By Tina Jepson
If you love the look of beautiful plants but can’t seem to get your act together long enough to keep them alive, then it’s time you learn all about succulents. I think of succulents as a lazy gardener’s best friend. They’re easy to care for, are hardy as can be, and they thrive in extreme conditions.
Do you vacation a lot? Get some succulents! Is your house full of kids and pets, and you can’t seem to find the time to shower let alone water your ferns? Skip the leafy greens and get some succulents! Do you consider yourself a shameful owner of a “black thumb?” You get my point — you absolutely need succulents in your life.
Here’s why you shouldn’t live without succulents in your home:
Interesting Facts About Succulents
- The word succulent comes from the Latin “sucus,” which means “juice.” Why would a desert plant be named after a liquid? It’s because succulent plants retain all their water in their thick, fleshy leaves.
- Succulents aren’t just green. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Some are fuzzy, some have spikes, and some produce the most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen. Each species is unique.
- In general, even the most aggressive pests don’t bother succulents because those fleshy leaves are too sticky and possibly even toxic. This means that if you have a problem with pesky insects either outside or inside your home, you can rest assured that your succulents will still survive and thrive. Some species, such as the Jade plant, even repel insects. Bonus!
Where to Buy Succulents
Succulents are the new “it” plant to have, which is great if you’re in the market. If you’re looking for a pre-made succulent centerpiece, look no further than any supermarket or home improvement store near your house.
You can also find a number of single plants at these locations as well, which is ideal if you want to create your own succulent masterpieces or incorporate them into your decor.
Popular Succulent Varieties
Cacti aren’t the only type of succulents you’ll want to acquire. In fact, succulents are found in over 60 different plant families.
While this is no means an exhaustive list (there are thousands of succulent species), here are few of the common varieties you may see at your local stores:
- Aloe Vera
- Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
- Flowering Cactus
- Jelly Bean Plant (Sedum pachyphyllum)
- Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)
How to Grow Succulents
Growing succulents doesn’t take much. Once you acquire your succulent plants, follow basic indoor gardening practices.
- Water: Water succulents only after the soil completely dries, which is usually around once per week. By over-watering, your plant will swell and eventually decay. Always err on the side of “dry.”
- Soil: The ideal soil for succulents drains well. Look for potting soil with a 1:1 ratio of traditional soil and perlite.
- Fertilizer: Use a diluted 10-10-10 fertilizer once every 2-3 weeks.
- Light: Succulents need light — lots of it. Place your indoor succulents in a southern-facing window with at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day to provide the optimum environment for your plan to grow.
- Propagation: If grown in less than ideal conditions, a succulent may become “leggy.” The good news is that you can simply trim the branches just slightly above the soil level, pick the leaves off the stem, and allow them to dry. In just a few weeks, new growth will sprout from the ends of the leaves. Once the growth appears, plant each leaf in a new container with soil.
Try mixing and matching different succulents in the same planter and don’t worry about overcrowding. Again, succulents don’t care all that much!
Then, start your collection. Once you start placing succulents around your home, you’re bound to get addicted to their easy care and simple beauty.
By using the garden tips to grow and care for your succulents, you’ll have a home filled with thick, unique-looking plants that can survive through the harshest of conditions.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Tina Jepson, Przemysław Kozieł, and www.dreamstime.com