, including barn owls and gopher snakes.

You can coax barn owls to live on your property by building them nest boxes. A family of these owls can eat up to a thousand gophers annually.

Gopher snakes feed primarily on these rodents. But compared to barn owls, gopher snakes consume these pests in smaller amounts.

Cats and dogs can ward off or even kill gophers. But before you let loose your pets on these rodents, be warned that gophers may carry diseases.

A formidable opponent

Do not let a gopher’s small size fool you. What it lacks in size, it more than compensates in its ability to sow destruction beneath lawns. It can do more damage than just eating your succulents.

Image: istockphoto.com / liveslow

Jade Plant Drooping

Jade Plant Drooping

Jade plants are resilient and easy to care for. And as such, it may come as a surprise if you see your plant drooping. 

The most common causes for a jade plant to droop are that improper watering, wrong soil mix, insufficient light, temperature extremes, over-fertilizing, repotting or pest infestation.

Here’s a closer look at each potential why a jade plant may start drooping:

1. Improper watering

Like most succulents, jade plants dislike excess moisture. Too much water is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of jade plants. Overwatering jade plants causes root rot and eventually, root death. When the plant’s roots begin to rot, its ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil becomes impaired. 

Apart from drooping, you might notice other symptoms of overwatering like yellowing leaves. Overwatered jade plants might also have leaves that are dry or too soft to the touch.

It is also possible that your jade plant is drooping because you are not giving it enough water. Often, it can be hard to distinguish between over and underwatering jade plants because the symptoms look the same. 

To ascertain if you are over or underwatering your plant, the best thing to do is to lift it from its pot to check its roots. An overwatered jade plant will have roots that are brown and mushy. It is not unusual for such a plant to emit a bad odor. On the other hand, if your plant is underwatered, you will notice that its roots are white. It will not emit any smell.

If your plant has been overwatered and shows signs of root rot, it is still possible to save it and restore its health. The first thing that you will need to do is to remove the infected roots and stems. After that, apply a fungicide to the parts that you have saved.

The next step that you need to undertake is to repot your plant into a new container with fresh soil. Avoid using the plant’s old soil as this may still contain microorganisms that cause diseases in plants.

After repotting your jade plant, put it in a location with ample sunlight. Leave it there for at least a week to allow the soil to dry. After a week, you can begin watering it again.

2. Wrong soil mix

In succulents, overwatering is closely tied to the use of the wrong soil mix. Almost all succulents need fast-draining soil, including your jade plant.

Jade plants do not like water accumulating at the bottom of their pots. You should avoid using commercial potting mixes because most of these retain too much moisture. And when there is excess moisture, your jade plant becomes vulnerable to root rot.

As a tropical succulent, jade plants like to be watered regularly. Its soil should always be lightly moist. Otherwise, it might shrivel, often a sign of dehydration. 

In short, you should use a fast-draining soil that is capable of retaining the right amount of moisture.

Additionally, you should keep your jade plant in a container that has adequate drainage to help keep root rot at bay. Jade plants grow to be top-heavy. And as such, consider using a pot with a wide, sturdy base, to support your jade plant.

3. Insufficient light

Jade plants tend to grow leggy stems and droop when they do not get enough sunlight.

Being a native of South Africa, jade plants thrive in warm weather and require at least four hours of sun. When deprived of sunlight, jade plants become leggy and lose their vigor.

If you are keeping your jade plant indoors, you should place it in an area that receives enough sunlight. Preferably, you should put your plant in a window facing the south or west.

If you do not have an area in your home with enough natural light, consider using artificial lighting, ideally a two-bulb fixture with one bulb designed for plants and a cool-white bulb.

Be careful when moving your jade plant to another location. This is especially true if your jade plant is currently located outdoors and you are planning to move it indoors and vise versa.

If your jade plant is accustomed to low light conditions, allow it to gradually adjust to its new location. Otherwise, if you expose it to too much sunlight too soon, brown spots can develop on its leaves.

4. Temperature extremes

Jade plants thrive in a temperature range between 18°C to 24°C. These succulents can even tolerate a drop in temperature of about 4°C. However, when you add frost to the equation, your plant will exhibit a few problems, including drooping.

If your jade plant has been exposed to frost or kept in an area with low temperature for an extended period, you need to observe it first to see if it can be revived.

In the meantime, remove stems that are either rotted or turned black. Do not overwater it as it may only cause serious complications. Allow the soil to dry out completely in between watering sessions. You should also move your plant indoors to an area with plenty of ambient sunlight.

If you live in an area where the temperature often drops below 4°C, move your jade plant indoors just until spring.

On the other hand, if the temperature in your area does not often drop to 4°C, you can protect your plant in the form of cloth covering. You can also move your plant in a covered patio.

5. Overfertilizing

Jade plants are light feeders, requiring a minimal amount of nutrients. They fare surprisingly well even in soil with little to no nutrients.

If you see your jade plant drooping, you might want to revisit your fertilization scheme. 

You should only fertilize your plants when they are in their growing phase. Jade plants stop growing between November and March. Avoid applying fertilizers during this period. Otherwise, the fertilizer will just remain in the soil and can potentially burn the roots.

Between spring and summer, jade plants start growing new leaves. This is the best time to use fertilizers on them.

Whether you intend to use a chemical or organic fertilizer, be sure to carefully follow the instructions listed on the packaging. Some succulent growers prefer to feed their plants once every season with liquid fertilizers. Others feed their plants with fertilizers more often but in smaller quantities.

Compared to other plants, succulents, including jade plants, grow slower. As such, jade plants can respond better to frequent fertilization.

6. Repotting

Jade plants can sometimes become traumatized when transferred to new pots. 

Unlike other plants, jade plants can easily cope with being rootbound. In response to being rootbound, your plant will simply stop growing.

If you wish to coax further growth from your jade plant, move it to a container one size larger every two to three years. For more mature plants, you can repot these every four to five years, supplementing with soil refreshment.

The best time to repot jade plants is spring, using dry soil. After repotting, allow your plant to rest for about a week. You can begin watering it after that. Do not feed it with fertilizer until after a month.

If your jade plant has become root-bound, one alternative to repotting you should consider is pruning. Compared to repotting, jade plants tolerate pruning better. 

Pruning can help prevent drooping, especially if your jade plant has become too top-heavy or if it has thin stems.

For this task, use a sharp blade. Sterilize it before use and cut below a node.

7. Pest infestation

Jade plants rarely succumb to pest infestation. Often, when this problem arises, it is probably due to pests that infected your other plants.

One of the pests that target jade plants is mealybugs. Mealybugs are closely related to aphids and target the leaves of jade plants. 

When a jade plant is infested with mealybugs, they begin to droop and wither. Your plant may also become susceptible to black fungal growth caused by the honeydew produced by these pests.

To remove mealybugs from your jade plant, use cotton soaked in alcohol to wipe these off.

Spider mites can also infest jade plants, but rarely. A jade plant infested with these arachnids will often have discolored and brownish leaves. You can remedy this problem by using alcohol wipes. If you see severely damaged parts on your jade plant, remove these.

Other pests that can potentially infest your plant are aphids, scales, and thrips.

Take action fast

Jade plants are resilient succulents, often passed down from one generation to another. 

If you notice your plant beginning to droop, check any of the possible causes listed above and act fast to prevent further complications.

Image: istockphoto.com / Andrey Nikitin

How Fast Do Succulents Grow?

How Fast Do Succulents Grow

You have just received (or bought) your first succulent and you are excited to see it reach maturity. But how quickly do these plants grow?

Compared to other plants, succulents grow at a sluggish pace. But even among succulents, the difference in growth rates between varieties and species can be diverse. Some succulents species grow faster than others. However, other factors come into play when looking at an individual succulents growth rate.

How quickly can you expect your succulent to grow?

There is no cookie-cutter answer to the question of how quick do succulents grow. Instead, you have to consider a few critical facts.

Succulent variety and species

For starters, you should know that the word succulent is an umbrella term used to describe a broad range of plants that come from anywhere from 50 to 60 plant families. The most popular among these are the Cactaceae or the cactus family and the Aizoaceae or ice plant family. These two plant families account for about 40 percent of the total number of succulents.

But what makes a plant a succulent?

Succulents can be identified by looking at a few of their key qualities. Compared to other plants, succulents have thick and fleshy parts that become engorged as these store water. This makes these plants thrive even in arid conditions.

Succulents can store water in their leaves, stems, and even their roots.

It should be noted that succulents do not form a single family. Instead, you can find succulents from different plant families, all sharing the aforementioned qualities. However, there are plant families like the cactus family which is composed mainly of succulents.

In simple terms, the sheer diversity among succulents makes it hard to peg a specific growth rate. 

Generally, succulents grow slowly. However, it is not unusual for some species to grow faster than others. Even within a particular succulent variety, there will be some species that grow faster than others. 

Growth phase and environment

Two plants from the same species can exhibit different growth rates if you place these under different conditions.

There are two key factors that greatly affect a succulent’s growth rate: growth period and environment.

Growth and dormancy

Succulents undergo two main phases, depending largely on the temperature. These are the growth and dormancy phases. 

This simply means that succulents do not grow all year round. During their dormancy phase, these plants grow less or simply stop growing until the optimal conditions for growth return.

One important thing to note about succulents: they are opportunistic growers. If the conditions are right, they will continue growing. If these right conditions are absent, succulents stop growing and shift their focus on survival.

In the wild, succulents can be triggered into undergoing dormancy by different factors. The most crucial of these factors are temperature and the amount of sunlight they receive. This is why the dormancy phase of many succulents coincide with winter.

Kept indoors where temperature and light can be manipulated, succulents can continue growing and forgo dormancy altogether.

Outdoors, succulents undergo dormancy to help them cope with cold temperatures. The appearance of these plants may change, with some looking like they have died. However, they are just simply waiting for the climate to become warmer before they resume their active growth.

When a succulent enters the dormancy phase, it will require less water.

It is critical to note that not all succulents go dormant during the winter. In fact, some types of succulents grow actively during winter and enter dormancy during summer.

It is also important to learn how to distinguish between a dead succulent and a dormant one. The best way to check if a succulent is dead or simply hibernating is to check the roots.

To the untrained eye, dead succulents look similar to dormant ones. However, a dead succulent has dried and shriveled roots. Also, dead succulents have a noticeable stench that can be difficult to miss.

Hibernating succulents, on the other hand, may lose a few leaves. However, if you check their roots, you will see that these look healthy and do not emit any scent.

Environment

Another factor that affects the growth rate of a succulent is its environment. Environment refers to a host of different things, including light, heat, airflow, moisture, and soil.

If you provide your succulents with adequate sunlight and airflow, water it just enough, and use a well-draining soil, you can expect them to grow optimally compared to those planted in a poor environment.

Which succulents grow fast?

Aloe vera, Irish rose, hens and chicks, Haworthia, and the Christmas cactus, are some of the succulents that exhibit comparatively fast growth within a four-month period.

On the converse side of the coin, air plants, living stones, and the barrel cactus are known for their sluggish growth rates. For new succulent enthusiasts, these plants will seem like they do not grow. They actually do, albeit at a slower rate.

Of course, there are succulents that grow at a pace in between the two aforementioned groups.

Can you make your succulent grow faster?

As opportunistic growers, succulents can continue growing and avoid entering the dormancy phase if the conditions are right.

But what exactly are these right conditions for fast and sustained growth?

1. Well-draining soil

Broadly speaking, succulents need fast-draining soil in order to thrive. Quick-draining soil like cactus and succulent soil mixes allow plants to absorb enough water but dry fast enough to avoid potential root rot.

It is important to note that there are some succulent varieties that prefer specialized soil.

2. Containers with drainage holes

Unless you plant your succulents directly on the ground, you will need to use pots.

However, do not use the same pots you use for your other plants. Succulents need containers with drainage holes that help the soil dry quicker.

Many seasoned succulent growers swear by the effectiveness of terracotta and unglazed ceramic pots which facilitate quicker wicking of excess moisture from the soil.

3. Correct watering technique and schedule

Incorrect watering is one of the top reasons why succulents die.

Although succulents require less water when compared to other plants, they still need water. If you plan to collect succulents, it is not necessary to schedule your watering sessions.

Instead, you should only water your succulents when the soil in their containers is already dry. This prevents extra moisture from sitting in the soil for an extended period. The presence of extra moisture in the soil is the primary reason for root rot which actually kills succulents.

It is also vital to learn the proper way of watering succulents. Instead of pouring water on top of the whole plant, you should pour the water into the soil. Like the roots, succulent leaves can rot when exposed to excessive moisture.

4. Adequate sunlight

How much sunlight do succulents need? There is no specific answer to this question because the needs of each variety and species vary. Some may require more sunlight while others can easily thrive in low light conditions.

Generally speaking, succulents need between three to six hours of direct sunlight. Your particular plant may need more or less. Some succulents may even prefer the shade or filtered sunlight over direct sunlight.

If you do not have an area in your home that can provide adequate sunlight in your home, you should strongly consider using grow lights for your plants.

Succulents that do not receive enough light can stretch their bodies and take on a pale hue.

Conclusion

Seeing your new succulent grow into maturity can be exciting, especially if you are starting.

However, succulents typically grow slower than other plants. Do not get frustrated if your plant does not seem to be growing.

Continue to provide it with proper care and before you know it, your plant has reached its maturity and full potential. Be on the lookout for symptoms and act fast if you see something wrong with your plant.

Image: istockphoto.com / evgenyb

How to Keep Succulents Alive in the Winter?

How to Keep Succulents Alive in Winter

Many plant species have evolved to survive harsh winters. But how about exotic plants, including succulents, that are typically grown in warmer climates? Can these plants survive winter?

In order to keep succulents alive in the winter you need to first determine what type of succulent you have. Based on that information you can take the appropriate steps to keep your succulents alive in the winter.

Determine what type of succulent you own

Contrary to what some people may believe, many varieties of succulents can survive winter even if they are planted outdoors and the actions that you need to take to help keep your succulents alive are dependent on the type of succulents you own. Also the temperature that is too cold for your succulents depends on the type of succulents.

Succulents can be classified into two categories: hardy and soft.

Hardy succulents

Hardy or hard succulents can adapt to harsh winters because they originally come from alpine climates. These plants prefer the outdoors and can even tolerate sub-zero conditions.

The Sempervivum heuffelii, Opuntia, and Sedum are among the more popular hardy succulents.

Soft succulents

Soft or tender succulents originally come from areas with an arid climate. Unlike hardy succulents, soft succulents cannot survive if you leave them outside during winter.

Senecio, Kalanchoe, Aloes, Haworthias, are perfect examples of tender succulents.

Prepping hardy succulents for the winter

Due to their ability to adapt to cold and harsh weather, hardy succulents do not require much for overwintering. However, if you want to gain peace of mind knowing that your succulents can survive an upcoming winter, there are a few things that you can do.

1. Move potted plants to the ground.

If you keep your hard succulents in pots, it is a good idea to transfer them to the ground.

Hard succulents planted on the ground fare better than their potted counterparts for one key reason: the soil provides them with insulation.

You should transplant your succulents at least a month before the first frost. This will give your plants enough time to acclimate to their new location and allows them to stretch their roots.

If it is not feasible to transplant your hardy succulents, the next best thing that you can do is to move their pots to an area on your property where they will get shelter from rainfall.

2. Provide shelter from water.

Come wintertime, hardy succulents require less water. Furthermore, these succulents can easily weather the cold weather.

However, the combination of cold weather and excess moisture can prove fatal to hardy succulents. If you are transplanting your succulents, do not place them under a roof where water can drip over them. 

If you live in an area that has wet winters, it is better to shield your plants from the rain by putting them under a roof.

3. Eliminate dead leaves.

It is normal for succulents to shed their leaves to make room for new ones.

However, during winter, you should keep a watchful eye on your plants’ leaves. Your succulents’ leaves can become soggy, leaving your plants vulnerable to rot.

Caring for soft succulents during winter

Once the temperature begins to drop, you should commence with your winter preparations for your soft succulents. For overwintering soft succulents, there are four main areas that you should pay close attention to.

1. Watering

Generally speaking, the water requirement for succulents decreases. This is primarily because succulents enter into dormancy. However, there are a few varieties that enter the growth phase during winter.

During winter, water your soft succulents once every three to six weeks. Make sure that the soil in their containers is dry before watering them again.

2. Soil

Boost your succulents’ ability to cope with the drop in temperature by improving the drainage of the soil in their containers.

Take advantage of winter to modify the soil in your plants’ containers, especially if you notice drainage issues. 

Be sure to use a container with drainage holes to facilitate faster elimination of excess moisture.

Wait until spring before fertilizing your plants.

3. Airflow

It can be humid indoors, even during winters. This, in part, can be attributed to the lack of airflow.

You can boost airflow inside your home by opening your windows. Alternatively, you can use fans in the area where you place your soft succulents.

Improving airflow inside your home can help prevent root rot by allowing the soil in containers to dry faster.

4. Light

Despite the shorter hours of sunlight, you should not neglect your succulents’ lighting requirements.

Place your soft succulents near windows that receive lots of sunlight. It is also a good idea to rotate their containers from time to time to prevent problems associated with low lights like stretching.

If you cannot find a suitable area in your home with adequate sunlight, consider investing in grow lights.

5. A few important things to remember

Try to move your tender succulents indoors around fall. Do not wait for the onset of winter before bringing them inside your home.

But do not bring your succulents indoors without helping them with the transition. Ideally, you should give your plants three weeks to adjust to an indoor environment.

Start by spraying your succulents with a surface insecticide to eliminate pests. The last thing that you want is to have pests tag along with your plants when you bring them into your home. Be sure to check the soil in their containers for flies that lurk beneath.

Next, check your plants and their containers. Eliminate dead leaves as well as weeds and debris.

Succulent dormancy

Succulents grow at different rates within a year, like most plants.

In general, a succulent’s growth rate can be divided into two: dormancy and active growth. Furthermore, some succulents grow actively during summer and there are those that grow actively in winter.

But bear in mind that this is not a fixed rule. Succulents can thrive in different conditions because they take advantage of their surroundings. If their environments provide their requirements, they will enter the growth phase. Conversely, they enter into dormancy if the conditions are not right.

Temperature extremes push succulents into dormancy which is their default survival mode. This means that a succulent can enter dormancy if it is too hot or too cold.

And speaking of survival, dormant succulents do not grow and require less water because their focus is not growth. 

Succulents that enter dormancy in the water can get by with watering every three to six weeks. In contrast, succulents that enter dormancy in summer may require less water than they normally need but still need the occasional watering to help them keep cool. 

Image: istockphoto.com / sultancicekgil

What Temperature is Too Cold for Succulents?

What Temperature is Too Cold for Succulents?

Contrary to what some people may believe, there are succulent varieties that can weather harsh winter climes. With a little help from you, these plants can be left outdoors without much risk of death from freezing temperatures. Of course, there are also some succulents that are too delicate to withstand anything remotely freezing.

But what temperature is too cold for succulents?

What temperature is too cold for your succulent?

The answer to that question will depend heavily on the type of succulent.

If you have soft succulents, freezing temperatures can adversely affect your plants. Soft succulents thrive in temperatures north of 40 degrees. Exposed to freezing temperatures, these succulents will most likely rot in a matter of days.

Aloe, Kalanchoe, and Echeveria are great examples of soft succulents.

Hardy succulents, on the other hand, can handle sub-zero temperatures. However, like most succulents, these plants do not tolerate getting constantly wet. That is one tough challenge to overcome if you live in an area that gets wet and snowy winters.

Stonecrops, hens and chicks plant and rollers are among the more popular hardy succulents.

What are soft and hardy succulents?

But what exactly are soft and hardy succulents?

Soft or tender succulents originally come from warm environments. This has allowed these succulents to adapt to arid conditions. These succulents store water in their leaves. This adaptation makes these plants more vulnerable to below freezing temperatures because their stored moisture can freeze, and eventually, damage the plant.

Hardy or hard succulents, on the other hand, originally come from alpine climates. These plants can easily handle below-freezing temperatures, up to negative 20 degrees.

Is your succulent hardy or soft?

How do you determine if a particular succulent is hardy or soft? You cannot tell whether a succulent is hard or tender just by looking at it. Both types of succulents come in a diverse array of appearances. 

Some look sturdy enough to withstand harsh winters but these plants will fare better if you keep them indoors until spring. Others look too delicate but can easily handle freezing temperatures.

The best way to overcome this challenge is to identify the exact species of your succulents and then perform thorough research on their needs.

Another trick that you can use to tell if a succulent is hardy or soft is to consult the USDA plant hardiness map

This map divides the United States into different growing zones. With this handy tool, you can determine which plant zone your succulent will thrive in.

If there is a marked difference between your succulent’s growing zone and your location, it is highly likely that you will need to bring in your plant indoors for the winter.

How cold weather affects soft succulents

If the winters in your location rarely dip below zero degrees, there are two ways your succulent can react.

First, it may go dormant. During this time, your succulent will essentially rest from its growth phase until the temperature warms up.

Second, succulents that typically have a green color during the warmer seasons will change their hues to pink, red, or even purple. These succulents change their hues as a reaction to the dry soil and cold weather. In most cases, this is not something to worry about. However, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution and monitor your plants daily. Check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast says that the temperature will go below zero degrees, bring your plants indoors.

If the temperature in your area often goes below the freezing point, it is prudent to bring your succulents indoors before the onset of winter. Soft succulents cannot handle these temperatures. Leave these plants outdoors and expect these to freeze to death.

Overwintering your succulents

The steps you will need to undertake to protect your succulents from winter depends largely on the type species in your collection. 

Here are a few helpful tips that you need to know to successfully overwinter your succulents. For more information you can read our article on how to keep succulents alive in the winter.

Hardy succulents

Although it is possible to keep hardy succulents in outdoor pots for the duration of the winter, it is better to transplant your plants directly on the ground.

Hardy succulents planted on the ground fare better than those that are kept in pots because the ground provides better insulation against the cold weather.

If you must transplant your succulents, do this before the start of winter. This will give your plants ample time to grow and develop their roots as well as acclimate to their new location.

If it is not possible to transplant your hardy succulents, the next best thing that you can do is to move them into a location that gives them adequate sunlight as well as shelter from unwanted moisture.

And speaking of unwanted moisture, make sure that you protect your hardy succulents from getting excessively wet. Hardy succulents may have the ability to handle freezing temperatures. But the combination of freezing temperature and excess moisture can leave these succulents vulnerable to root rot.

Apart from decreasing the amount of water you give these succulents, make sure that they are sheltered from the rains.

Finally, make sure that you remove your succulents’ basal leaves before winter. Although succulents can shed these leaves naturally, leaving these leaves during winter increases the chances of rot.

Soft succulents

If you own soft succulents, you have no other recourse but bring these indoors to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Ideally, you should place soft succulents in an area that receives adequate sunlight, like areas near windows.

However, if this is not possible, the next best thing that you can do is to place your soft succulents under grow lights.

Either way, be sure to check your plants regularly. Plants that do not receive enough light tend to stretch and have faded colors.

Lack of airflow indoors can leave your plants vulnerable to both pests and rot. To overcome this challenge, you can use fans and open windows to increase airflow.

But apart from these, there are few other things that you can do to prevent rot.

For one, decrease the amount of water you give to your succulents. It is also helpful to change your pots and soil. Ideally, your succulents should be planted in pots with drainage holes with a potting mix that dries up fast. The combination of well-draining soil and pots with drainage holes prevents your plants’ roots from being exposed to too much moisture.

Except for a few varieties, most succulents require less water during winter. For these plants, it is a good idea to water them every three to six weeks during winter. However, be sure to check if the soil is completely dry before giving them water.

Protection from winter

Your succulents can survive winter with a little help from you. Start by identifying which type of succulent you own to learn which steps you should undertake. This will ensure that your plants can still thrive even when the mercury drops.

Image: istockphoto.com / Artem Khyzhynskiy

Do Succulents Like Humidity?

Do Succulents Like Humidity

Plants are affected by humidity in different ways. Some, like succulents, do not tolerate it well. In fact, some varieties of succulents can easily succumb to rot brought about high humidity. It is possible to keep succulents if you live in a humid area. However, there are a few things that you will need to do to counter the effects of high humidity levels.

So in general it can be said that succulents do not like humidity, at least not for prolonged periods.

How does humidity affect succulents?

The combination of high humidity and poor air circulation hampers a succulent’s ability to evaporate water. When this happens for a substantial amount of time, your succulent can rot.

Plants have a part known as stomata which they use to regulate temperature and reduce the loss of water. When the temperature is too warm for a plant, it closes its stomata to prevent dehydration. However, it cannot close its stomata for a long time. Doing so will increase the oxygen and CO2 molecules inside it. With increased oxygen and CO2 inside a plant, it can eventually die.

During periods of high humidity, plants also have a difficult time drawing nutrients from the soil. Fungi also thrive in high humidity, spelling more problems for you and your succulents.

Understanding humidity and plants

But what exactly is humidity?

Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor present in the air. When there is high humidity, there is a high volume of water vapor in the air.

Furthermore, high humidity makes it harder for people and even plants to cool off. This is because sweat, and in the case of plants, excess water, cannot evaporate.

Helping succulents deal with high humidity

In an ideal scenario, you should provide your succulents with ample sunlight. This is why many varieties thrive outdoors. 

However, if you prefer to keep your succulents indoors, transferring them back and forth from inside your home to your yard may seem like a difficult task. This is especially true for large succulents.

Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to work around these issues while curbing the effects of high humidity in your home.

Avoid excessive watering

When you keep succulents, one of the most important things that you need to learn at the start is that these plants do not like excessive moisture. 

This becomes even more important when you grow succulents indoors and you live in a location with high humidity.

During times when humidity is high, you should water your succulents just once a week. Do not water your plants again if the soil is still moist. This is the mist important tip for keeping rotting at bay and your succulents healthy.

One trick that expert succulent growers often use during periods of high humidity, especially during winter, is to water their plants with lukewarm water. This trick works in two ways. First, it mimics the warm desert rain, and second, lukewarm water is absorbed faster.

It is also a good idea to learn when a particular variety of succulent goes dormant. Generally speaking, succulents go dormant during winter. There are, however, some succulents that go dormant during summer.

When a succulent is dormant, its water requirements are substantially reduced. 

If you have overwatered your succulent you need to take steps to save it, see tips in our article on how to save an overwatered succulent.

Improve indoor air circulation

If you are planning on keeping your succulents indoors exclusively, you should strongly consider investing in a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier works like a vacuum cleaner. First, it sucks the air in the room. After that, it collects moisture which drips into a collection tank. Then, the dry air is blown back into the room.

Place your succulents near windows

Windows are the perfect place for many varieties of succulents. 

During humid times, placing your plants near windows helps them get rid of excess moisture through improved ventilation and getting more sunshine.

Use the right type of soil

In the wild, succulents have evolved in such a way that they can get water from arid soil. They also possess the unique ability to store high levels of moisture inside their bodies. Succulents do not like being in moist soil for extended time and can survive without water for a relatively long time.

If you just brought home a new succulent, be sure to check if its container has the right type of soil. Ideally, you should use a well-draining soil mix consisting mostly of porous materials.

Take note that some nurseries grow succulents in organic soil. This is not necessarily bad as young succulents need more moisture compared to mature plants. However, as your plant grows, it will require fast-draining soil.

Ideally, you should use pots that have drainage holes in them. This is even more important if you live in a place where it can get too humid. Avoid placing your succulents in glass bowls that do not have drainage holes which allow excess moisture to run off.

Invest in a grow light

High humidity indoors often coincides with the cooler seasons. During these times, the sun is often barely visible.

You can overcome these adverse conditions by buying a grow light for your plants.

Grow lights can help you meet your succulent’s light requirements while at the same time, aid in the reduction of humidity. 

Learn the specifics of your succulent variety

When you are just starting your succulent collection, it is a good idea to learn the individual requirements of each species you are planning to acquire. This includes a succulent variety’s tolerance of humidity. Simply put, if you are aware of the characteristics and needs of that succulent, you can provide better care for it.

Image: istockphoto.com / Merinka

Do Succulents Need Soil?

Do Succulents Need Soil

In recent years, succulents have grown in popularity. And it is fairly easy to understand why.

For starters, these plants are easy to care for. Compared to other plants, succulents are easier to care for and require little maintenance. Sure, these plants require watering from time to time. But when you nail down the basics, these plants can thrive with minimal care.

Another distinct advantage of succulents over other types of plants is that these do not require frequent watering. These plants were originally grown in arid areas. Their drought-resistant properties make them the perfect addition to gardens located in dry climates. 

Succulents can be grown indoors or outdoors. Contrary to what some people may believe, these plants do not require full sun to thrive. In fact, you can grow succulents in a low light area in your garden or a bright area inside your home.

Do succulents need soil?

Yes succulents need soil in the long term. If you purchased a succulent grown in a container of sand, rocks, or pebbles, it is important to know is that the succulent will not survive in that container for a long time.

Because succulents are resilient plants, it is possible for these to survive for some time without soil. However, over the long term, these plants can wither and die. For these plants to thrive and reach their full potential, they need soil.

Succulents can survive for weeks or even months without soil because of their hardy nature. Some species grow in arid deserts while some can be found near sea coasts. Furthermore, these plants have evolved in such a way that they can survive long dry spells due to their ability to store water.

As your succulent’s roots grow and develop, it will need a bigger container, preferably filled with the right type of soil. If you leave your plant in its original container, it can wither and die, despite your best efforts.

In the short term, there are a few things that you can do to keep your succulent happy without soil.

First, you should ensure that your plant gets adequate sunlight. Like most plants, succulents require an adequate amount of sunlight to grow and survive over the long term.

Second, you need to learn how to water your plant. Unlike other plants, succulents do not need to be watered very often. In fact, one of the mistakes new plant owners make is to water their succulents constantly. Constant moisture is detrimental to the well-being of succulents.

The right type of soil for succulents

If you want to grow and propagate succulents, you will need to plant these in soil. But you can’t use the same type of soil you use for your other plants.

But what kind of soil do succulents need? The best type of soil for succulents is a well-draining soil.

What exactly is a well-draining soil? Well-draining soil is a type of soil that drains well. Unlike other plants, succulents have a tendency to rot when they sit on wet soil for an extended period of time. Well-draining soil can soak up a considerable amount of moisture but can dry up quickly.

It should be noted that drainage is influenced by a few factors. These include moisture level, sunlight, airflow (especially if the succulent is kept indoors), and soil composition and quality. 

Essentially, that means that there is not one soil that is best for all succulents or environments.

Before buying soil for your succulents, there are a few critical factors that you should look into.

Organic to mineral material ratio

Soil consists of both organic and mineral materials. Organic materials refer to elements that come from living materials. Mineral materials, on the other hand, refer to soil components derived from non-living things.

Gravel is an example of a mineral material, while plant debris is an example of organic soil material.

Both types of soil materials are vital for the growth of succulents. Organic materials provide the plants with vital nutrients while mineral material provides drainage and support.

Soil for succulents should contain anywhere between 40% to 80% mineral content. Percentages will vary depending on the type of succulent you own as well as environmental factors.

Seasoned succulent growers recommend organic materials like potting soil, compost, and coconut coir. You can use a mix of these.

For mineral materials, experts recommend fine gravel, coarse sand, and perlite. Avoid mineral materials that have a tendency to store water, like vermiculite.

Soil texture

Soil texture refers to the grit size of its mineral composition. Sand has the largest texture while clay has the smallest. In between these two is silt.

Texture influences two key factors. First, it determines how much water the soil can hold. Second, it influences how fast the soil will dry out.

As a rule of thumb, the finer the texture, the longer it will take for the soil to dry. Conversely, sandy soil, with its larger particles, dry out faster.

In short, if you are growing and propagating succulents, you should use sandy soil and avoid soil rich in clay.

Another important thing to consider when selecting soil for succulents is the environment. If you are growing your succulent outdoors in the ground, opt for sandy loam comprised of around 50% to 80% fine gravel or coarse sand. 

You can even get away with planting succulents directly on the ground because of the combination of adequate sunlight, continuous airflow, and larger soil volume. You can improve drainage by planting succulents on mounds that facilitate faster drying of the soil.

On the other hand, if you prefer to grow your plant indoors in a container, use coarse grit minerals with a diameter between 1/8″ to 1/4″.

Using the right type of soil for your succulents will ensure that your plants will grow and thrive.

How to water your succulents

Whether you are growing succulents in soil or a soilless medium, it is critical to learn how to properly water these plants.

You can water your succulents either by spraying these or by using a syringe. Remember, you do not need to water your succulent daily. Instead, water your succulents when they seem to shrivel and their leaves begin to wilt.

Take note that overwatered succulents can also shrivel and wilt. The key difference between a succulent that needs water and one that is overwatered is how the plant feels to the touch. A succulent that needs to be watered does not look plump and feels flat. An overwatered succulent has a body and leaves that feel mushy.

Another important thing to remember when watering succulents is that these plants need enough sunlight. Overwatering combined with inadequate sunlight can lead to rotting.

In addition to proper watering and adequate sunlight, you should also strongly consider using fertilizers. Fertilizers provide the nutrients that succulents would otherwise get from the soil.

Image: istockphoto.com / evgenyb

Can You Plant Succulents in Just Rocks?

Can You Plant Succulents in Just Rocks

You’ve probably gone to a wedding or went to a plant nursery and succulents displayed creatively. From teacups and birdcages to eggshells and books to anywhere in between: succulents seem to draw out creativity in a lot of people.

It makes you wonder whether succulents can survive or even thrive in just about any substrate, including rocks.

Can you plant succulents in just rocks?

Yes you can plants succulents in just rocks but they cannot thrive or even survive there for long without necessary nutrients and humidity.

There’s a big difference between surviving and thriving. True, a succulent planted, in say, a book, can survive for weeks or even months if you care for it properly.

Apart from the diversity of colors, shapes, and textures, part of the allure of owning succulents is that these plants are relatively easy to care for and maintain. In the wild, succulents can grow in harsh environments, environments that have barely enough to support plant life.

So does that mean that your succulent can survive if you plant it in a container filled with rocks? Survive, yes. But if you want your plant to reach its full potential, or if you hope to propagate it, you will need to transfer it to a container filled with the right type of soil.

Some people, especially newbies, mistake succulents for epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that can survive even without soil. This is because epiphytes have the ability to gather the nutrients they need from the air. Like most plants, succulents need soil and water for nutrients and structural support of the roots.

The importance of soil

Soil is vital for plant life, including succulents, although such may not be readily apparent. You see, rocks do not contain the necessary nutrients that plants, including succulents, need to survive for an extended period of time. 

The best type of soil for succulents contains the right ratio of organic and inorganic materials. Organic materials provide plants with the nutrients they need while inorganic materials provide support.

Rocks and similar substrates may provide support and drainage for succulents. However, these are not enough to provide the nutritional needs of plants.

Planting succulents in gravel

Experts caution against planting succulents in gravel or rocks because these substrates provide little to no plant nutrition.

However, you can amend the gravel, allowing it to provide for the needs of your succulent.

The first thing that you need to do is to find a suitable container for your succulent around three to five inches deep. Here, succulent growers are divided. Some prefer containers with no drainage holes while others use those with drainage holes. The chief advantage of using containers with drainage holes is that you have an extra layer of protection against overwatering.

Once you have found a suitable container for your plant, add about a layer of gravel about an inch deep. After that, add activated charcoal. All you need to do is to top the gravel with the activated charcoal which helps prevent bad odor. This is particularly helpful if you are keeping your succulent indoors.

On top of the activated charcoal, add a soil mix containing peat. You can either buy one from the plant nursery or create your own mix. If you are mixing your own soil, use one part compost and two parts peat.

Sprinkle water to your soil mix before putting your succulent inside the container.

But what if you do not have access to the materials needed to amend the gravel to make it suitable for your plant?

It cannot be overstated that succulents need soil in order to survive for a long time. In the absence of a suitable potting mix for your plant, there are a few things that you can do.

First, provide your succulent with nutrients in the form of fertilizers. All you have to do is to mix the fertilizer to the water you are going to use for your plant. Be sure to follow closely the instructions printed on the packaging.

Second, add organic material to the gravel. Organic materials like coconut coir and sphagnum moss provide succulents with something to attach to.

The great thing about these materials is that they are fairly easy to secure. You can buy these online or offline.

A better approach

Any time you receive or buy a succulent that is planted in a substrate other than the appropriate type of soil, you should repot your plant.

There are two main reasons for this advice. First, your new succulent may have outgrown its original container and the roots may not have adequate room to stretch.

Second, it is highly likely that the soil your succulent is currently planted in is not appropriate. 

If you bought your succulent from a nursery, it is likely planted in soil without adequate drainage. This is alright for young plants that need more moisture compared to more mature succulents.

On the other hand, if you got a succulent planted in a substrate consisting mainly of inorganic material, your plant may be deprived of nutrients that are important to support growth.

Better than rocks

The type of soil you should use for your succulent will depend on a few key factors, including the place where you intend to grow your plant and its species. 

Essentially, that means there is not a specific best soil for all types of succulents. However, the best soil mixes for succulents do share two key qualities.

First, these soil mixes contain the right balance between organic and inorganic materials. Organic materials like coconut coir provide succulents with nutrients while at the same time, help the soil store water.

Inorganic materials, like gravel, on the other hand, provide drainage to the soil. Drainage is crucial in preventing overwatering which can kill succulents.

Ideally, your soil mix should contain between 40% to 80% inorganic material.

Another vital consideration is the texture or grit size of the mineral component of the soil. Succulents thrive in soil mixes that have large mineral components like sand. Conversely, succulents fair poorly in soil rich in clay. This is because sandy soil drains water faster.

Indoor vs. outdoor

If you want to plant succulents in your yard, you can do so with minimal amendments to the soil. This is because drainage isn’t much of an issue. After all, you are working with a larger volume of soil. Plus, outdoor environments provide more sunlight and air circulation which facilitate faster drying of the soil.

However, if you want to cover all your bases, you can implement a few things. First, plant your succulents in mounds. Planting succulents this way increases the surface area exposed to the elements. Additionally, this allows you to use gravity to your advantage in terms of drainage.

Next, check the soil quality in your yard. If there is too much clay in the soil, you can either amend it using coarse sand or simply find another area in the yard with less clay.

Growing succulents indoors is different from growing these plants outdoors. For starters, the amount of sunlight indoors is typically lower. The same thing applies for air circulation.

These factors underscore the importance of using the right soil mix for succulents

Fortunately, you can either buy a soil mix from the local nursery or buy materials and mix your own soil for succulents.

Store-bought soil mixes are handy for most beginners because of their availability and the minimal amount of preparation. These mixes work for most succulents. Their main drawback is some of the components repel water which can be bad for your plants.

With some time and effort, you can mix your own soil mix with a handful of ingredients that you can buy online or offline. These include potting soil, coarse sand (or a similar substrate like turface), and either pumice or perlite.

For your potting soil, choose one that does not contain vermiculite. Vermiculite is known to retain a high amount of moisture, making it less than ideal for succulents.

Coarse sand adds drainage to the soil. As much as possible, avoid taking sand from the beach or your garden as it may contain harmful components.

Perlite and pumice add more drainage while helping minimize soil compaction.

The soil mix for your succulent should contain three parts soil, 2 parts sand, and 1 part pumice or perlite.

Creating your succulent soil mix is as easy as combining all of these in a container. Continue mixing until all components are combined evenly.

You can keep your succulent in a container filled with gravel, but only for a short period. If you want to keep your succulent for a long time, you should transfer your plant into a container with the right mix of soil.

Image: istockphoto.com / CCeliaPhoto

What Kind of Soil Do Succulents Need?

What Kind of Soil Do Succulents Need

Some people seem to be blessed with the proverbial green thumb, able to grow and propagate whatever plant they choose to collect. If you think that you have a black thumb and are close to giving up on plants, you just might want to start with succulents first.

Unlike other plants, succulents are fairly forgiving. These plants can grow in different types of environments and require minimal care and maintenance. That, however, does not mean that these plants are bulletproof. It is easy to overwater succulents. And apart from knowing how to properly water these plants, it is essential to learn the best type of soil for succulents.

Succulents do need soil – in the long run

If you received or bought succulents planted in a terrarium or unconventional containers, you will need to transfer these either directly to the ground or into a pot with soil as soon as possible. Although succulents are fairly resilient and can survive for extended periods without soil, succulents still need soil in the long run.

Over time, your succulents’ roots will grow and will require soil for nutrients and structural stability. Simply put, you cannot grow and propagate these plants long term without using soil. But not just any type of soil will do.

What kind of soil do succulents need?

First of all succulents need soil that is fast draining. This type of soil absorbs water fast and dries up quickly. Unlike other plants, succulents do not like to have their roots soaked in water for a long time. Too much moisture can rot the plant’s roots, leading to its eventual demise.

Succulents originally grow in some of the harshest environments in the world, environments which would not otherwise support plant life. These include dry and arid areas like deserts. In a residential setting, you must closely mimic your succulent’s natural environment. To achieve that goal, you should have a basic understanding of what makes soil drain well.

The best soil for succulents contains the right balance between organic and mineral components. A soil’s organic components refer to materials that are derived from living things. Mineral components, on the other hand, refer to inorganic materials or those derived from non-living things.

Organic elements help sustain plant life by providing the necessary nutrients while mineral components provide structural support and drainage.

Whether you are planning to buy or mix your soil for succulents, there is no one formula or recipe that you should remember. There are a few crucial factors that you should consider first, including the species of succulent as well as the environmental factors.

Seasoned succulent growers have used a combination of organic materials like pine bark, compost, potting soil, and coconut coir mixed with inorganic materials like fine gravel, chicken grit, coarse sand, and perlite.

Soil for succulents should have anywhere between 40% to 80% of inorganic materials. The actual percentages will vary, depending on the species of the succulent as well as environmental factors.

Another crucial thing to consider is the texture or grit size of the mineral component of the soil. For succulents, you should opt for soil that has an adequate amount of soil.

The chief advantage of using sandy soil is that it dries out faster compared to silt and clay which have finer textures. Apart from the texture, you should also consider where you want to put your succulents. If you want to add succulents to your front yard for added appeal, use sandy loam with either fine gravel or coarse sand. On the other hand, if you want to grow succulents indoors using pots, experts recommend using coarse grit minerals.

When to repot your succulents

If you received or bought your succulent with a substrate other than soil, you should repot your plant as soon as possible.

There are two main reasons for this recommendation.

First, most succulents that stores sell are already root-bound. Essentially, this means that the roots have grown to such a point that these have already filled up the container. Now, to grow further, you will need a larger container for your succulent.

Second, the soil typically used for these succulents is typically mixed for short-term use. The plant can survive in the soil for a short period. However, there is a good possibility that your succulent will rot over an extended time.

This is because the soil used by growers has a higher density and is mixed to store more water. This is not necessarily bad if you have a young succulent. But over time, your plant will need less water, and eventually, a well-draining soil.

To DIY or not

Should you buy a bag of soil mixed especially for succulents or should you mix your own?

Store-bought mixes are perfect for beginners who may not have access to the materials needed for mixing soil for succulents. However, you should be aware that although these mixes are okay for most species of succulents, these do not drain well. Furthermore, some of the materials used in these mixes repel water. If you have no other option but to use a store-bought mix, add rock substrates like pumice or perlite.

If you are keen on mixing your soil mix for your indoor succulents, start with a soil with a particular size of at least 1/4″. Then you can add 1 part of pine bark fines for the organic component of your soil mix, and 1 part each of turface and crushed granite for the mineral component of your soil.

Many succulent enthusiast have found great success in planting directly to the ground. This is because outdoor soil is fairly forgiving. For one, soil volume is larger, making drainage less of an issue. Plus, the combination of sunlight and air circulation facilitates the faster drying of the soil.

Overwatering is the number one reason for the death of succulents. But it is not just about the actual watering of plants. Overwatering, in part, can be attributed to using the wrong type of soil for your plants. If you want to keep your succulents happy and vibrant, use the right soil mix.

Image: istockphoto.com / evgenyb

How to Plant Succulents in Glass Containers?

How to Plant Succulents in Glass Containers

Succulents planted in glass containers like mason jars and bowls look absolutely stunning. Plus, they make nice gifts for practically any occasion.

Listed below are the steps you need to undertake to plant succulents in glass containers as well as a few tips to ensure the longevity and health of your plants.

Here are the Steps for planting succulents in glass containers:

Planting succulents in a glass container is a pretty straightforward process that requires a minimal amount of materials.

For this project, you will need:

  • Succulents
  • Glass container 
  • Soil mix
  • Trowel
  • Pebbles or sand
  • Moss

Step 1: Remove the succulents from their container

Start by removing the succulents from the containers they originally came in. Remove as much soil as you can as most succulents that came from nurseries do not use the best type of soil for these plants. At the same time, remove unhealthy or dead leaves to improve the appearance of your plants. Handle your plants with extra care.

Step 2: Insert soil in to the container, but not too much

Next, fill up your container of choice with soil. For succulents, it is critical to use fast-draining soil to prevent problems associated with overwatering. Remember, glass containers do not contain drainage holes. You can either buy soil mix specially formulated for succulents or just mix your own. If you want to create your potting soil, mix two parts of organic soil with one part of sand and another part of perlite.

Do remember that different varieties of succulents each have their preferences when it comes to soil and you might have to experiment a little before planting your succulents directly to glass containers.

Do not fill up the glass container entirely. Fill it halfway before planting your succulents. This will give you ample room to maneuver while arranging the plants and adding decor like pebbles and sand.

Step 3: Plant the succulent into the soil

Plant the succulent into the soil in the glass container. Make sure that your succulents are planted straight and are not skewed or lopsided. Additionally, check if any leaves have been buried. Buried succulent leaves can become vulnerable to rot.

Step 4: Add the rest of the soil

After putting your succulents into the glass container, you can now fill up the container with more soil as well as your chosen top dressing. 

Step 5: Add sand or pebbles to the glass container

Finally, you can add sand or pebbles to the glass container. If you are using white sand, be aware that you will need to replenish it after some time.

Should you plant succulents in glass containers?

Although succulents are hardy plants, able to thrive in harsh conditions, they are prone to overwatering. Succulents mainly require two things: correct watering and fast-draining soil. Miss out on any of the two and you can encounter a host of problems that can eventually lead to the death of your plant.

Many succulent growers prefer to grow their plants in containers with drainage holes which prevents the buildup of excess moisture which is detrimental to plant health.

If you are planning on planting succulents in glass containers, one important thing to remember is that these containers do not have drainage holes.

But that same caveat can also be an advantage, especially if you are keeping your succulents indoors. Glass bowls do not require the use of dishes beneath them. It is also less likely that you will encounter water stains on your table.

If you are intent on planting succulents in glass containers like bowls and jars, you should pay extra attention to choosing the right soil mix as well as watering your plants.

Design considerations

You can generate more interest in your project by using a few key design elements.

Color

First, determine whether you want to use succulents that have essentially the same color or use plants with different colors.

If you want to go for a monochromatic look, you can generate visual appeal by playing around with shapes and textures.

For a more colorful arrangement, select plants with colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. Green looks great with purple and blue while red pops out with orange and yellow.

Some designers prefer using complementary colors. Complementary colors are those that are positioned opposite each other on the color wheel. With this approach, you can use green succulents with red-colored varieties.

Hierarchy

Another critical factor you should consider before planting in a glass container is hierarchy. This is particularly important if you are using more than one succulent variety.

Start by choosing your centerpiece. This succulent should immediately stand out from your design.

Then, choose your filler plants. These succulents complement your centerpiece by adding color, texture, or even both.

Finish off your design with a spiller, typically a succulent species that trails.

Choosing which succulents to plant together

Even more important than finding and planting succulents that look good next to each other is finding species with similar lighting and watering needs.

Be aware that succulents have varying lighting needs. Some need hours of sunlight while others require low lighting.

Another important factor to consider is the watering needs of each succulent. The easiest way to determine that is leaf thickness. Succulents with similar leaf thickness, in general, have the same water requirements. If you are unsure, you can do a quick online search.

Remember to bear in mind these two factors to ensure that your plants thrive well together for a long time.

Dealing with space

A glass container brimming with succulents is a sight to behold. But bear in mind that planting your succulents too closely has a few pros and cons.

Succulents planted closely to one another gives an arrangement a more finished look. This look is ideal if you are planning on selling or giving away your arrangement. Additionally, the plants are more likely to hold their shape.

However, planting your succulents too close to one another poses a few problems. For starters, you might find it difficult to water your plants. The best remedy for this issue is to use a watering can with a thin spout to allow you to go between the plants.

Another downside that you may have to deal with when planting succulents close to each other is that some plants may look too big for the container as these grow. It is also not unusual for such plants to become root-bound.

To solve this problem, you can prune your succulents. For root-bound plants, you will need to remove all the plants and cut the roots.

Some designers prefer to plant succulents farther from one another. This gives the plants enough room to grow. The extra space also facilitates the growth of babies.

Spread-out arrangements also require minimal maintenance. Plus, watering is rarely a problem.

However, spreading out your arrangement has a major downside: your design may look unfinished. One quick remedy for this is to use either decorative rocks or top dressing.

Caring for your succulents

Because glass containers do not have drainage holes, you will need to pay extra attention to how you water your succulents. Remember, overwatering is the number one enemy of these plants. 

Err on the side of caution. It is always better to underwater your succulents than overwater them. These plants can thrive in conditions with little moisture.

One of the easiest ways to determine when to water your succulents is to take note of the container’s weight after watering it initially. As the moisture evaporates, the container becomes lighter. How many days it will take will depend on the temperature and humidity.

Succulents planted in glass containers do not need to be watered deeply. It is better to water around the base of the container. The plants’ roots do a terrific job finding water.

Start now

Planting succulents in glass containers is a fun project that you and your loved ones can start.

Be aware of potential problems as well as the special considerations mentioned above and you will be assured that your succulents will thrive over the long term.

Image: istockphoto.com / Svetlanais

How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water?

How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water?

Unlike other plants, succulents can survive without water for long periods. However, it is vital to remember that succulents still need to be watered from time to time.

How long can your succulent survive without water?

There is no straightforward answer to this question because there are a few variables that need to be considered. Here is a brief look at each of these and how these influence a succulent’s ability to survive dry spells.

1.Species

Each type of succulent will have its unique needs in terms of the level of care required, including its watering needs. Some types of succulents can store more water compared to others. And as such, these species can go on longer without water.

As a general rule of thumb, species with thicker stems and leaves can store more water. These parts become swollen with water after storing water. Eventually, these parts shrivel as water is distributed to the other plant parts. As the plant loses more water, it may lose some of its leaves.

The timeline for this process varies from one species to another. Succulents like Graptopetalum Paraguayense and Crassula Ovata can hold water in as long as three months. There are even some cacti species than can last without water for as long as six months.

On the other hand, succulents with thin leaves and stems cannot survive long without water. A few examples of these are the Epiphyllums and Glauca.

2. Container size

Compared to succulents planted directly to the ground, those planted into containers cannot survive long periods without water.

One reason behind this is the fact that succulents planted on the ground have more access to moisture from the soil. In contrast, moisture in pots evaporates quicker. The rate of evaporation is influenced by the color of the container as well as the area where the pot is stored. 

Dark-colored pots, especially those that are placed in areas with direct sunlight do not hold moisture as well as light-colored pots placed in partial shade.

Pot size also determines the level of moisture a container can hold. Simply put, the larger the pot size, the higher the amount of moisture it can store.

And as such, if you have succulents planted in small pots, these may need frequent watering compared to those planted in larger pots.

3. Location

Where do you keep your succulents? Those grown outdoors will require frequent watering compared to those grown indoors.

Like most plants, succulents require adequate sunlight to grow and thrive. However, too much exposure to the sun means that your plant will dry up faster. There are even some species that are sensitive to sunlight that these get sunburned.

Broadly speaking, succulents thrive in an area that has access to the morning and afternoon sun. If you have no other option but place your succulents in a location that has full sun for most of the day, you can reduce sunlight by using shade cloth.

Most succulents grown indoors still require sunlight. But because there is not too much air circulation indoors, succulents grown indoors will retain more moisture and can survive without watering by as much as two weeks.

4. Plant age

As a rule of thumb, younger succulents grown from cuttings or offsets require frequent watering compared to established, adult plants.

Most species of succulents need to be watered every other day until these are fully established. In contrast, an adult Crassula Ovata can go on for months without moisture.

If you have young succulents, make sure to check if the soil mix is completely dried up before watering these.

5. Seasons

Another critical factor that affects the level of moisture required by a succulent is the seasons.

During the warmer months, succulents require more moisture compared to the cooler seasons. The main reason behind that is that the higher temperatures make the moisture evaporate faster. In turn, this means that you will need to water your succulents more often.

However, you will also need to factor where in the world you live in. If you live in a place with a cooler climate, your succulents may not require as much moisture compared if you live in a location with a warmer climate.

6. Natural cycles

Succulents undergo two cycles: growth and dormancy. These cycles depend mostly on the species of a succulent.

Generally speaking, most succulents go dormant during winter. However, succulents like Aeoniums go dormant during summer.

When succulents go dormant during the winter, they do not require as much moisture. However, if your succulent goes dormant during summer, it is a good idea to water it from time to time to protect it from the high temperature and faster water evaporation rate.

Preventing overwatering

While it is critical for succulent owners to monitor the moisture level of their plants, you should avoid the temptation of overwatering.

In fact, one of the leading causes of death among succulents is overwatering. If you water your succulents too much, too often, its roots can rot, leading to its death. See our article on how to save an overwatered succulent for more information.

Succulents breathe through their roots. And if these rot, your plant will have difficulty breathing and will die eventually.

Here are a few tips that will help you avoid overwatering your succulents.

Find a suitable container

Some succulent owners think that their plants do not like getting soaked in water. The truth is succulents like their roots to be soaked in water. However, they also like to excess moisture drained quickly.

The easiest way to achieve both goals is to place your plant inside a container with holes that facilitate the removal of excess moisture.

Use the soak and dry method

It is difficult to give an exact amount of water that succulents need. As such, it is easy for beginners to overwater their plants.

One good way to avoid this problem is to use the soak and dry method of watering plants.

All you have to do is to water your succulent until it is completely soaked. If you placed your plant in a container with drainage holes, the excess water should dry off quickly.

After that, check the soil and see if it is completely dry. If the soil is completely dry, you can water your plant again. If the soil is still wet, wait a couple of days before watering it again.

Choose a fast-draining soil mix

The amount of moisture stored in a pot may also be influenced by the type of soil mix you use for your succulents.

Unlike other plants, succulents prefer fast-draining soil which can drain water out as quickly as it can soak it up. This type of soil mix contains the right balance of organic and inorganic materials.

Organic materials like peat moss provide succulents with nutrients while inorganic materials like coarse sand provide structural support and facilitate drainage of excess moisture.

Use caution

In the wild, succulents can survive in harsh conditions, going through long periods without water. But if you intend to keep and propagate these plants, you need to determine for yourself how much water your succulents need for them to flourish.

Image: istockphoto.com / alpssimon

Bear’s Paw Succulent Leaves Falling Off

Bear's Paw Succulent Leaves Falling Off

A bear’s paw succulent should normally not lose many leaves and that happening is often a sign of a bigger.

Among the most common causes of falling leaves in bear’s paws are exposure to too much sunlight, overwatering, poor soil, and pests:

Overexposure to sunlight

Bear’s paw succulents thrive when they get six hours of sunlight. However, you should avoid placing it in an area where it is directly exposed to the sun for over six hours. Instead, place it in an area with partial shade, if possible. Otherwise, it can get sun burnt, which in turn, can lead to falling leaves.

If you wish to keep this succulent indoors, place it near a window where it will receive ample sunlight. If you have a greenhouse, be mindful that it offers little protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. To prevent damage brought about by overexposure to UV rays, you will need to use a cloth to filter sunlight.

Overwatering

Like other succulents, the bear’s paw does not tolerate overwatering. Ideally, you should water your bear’s paw just about once a week. At the onset of winter, reduce the number of times you water this plant.

Poor soil

Overwatering almost always comes hand in hand with the selection of the wrong type of soil, especially in succulents.

Bear’s paw succulents require fast-draining soil. As such, avoid common garden soil which can become too compact. Instead of using garden soil, use a soil mix with the right balance of organic and inorganic materials. 

Pests

Mealybugs, caterpillars, and snails are among the most common pests that can infest a bear’s paw succulent. Mealybugs often jump off from another infested plant to bear’s paw succulents. Typically, these insects attack the succulent’s roots. To deal with this problem, soak a cotton ball in alcohol and apply this directly to the insects. Alternatively, you can spray diluted alcohol on the mealybugs.

To see whether the roots have been infested or not, you need to remove the plant from its container. If the roots are indeed infested, remove the soil and wash the plant thoroughly. You can also spray diluted alcohol to eliminate the remaining mealybugs.

After that, allow the plant to dry completely before placing it in a new pot with fresh soil. Do not use soil that you originally used for the infected plant. Instead, discard it as it is already infected.

Caterpillars and snails can infest a bear’s paw, but this is rare. These pests will often target other plants but will not pass up on the chance of a free meal if your bear’s paw is nearby.

Basic bear’s paw care

Bear’s paw is one of the more popular succulents among collectors. However, because it comes with a set of issues, newbies will fare better choosing other succulents.

If you are keen on adding this plant to your collection, there are a few things that you can do to make sure it remains healthy.

First, make sure that you plant it in fast-draining soil, preferably in a container with drainage holes. This will help keep both overwatering and fungal infections at bay.

And speaking of overwatering, be mindful of how often your water this succulent. As much as possible, water your bear’s paw just once a week. It can do with less frequent watering during the cooler seasons. Stop watering the plant when you see that the water has seeped to the pot’s bottom.

Experts recommend repotting the plant annually. Be sure to check the roots for infestations when you repot your bear’s paw. When repotting your plant, add some new potting mix.

Bear’s paw enters its growing season during the spring and fall. This is the best time to apply fertilizers. Fertilize the plant about once a month. Stop applying fertilizer during winter and summer when the plant hibernates.

If you can afford it, buy or make a greenhouse for your bear’s paw. Alternatively, you can place it in a location with indirect sunlight, away from the rains.

Handle with care

Often described as “cute” and “stunning,” the bear’s paw succulent is much-sought-after by collectors, both old and new. However, it needs special care to thrive. Follow the tips mentioned above to prevent problems like falling leaves.

Image: istockphoto.com / liuyushan

Black Spots on Succulents

Black Spots on Succulents

Black spots on succulents are caused by over watering, sunburn, viruses, frost, trauma and pest infestation.

Here’s a brief look at how each of these potential causes can harm your plants:

1. Overwatering

Look carefully at the black spots on your succulents. If you notice that the spots are soft and mushy, it is a sign that you have been overwatering your succulent.

In the wild, succulents can survive long periods without water because of their ability to store water in their various parts.

When you overwater your succulents, their tissues become overfilled with water. In turn, this results in bloating, and eventually, the explosion of different plant parts. 

In this state, succulents become vulnerable to fungal infections. In fact, the black spots that you see on your plants come from the fungus that is attacking the damages parts of the succulent.

Is it still possible to save an overwatered plant infected by fungus? That depends.

First, remove the affected plant from its pot and inspect its roots. If the roots are still healthy, you can repot it in a new container after removing damaged leaves and stems.

However, if the plant’s roots are mushy, your succulent is probably beyond redemption. It is still possible to use the infected plant’s healthy parts to grow a new succulent. All you have to do is to put these healthy parts in new soil.

Whether you can still save the affected succulent, be sure to throw away the soil where it was originally planted. Do not use it again as it is already infected.

2. Sunburn

Another common cause of black spots on succulents is sunburn. Although succulents love plenty of sunlight, their parts can become sunburned when it is not given enough time to acclimate to its new location. This usually happens when you buy a new plant from a nursery or when you relocate an indoor plant outdoors.

One sign that your succulent is sunburned is that its black spots are dry.

A sunburned succulent can recover. All you have to do is to remove the damaged part. The more crucial action that you need to undertake is to acclimate your plant to its new location.

If you are moving an indoor succulent outdoors, start by putting it under the morning sun for three to four hours. After that, bring the plant either indoors or in a partially shaded area.

Increase your plant’s exposure to the morning sun by one to two hours every day. At around the fourth day, your succulent is ready for its new life outdoors.

3. Viral disease

Succulents can become infected with viruses in two ways: through insect infestation and the use of infected grafting knives. Plants that succumb to virus infections exhibit symptoms like black spots, stunted growth, and unusual overgrowth of shoots.

Unfortunately, once a succulent becomes infected with a virus, there is nothing that you can do except to discard it. This is why it is critical to disinfect your grafting knives and keep pests at bay.

4. Frost

Most varieties of succulents do not tolerate frost and cold weather. Frost, in particular, can damage plants, one sign of which are dark spots. Prolonged exposure to frost can eventually lead to the collapse of the affected plant.

If you live in a place with cold winters, it is best to keep your succulents indoors. If that is not possible, at the very least, you should use frost cloth to cover your plants.

5. Trauma

Succulent varieties with a thick coating of farina or epicuticular wax are susceptible to scratches and puncture marks. Farina refers to the whitish or blueish wax coating found on the leaves succulents. This wax helps the plant repel water.

Scratches and puncture marks often come as a result of poor handling of the plant, especially during repotting. And when a succulent is scratched or punctured, dark spots can form on the leaves.

Unfortunately, you cannot do much to remove these spots. All you can do is wait until the plant grows out of the damaged area.

6. Pest infestation

Succulents are vulnerable to attacks from animals of differing sizes, from small mammals to insects.

It is fairly easy to see when a mammal like a mouse or a deer has attacked your succulent: you will see large chunks torn off.

But when insects and other small organisms infest a succulent, the initial damage may be hard to see at first. Succulents, for the most part, are immune to attack from common garden pests. But left unchecked, an infestation could lead to the death of a succulent.

Here’s a brief look at the insects that typically attack succulents as well as possible remedies.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small insects, usually growing two to three millimeters long. They derive their name from their ability to produce a white waxy substance. They also secrete a substance known as honeydew which leaves succulents vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infections.

Mealybugs can be usually found in the underside of leaves, roots, and a plant’s joints. Once you notice these insects, act fast as these can easily hop from an infected plant to another.

There are a few ways to remove mealybugs from infected plants. 

Some succulent growers soak a ball of cotton in alcohol and apply this directly to the insects. Others prefer to dilute alcohol with water before spraying on the affected plant. If you don’t want to use alcohol, you can use dish soap diluted in water.

If the mealybugs have infested the roots, remove the plant from its pot. Remove the soil and rinse the roots until the bugs are completely removed. You can spray the roots with either alcohol or diluted dish soap. 

Allow the plant to dry completely before transferring it to a new pot.

Be warned: it may take many tries before you get rid of mealy bugs completely. While the plant is still infested, separate it from your other plants.

Scale

Out of the thousands of species of scale, the armored scale and the soft scale are the two most common insects that attack succulents. These two feed on the sap, damaging the plant and leaving it vulnerable to diseases.

A scale infestation often manifests itself in the form of black or brown spots.

If the infestation has just begun, you can manually remove these insects or scrape these off. However, if the infestation has become severe, you can use the same treatment used in a mealybug infestation: wipe alcohol-soaked cotton directly on the insects or spray diluted alcohol. Alternatively, you can use neem oil instead of diluted alcohol.

You should also check the roots for any presence of these bugs. If you find scale on the roots, wash off the plant, including the roots. Afterward, spray the plant with diluted alcohol and allow it to dry before repotting with fresh soil.

It will often take a week until you can totally get rid of scale. During this period, you need to quarantine the infected plant.

Aphids

Also known as plant lice or greenflies, aphids feed on the leaves and flowers of plants.

These insects also secrete honeydew which not only leads to the development of molds but also attracts ants.

There are a few ways that you can treat a succulent infested with aphids.

The easiest way to do that is to use water pressure to remove the insects. 

You can also spray diluted soap on the affected parts. Some people add vegetable oil to this mixture.

Spider mites

Spider mites are arachnids, not insects. They are related to spiders and scorpions. These small creatures feed on the sap of plants.

Succulents infested by spider mites will first change to a lighter color before turning white. 

Apart from the change in color, you will also notice brown spots on your plant as well as webbing produced by the spider mites.

Treatment for a spider mite infestation is similar to mealy bug and aphid infestations.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies often target the leafier succulent species. These insects can be typically found hiding beneath leaves.

When you notice whiteflies on your succulents, act fast as these insects are notorious for reproducing quickly.

These insects can be blasted off with water. Alternatively, you can spray either soapy water or diluted alcohol directly on the affected plant.

Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats are attracted to moisture. That is why overwatered succulents are vulnerable to these insects.

Although less harmful than other pests, fungus gnats can be hard to get rid of.

To get rid of these pests, remove the very thing that attracts them: excess moisture. Change your watering habits and consider changing the soil you use for your succulents if it is not fast-draining.

You can also sprinkle cinnamon powder on your potting mix or place a flytrap near your plants.

Ants

Unlike the previously mentioned insects, ants do not directly damage succulents.

Instead, these insects do indirect damage to your plants because they farm other insects like aphids and mealybugs which produce honeydew. 

You can get rid of ants by placing sugar water near your affected succulent. 

The more important task that you need to do is to get rid of the insects the ants have been farming on you succulent.

A sign of a bigger problem

When you notice black or brown spots on your succulent, quick action is required. Usually, these spots indicate that a larger problem is at hand. Your prompt action can help stave off a more severe problem quietly lurking in the background.

Image: istockphoto.com / AlxeyPnferov

Can Succulents Live in Moss?

Can Succulents Live in Moss

Both moss and succulents make for great and low maintenance house plants and decor. But how well do they go together?

Can you grow succulents in moss?

Yes it you can grow succulents in moss. For this purpose, succulent growers use the type of moss known as sphagnum moss. You can plant succulents directly on sphagnum moss without worrying too much about the health of your succulent. 

In fact, sphagnum moss is ideal for situations where using a soil mix is difficult or downright impossible. For example, if you wish to use wall planters for your succulents, the weight of the soil might not allow the planters to be held securely in place.

Another instance where sphagnum moss is preferable over soil mixes is if you are planning on creating a terrarium.

Take note that compared to soil, sphagnum moss can dry up more quickly. This means that you will need to water your succulents more frequently. Additionally, succulents grown with sphagnum moss may require more applications of fertilizers. 

What is sphagnum moss?

For succulents, crafters typically use a type of moss known as sphagnum moss. They enjoy using sphagnum moss because it readily absorbs water, providing succulents with ample moisture. Apart from that, sphagnum moss dries up quickly.

These two properties are critical for one important reason: succulents do not like to be soaked in water for an extended period. Too much moisture can rot the roots of succulents which can lead to their death.

For craft projects, sphagnum moss can be used on its own or mixed with soil.

The term sphagnum moss can refer to any of around 300 species of mosses. Sphagnum moss can be found in peat bogs, hence its other name, peat moss.

This type of moss has evolved to absorb a high volume of water in response to its living environment where it depends on rains as well as the air for moisture. Some species of sphagnum moss can hold water equivalent to 20 times their dry weight.

Apart from crafts, sphagnum moss is used by gardeners to condition soil.

For growing succulents, be sure to use long-fiber sphagnum moss and not the dead variety used for amending soil.

Other uses of sphagnum moss

Apart from acting as a soilless medium for planting succulents, sphagnum moss can be used for other purposes by succulent growers.

One common use of sphagnum moss is for lining up frames, like wire chicken planters often used in topiaries and wreaths. Here, the sphagnum moss conceals the frame before being covered in soil.

Sphagnum moss may also be used in securing succulents and other plants in vertical spaces. You can use the moss to ensure that your plants are held securely.

Finally, you can use sphagnum moss as an accent for your succulent container. 

Working with sphagnum moss

Before filling up a container with sphagnum moss, it is highly recommended that you soak it first. Dry moss can be difficult and messy to work with. Wetting the moss makes it easier to mold and place it into a container. However, be aware that it may take some time before the moss is completely soaked.

Succulents can live in moss for a surprisingly long time. Some succulents can live as long as one year in just sphagnum moss. However, if you want to prolong the life of your succulent, you should add some soil.

Be aware that watering succulents planted in sphagnum moss can take more time than you might be accustomed to. The moss tends to repel water first and you will need to water it a few times before it gets completely wet.

Finally, it is completely normal for sphagnum moss to lose its original color as time goes by. You should not expect it to remain green because it is already dead and won’t respond to regular misting. Over time, some parts of the moss will turn brown. If you wish to use sphagnum moss for decorative purposes, opt for those that have been dyed. This type of sphagnum moss won’t lose its color.

Consider sphagnum moss for your succulents

Whether you are planning on a crafting project for your succulents or you simply want to try a different substrate for your plants, there are a few reasons why you should consider using sphagnum moss.

But remember to check if your plant gets adequate moisture and avoid overwatering.

Image: istockphoto.com / kornyeyeva

How To Save An Overwatered Succulent

How To Save An Overwatered Succulent

Overwatering is an deceptively easy way to harm, or even kill, a succulent. Succulents need minimal water to get by and they grow and flourish even with periods of absence of water. If your succulents are overwatered it may be possible to save them if the damage is not too invasive.

The best ways to save an overwatered succulent are to let the roots air dry, keeping the succulent away from the sun, improving the drainage, and changing the soil. 

What are the signs of an overwatered succulent? 

You have an overwatered succulent if you notice that the soil is clumped, wet, and clogged with water. The leaves often become translucent and lighter and those closer to the bottom are turning brown and may have black spots while most of the leaves and stems have become squishy and bloated. Your succulent also looks unhealthy and it doesn’t have live roots.  

Can an overwatered succulent be saved?

Yes, you can still save your overwatered succulent especially if it’s still in the early stages of rot.  Most of the time, overwatered succulents will be able to recover with the right care and treatment.  Also a rotted leaf or stem may be saved and nurtured to be able to start a new plant.  

How to save an overwatered succulent?

Here are the steps that you should do to save your overwatered succulent:

1. Remove the plant from the wet soil. 

You have to dig and remove the succulent from the wet and clumpy soil then get rid of all excess water from its roots. 

2. Let the roots of the plant dry out for at least 3 days to one week. 

After you’ve taken out the plant and removed the excess soil and water, be sure to cut off the brown or black roots as they’re rotten already and won’t have any use anymore. Then, place the succulent in a mesh or strainer and keep it there until the roots have been air-dried at least 3 weeks to one week. 

3. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight.

While keeping the plant dry, make sure not to place it in a spot with direct sunlight as it may just worsen the situation since it’s already been to a lot of stress because of being overwatered.  It’s best to put it in a place with indirect sunlight.

4. If you notice that the roots are already dry, you can now replant the plant and be sure to change the soil and improve the drainage. 

Most of the time, it’s only the topsoil that has to be replaced with fresh succulent soil, especially if your plant is already planted in store-bought or homemade succulent soil. Scoop out the soil from the middle part, too, especially if the roots already has root rot. To ensure that the soil is suitable for succulents, see to it that it’s three parts potting soil, two parts poultry grit and one part perlite to ensure good drainage and ventilation. Another method you can try to improve the drainage is to put 2 inches of gravel or expanded shale on a separate pot that’s larger than the succulent pot and put your succulent planter in it so the roots won’t sit in excess water.  Always make sure that the gravel won’t be submerged in water. 

Will the leaves of your succulent grow back once it’s saved?

Yes, the leaves of your succulent should eventually grow back as long as long as there is no massive root rot.  You’ll know that your plant has recovered and out of the danger zone once you notice new, tiny leaves along the stems.  You will also notice growth from the sides, top, and bottom of your succulent. 

How to avoid overwatering your succulents?

Two big factors play an important role in ensuring that you’re not overwatering your succulents, the proper watering techniques, and the type of soil used. 

Proper watering techniques 

Succulents that are kept indoors don’t dry out quickly and don’t need to be watered always compared to those planted outdoors. Outdoor succulents are more exposed to sunlight and dry more quickly, thus, they need to be monitored and watered more compared to the indoor ones. It’s also important that you’re familiar with your plants since there are types of succulents that don’t need as much water as the others. 

The burrito’s tail or donkey’s tail succulent don’t need too much water as they’ll easily rot. However, aeoniums or tree houseleeks prefer more water. Aside from the type of succulent and if it’s kept indoor or outdoor, you should also consider the climate and weather. Plants tend to need more water during summertime compared to wintertime.

Succulents also need to be watered more during their growing period which is usually during spring or early summer. Ideally, succulents that are kept indoors should be watered at least every 7 to 10 days during warmer months and at least every 2 to 3 weeks during wintertime. It’s important to thoroughly water the plants and then let the soil dry out before watering them again. 

Type of soil used 

It’s not only the proper watering techniques that spell the success or doom of your succulents but also the type of soil used. Succulents thrive best in a porous sandy potting soil. These plants need a potting mix that drains well and doesn’t like to sit too long in wet soil. As much as these plants also need water they also need time to dry out. Recommended soil include the following: 

  •  a one is to one ratio solution of cactus mix combined with perlite 
  • a sandy soil mixture which is achieved by combining cactus mix and coarse sand on a one is to one ratio 
  • a combination of the cactus mix, perlite, and coarse sand in equal parts 

Aside from the proper type of soil and the proper watering techniques you should also remember to do these things to ensure that your succulents will survive should they become overwatered. 

  • Be sure to monitor the health of your plants by touch and sight.
  • Be wary if you see signs of wilting and root rot and act on it quickly. 
  • If you suspect that the plant is overwatered, pluck the plant from the soil to check the roots. 
  • Be sure to remove excess soil and rinse the roots to examine the plant condition. 
  • Check the stems for any signs of rot and remove rotting leaves. 
  • Should you see that there’s root rot, replace the used soil,  cut back the roots, and remove all visible signs of rot. 

Conclusion 

It’s heartbreaking to discover that your precious succulents are drowning from being overwatered. However, don’t lose hope because your succulents can still be saved especially if it’s still in the early stages of root rot. You can save your plant by removing it from the wet soil, letting the roots dry out for three days to a week, and then replanting it in ideal sandy potting soil while ensuring that there’s ample drainage. 

17 Low Light Succulents for home growers

Low Light Succulents

Succulents are known for their ability to retain water in barren soil conditions and climates. Known for their fleshy, engorged, and thickened parts, succulents are popular as ornamental plants and classified as either high light or low light

Low light succulents grow well even with indirect morning or afternoon sunlight.  They have darker green-colored foliage compared to high light succulents that have traces of reds, purples, and pinks.  They’re more aloe-like rather than flower-like and possess beautiful shapes and textures.  Compared to high light succulents, they only need three or four hours of sunlight daily and can still thrive even in areas with no natural light. 

Here’s a list of the popular low light succulents that plant enthusiasts grow and collect:

Snake plant 

Snake plant

Scientific name: Sanseveria trifasciata

Family: Asparagaceae 

Origin: West Africa and Asia 

Common names: mother-in-law’s tongue, jinn’s tongue, bowstring hemp, snake plant, devil’s tongue, snake’s tongue, Saint George’s sword 

Snake plants usually have long and slightly windy green leaves that may range from six inches to eight feet tall depending on the variety. The mother-in-law’s tongue variety features a yellow border  It’s a great starter plant because it tolerates neglect and prefers low to medium indirect light although bright and natural light brings out the true color of the leaves. While minimal light is okay for snake plants, they still need to be protected from intense sunlight to prevent damage. These plants purify the air by removing toxins from the air and don’t like to be over watered. You can also see our article on succulents that grow tall.

Chocolate Soldier 

Chocolate Soldier

Scientific name: Kalanchoe tormentosa 

Family:   Crassulaceae 

Origin: Madagascar 

Common names: panda plant, pussy ears, chocolate soldier, cocoon plant, velvetleaf kalanchoe, white lady, mother of thousands, mother of millions 

Chocolate soldier plants have thick succulent leaves that come in various forms and shapes while some leaves are smooth and covered in fine fuzzy hair.  These plants are highly adaptable and can survive even with minimal light but also prefer bright and indirect light as well as intense heat. It’s often used as potted plants and they produce clusters of flowers and blooms. It can grow up to 1.5 feet and they have thick stems and when pruned well they have a bush or tree look. 

Jade Plant 

Jade Plant

Scientific name: Crassula ovata 

Family: Crassulaceae 

Origin:  Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa and Mozambique 

Common names: lucky plant, money plant, money tree 

The jade plant is a large, multi-branched, and floriferous shrub that keeps its structure and texture intact even only in low sunlight. It has at least 1,400 types and though most types are common some are very expensive and rare. Its colors vary from green to red depending on the amount of sunlight that it’s exposed to. It’s usually regarded as a symbol of luck and you’ll often see this plant in offices and businesses. Even if it may die due to overhydration it can grow back even if the leaves have fallen off.  While it requires minimal care, the plant’s soil should be changed at least every 2 to 3 years. 

Haworthia 

Haworthia

Scientific name: Haworthiopsis attenuata 

Family: Asphodeliaceae 

Origin: Southern Africa 

Common names:  star window plant, zebra cactus, pearl plant, cushion aloe 

Haworthia plants are so-called dwarf succulents, have zebra-like stripes, and often mistaken as aloe vera because of its close resemblance. These plants grow well in minimal light but look best in a bright environment. These slow-growing plants also need water but should never be allowed to sit in water for too long.  These plants form rosettes of varying shapes depending on the species while some may form clusters. They mostly have thick roots and most species have tough and fleshy dark green leaves while some have softer and rounded leaves with glassy surfaces. 

Rhipsalis 

Rhipsalis

Scientific name: Rhipsalis cereuscula   

Family: Cactacea 

Origin: Central America, Caribbean, South America 

Common names: mistletoe cactus, currant cactus, old man’s beard, pencil cactus, spaghetti cactus 

Rhipsalis plants are epiphytes by nature which means that they grow on the surface of other plants and get moisture and nutrients from the surroundings. It has more or less 39 epiphytic species. These plants which are suited indoors don’t thrive in direct sunlight and very dry soil and do well in places with minimal light. The morning sun and afternoon shade is enough for these plants but they’re not drought resistant and they need to be regularly watered. 

Cotyledon Tomentosa

Cotyledon tomentosa
Photo credit from John Rusk licensed under creative commons

Scientific name: Cotyledon tomentosa

Family name: Crassulaceae 

Origin: South Africa 

Common names: bear’s paw, kitten’s paw 

These plants are perennial evergreen shrubs with leaves that resemble a bear’s paws, has a satiny feel and with reddish teeth at its edges. Cotyledons have 10 species and the flowers are shaped like bells. It can grow up to 70 cm tall, requires minimal attention, and thrives well in low light but it still needs water just like other succulents. In its natural habitat in South Africa, cotyledons grow in rocky quartz fields that have very porous soil.  These plants are considered non-toxic although some claim that it can be mildly toxic. 

Burros Tail 

Burros Tail

Scientific name: Sedum morganianum 

Family name: Crassulaceae 

Origin: Southern Mexico and Honduras 

Common names:  donkey’s tail, horse’s tail, lamb’s tail 

This flowering plant is a perennial succulent with stems that can reach up to 24 inches. It has fleshy blue-green leaves that are filled with water and with terminal pink to red flowers during summertime.  It can grow its tail up to 4 feet tall. Burros tail is a drought-resistant plant that easily thrives even with minimal light. It should be kept in full sun for a few days upon planting and then placed in a well-drained pot to make sure that it has proper drainage. 

Aloe Vera 

Aloe Vera

Scientific name: Aloe vera 

Family: Asphodelaceae

Origin: Arabian peninsula 

Common names: Chinese aloe, first aid plant, burn aloe, Indian aloe, Barbados aloe

Aloe vera grows wild in tropical and arid climates in the world and has both dwarf and large tree-like species that can grow up to 30 feet.  Dwarf species and hybrids thrive well in shady areas and as indoor plants placed in pots.  These plants have bluish-grey-green leaves that are thick and fleshy while some varieties have white flecks in the stems. It’s a great starter plant and very easy to care for and cultivate. It’s also a popular ingredient among consumer products and its extract is clinically proven as an effective medicine. 

Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm

Scientific name: Beaucarnea recurvata 

Family: Asparagaceae

Origin:   Belize, Guatemala, Mexico 

Common names: bottle palm, elephant’s foot tree

Ponytail palms are not true palms but often mistakenly called as such because of their single trunk and with leaves on top. It can grow up to 30 feet tall if planted on the ground but they’re shorter if planted in pots or containers. These plants have bulbous trunks that are used to store water and they have long and hair-like leaves that form like a ponytail hence their name. It’s easy to cultivate and doesn’t need to be watered always and can tolerate medium to low light for most months of the year. However, they need fast-draining soil and not available to sit in water for so long. 

Gasteria 

Gasteria

Scientific name: Gasteria 

Family: Asphodelaceae 

Origin: South Africa 

Common names:  ox tongue, cow’s tongue, lawyer’s tongue 

Gasteria plants grow well in lightly shaded places with lots of rainfall and they produce flowers that resemble the shape of a stomach which is “gaster” in Latin, hence its name. These plants have long, thick and grooved leaves and tolerate minimal light conditions. They prefer to grow in bright and hot places especially in spots with indirect light and require little water and fertilizer. If planted in the soil, these plants prefer sandy and well-drained areas but they also thrive well in pots and popular as indoor plants or houseplants. 

Spider plant

Spider plant

Scientific name: Chlorophylum comosum

Family: Asparagaceae

Origin: Southern Africa 

Common names:   airplane plant, St. Bernard’s lily, spider lily, ribbon plant,  hen and chickens 

Spider plants are common houseplants because they’re good air purifiers and can grow up to three feet tall. These plants have tuberous roots and its long narrow leaves can reach up to 18 inches in length and 1 inch in width. These grass-like plants have white flowers at the tips that bloom during springtime. Spider plants have more or less 65 species and need very little sunlight and thrive well even with minimal care. The most common variety has streaked leaves with leaves that are light yellow in the middle. 

Euphorbia milii

Euphorbia milii

Scientific name: Euophorbia milii 

Family: Euphorbiaceae 

Origin: Madagascar 

Common names:  Christ plant, Christ thorn, Corona de Cristo, crown of thorns

Euphorbia milii plants are succulent shrubs that grow up to about 6 feet tall and have densely spiny stems. Its leaves can grow up to 1.4 inches in length and .59 inches in width and the entire plant can grow up to 3 feet tall  These plants have small red color flowers and the sap is moderately poisonous as it irritates upon contact with skin or eyes. If ingested, these plants can cause stomach pain and vomiting.  The plant is commonly called Christ plant because the crown that Christ supposedly wore during the crucifixion is made of this plant. 

Platycerium

Platycerium

Scientific name:  Platycerium 

Family: Polypodiaceae

Origin:  Southeast Asia,  Polynesia, subtropical Australia 

Common names: staghorn fern, elkhorn fern 

Playtcerium plants have leafy fronds and grow well in airy environments. They only require minimal light and shouldn’t be placed in areas with direct sunlight.  These epiphytic plants only need to be watered at least once a week. They have tufted roots that grow from a short rhizome bearing two types of fronds called basal and fertile fronds. These plants grow on trees and doen’t need soil contact as they absorb nutrients and moisture from the air and water or leaves. There are about 18 species of this plant and most species shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Hoya

Hoya

Scientific name: Hoya carnosa 

Family: Apocynaceae 

Origin: Eastern Asia, Southern India and Australia 

Common names:  wax plant, porcelain flower, wax vine, wax flower, Hindu rope 

Hoya plants are common house plants that are known for their sweetly scented flowers and waxy foliage. They grow well in hanging baskets and pots and have thick and almost heart-shaped leaves. While most species are succulents, some are not. These plants grow well even with minimal light or partial shade and don’t need direct sunlight but they need protection from frost and intense heat. The hoya plant genus has more or less 200 to 300 species.  

Rebutia 

Rebutia

Scientific name: Rebutia minuscula 

Family: Cactaceae 

Origin: Bolivia and Argentina 

Common names:  white-haired crown, fire crown cactus, little mouse, orange snowball, violet crown cactus 

Rebutia plants are small and colorful cacti that are globular with flowers that are large compared to its body.  These plants can form into large clusters,  have regularly arranged small tubercles, and produce large quantities of seeds that germinate freely. Rebutias have funnel-shaped flowers with floral tubes that extend and curve upwards with scales that may have hairs but not spines. These are popular and can be easily grown from almost anywhere in the world. There are more or less 5,000 different species of rebutia plants. 

Echeveria  

Echeveria

Scientific name: Echeveria elegans

Family: Crassulaceae 

Origin: Central America, Mexico, and Northwestern South America 

Common names:  Mexican snowball, Mexican, white Mexican rose 

Echeverias  have gorgeous rosettes that vary in shapes and sizes and some are either short or long-stemmed. These plants may grow up to 8 inches in width and its leaves come in different shades and colors and while some are smooth and furry other leaves may be thin or thick. These plants are grown in pots and containers and can grow well even in partial shade or minimal light.  Make sure not to overwater these plants as they may rot and it shouldn’t be exposed to intense sunlight and frost. 

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

Scientific name: Zamioculcas Zamiifolia 

Family: Araceae 

Origin: Eastern Africa, Southern Kenya, and Northeastern South Africa 

Common names: Zanzibar gem, ZZ plant, Zuzu plant, aroid palm, eternity plant, emerald palm 

These ornamental plants have attractive glossy foliage and easy to care and maintain. They’re drought resistant and have green waxy leaves and should be kept away from direct sunlight. ZZ plants are herbaceous and normally evergreen but tend to fall off during droughts but it can survive in places with low light levels and without water for as long as four months.  These plants are poisonous and may endanger pets and humans if ingested, however, these are popular indoor plants and usually seen in offices and homes. 

Conclusion 

Low light succulents are popular indoor plants because they can live with minimal light and are very easy to care and maintain. Most of these plants require little water and feature attractive foliage that makes them good for decoration.

Pros And Cons Of Aquaponics

Pros And Cons Of Aquaponics

Aquaponics provides many advantages in pursuing a sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternative to produce fresh vegetables and fish. This method is not without its disadvantages though.  

What is aquaponics?

Aquaponics combines two farming methods which are aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture or aquafarming is the cultivation of fish, crustaceans, algae, and other aquatic animals in a controlled aquatic environment while hydroponics is the method of cultivating plants without the use of soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. This agri-farming system combines two methods and supports a symbiotic relationship for the plants and fish wherein fish waste feeds the plants while the latter purifies and filters the water for the fish. 

How does aquaponics work?

Before discussing the pros and cons of aquaponics, here’s a little discussion on how this farming system works. As mentioned earlier,  there’s a symbiotic relationship among the plants and fish that are cultivated in this farming system. The excretion from the fish acts as natural fertilizer and manure for the plants and it contains minerals like potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and ammonia which are converted into nitrates. Fish manure is distributed to the water basins through a pump.

Other supplements and plant food may be given to supplement the nutrients such as iron and calcium which helps further in purifying the water. To avoid contamination due to overproduction of ammonia, roots and certain microbes help convert it to nitrates that feed the plants.

These are the four basic components of an aquaponics system:

  • a fish tank or aquarium 
  • a grow bed for plants 
  • a water transport method such as a water pump to distribute water from the fish tank to the grow bed 
  • a method using pipes or siphons to drain the water from the grow bed back into the fish tank

Pros and cons of aquaponics 

Just like with other types of farming methods, aquaponics has its share of pros and cons:

Pros 

1. It is environmentally-friendly.

The aquaponics system doesn’t use artificial fertilizers and pesticides that can harm and kill the fish which makes it environmentally safe. Compared to land-based farming systems that claim they only use organic techniques but tend to use harmful composts, aquaponics doesn’t use components that harm the cultivated plants and fish.

2. It saves water.

Water is effectively recycled and reused and there are an estimated 80 to 90% water savings with the farming method. This is equally helpful especially if you live in a place where water is precious and scarce. 

3. It has a high level of nutrient utilization.

The cultivated plants as well as the fish being cared for in an aquaponics system utilize supplement contribution through the fish food and there’s no need for artificial supplements that could harm the fish and plants. There is no form of waste and solids collected can be added to compost or applied in berry bushes. Unharvested plants from the aquaponics system can be composted or fed to animals and very little water is discharged. 

4. It’s affordable and easy to maintain.

While some people may be initially put off by the expenses that come with the system set-up, aquaponics is actually an affordable farming method. You don’t have to purchase synthetic fertilizers aside from the amount of water that is saved since it’s recycled. The farming method mimics a natural ecosystem where nutrients are produced without the need for chemicals and pesticides that cost money. Similarly, aquaponics is easy to maintain and you just have to understand fully the basics of the system. School children can be taught about the system and schools are introducing it as part of their STEM subjects like Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering. 

5. It’s space-efficient.

What makes aquaponics very ideal is the fact that you can already grow your food and fish even though you only have an aquarium or just a few square meters worth of space in your backyard for the grow beds. It’s practically a soil-less method so space is efficiently saved. Whether you’re living in an urban area or high-rise building, it’s still possible to start your aquaponics system and be able to enjoy fresh and healthy food produce all year-round.  Also, the farming method can be done regardless if you’re living in a hot temperature region or a place with chilly weather. Since it can be done indoors, it’s not affected by weather or climate.

6. It reduces food miles. 

Having your own aquaponics system in your backyard reduces transportation expenses and “food miles” since you don’t have to travel to the supermarket to buy food. By growing your own vegetables and fish, there’s also fewer chances of spoilage and other food safety concerns and you’re assured of good quality and healthy food. 

7. It’s a good source of income. 

A backyard and small-scale aquaponics system are more than enough to feed your family, thus, you could also venture to sell some of the vegetables and fish during harvest time. It could be a good source of income and your customers are only assured of fresh and healthy food that is free of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals. 

Cons 

1. Not all crops and types of fish are feasible for the method.

If you’re fond of root crops then it may dismay you because root crops along with tuberous plants cannot thrive with the aquaponics system. These types of plants such as potatoes, cassavas, and sweet potatoes need soil to grow. Nevertheless, there are many vegetables that you can easily cultivate with the method and these include cabbage, lettuce, kale, spinach, beets, radish, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, mint, basil, and chives. Recommended types of fish include tilapia, catfish, koi, carp, and bluegill. 

2. It can be costly.

Some costs need to be handled if you’re starting your own aquaponics systems and this includes water tanks, grow beds, fish fingerlings, plant seedlings, and equipment to manage the water distribution system. Another big chunk to the cost is the monthly electric bill that’s incurred. However, there are other alternative energy sources that you can consider to cut expenses such as solar energy, wind, and hydroelectric power. 

3. There’s high consumption of electricity. 

Electricity is essential in aquaponics because water pumps need to operate round-the-clock and temperature in the fish tank should also be maintained. However, it can lead to high consumption of electricity. But this can be addressed by using other alternative energy sources such as solar energy, wind, and hydroelectric power. 

4. It must be professionally installed.

While this farming method can be easily learned even by schoolchildren, it requires to be professionally installed to avoid losses in capital. An inadequately-constructed aquaponics setup  could mean that plants will wither and the fish won’t survive. It’s advisable to seek help from an aquaponics expert to avoid financial loss. 

5. There’s a chance of unexpected failure.  

As it is with other farming methods, there’s a chance that your aquaponics system may fail if all the conditions are not met. It requires monitoring and extra care because you’re tending and cultivating plants but also seeing to it that the fish are getting the right nutrients and growing well. If the fish are not cared in the right conditions they may die and plants are susceptible to pathogens that lead to diseases. 

Difference Between Aquaponics And Hydroponics

Difference Between Aquaponics And Hydroponics

At first glance, aquaponics and hydroponics are very similar because both involve growing plants in a soilless environment. However, while they’re both similar in concept the big difference are the fish or the lack of them. In a nutshell, an aquaponic systems uses fish to provide nutrients to the plants while hydroponic systems utilize nutrient-enriched water solutions. 

Differences between aquaponics and hydroponics 

  1. Aquaponics uses fish to provide essential nutrients for plant (although you can use additional plant food with them) growth while hydroponics doesn’t involve growing of fish but uses nutrient-enriched water solutions. 
  2. Aquaponics is typically purely organic and doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers while hydroponics uses nutrient solutions which consist of minerals like calcium and magnesium in the raw water and nutrients added with fertilizers. 
  3. While both use nutrient-rich water solutions there’s a difference in how plants receive the nutrients. Aquaponics rely on fish waste to nourish the plants being cultivated. 
  4. Since aquaponics uses fish there’s a greater tendency for contamination due to the fish waste compared to hydroponics where there are fewer chances for contamination since there’s no excretion used. 
  5. An aquaponics system typically costs 30% to 50% more to construct and implement compared to a hydroponics system. The former is more complex because of the fish element in addition to the cultivation of plants and vegetables.  
  6. While aquaponics is cost-effective because of the use of organic matter to supply nutrients, hydroponics is less cost-effective because chemical nutrients need to be purchased.
  7. An aquaponics system is slower and takes time to start compared to the hydroponics system which is quicker to start up. 
  8. The operating temperature of the hydroponics system is lower to discourage the growth of bacteria as opposed to the aquaponics method where the higher temperature is needed to encourage the growth of nutrient-rich bacteria.
  9. Aquaponics has a closed-loop system and water is recycled and doesn’t need to be replaced while hydroponics require flushing and water needs to be replaced to prevent salt build-up and for solutions not to harm the plants. 
  10. Hydroponics results in lower yields compared to aquaponics where you can both yield vegetables and fresh fish. 

What do aquaponics and hydroponics have in common?

Despite the obvious differences between the two agricultural farming methods, both have their corresponding and weaknesses. Most of all, they also share some common characteristics. Here are some of the similarities between aquaponics and hydroponics:

  • Both systems are agricultural farming methods that thrive without the use of soil. 
  • Both hydroponics and aquaponics rely on water as the delivery system or medium for the plants’ nutrients.
  • They’re both stable systems that can produce higher crop yields compared to soil-grown crops. 
  • The two farming systems have a lower tendency for pest damage. 
  • Water and nutrient levels are conserved using the two systems and there’s less wastage.  

For more information read our article on the benefits of auquaponics and the disadvantages of aquaponics.

What are the methods used in aquaponics and  hydroponics?

Aside from differences in characteristics, these two agricultural systems also have varying methods that are commonly practiced by gardeners nowadays. Here are the methods commonly used in aquaponics and hydroponics:

Aquaponics methods

Raft system

This is also known as float, deep flow, and deep channel.  In this system, the plants are cultivated on rafts or polystyrene boards that float and this is in a tank separate from the fish tank. The water flows continuously through filtration components from the fish tank, through the raft tank where plants are grown and back again to the fish tank, following a certain cycle. 

Nutrient film technique

In this method the plants are grown in long narrow channels where a thin film of water flows along each channel and provides the plant roots with water, oxygen, and nutrients. However, a biofilter may be needed for this particular method. 

Media-filled bed system

This method uses a tank or container and utilizes perlite or gravel for the plant bed which is periodically filled with water from the fish tank which drains back to it. The solids and wastes are broken down in the plant bed. 

Hydroponics methods 

Drip system

In this popular system the aerated and nutrient-rich reservoir supplies solution by pumping it through tubes going to individual plants and dripped slowly to the growing media around the root system allowing the plants to stay moist and nourished. 

Ebb and flow system

The method involves flooding a grow bed with nutrient solution from a reservoir. With the use of a timer, the pump in the reservoir fills the grow bed with water and nutrients and when the timer stops, the gravity drains the water out of the grow bed and returns it to the reservoir. 

Wick system

In this method the plants are placed in a growing media on a tray atop a reservoir that has a water solution with dissolved nutrients and wicks travel from the reservoir to the growing tray. Nutrients and water saturate the growing media around the plants’ root systems. 

Aeroponics

This method suspends plants in the air and exposes the naked roots to a mist that’s filled with nutrients. It’s enclosed in frameworks like cubes which can hold a lot of plants. 

Deep water culture system

The plants are suspended in aerated water in this particular system which is considered as one of the easiest and most popular hydroponics methods around. 

Nutrient film technique system

In this method, the plants are suspended above a stream of continuously flowing nutrient solution that’s sprinkled on the ends of the plants’ root systems.

Conclusion

Both aquaponics and hydroponics farming systems are sustainable and environmentally-friendly because they don’t take up much space, don’t require soil usage, and water is considerably conserved. However, these systems have differences when it comes to cost-effectiveness, productivity, and ease of maintenance. Most of all, aquaponics enjoy marketing appeal and draws more attention because of the use of fish in addition to the cultivation of plants and vegetables.