Congratulations on becoming a proud plant parent! Welcome to to the wonderful world of succulents and cacti, here is a small guide of how to take care of your succulents properly and tips on how to maintain a healthy, happy plant based on personal experience. (・ω・)ノ
Firstly, here is some general knowledge on succulents that will (believe it or not) help you greatly when it comes to taking care of your plant.
- Succulents and cacti are in the same family! This means there are many different kinds and like dry places with little water
- The world “succulent” refers to the plant’s fleshy, thick leaves. They are like this to retain water.
- Because succulents are cacti, some can be pointy and have spines (like aloe!) so in general, be careful.
That’s basically all the general information you need to know that will help your plant grow.
Watering your plant:
Although most people believe that succulents thrive on neglect, they really don’t, and need almost as much maintenance as a regular house plant.
MY RULE OF THUMB: When the leave look thin, water the plant.
This rule of thumb is a bit of a last resort. If your plant’s leaves are withered or thin, it needs a lot of water.
Regularly, I water my 2" succulents with about 2 tablespoons of water A WEEK.
In winter, succulents and Cacti go through a dormant phase and don’t need to be watered as often, but I found this information as not useful because when I went as little as 1.5 weeks without watering some of my plants in the winter, they’d start to wither.
Remember, succulent leaves should remain fleshy! And watering them often is the key to doing this.
If you happen to forget to water your succulents for up to three weeks and even beyond, do not worry. At that point, the plant will ration it’s water until you water it.
If you happen to do this, do not immediately think that you have to drown your plant in water to make up the weeks you missed. For a 2" succulent, 2 tablespoons or less is the key. These types of plants can only take so much water at one time.
Repotting Cacti and Succulents is a lot of fun, especially when you get decorative pots or creative with potting ideas.
Some people like to use teacups, and other people use plain old terra-cotta pots.
Whatever the case may be, succulents and cacti like drainage.
So your teacup doesn’t have a drainage hole? No problem.
It is ideal to pot your plant in something that has drainage holes, but if it doesn’t, adding rocks to the bottom of whatever it is you’re using will help greatly.
I have small, 2" white square ceramic pots for my babies, which have a singular, small drainage hole in the bottom. Because I wanted more drainage, I used a few rocks on the bottom, and filled the rest of the pot with succulent and cacti potting mix.
It’s also healthy to keep some of the soil from the original pot to mix in with the potting mix.
When repotting my cactus plant, I preferred using thick rubber gloves to repot rather than gardening gloves because I didn’t want the thin spines to prick me.
I normally keep my succulents on the windowsill over my kitchen sink because it gets the most light in the house while being indirect.
This is the key to good sunlight: light, but indirect. So if you have a windowsill where the sun crosses over it throughout the day, that is the ideal place for your succulent. In winter, keep your succulents inside! And on the sill of a west facing window is ideal because the light is not too harsh in the afternoon.
TIP: make sure to rotate the pot so the plant grows straight.
If you do not have much sun, although I have not tried this, I know some people grow their plants under special lamps which work just as fine.
As far as heat goes, heat was not much of a problem for my plants except for my one pesky Echeveria nodulosa ‘Painted Beauty’ which I had named Rory.
Rory was not a fan of being near an open window, and since I had gotten my succulents in January, it was cold outside. A few rare days of warmth would occur in February which called for an open window, and any time he was near it, he would wilt.
And although Rory is due for what looks like propagation, he is my smallest plant to this day and I don’t want to go onto that step for him yet.
When I noticed my plants reaching for sunlight, they’d bend towards the window and grow very tall and their leaves would space out. Soon, the bottom leaves would die and need to be plucked off and I’d be left with a long stem, a few spaces but still alive leaves, and a small rosette on the top.
This means it’s time for propagation. When I first read on how to stop my plants from getting so leggy, results appeared calling it “decapitation” where you would cut of the head of the plant and leave a stump.
This sounded very scary to me and I waited until a month before I tried to look for answers again and found propagation as the solution.
There are basically three parts of propagation.
- the stump
- the rosette
- the babies (which are actually a bunch of little parts).
The first step to propagation is to remove the bottom leaves from the plant completely from the stem by gently twisting them off. (Even if they are alive)
Place the leaves on a wet paper towel on a pan after they have calloused over and dried out (takes about 2-3 days). You may notice the the root of the leaf may already be growing roots, and if it has not, it will eventually. From each leaf you will grow a new baby rosette and have a forest of succulents! The babies make great gifts. (Note that not every leaf will be successful in growing a baby). This process takes about 3-4 weeks.
For the left over plant, you now have a super long stem with a rosette at the top. Cut the rosette leaving some stem on it and submerge the stem in water after letting it callous and dry out (takes about 5 days) For mine, I submerged the rosette in a medicine cup filled with 2 tablespoons of water. Soon, roots will appear so you can repot the rosette. This takes 2-3 weeks.
Then, cut the rest of the stem the is in the original pot down to a stub. After the stub callouses over, it will start to regenerate new babies around it. This takes about 3 weeks.
When it comes to propagation, it takes time and patience.
Here is where I was going to put any tips I had for growing plants but I kind of mentioned them throughout my spiel. In that case, here is where I will reiterate my most important tips:
- Water your plants once a week or when the leaves look less fleshy.
- 2 tablespoons of water a week for 2" plants (some species may need more or less)
- For repotting cactus plants with spines, it’s ideal to use rubber gloves instead of gardening gloves
- Rotate the plant so it grows straight!
Those are my best tips. There really aren’t any tips on propagation since its a hit or miss kind of ordeal.
Feel free to ask questions! uwu