Succulents are plants that store water during wet periods to use in dry periods. There are two main types of succulents – those that store water in their leaves, and those that store water in their stems. These plants are not all cacti; although all cacti are succulents. Succulents normally have thick, fleshy leaves. The leaves may also feel waxy or hairy. This helps to reduce water loss.
Low Maintenance Care
Succulents need at least half a day of direct sun in order to thrive. These plants, like the Sempervivum hybrid or "chicks and hens" pictured above, also need excellent drainage so it is a good idea to add gravel or sand to the soil to ensure that it is extremely free draining. If the soil is too wet, the plant may suffer from root problems. Also ensure that your succulents are protected from frost.
During summer, succulents should be watered when the soil is dry. However; during winter, it is best not to water them more than once per month as this is their resting period. In general, succulents need very little water so it is best to always check the plant and the soil first before giving water. If you wish to cover the soil, a thin layer of gravel, crushed shells, or stones is preferred–and looks very attractive in containers.
Succulents in Containers
Because succulents need so little water, they are absolutely perfect for planting in containers. If you are planting your succulents in a pot, the potting mix that you use is vital. To evaluate a potting soil's suitability, take a handful and squeeze tightly. If the soil holds together when you open your palm, add sand or coir. When they have been potted, succulents should only need to be watered once a week during spring and summer depending on the weather, and very rarely in winter.
It is likely that a stem or leaf may break off when you're handling your plants. No problem, succulents are easy to grow from cuttings. Simply take the piece of the plant that has broken off and leave it to dry for about a week. Once this has happened, put the piece of the plant into a pot that has been filled with half potting mix and half sand. The plant pictured above is Sedum rubrotinctum, or "Jelly Bean Plant". My new best friend at the nursery told me to simply place run away "beans" directly in cactus potting mix. So, that's exactly what I did, easy enough!
Think outside of the predictable pot and get creative with designs and displays. Find a container that highlights your hobbies, almost anything will work. I'm smitten with the refurbished use of this funky guitar that I spotted at a gardening fair and mini watering can on my windowsill.