Succulent Care Indoors
What exactly is a succulent? A succulent is a plant that has outstanding water storing abilities, with roots close to the soil surface to make the most out of mist, dew and light rain. Typically from an arid terrain, they have adapted to their dry environment by metabolizing carbon dioxide at night to save on water, which is stored in distinct thick and fleshy leaves and stems. So, if succulent care indoors isn’t about retaining water, what do they need our help with?
Succulent Care Indoors - The Do’s & Don’ts
The allure of the succulent has seen it swiftly progress from outdoors to indoors. Although the movement hasn’t always gone without a hitch. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a unique, exotic-looking succulent in one’s bathroom or on a dresser? Who could pass up on that in vogue succulent plant terrarium. You know, the one you made while you were out with the girls, after a few drinks at a plant night.
Temperature and light requirements are usually where the trouble begins indoors. Succulents come from hotter, sunnier and drier climates than your bathroom or dresser or mantelpiece for that fact. They also get a whole lot more air circulation out in the wild than your terrarium could ever give them. Terrariums are as unnatural as binding someone’s feet! Give your succulents room to breathe.
When you buy a succulent from the friendly person at the farmer's market, or the commercial gardening store, it usually comes in a smallish pot. When it stays in that smallish pot longer than it should, it’s uncomfortable for your new plant. So when’s the best time to re-pot? When you take your succulent home for the first time and then each year after that.
Since succulents don’t need our help to retain moisture, moisture-conserving mediums, like peat moss and vermiculite, are not ideal soil mixes for their survival. A good succulent soil mix has perlite, coarse sand or gravel and an equal amount of silt, or dirt. A commercial cactus, succulent or bonsai mix, are all ideal mediums for your plants. Eventually, you could make up your own succulent mix.
Succulents originate in rocky or sandy hot soil, that drains quickly and easily. A soil high in sand contains silica, which is a needed trace mineral, but sandy, rocky soils, generally don’t hold onto to many other macro and micro nutrients. These nutrients are needed by succulents, especially indoors. Plants out in the elements are nurtured by nature, indoor plants need our care. Your succulents love a good feed. Give them a small dose of plant food each time you water. Once a week to once a month, is a good rule of thumb, the watering frequency depends on the species and where the plant is placed in the home. Less light, less water.
I tend to err on the side of less frequent when watering my succulents, as they do better with less H20. Succulence isn’t the only trait these plants have to maintain moisture, leaf shape, size and root position also play a role. Over-watering is the biggest killer of succulents indoors.
Succulent care doesn't stop there. It’s crucial to pick the right container. I prefer glazed or unglazed terracotta pots, with drainage holes and a pebbled base tray. Plastic pots preserve water, where terracotta pots allow it to evaporate. Terracotta pots are also better suited for temperature hikes and aeration. Your succulents need air, you're choking them in a display pot without drainage holes. Don’t do it.
The Ultimate Succulent Care Guide Cheat Sheet
If you liked what you read about succulent care indoors, download your free succulent care indoors cheat sheet PDF guide and make all the right moves with your new succulents.
All Cacti are Succulents but not all Succulents are Cacti - Why? It’s in the guide. Get it here.
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