If you’re looking for tips on succulent care for beginners then you’ve come to the right place!
Succulents are becoming more and more popular each year. They are a beautiful indoor and outdoor plant and come in a variety of colors. Once you buy one succulent plant, you’ll want to buy another and another! I started off with one for a coffee table centerpiece and now I don’t even know how many there are around my home. But if you are a newbie to the succulent world, then there are some simple and easy care tips you’ll need to learn. This blog aims to talk you through the 8 best tips on succulent care for beginners.
Why are succulents such a popular houseplant? Well, not only do they come in a variety of beautiful colors and styles, they are also extremely low maintenance. This is because succulent plants store water in its stems and leaves, often giving it a thickened or plump look. In fact the word succulent comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning ‘juice’, or ‘sap’.
If it is the cactus family you are in need of tips for, we also have a blog on cactus care tips for beginners and Christmas cactus care.
Essential Succulent Care Tips for Beginners
Before you begin your venture into the world of succulents, let’s get started on our top 8 tips on succulent care for beginners. We go into depth and detail on the most important, need to know succulent growing tips but as a quick overview the 8 topics of discussion on today’s article are:
- Pots & planters
- Soil types
So, let’s get down to it, and first on our list is the best type of pot for succulents.
Best type of pot for succulents
When choosing the best pot for succulents, there are three main elements to consider and these are drainage, material and size (and then of course aesthetics). Choosing a pot or planter is an exciting time and we can often get carried away by wanting to choose the prettiest, most stylish pot we can find. However, you need to remember that practicality is more important!
Drainage is the first and foremost thing you will need to consider when choosing the best type of pot for succulents. Make sure you choose a pot with drainage holes! This is super important as it will take away a lot of the guesswork when watering your succulent and is also necessary for a healthy, happy houseplant.
If you find that you are totally in love with a planter that doesn’t have drainage holes, then this can easily be fixed. All you need to do is get yourself a diamond tip drill bit and this will usually do the trick.
The next thing you need to consider is the material of the planter you are going to use. Ceramic pots are usually a popular choice as it is a breathable material and can work indoors and outside. Not to mention the array of lovely styles and colors available.
Another choice you can opt for is plastic. Convenient and cheap, a plastic pot is readily available from almost any home, DIY or gardening store you walk into. The affordable material also comes in a range of colors and patterns.
Our final choice of material has to be wood. This is a great material if your succulent is often in hot, dry conditions as it can retain water and can last a long time. The only downside is that wooden pots may begin to rot after a while, which can affect your succulent. However, this can be easily solved by lining your pot with a plastic sheet before potting (just remember to add drainage holes to the sheet!).
Some succulent types will also thrive in a glass container, you can read up on my top 10 best succulents for terrariums or tips for succulent terrarium care.
Finally, you need to think about the size of the pot you get for your succulents. Luckily, most plants will come with a label when you purchase them that tells you the size of the planter you will need. It is important to take note of this as your succulent will need room for natural growth. You will not want to restrict the roots too much, however you also don’t want there to be a tonne of extra room as succulent roots like to be cozy.
The best soil for succulents
Our next all-important tip for succulent care for beginners is soil! What is the best soil for succulents? What is the best potting soil for succulents? What potting mix should I use for succulents? These are all questions you’re probably asking yourself.
You need to get a soil that holds just the right amount of water. Too little or too much will do damage to your plant. When purchasing (or DIY’ing) soil, there are some main ingredients you should look out for. Organic matter is a must-have for any succulent to thrive and this will often be peat moss. However, peat moss dries out quickly, so you will need to get a mixed soil that has ground bark added into it.
You will also need a soil that contains an inorganic matter to keep the soil light. This can be crushed granite or clay.
You can make your potting soil mix yourself or head to your local home store. Just be sure to read the ingredients carefully and make sure the above is included.
When do you water succulents
The next question that should be on your mind is ‘when do you water succulents?’. You might be wondering why this is such an important part of succulent care for beginners, after all, succulents absorb water and barley need watering. Although that is correct, it doesn’t mean you can neglect the houseplant.
Overwatering succulents will rot the root and cause your plant to die, whilst under watering will let it dry out and cause its own common succulent problems. As a general rule, it’s best to use the soak and dry method. Essentially soak your succulent plant thoroughly with water and then wait until the soil is completely dry before you water again. Overwatering will cause your succulent turning purple.
Because succulents come in all different shapes and sizes and are kept in many different living environments we can’t advise you on how often you should be watering your succulent. We can only advise that you wait until the soil is completely dry before rewatering. As a guide, indoor succulents will need to be watered on average, every 10 days.
A top succulent care tip: only water the soil. If water is left on the succulent leaves for too long it will begin to rot.
Using the best fertilizer for succulents
Succulent care for beginners is all about learning. And one thing you must learn about is fertilizer! How often should you fertilize a succulent? What’s the best fertilizer for succulents? Many people have a misconception and think that succulents never need fertilizing. Sure enough, the soil will give your plant most of the nutrients it needs but for your succulent to really thrive and boost growth, it will benefit from fertilizer.
You should make sure that your fertilizer is low-nitrogen and water-soluble. The best thing to do is to buy cactus and succulent specific fertilizer from your local gardening shop and this will usually be good enough. But if you are looking for a DIY fertilizer, then you can read up more on using coffee grounds for succulents.
Although you can choose to fertilize your succulents as often as once a month, we suggest once a year will be fine. You should fertilize in the Spring when the days begin to get longer and is just before the growing season.
Do succulent plants need sun
Almost all succulent care for beginners will involve the question, ‘do succulent plants need sun?’, and the answer is yes! Succulents originate from hot countries that have long dry periods. That’s why they are so excellent at storing water. Succulents are so popular because they can survive in almost all weather conditions, but you’ll want your plant to have as much sunlight as possible.
Most succulents will need a minimum of 3 hours sunlight a day and you should place them in a south-facing window. During the summer months, you will want to refrain from keeping your succulent in direct sunlight. Too much direct sunlight in the warmer months can cause sunburn, where you will notice scars on their leaves. Some succulents will still thrive in low light and these are the best succulents for offices.
However, you don’t want to keep your succulent in a room that is too dark. This will cause the plant to stretch out in peculiar ways and is usually trying to reach light sources. This is commonly known as etiolation. If you notice that your plant is becoming very tall, but the leaves are spaced out this is a clear sign that your succulent needs more sunlight. Colorful succulents will also revert back to being green if they don’t get enough sunlight. Learn more about succulent etiolation: everything you need to know.
So as a rule, make sure your succulents are getting at least 3 hours of sunlight a day and in the warmer months make sure this light is indirect.
Pests on succulents
If you are a beginner on succulent care then it’s good to know that succulents do indeed get pests. The two most common forms are mealybugs and spider mites. Eliminating these pests from your plants can be tricky as they are so small and live in hard-to-find spaces. This means that your houseplant could have pests for a while before you begin to notice anything strange. That is why regular inspection of your succulents is important.
If your succulent has been infested with mealybugs then the first thing you will notice is an unusual white substance. Mealybugs tend to hide in the nooks and crannies of your plant so they will be hard to find. However, they are quick to spread from plant to plant, so once you have noticed an infestation it is important to act quickly. The nasty bugs like to eat away at new growths on your succulent and can cause a lot of damage.
A natural home remedy to get rid of mealybugs is to dab a cotton bud soaked in denatured alcohol over your succulent (specifically where you can see the white substance). The alcohol won’t damage your plant so do this as often as necessary to get rid of the bugs.
If you are quite happy using chemicals then Imidacloprid is a great option. Mix the chemical in when watering your succulent and then use every few months here on out.
Another nasty bug you’ll want to eliminate as soon as possible is spider mites. These pests will stunt the growth of your succulent and damages the plant by sucking at its juices. Spider mites are tiny little brown insects and are so small that from a human eye can look like a bit of brown dust. Because of this, spider mites are very hard to identify, however they do grow in colonies and create small webs to protect themselves against predators. You will most likely notice these webs before the pests themselves.
You will need to purchase a good miticide and follow the instructions very carefully. This should get rid of the spider mites for good!
Although these are the two most common types of pests, another annoying bug can be fungus gnats. These are fairly harmless and are similar to fruit flies. They are easy to eliminate, and there are lots of tried and tested methods to get rid of fungus gnats on succulents.
Although succulents are low maintenance and will only need repotting once every few years, it’s important that you know the basics. First off, when to repot succulents. Succulents are usually placed in small, tight pots because they like to be cozy. However, you don’t want to end up restricting the growth. Check your pot regularly and if the roots are growing out of the drainage holes then it is time to repot. Another clear sign that you need to repot your succulent is id the plant topples over the pot.
You will need to repot your succulents on average every two years. This is to ensure adequate room for growth as well as refreshing the soil and fertilizer with fresh nutrients. You should repot during the growth season (summer and spring) as this reduces the risk of damage and heightens the chances of survival.
Make sure that when you are repotting succulents you are only going one size up! Repotting will ensure your succulent stays healthy and replenished.
Cleaning and general care
Just like any other household item, your succulents will begin to gather dust if not regularly cleaned and taken care of. You should be dusting them off regularly and making sure that they don’t have any residue on them.
Although low-maintenance, you should still be taking general care of your succulent and doing regular inspections. This can include looking out for pests, checking the soil and ensuring that you are watering when needed and inspecting the roots for overgrowth.
Tips on succulent care for beginners recap
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our 8 tips on succulent care for beginners and have learned some interesting facts about caring for your lovely plants. Succulents are fantastic houseplants for beginners because they are low maintenance and require little attention, however there are some general care tips you need to remember and the topics we discussed are:
- Best type of pots for succulents
- The best soil for succulents
- When do you water succulents
- Using the best fertilizer for succulents
- Do succulent plants need sun
- Pests on succulents
- Repotting succulents
- Cleaning and general care
I hope that you found this blog helpful and are now fully prepared to become a member of the succulent family! At Succulent Care Guide our aim is to provide informative content on houseplant care. We have all the top tips including how to keep cats away from succulents for all you pet owners out there! We also answer all the most pressing questions such as how fast do succulents grow? and why is my jade plant dropping leaves? You can also learn about specific problems and the fixes such as why is your jade plant dying.
If you have any of your own tips or tricks on succulent care for beginners, then leave a comment. We are always interested in learning new techniques and hearing about what works for you.
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Had one in a piece of mini drift wood (purchased that way).. just rinsed off now and then, lasted for many years. I always thought it was an “air plant”, as it was not in soil, but grew, etc. Now, purchased one in a mini cement Mexican bird container. Has mini pebbles inside, atop a bit of soil, but seems “glued” in place. So cute.. hope it lives.
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At first… I was so-so with keeping cacti and succulents. They have stayed long-lived, and attractive for “years”. They can be very low maintenance. Long-lived. Visual focal points in a room.
my succulents are getting tall. Should they be trimmed?
Hi Frances, this is completely up to you! Often succulents get tall and elongated because they are deprived of light. You can read more on this here: https://succulentcareguide.com/succulent-care/succulent-etiolation/