On Succulents and Keeping them Healthy

We don't claim to be experts, but rather, plant enthusiasts, and these are just a few of the things we've learned. Happy planting!!

Working with a few students on a large Saguaro cactus mural. 

My love for succulents began about seven or so years ago when I was teaching at a school in DTLA. Our science curriculum was focused on the desert ecosystem, and naturally, we had succulents of all varieties in our classroom for observation and exploration. One of the things I learned while teaching was how vast the succulent variety is. Did you know that all cacti are also succulents?! Cacti are definitely more hardy and less easy to kill when compared the their leafier cousins, like kalanchoe or sedum, but they too are succulents. 

Despite the claim that it's impossible to kill succulents, that's really not true, and more and more people tell me that they have problems keeping their succulents healthy and thriving.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Saving your succulents...


Most of us mistakingly over water our succulents. These water-storers will basically tell you when they're thirsty. They will began the look a bit dull or the leaves shriveled, and the soil will be dry to the touch. About once or twice each week spray them generously with water. [Occasionally give them a good soak and allow all of the excess water to drain out of the container (like once per month).]

**On rainy days open up your windows slightly and allow the mist the be captured by your succulents, they LOVE ambient moisture. (It reminds them of the lives their ancestors lived. Just kidding :) )

Gynocalycium mihanovichii


Succulents definitely need good amounts of sunshine. Be careful to not leave them outside in the hot hot summer temperatures or the freezing winter air, especially if they are babies. Once the succulents are larger and more established, their roots can tolerate more extreme temperatures. They love warm window sills where they can catch the filtered rays. 

**During winter months be sure that your succulents are not touching a freezing window. This can damage them pretty quickly and cause their water storage to freeze. It's nearly impossible to bring a frozen succulent back to life. (This happened to us a couple of years ago when we left one in the car after a long day selling at a craft fair.)

Graptopetalum paraguayense


As your succulents grow you will begin to notice older leaves drying out and falling off. Some species do this more quickly than others. And some are rather messy. Do the best you can to keep these dead leaves from accumulating on the soil surface.

Echeveria babies and Sedum rubrotinctum 


In the "wild" succulents obviously do this on their own without our help. If you begin to notice perfectly healthy leaves falling off of your succulent and there is a little node still attached to the leaf, it's perfect for propagation. Here you can see a few new babies have sprouted alongside one another. As the seedlings grow the leaf will begin to die off and shrivel, basically giving its life to the new life. Pretty fascinating.  

Graptopetalum paraguayense


Around every 4-6 months we repot our succulents, give them new soil (mixed in with the old), and even change containers (sometimes for decorative purposes, other times due to growth). We have found that this seems to stimulate growth and add a health boost to the plants. 

Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Maternity Plant)

Lastly, love your succulents. Observe them, photograph them, respond to what they're telling you. If you observe closely, you'll notice if they need water, need more shade/more sun, or even a new space in your home. Succulents are full of surprises and wonder.