Succulents are stars of gardens everywhere. According to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, they account for 15 percent of garden center sales throughout the Midwest. They prove especially popular with millennials.
Many people buy succulents for their beautiful colors and thick leaves. But they don’t know how to maintain them. They assume that they don’t have to water them, but that’s far from the case.
What are the essentials of how to water succulents? How often should you water succulents? What tools do you need to maintain them long-term?
Answer these questions and you can have a healthy and vibrant garden today. Here is your quick guide.
Know the Basics About Succulents
Succulents are thick and fleshy plants. They retain water over long periods of time, allowing them to live in hot climates.
While succulents need less water than most plants, some kinds of succulents need more than other kinds. Cacti require far less water than sedums or jade plants.
Most kinds of succulents start growing in the early spring, which means they need a lot of water then. They need less water in the summer, and they need even less in the winter.
Do not assume that you don’t need to water your plant just because you bought a succulent. Read about the species you bought. Talk to a professional at a garden center about what you should do.
Use the Right Pots
If this is your first time caring for succulents, you should plant them in pots with drainage holes. As the name suggests, these are pots with small holes in the bottom so excess water can drain out. These prevent rot or mold from gathering.
You do not have to make your hole big. Use a diamond tip drill bit and insert a hole into the bottom of your pot. Keep the hole close to the center so you don’t chip the side.
If you are concerned about water draining through the bottom, put a rag beneath your pot. After you’ve let water circulate through it, remove the rag and wipe down the area. Do not let the rag sit for too long since it could attract mold.
Select porous materials for your pot. Terracotta and ceramic allow water to evaporate quickly. You can use glass, but put a layer of charcoal along the bottom that can collect excess water.
As you gain experience in watering succulents, you can move them out of the pots. You can bury them underground or put them in another kind of pot.
Sit Your Plants in Fast Draining Soil
Common soil contains compacted substances and clay that do not absorb water. You should buy special kinds of fast-draining soil from a local garden center.
If you can’t find it, you can make your own. Mix together shredded pieces of moss, compost, and bark with some common soil. Pack it around your succulents, but leave enough room for roots and water to spread out.
You can also mix light potting soil with fluffy substances like pumice. Experiment with both kinds of fast-draining soil. The drier the soil, the better it is for your plants.
Opt for Rainwater
Tap water builds up in pipes. As it does, it picks up minerals like magnesium that soil cannot absorb.
It is okay to use tap water on occasion to water your succulents. Put some into a container and leave it out overnight. This will help separate some of its minerals and chemicals.
But you should use rainwater instead. Use your gutters to direct rainwater into barrels and jugs. If you have a large roof or backyard, you can place an open-air tank that catches water as it falls.
It may be tempting to move your pots outside when it starts to rain. But you may wind up overwatering your plants and damaging their leaves.
If you live in a dry area, you can opt for distilled water. You can buy some at a garden or grocery store. You can also boil water and condense the steam, which is free from impurities.
Be Deliberate When Watering Succulents
Before you start to water your plants, take a look at the soil. Touch with your fingertips to see if it is moist. If it is, do not water your plants.
Use a bottle or can with a long and narrow spout. Do not use spray bottles, hoses, or faucets to distribute water.
Pour in water as close as you can to the plants’ roots. You can touch the soil with the tip of your bottle as you do so. Do not apply water to the leaves since that can cause them to rot.
Water until the soil feels damp. If it feels very wet, you have put in too much.
Choose a good time of day. Watering in the morning gives time for the excess to evaporate. Do not water when it is humid or very hot, especially in the afternoon.
A general rule of thumb is that you should water your succulents once every two weeks. But you should keep an eye on your plants and soil. Be prepared to water more or less often if their conditions change.
How to Water Succulents
You can learn how to water succulents. Talk to a garden professional about your species of plant and what you should do. Buy pots with drainage holes and porous substances.
Select fast-draining soil. Compare multiple kinds together and pick the one that carries the most water away. Use rainwater instead of mineral-rich tap water.
Plan to water every two weeks or so. Pour close to the roots and stop when the soil feels wet. Do not overwater or water during hot periods.
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