Succulents are a great way to add to your home and with so many different kinds to choose from, you can create masterpieces of color and texture. Bill Bird from Jonker's Garden shared some tips with us on how to make sure your succulents thrive.
Choose an appropriate succulent for your indoor environment. In Michigan, tropical succulents need to be inside during the harsh and cold winter months. During the summer months, most tropical succulents benefit from being outside, just be sure to wait until the chance of frost is over before you take them outdoors or plant them in your garden. In the fall, bring your succulents inside in early fall to allow the plants to assimilate to your home's atmosphere.
Provide a well draining potting medium. Most potted plants are sold in a standard soil mixture that works for a large portion of plants. With succulents though, because the plants are designed to live in one of the harshest environments on earth, that standard potting soil isn't what you need. You want to use a desert-dweller mix of soil which is about half the standard potting soil, and half something inorganic, like perlite. Together, they create a well-draining, low-nutrient soil that succulents love. If you want to keep the soil from splashing up on your succulents, and want to give your pot a more finished look, you can add a layer of small pebbles on top of the soil.
During the summer months, succulents do best in 70-80 degree weather. During the winter, the plants do best in 50-60 degree weather.
Choose your container. We often see succulents crammed together in a small pot, but reality, the plants like more room and a chance to spread their roots out without interference from other plants. If your succulents are growing in one solid mass, carefully separate them and give each one its own tiny desert dune. Almost any container works as long as there is adequate drainage, even an old boot, a hollowed out log, whatever your imagination strikes on.
Place your succulent in a sunny location. Light may be the most difficult part of a plant's environment to recreate, especially indoors. With other houseplants, we have a little bit more leaway, with them often being used to a shift in the sun and shade as part of their normal environment. For succulents, it's important to remember that they are used to a lot more sun than other plants. Bird recommends finding the sunniest south facing window you can find. If you don't have one, he suggests picking a more forgiving succulent like aloe for your home.
Allow the potting mix to dry out between waterings. This one may see counter-intuitive until you remember many succulents are from the desert. It doesn't rain often there, but when it does, there is a lot of water coming from the sky. Use that to help you water your succulents. Completely soak the soil until water comes out the bottom of the pot. Then, you don't need to water it again for a little while. Allow the soil to get completely dry, and then some before you water your succulent again. By completely saturating the soil and allowing it to dry completely, you are recreating the plant's natural environment.
Fertilize. Yes, you still have to fertilize succulents. Bird recommends you begin doing so after a month and then continue every two weeks. Make sure the plant food is going to the roots of the plant, not the leaves.
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