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How to Grow Healthy Succulents the Easy Way

How to Plantcolleen jordanComment
A young succulent clipping thriving in healthy soil.

A young succulent clipping thriving in healthy soil.

This is the first part of a two post series we'll be doing to teach you how to easily grow and care for succulents. If you haven't already guessed from our instagram feed, succulents are our favorite plants. They're really easy to keep and grow if you just follow a few easy steps. Today, we'll be sharing with you the basics of picking and growing healthy succulents, and Thursday we'll share with you some tricks that will help you go above and beyond.

First things first, pick a happy and healthy looking plant.
When you’re shopping for a succulent select a plant that has fat, green, pert leaves. This is the easiest way to tell that the succulent you’re picking is healthy. If the leaves are brown, wilted, or drooping, this doesn’t mean the plant will immediately die, but is showing signs that it hasn’t been well cared for. Set yourself up for success and pick a plant that is already healthy to bring home.

One of the recent trends in succulents is that you may find a plant that has been painted or has decorations (like a face) glued on to it. While this is partially a matter of personal taste, I would stay away from purchasing these plants. Paint on the leaves can prevent the plant from absorbing enough sunlight and glued on decorations can hide or cause damage to the leaves.

One thing to remember about succulents is that being another color is not a sign that the plant is unhealthy. Some growers will intentionally under water or expose their plants to too much light to create stress colors. These colors also don’t mean that the plant is in imminent danger, but is something for more advanced growers to try. Also, if you buy a plant that is showing stress colors, it may go back to being green shortly after you take it home and care for it properly.

Choose the right soil.
For growing your succulents or cacti, you want to get a good well draining soil for your plants. You can buy a pre-made mix or make your own. Most gardening stores and nurseries will carry this and can help you find one based on how you’re keeping your plants or even one made specially for your region. If you want to make your own, there are plenty of tutorials you can find online to help you out.

Pick a pot with good drainage.
Once you’ve got your plant and your well-draining soil, you’ll need to get a pot or planter that also helps with the water drainage. Pick a plant with either a hole in the bottom for drainage or an unglazed ceramic pot that will help wick away moisture.

Recent succulent clippings getting lots of light.

Recent succulent clippings getting lots of light.

Make sure they get enough sunlight.
Remember succulents naturally grow in sunny desserts, and really like sun! Whether you’re keeping your plants indoors or outdoors, make sure they get plenty of sunlight. Your plant will start to get “leggy” or change color if it isn’t getting enough light, and this is a sign that it will need more.
In the winter, I simulate sunlight with a grow light to provide my succulents with enough of the frequencies of light they need to stay healthy. For my setup, I use an LED grow light that I found on Amazon, a clamp light, and a Wemo programmable plug that I can monitor remotely and adjust based on how my plants are doing.


Water sparingly.
Remember that most succulents and cacti naturally grow in the desert and live in dry environments. Those fat leaves of theirs store water and evolved for the plants to thrive in the desert. Most succulents that growers unintentionally kill were over-watered. When you water your plants, soak the soil thoroughly and allow them to fully dry between waterings. You’ll know that you’ve over-watered your plants if the leaves look mushy or become translucent.

Be patient.
This may sound a little too simple, but remember to be patient! Succulents are plants, and if you make any changes to get your plant healthier, it will take a few days or even weeks to see any results.

Further reading:
The internet is full of knowledge of how to care for succulents. We've learned these tricks through the past few years of maintaining plants, but there are plenty of places where you can learn more. We really liked these articles, and we think that you might, too: