Succulents are plants with thick fleshy leaves and stem that store water. Some of the common succulent families include aloe, haworthia, sedum, graptoveria, pachyveria, sempervivum, aeonium zwarthop and cacti.
Whether you are fan of a particular variety, such as the prickly pear, chocolate soldier, mammillaria, or you are an avid succulent gardener with a diverse collection, your plants are happy if they are getting just the right amount of water (since most problems occur due to over watering) and meet the following criteria.
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Succulents need water sparsely since they are suited to hot and dry climates. The roots will be healthy and not a rotten mess if the plant is watered once a week in hot dry weather. Succulent pots usually have more than one drainage hole to ensure the roots remain in optimal form without getting clogged up.
These sturdy plants thrive because of their thick healthy roots and you can ensure this by watering the roots through the drain hole and not by merely spraying the top with a spray bottle.
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When your succulent is happy, meaning it doesn’t need water (the plant has absorbed and stored water in each of its cells) it is hydrated. Your plants will feel firm to touch and this means your watering method is working out. However, if only some parts are hard while others feel soft, then you might have a root rot problem.
The succulents get a “face-lift” after watering, the wrinkles disappear and the plant becomes more upright after getting hydrated. The leaves and the tips are subtly more pronounced as the internal hydrostatic pressure is regained on watering and that withered or crinkled look disappears.
However, the trick is not to let it reach this stage. When the stems and leaves are leaning to the side instead of being upright, it’s time for a bath for your plant.
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Again, your juicy plants will bear a look of happiness if they have the right soil conditions. Generally, they are grown in porous potting soil as this particular type facilitates the movement of air and water. This in turn allows the roots to breathe, allowing water to flow out easily without getting trapped in the soil.
A rule of thumb is to wait for the soil to completely dry before watering again. Push your forefinger in the soil, if it’s dry then it’s ready for watering, but if the soil sticks to your finger then wait for it to dry out.
See more: Soil Mix and Fertilizers for Succulents.
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Most gardeners prefer watering the top soil to save time; however, as far as potted succulents are concerned, you must soak your pot in a container of water to allow water saturation throughout the pot.
Those who use this watering method have happier and healthier plants.
See more: Water Therapy for Succulents.
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Another giveaway is that your succulents will be happy and put on their best show when they get at least half a day to a full day of indirect sun light. The colorful variety of succulents, such as sedum nussbaumerianum, needs the most light for their vibrant display.
If they are getting anything less, then they will not show their full beauty and start turning green though they are still healthy. They should not stretch out disproportionally as this is a sign that they are receiving less sunlight than required.
See more: How to Use Grow Light for Succulents.
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This is yet another giveaway of a healthy succulent. The tips of the plant, and in severe cases, the whole leaves can turn brown or red in certain species due to excess heat and sunlight. If you notice any brown or black patches, then it’s time to restrict the amount of direct sunlight. Although the damaged parts won’t heal completely, your plant will stay safe as a whole.
If the color change is due to root rot, then you will notice the leaves have not only turned brown, but they also have a mushy wet quality.
Those of you who are growing their own collection of succulents should keep a close eye for these physical changes to keep your plants in prime condition.