Stodels Garden Centre

How to keep your succulents satisfied

24th August 2017

Although succulents are native to arid environments, most home-grown specimens need a little bit of tender loving care. Granted, they are one of the easier plant types to maintain, as their thickened, fleshy leaves are designed to store water. But this doesn’t mean they’ll hold out for days without nutrients, water or fresh air. Here’s how you can get your succulent collection to thrive:


Make sure your succulent pot has a drainage hole in the bottom; succulents don’t like having their feet wet.


Contrary to gardening intuition, rich and nutritious potting soils are a no-no for succulents. They thrive in porous, sandy soils that allow food, water and air to get to the roots – and water to drain through. Recommendations include sand, small pebbles and vermiculite, or a mix of a low peat planter mix and pumice (50/50), with a top dressing of granite or pea gravel. 


  • Warmer months: Most succulents have an active growing period for about 1/3 of a year (the warmest part). During this period, they should be watered once a week. Rather than water in dribs and drabs, wait until the soil is completely dry and then give the plant a good drenching. Once you’ve done this, empty the saucer beneath the pot so that the roots don’t sit in excess water.
  • Cooler months: If there was ever a time for a little unforeseen neglect, this should be it, as succulents go into a dormant phase and generally need water only once a month during winter.


When it comes to succulents, too much fertilizer can be worse than none at all. Keep a healthy balance with a low-nitrogen fertilizer at about ½ to ¼ of the recommended rate.


Surprisingly, succulents grow better when they’re not cooking in the midday sun. In natural environments, you will find succulents tucked under bushes, trees or other barriers that provide filtered light. Keep this in mind, and be aware of the following:

  • If new growth is pale green and elongated, your plant needs more light.
  • If the side of your plant facing the light source is yellow, tan, red or indented, it is getting too much light.


Succulents struggle in stagnant air, so make sure your plants have access to good air circulation.