In the Garden: Keeping your succulents healthy

Succulents and cacti plants continue to be a strong trend in home decor and indoor gardening. They are what I like to call ‘garden chic’.

This unique plant group store water in various parts of the plant, like the leaves and stems. Cacti store water in the main body of the plant. Generally found growing in warm arid regions of the world succulents have the ability to survive on very little water. So it is not surprising that they have become popular for being easy to grow and low maintenance house plant.

Grown for ornamental purposes many cultivars are uniquely shaped in various colors and textures. Even though they are hailed as super easy to grow the most common question I get from clients is, how do I keep them looking as good as the day I bring them home from the garden center? It is not a difficult task if you follow a few simple tips.

Always choose healthy plants. When you go to your local garden center look for succulents that are full in shape. Leave any plants that look irregular in shape or have a large number of leaves missing at the store. Leaves should be full and plump and avoid ones with yellowing leaves and soggy texture, this is can be a sign of poor watering habits or even insect damage. Plants should look clean and healthy. Leaves should not be sticky or have any powder-like residue.

Transplant succulents using the right type of soil. Cacti and succulents are not aggressive growers. In fact they are slow growers that don’t mind being being planted with other succulents in the same container. They like a dry, well-drained environment in a soil that contains a balance of sand, perlite and sphagnum peat moss to help with water and fertilizer retention for the roots. I recommend using a soilless mix that is specially formulated to keep plants healthy. Succulents can be planted in any type of container that allows for proper drainage. Make sure containers have a drainage hole for water to flow through.

Water plants when they are thoroughly dry. I always soak plants thoroughly and allow water to flow through, then wait a week and check again. If soil is still moist wait another week. I generally wait two or even three weeks between waterings. Some signs to look for if you are not watering properly are, drying and dehydrated looking leaves aren’t getting enough water and soggy leaves are holding too much water. Get into a regular watering schedule to help plants thrive.

Let your plants live in light. Succulents love bright, filtered light so find a bright sunny window where they’ll receive four to six hours of sun.

Occasionally give succulents a boost by fertilizing with a water soluble succulent food as needed. Remove dead or decaying leaves to keep plants looking clean. This is a good routine to acquire. It allows you to keep an eye out for insects or any potential plants problems you should avoid. These easy to follow tips will go a long way in keeping your succulents looking happy and healthy indoors all year.