Succulent Care for Beginners: 10 Tips & Tricks for Success

Succulents and cacti have become increasingly popular as low-maintenance and beautiful indoor and outdoor plants in recent years. These plants come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them a perfect addition to any home or garden. 

However, many struggle to keep their succulents and cacti healthy and alive. We’ll explore ten tips and tricks for successfully growing healthy-looking succulents and cacti. You’ll be a pro in no time.

Cactus and Succulent Care for Beginners

beginner caring for a succulent plant

Once you read and understand these beginner succulent care tips and tricks you’ll be a pro in no time!

1.) Meaning of Succulent

Firstly, it is essential to understand what succulents are. Succulent plants have fleshy tissues adapted to store water, requiring less water than other plants. 

Examples of succulents include Aeoniums, Echeverias, Sedums, Haworthias, Gasteria, donkey’s tail, Jades and Crassulas, all varieties of Kalanchoes (Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana) black, Aloe vera, and all types of cacti, such as bunny ears cactus, fairy castle cactus, Christmas cactus, pincushion cactus, Desert roses, and Adeniums.

2.) Watering

Watering is a crucial factor in successfully growing succulents and cacti. Watering frequency depends on the year’s season, with less water required in the winter when the plant enters a state of dormancy or inactivity. 

The finger dip method should be followed to avoid overwatering and rot, where the soil is watered only when completely dry. A long nozzle watering can should be used to prevent water spillage over the fleshy leaves.

3.) Sunlight

string of pearls succulent

It is a common misconception that succulents are indoor plants. While they can be grown indoors, succulents love full sunlight and require at least five or six hours of direct sun daily. 

The amount of sunlight needed is dependent on the type of succulent. Seedlings or immature succulents need less sun and should be gradually introduced to sunlight. This is called hardening-off.

4.) Potting Soil

Choosing the right potting soil is essential for healthy succulent growth. Regular potting soil is not recommended, as succulents and cacti require a soil mix that drains water quickly. 

A suitable succulent potting mix formula is 30-40% garden soil, 30-40% sand, 10-20% pebbles, small coarse rocks, pumice, or perlite, 10-20% compost, such as cow dung or vermicompost, and 10% small pieces of charcoal.

5.) Pot Size

The right pot size is also crucial. Succulents typically have a shallow root system that can be delicate, which doesn’t require super deep containers. As deep containers can increase the risk of root rot. 

Using a wide shallow container is recommended for most succulents, as it will allow for the propagation of succulents that produce offsets or babies from the sides.

6.) Nutrients / Fertilizer

Succulents don’t require much fertilizer, but some light feeding of aged manure once every three months, or a teaspoon of vermicompost should be given. 

Fertilizer should be increased during the active growing season, which is the spring through summer.

7.) Controlling Pests

Pests like mealybugs and fungus gnats can affect succulents. Mealybugs can be treated with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, while fungus gnats can be avoided using a soil mix that drains quickly.

Now that we have discussed the tips and tricks for growing healthy succulents and cacti let us move on to the methods of propagating them easily. 

There are four different methods for propagating succulents: leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, offsets, and division.

8.) Pruning

Pruning is essential for the healthy growth of succulents. It helps to remove dead or damaged leaves and encourages new growth. You can use a sharp and sterilized pair of scissors or pruning shears to prune your plants.

Make sure to cut at an angle and avoid cutting into the healthy parts of the plant.

Pruning can also help maintain the size of your succulent. For more details on sizes, read this article on how big do succulents get.

9.) Propagating

Propagation is when you grow new plants from the existing ones. Succulents are easy to propagate and there are four different methods you can use: leaf propagation, stem propagation, division, and offsets. 

  1. Leaf propagation involves taking a leaf cutting and allowing it to root and grow into a new plant. 
  2. Stem propagation involves taking a stem, cutting and rooting it to grow into a new plant. 
  3. Division involves separating a mature plant into smaller sections and replanting them. 
  4. Offsets are baby plants that grow from the stem of a mature plant and can be separated and replanted.

Once you pick out a method, read this guide on how long it takes to propagate succulents.

10.) Avoiding Elongation / Stretching

One common problem with succulents is elongation or stretching. This happens when a succulent is not getting enough sunlight and starts to stretch out in search of it. 

To avoid elongation, give your succulents enough sunlight and rotate them regularly to ensure even growth.

Now You’re Ready to Begin

By following these plant tips and tricks, you can successfully grow healthy and happy succulents and cacti. Always check the specific care requirements for your particular plant species and adjust your care accordingly. 

With a little bit of patience and care, you can enjoy the beauty of these unique and fascinating plants in your home or garden.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.