We all love our beautiful succulents, but they can’t last forever. When a succulent dies, it can also feel like you’re the one who killed it– but succulents have life spans just like we do, and they are just as varied as any other plant or animal. It’s important to take care of your succulents and stay wary of their average lifespan to get the most out of these adorable plants each year.
Dormancy and Lifespans
Before getting into the meat of this blog, we’d like to note that a succulent going dormant does not mean it’s dying. Dormant succulents will often look wilted or dying. They won’t grow, and their leaves may be discolored – however, they are still very much alive! To ensure your succulent is dormant and not dying, pay attention to its growing season and use the snap-scratch test to ensure it’s alright.
Common Succulents and Their Lifespans
Succulents tend to have varying lifespans depending on their type and environment. For example, a Senecio grown in cold areas only has a lifespan of about a year, while a barrel cactus can live over 100 years! Here are some typical succulent lifespans:
|3-30 Years, Depending on the Plant|
|Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)||About 5 Years|
|Christmas Cactus||30+ Years|
|Living Stones||40-50 Years|
|Crassula||20 -100+ Years, Depending on the Plant|
1. Offshoot Succulents
With succulents that reproduce from offshoots like Sempervivums, Agave, and some Haworthia species, lifespan is a bit tricky to keep track of. If you give your succulents plenty of space to reproduce via pups, then new pups will fill in the space where the mother plant previously was. If given the proper care, succulents that reproduce this way can technically live far longer than their supposed lifespan.
Reproduced this way, succulents can technically live far longer than their supposed lifespan.
2. Monocarpic Succulents
Most succulents flower, but it’s a sign of death for some—monocarpic succulents flower before they die in an effort to reproduce and spread via seeds. Once your monocarpic succulent flowers, there isn’t too much you can do – just enjoy the flowers and propagate any offshoots if you can. Common monocarpic succulents include Sempervivums, Aeonium hybrids, the Kalanchoe luciae, and several species of Agave.
Indoor Succulent Lifespans vs. Outdoor Succulent Lifespans
Succulents tend to have similar life spans indoors and outdoors. Still, each growing type of environment has different pitfalls that can shorten your succulent’s lifespan.
1. Growing Succulents Indoors
When kept in a pot indoors, your succulents won’t have to worry about any sudden environmental changes and can grow year-round without difficulty. However, a controlled indoor environment still has its problems.
Your succulent will need frequent repotting and sometimes pruning to keep it from becoming root bound. Potted succulents also require well-draining soil and often pots that prioritize drainage too, to prevent root rot and mold growth.
2. Growing Succulents Outdoors
Outdoors (and outside of a pot), your succulents have plenty of room to grow but are exposed to the elements. If you live somewhere that isn’t your succulent’s ideal growing zone, chances are, your succulent’s lifespan will be significantly shorter if kept outside. Ideal environments vary from succulent to succulent and are listed as numbers on the USDA’s zone hardiness map. Outdoors, your succulents are also prone to becoming salad for hungry herbivores, and while this isn’t nearly as deadly as winter cold, a hungry deer can make a quick snack from a baby Sempervivum.
Outdoor succulents have plenty of room to grow but are exposed to the elements.
How to Increase a Succulent’s Lifespan
How do you prevent your darling plant babies from premature death? You can do a few things to keep your succulents thriving, regardless of their species:
1. Pay Attention to Your Soil
The first, most important thing to do is prioritize drainage. Some succulents need more aeration in their soil than others, so pay attention to your succulent’s specific soil needs before planting. Just about every succulent will thrive in a cactus potting mix or a soil made with peat, perlite, and a little gravel to enhance drainage. Some succulents like sandy soil and will benefit from a little coarse sand in their pot. To further improve drainage, place a layer of gravel on the bottom of your pot before adding any soil.
2. Avoid Direct Sunlight
Succulents need lots of sunlight but can’t tolerate direct sunlight. Since their leaves are made to store excess water, a sunburn will kill the water-storing cells in your succulent’s leaves and make it more difficult for them to retain water.
3. Water Regularly
Regular waterings will always help your succulents thrive! When coupled with well-draining soil, you should only have to water your succulent once every few weeks, depending on the species. After watering, always let any excess water drain from the pot before you put your succulent back.
4. Watch for Pests
For both indoor and outdoor succulents, examining your plant’s leaves every so often can help stop potential infestations before they start. Aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, snails, fungal gnats, and scale are all common pests among indoor and outdoor succulents. To protect your plants from larger herbivores, encasing them in a chicken wire cage can help protect babies from becoming a snack!
5. Prepare for Winter
If you live somewhere that gets snow in the winter, it’s always best to prepare your outdoor succulents for cold seasons to avoid any potential frost damage. We recommend creating a miniature greenhouse or using a straw overlay to help keep the little guys warm until spring.
You can also watch this video to see some of the tips in action:
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