10 Ways to Kill Your Succulents!
by Lynn KirkAug 20, 2021
Succulents are truly easy-to-grow, easy-to-propagate plants . . . but they’re not invincible. Here are 10 ways to kill your succulents, one poor plant at a time. Please read, and then DO JUST THE OPPOSITE!
- CHOOSE ANY CONTAINER.
Wrong! Skip the flea market’s antique tea cups, as well as the fairy garden’s domed-glass terrarium — no matter how cute they look. These containers don’t have drainage holes, so they tend to hold water that can rot the succulent’s roots.
Instead: Select a container that has open drainage holes, so water does just that: drains through after a thorough watering.
- USE REGULAR GARDEN DIRT.
Nope! Remember that most succulents originated in desert areas, so your backyard dirt is not their preference — especially if it’s mixed with clay or loam that doesn't support water drainage.
Instead: Purchase specially mixed soil or cactus soil, such as these succulent-soil blends from Succulent Market. Or, if you prefer to mix some on your own, add perlite or sand to gardening mixes until they enable sufficient drainage.
- PLANT WITH HOUSEPLANTS.
Not a good idea! More than likely, your other houseplants will require more frequent watering and different light conditions than your succulents.
Instead: Pair with plants that share the same growing preferences. That will take a bit of research, so it’s probably better to stick exclusively with succulents. Besides, you can have your other houseplants nearby and still enjoy the same effect.
- WATER BY MISTING.
Please don’t! Misting waters the leaves and stems, but never reaches the roots.
Instead: Save misting for when you want to clean a succulent's foliage or to moisten cuttings during propagation. Otherwise, misting serves little purpose with succulent plants. To learn how to correctly water a succulent click here.
5. IGNORE PESTS.
Not too smart! The number of pests and the harm they cause can escalate in little time, plus they can easily spread to your other plants. If you wait to respond, you might miss the opportunity to prevent plant damage and even death.
Instead: Keep an eye out for mealybugs, red spider mites, aphids, and others that tend to be attracted to succulents. When you spot these pests, check out these blogs and respond quickly!
- PLACE IN LOW-LIGHT AREAS.
Nope! Most all succulents prefer bright light for around six to eight hours per day. Leggy growth is one indicator that your plant is stretching for the additional sunlight that it needs.
Instead: Check each genus's sun preference and rotate your collection to avoid one-sided growth. An exception is newly potted succulents that might be burned by bright sunlight.
- WATER WHENEVER YOU REMEMBER.
Geezy peezy! Irregular watering can ensure certain death for succulents — especially if water too often (succulents' number 1 killer!).
Instead: Wait until the plant’s soil has dried out, and then direct water to its roots until the water runs out of the drainage holes. Another option is to set the plant in a flat pan of water and allow the succulent’s roots to take up the water it needs through the container’s drainage holes.
- FERTILIZE YEAR ROUND.
Whoa! Don’t fertilize a succulent (or any plant, for that matter) during its dormant season. For succulents, that's typically during the winter months.
Instead: Fertilize evenly in spring and summer, which are a succulent's seasons of growth and flowering. To learn how to fertilize succulents click here to watch our instructional you tube video on how to fertilize succulents.
- LEAVE YOUR SUCCULENTS WITHIN REACH.
Nope! Don’t set your beauties within reach of dogs, cats, and kiddos! They can be easily tipped, which can uproot the plant and break off leaves and stems. Remember, too, that some succulents are poisonous to pets and children, so better to be safe than sorry.
Instead: Decide in advance where you can showcase your beauties without tempting potential “predators” (i.e. those who don’t or can’t appreciate their fragility, value, and beauty).
- NEGLECT THEM OVER WINTER.
Don’t be lazy! Unless you reside in plant zones 10 to 12 (that is frost-free regions), remember that frost not only harms, but often kills succulents.
Instead: In cold climates, bring outdoor succulents inside during winter. Try to keep the temperature, as well as the amount of sunlight and water, similar to what they enjoyed outdoors. Then when spring comes, slowly acclimate the plants back outdoors for another growing season.
So, there you go — 10 ways to kill your succulents . . . or conversely, save them! The growers at Succulent Market will provide you with healthy plants, as well as blog and newsletter resources, to help you along. So please make the right choices, and happy gardening!