Sunny Succulents

By August 28, 2012Flower Talk
Tricia M Florals Succulents

Stay tuned… We are about to add a lovely succulent trough to our offerings.  It can be purchased by filling out our order form seen here.  We will call you to confirm and to get your payment info.  In the meantime, here is our take on how to best care for these little gems.

First: When thinking about succulents, it gets confusing. The term “succulent” is non-scientific, & generally refers to any plant with fleshy parts (leaves, stems, or roots), which are meant for storing moisture in times of drought. There are many varieties of plants which come from all over the world & habitats.

Most succulents are very hardy and, unlike many other plants, thrive on neglect, not completely but  they require minimal care and, by following just a few simple guidelines, will do very well.

Light

Succulents can be grown either inside or outside but, like other plants, they need plenty of light. Most require either filtered sun most of the day or 1 to 2 hours of direct sun each day. Burning is an issue, so I like to stress FILTERED SUN as most New Yorker’s don’t have access to their plants during the day. Many will survive quite well in full sun, but in summer you will need to introduce them in stages: 1-2 hours the first week, 3-4 hours the next week, then all day. Some species just require good light, for example: Aloe, Scilla, Gasteria, Haworthia.

Water

The amount of water required depends on many factors: type of container (terracotta dries out faster than other pots), size of container, height of container, time of year, position, heat, humidity etc.

During the warmer months water thoroughly then let the soil go dry before re-watering. Put your finger a couple of centimeters down into the soil and feel if the soil is moist. When in doubt it is safer to underwater than to overdo it. Succulents store water in their stems and leaves and can tolerate periods of dryness without harm.

During the cooler months, the plants are dormant, so water less frequently and less deeply. Try to water in the morning when a sunny day is expected so that any excess will evaporate in the sunlight.

Most succulents have shallow root systems. When grown in a tall pot, you will need to take care how much you water them, as their roots do not reach to the bottom of the pot. Any excess water in the base may cause fungal disease. Try a half cup each watering. Faucet on drizzle so it soaks the top layer. You can also try putting gravel in the base to about one-third the height to help prevent this and to assist drainage.  We’ve added a drainage layer to your gift succulent.  Do not over-water.  Usually I like to water them every other day or so.. mainly when the soil or top layer is dry to the touch,  You have to experiment a little. I also like to give them a fine mist spray now and then.  Feel free to re-pot them in a larger, more shallow pot if they are looking a little challenged.

If you have purchased a small plant it will, in most cases, be a baby, and require a little more care. It will dry out fairly quickly in summer and will need watering more often until its roots are fully grown.

If you are unsure as to how often to water your new plant, try this:  Leave it until the plant starts to shrivel slightly or go limp, then water well. Repeat this process. You will soon learn the pattern.

Feeding them:

Although these plants generally need less and not as often, feeding is necessary for vigorous and healthy growth. All commercial fertilizers have an NPK reading (nitrogen:phosphorus:potassium). Look for one with a low nitrogen reading like African Violet or flowering houseplant fertilizer. Use only half the recommended dosage at the beginning of the growing season, usually in the spring.

The very best way to feed your plants is to use a potting mix that contains compost.

Sometimes you can buy this ready made and then add soil, grit or sand or any other product you use to make the soil well draining.  Compost helps retain nutrients for a longer time than soil without it.  Chemical fertilizers have their place since some people simply do not have access to natural organic compost.  Prepared fertilizers are made for basic agricultural or kitchen garden use. They are too strong for most succulents. That is why we always advise diluting them to 1/4  the strength recommended by the manufacturer.

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