Summer Succulent Care
Succulents have been the queens of the plant world for a number of years now and show no signs of handing over their reign anytime soon. Their fascinating shapes, colors, and textures combine with easy-care maintenance to provide gardeners with a nonstop display of beauty, particularly in the summer garden. So, that begs the question — how do you care for these amazing plants in the summer? We’ve got your summertime succulent tips for you here, with notes on growing both in containers and in the ground. Happy gardening!
While it’s true that succulents don’t need a lot of water, it’s a myth that they don’t need any water. The trick is in understanding how much water to give them, and when. Here’s the thing — succulents store water in their leaves, so they don’t need frequent watering like other plants do. However, when that in-house water reservoir draws down a bit, they need a deep watering. This infrequent but deep watering is what allows the succulents to develop a strong root system, which in turn makes them more drought-tolerant and healthy.
If you’re growing succulents in containers, water them until water starts to run out of the drainage hole at the bottom. For both containers and in-ground succulent planting, you’ll want to water about once a week during the summer. And while you may need to water a little less frequently than once a week (listen to what your plants tell you), if you’re watering correctly, you should never have to water more frequently.
Most plants appreciate a little extra nutrition every now and then, and succulents are no exception. To keep things simple, a good rule of thumb is to fertilize in the spring with a general and balanced fertilizer (that means all three numbers for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium on the package are the same), but using only half the dosage recommended on the package directions.
Now, you could opt to lightly fertilize your succulents with each watering, provided you dilute the fertilizer even more. This will give you lots of lush, fast growth, but there is a trade-off — that growth tends to be a little less tough and resilient than succulents that haven’t been quite as coddled. If you go this route, though, be careful to seriously dilute that fertilizer, as over-fertilizing can “burn” those succulent leaves.
Succulents love soil that is very well-drained — remember, they need water but they hate sitting in water, so the goal here is to give them what they need in soil that allows that water to drain through it easily.
For your container succulents, this means choosing a potting soil that is either formulated for cacti and succulents or an all-purpose potting mix that is labeled “well-draining,” as well as a container with an adequate drainage hole at the bottom. And what if you’re in love with a container that doesn’t have a drainage hole? Simply drill one yourself using a masonry bit on your drill or use the container as a “cachepot” by slipping the succulent in its black nursery pot into the larger decorative one. When it’s time to water, just remove the succulent from the “pretty” container, water it, then replace it after the water has drained out.
For succulents grown in the ground, you’ll need to know what kind of soil you have and be prepared to amend it if necessary. Anything that breaks up your soil and allows water to drain well is the key — pumice, a bit of decomposed granite, or sharp sand works wonders.
Succulents do love a sunny site, but also appreciate a bit of dappled shade in the heat of the afternoon. If you’re able, aim to give them sunny mornings with a bit of sun protection afternoon, when the sun is the strongest. This is especially true in warmer climates where the sun is naturally stronger.
Be prepared to experiment a bit depending upon where you live, and if you have succulents growing in containers, you can move them around a bit until you figure out the location they like best. Avoid deep shade in any location, and full-on sunshine in hot climates and you should be good to go.
Ever wonder if you can propagate your succulents? Are you wondering what the heck propagation even is? Simply put, propagation is a way of “breeding” or multiplying a plant, and there are lots of ways to do it from the stupid simple to the head-scratching more scientific methods. The good news is that succulents are very easily propagated, allowing you to create many new plants from one original or “mother” plant.
Here are two of the easiest methods to try (and to learn in more detail, it’s as easy as a quick Internet search):
- Stem cuttings: Propagate most succulents like crassula, echeveria, senecio, sedum, sempervivum, and aeonium by taking a stem cutting with ¼” to 2” of stem with leaves. Pop the stem into a gritty mixture that is well- draining (no rooting hormone necessary), lightly water and watch for new growth.
- Leaves: Some succulents like echeveria and sedum take well to leaf propagation, and it couldn’t be any easier. Remove individual leaves from the stem, lay them on soil and keep dry until they form roots. Then carefully plant them into a well-draining gritty soil mixture and lightly water.
Our Favorite SucculentsThe range of succulent options is so huge that it can sometimes be a bit confusing when it comes time to purchase. A good way to experiment to find out which ones you love the best is to purchase a mix of small succulents — and we’ve got you covered there! Check out our 2-Inch Succulent Plant Medley Mix our 4-Inch Succulent Plant Medley Mix – 4 Pack — in each collection, we hand-pick succulents that complement each other and offer them in smaller sizes. They’re perfect for mini gardens and containers for both newbie and experienced succulent gardeners alike.
- Katie Elzer-Peters