Succulents are easy-to-care-for plants that have quickly become one of the most popular houseplants. There are more than 1,000 types of succulents that vary in size, color and growth habit which makes collecting them fun and interesting. Common genera include echeveria, haworthia and kalanchoe.
The key to success with keeping your houseplants thriving is to mimic their natural conditions. Succulents, which have evolved in arid and sunny environments, would therefore require a lot of light (preferably six hours a day or more) and minimal water.
The arid environments that succulents are accustomed to are nutrient-deficient and drain well. Pot up your succulents using a soil specifically formulated for them or simply create it by mixing one part of potting soil to one part of coarse sand. This medium will allow water to flow through easily, avoiding root rot. Be sure your pot has a drainage hole.
In nature, succulents receive infrequent rainfall. Water more frequently in the spring and summer (perhaps once a week) and less in the fall and winter (perhaps once every two weeks). Water the soil so that it runs out of the drainage hole. Be sure to allow the soil to completely dry between watering. This watering pattern mimics rainfall patterns in arid conditions. Do not be tempted to water a little bit here and there as this can actually do more harm than good to your plant. If the leaves of your succulent turn yellow, black or squishy, you are most likely over-watering. If the leaves are wrinkly or limp, you might not be watering enough.
Succulents are sun-seekers. Most succulent varieties thrive with bright direct light for at least six hours a day. They can do well inside near your brightest window, and also can be moved outside during the growing season and back indoors during dormancy. You’ll know if your plant needs more light if you see a stretching growth pattern.
Succulents can be fun and easy to propagate. Here are some ways to try to expand your collection:
• Look for “pups” or offsets that have sprung up alongside the mother plant. You can carefully remove them and replant in a small pot.
• Let fallen leaves remain where they land, some will take root and grow a pup off the tip of the leaf.
• Some succulents will be easy to propagate during replanting. You can separate the roots and plant in different pots.
Customers continuously request any kind of “string-of” succulent. This includes a string of pearls, string of tears, string of dolphins and string of turtles. The hanging, spilling-over growth pattern is attractive and unique.
Toni Reale is the owner of Roadside Blooms, a unique flower and plant shop in Park Circle in North Charleston. It specializes in weddings, events and everyday deliveries using nearly 100 percent American- and locally grown blooms. Online at roadsideblooms.com. 4610 Spruill Ave.,
Suite 102, North Charleston.
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