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farm Boy Maintenance

Succulent Care from The Naughty Gnome

            “I can’t keep them alive,” is the phrase I have heard most since beginning my succulent business.  Each time I hear this statement, I look at them in astonishment because succulents should be the hardest plants to kill…this is what has always fascinated me about them.  The following will explain in detail how to care for these unique plants so that you can enjoy them for years to come. 

            Several species fall into the succulent family including sempervivum (hen & chicks), echeveria, jade, cacti, and aloe.  The hardier variety is the hen & chicks.  These are the plants that you see growing in the terra-cotta pots, in between rocks, and these are hardy to frost.  All the other varieties would need to be brought indoors to be protected from frost.  The awesome part is that all these plants can be lovely indoor houseplants if they are given the proper care.

            What exactly is the proper care indoors for succulents?  Let’s start from the very beginning.  The soil must be a good mixture of perlite, peat moss, and some mixtures will even add sand.  The need for this type of mix is to achieve a fast, well-draining soil in order to prevent the roots from rotting.  Due to the popularity of succulents, several companies including the well-known, Miracle Grow, now sells a potting soil premixed specifically for cacti and succulents.  Next, is the watering.  The largest portion of plant owners kill their plants by overwatering them.  These plants are not the type that you water each day.  Doing so causes “root rot” which is exactly as it sounds, overwatering causes the roots to rot and eventually the plant will die.  Only water your plant when you feel the top 1/4” of the soil dry.  Even then, do not drown the plant, just water it gently.

          All succulents must be in a position in your home to receive several hours of sunlight daily. I have found personally that windows receiving the majority of morning sun work best for succulents.

            If you absolutely want your succulent to be outdoors only, the best option for you will be the hen & chicks.  Echeveria can remain outside while there is no danger of frost, but it cannot take direct sun because its foliage will sunburn just like a human’s skin may.  It can be outside but must have some partial shade so that the sun is not continuously beating down on it all day.

            Creative freedom is the last suggestion I have in caring for your succulents.  Experiment with various containers including wine bottles, old teacups, broken terra cotta pots, logs, anything can be a container for your succulent, you are only limited by your own imagination. If you have more questions or need help identifying a succulent you own, reach out to me via email at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help.   Happy planting!

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