How To Grow And Care For Succulents

David Hall has always enjoyed growing the vast and varied group of plants known as succulents and cacti. As he explains, their attempts to master a range of often hostile conditions, has resulted in the development of a fantastic array of interesting and appealing shapes, colours and textures.

Created by David Hall on Wednesday, 26th of August, 2015.
Updated on Tuesday, 15th of May, 2018.


Succulents

Succulents are plants that store water in their plump leaves, stems and roots. This handy tactic allows them to survive in many different environments especially where there is a lack of rainfall.

Most like the dry, warm conditions that homes offer and it's not the end of the world if you forget to water them for a while. That makes them particularly attractive as houseplants, since most are quite hard to kill.

Popular Succulents

Well known succulents and cacti include Aloe barbadensis aka Aloe vera, a popular ingredient in skin care products, and the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), a seasonal favourite with dark pink and white flowers on the end of its flat stems during the winter. 

The Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) has clusters of tiny yellow flowers contained within red bracts during the spring, while the Mother-in-Law's Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) has tall upright leaves and is virtually indestructible.

Agave parryi, is a rosette shaped plant with attractive grey/green spiked leaves and creamy yellow flowers. Notocactus rutilans is a further eye-catching plant with  pink and yellow flowers above a spiny ribbed column.

So the choice and variety is massive, but when you get one home from the garden centre, how do you care for them?

Caring For Succulents

It's best to remember that 'one size doesn't fit all' and not all succulents should be treated in exactly the same way but there are certain ground rules to ensure some growing success most of the time.

Succulents should be grown preferably in clay pots using a sandy, free draining, alkaline growing medium (specialist cactus compost is available) that won't get waterlogged, however the Christmas Cactus and Orchid Cacti in particular prefer more organic matter and less dry conditions. Most prefer bright light, perhaps not direct sunlight, but can survive in semi-shade. 

Although they prefer temperatures around 24C, quite wide variations in temperature will not harm the plants. If you want to encourage flowers, move them to cooler (15C) conditions for a while. 

It's correct to assume that succulents survive better in dry rather than wet conditions, but during the summer they need to be watered well when the soil dries out. Remember not to leave standing water and in the autumn start to reduce watering. During the winter dormant period water very sparingly or else you will encourage the plant to rot. 

Starting with a diluted solution in the spring, begin to feed fortnightly with a houseplant fertilizer during the summer.

Once you have one plant, propagation is relatively easy. Select the top of a shoot and, with about 2ins of clean stem, push into potting gritty compost that should be kept moist. For other succulents, take off lower leaves and bury the stems. It's really that easy!

Related Articles

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 25th of May, 2018.

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Propagating by taking cuttings, whether from your own plants or ones you admire in neighbouring gardens, is a fantastic way of increasing the variety of plants in your own garden free of charge, and all you need are a sharp knife and patience.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Monday, 14th of May, 2018.

How Can I Make Compost?

How Can I Make Compost?

Composting is an entirely natural way of recycling your garden and kitchen waste, transforming it into a nutrient rich material that your plants will love. Martyn Loach shows how easy and cheap it is to replicate nature and create the ideal conditions in which your flowers and shrubs will thrive.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Friday, 4th of May, 2018.

What To Do In The Garden In May

What To Do In The Garden In May

Although the weather is feeling decidedly chilly for the time of the year, during May the threat of frost will pass and, with spring well under way, David Coton is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month in the garden.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 30th of April, 2018.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

David Hall David Hall

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2018

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2018

Dazzling with colourful interest in the brilliant sunshine, this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will prove to be a tremendous attraction for everyone as it caters for both keen gardeners and families who just what a day out in magnificent surroundings.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 2nd of July, 2018.

What To Do In The Garden In July

What To Do In The Garden In July

After all the dry hot weather that much of the country has experienced over the last few weeks, the lavender in David Coton's garden is at its most colourful and scented, he's cutting the flowerheads to make lavender biscuits or drying them for pot pourri. Here are more jobs you can do in the garden during July.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 29th of June, 2018.

What To Do In The Garden in June

What To Do In The Garden in June

At this time of the year you'll find a fabulous selection of summer bedding at our Garden Centre in Birmingham. David Coton will be planting the bedding in containers this month to achieve a wonderful display of colour and here are some other jobs to do in the garden in June.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Sunday, 27th of May, 2018.

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 25th of May, 2018.