HOW TO CARE YOUR SUCCULENTS: MINI GUIDE
Succulents are some of the most resistant plants. They can be exposed to long hours of sun, live in nutrients poor soils and even resist dry periods. They are ideal for reckless gardeners and for those who, when are on summer holidays, do not want to worry about who will water their plants.
But being able to survive to all kind of difficult situations doesn’t make succulents invincible plants. If we are careless, some plants that could be with us for years will end up withering after a few weeks.
If what you are looking for is having some strong and beautiful succulents in your garden, in this article we will offer you a mini guide to grow them.
Four tips to grow your succulents
Do not overdo the watering
Succulents are plants that live in arid and desert areas. Therefore, their demand of irrigation is really low.
These plants survive by keeping water in their leaves and stems. They are even capable of absorbing moisture from the environment. If you want to keep them hydrated, it will be enough to water them once a week in the hottest months. In winter you can reduce it to once every two weeks or even stop watering them completely.
If you have doubts about when you should water your succulent, you can stick a wooden rod into the soil around the plant. If when removing it, the rod comes out practically clean, it is time to water again.
Sun or semishade
The succulents need to be in very bright spaces to grow properly. The most suitable location will depend on each species. Some need direct sunlight to grow, while others can get burned if they receive a very strong light.
A good way to know if your plant is receiving too much light is to look at its leaves: If they are discoloring, or if they start to turn into red or yellow, move them as soon as possible.
Nutrient poor soils
Succulents do not need a rich in minerals substrate. On the contrary, they are plants that root well in poor soils, so it is a good idea to mix the substrate with some sand.
Also avoid soils with too much clay, as the roots of succulents can easily rot if they absorb too much water. Better use a porous one.
If you are not sure about the composition of your ground or what type of mixture you should use, we recommend you using a special soil for cactus and succulents.
Plagues that affect succulents
In general, succulents are very resistant to plagues. But there are certain species that put them in danger, especially when planted outdoors:
-Nails: They eat the foliage and can end up killing the plant. You can easily avoid it by enclosing the area around the plant with sand or lime.
- Scale insects: Although they spread very quickly, it is usually easy to get rid of them, and often it is enough to pressurize the plant to get them to come off. You can also apply some kind of insecticide or, if you prefer natural remedies, place ladybugs on the succulent so that they eat the insects.
-Red spider: Tiny arachnids that are detected by the brown spots that cause in the leaves. Since they usually put their eggs in the plant, it is better to use some kind of insecticide or acaricide to eliminate them completely.
How to care for the most common succulents
These tips can help you growing most of the succulents species. However, each one is unique and has its own requirements. Therefore, below we give you some specific tips for the most popular succulents.
Care of the Portulacaria Afra
Also known as "Elephant’s food". It is a plant of fleshy and shiny leaves, which can grow up to two meters indoors.
The Portulacaria afra is needs a lot of light. It supports direct exposure to the sun and will even grow better this way. But it can also be used as an indoor plant in semi-shade areas, keeping it in a place with several hours of light.
Like all plants from warm areas (in this case, from southern Africa), cold is one of their biggest enemies. If we live in an area with hard winters, we will have to plant it in a pot to keep it indoors.
In its homeland, this plant can grow up to 15 meters high, much less when kept in gardens or pots. It can even be grown as bonsai, being a very appreciated species in the Japanese art of ikebana.
The Portulacaria retains a large amount of water in its branches and in its fleshy leaves, so an excess of watering will cause its roots to rot quickly. We will only water it when the soil is completely dry, usually once a week.
Care of Euphorbia trigona
Euphorbia trigona is a singular species within the succulents. Although it is classified as succulent, at the edges of its stems grow small red leaves alternately with thorns similar to the ones on cactus.
This plant needs direct sun, although it can grow well in semi-shade. Regarding irrigation, again it is important not to overdo it. Like most of its family, this plant is much more resistant to drought than to over-irrigate. First of all it is very important to plant it in a well-drained soil, so we can mix it with sand our use a special substrate for cactus.
In winter it will lose its leaves, and in spring, with the return of warm temperatures, it will recover them. We should never leave it exposed to frost.
Care of the Cotyledon orbiculata
This plant of beautiful bell-shaped flowers is also known as "Pig’s ear", because of the shape of its fleshy leaves.
It is a species native to South Africa, which grows well with direct sunlight. Its resistance allows it to survive in almost any environment and condition. The only requirement is that the soil has good drainage and that we don’t over-water it.
It stores water in its large oval leaves. During the summer it will delight us with its hanging flowers of red, yellow and orange colours.
It supports the cold better than most succulents, being able to survive even to brief frosts. However, if we decide to grow it as an indoor plant, we will place it in a cool, well-lit room. In a pot it can reach 60 centimeters.
Care of the Haworthia fasciata
The Haworthia family is composed of more than 70 species, among which the fasciata is one of the most widespread. This family of fleshy leaves, displayed in the form of a rosette, is well known as 'Zebra Plants', due to the characteristic white lines on the outsite of its leaves.
They have small size (between 15 and 20 centimeters), ideal to keep them indoors. They are also frequently used in gardens with rockery.
The Haworthia fasciata needs a lot of light. However, the direct sun can damage the leaves, so we will better place it in a semi-shade, well-lit during the day.
The irrigation will be spaced, ensuring that the soil has good drainage. In winter you can water once a month or even stop it.
The temperature should never be below 10 ºC. In case of cold winters, we will keep it indoors.
The succulents are a family of hardy plants, easy to care for and very elegant. With these tips, we will make them last a long time with us.
If you have any questions about the care of your succulents, get in touch with us and we will advise you.
Links of interest:
40 ideas to have a garden of succulents!!!