There’s been a lot of hype around colorful succulents lately, often branded as “Korean succulents“. What many people do not know, however, is that vast majority of these succulents do not really come from Korea. The region has a few species of native succulents, for example Orostchys Malacophylla, Orostchys Japonica, Sedum Aizoon, but most succulents branded as “Korean succulents” are a result of extensive breeding with cross-pollination techniques, where Korean growers and businessmen simply mix some succulents together, trying to achieve some spectacular combinations of colors and shapes.
As a result they come up with expensive succulents, often ten times as expensive as “ordinary” succulents that you can get in any store specializing in plants. Imagine an Echeveria in orange color, or even a black Echeveria. It isn’t rare paying $50 for a single small succulent bred in Korea. Having said that, these succulents are really special, and have their place on the market. But how should you care for them? Is there anything you should do differently than you’d do with “ordinary” succulents? We will try to find the answer on the following lines.
General rules stay in place for Korean Succulents
At the end of the day, a specially bred succulent is still a succulent. What I try to say here is that Korean succulents still like sunny spots, good drainage of the soil, and infrequent watering schedule. Succulents, including the ones bred in Korea, are native to semi-desert and desert areas of Africa, Latin America, and Arabian Peninsula. It doesn’t rain often in these corners of the world, and the soil is pretty arid. You should try to replicate similar conditions at home.
It is also important to have a pot with a drainage hole, since Korean succulents are even more prone to over-watering than ordinary succulents. This is a result of cross-breeding and cross–pollination. You may achieve some interesting colors and shapes (and believe me it takes COUNTLESS attempts to come with a new specie as a result of cross-breeding), but you will always pay a price. Korean succulents are more fragile than common succulents, and it is easier over-watering them.
Make sure to keep your Korean succulents in areas safe from pests
What is true for over-watering is true also for other issues succulents may face. As a rule of a thumb, succulents are hardy plants, and do not suffer form pests like mealybugs or aphids often. However, Korean succulents are more vulnerable at this front, and it is pivotal keeping them safe from areas where they can get infested, such as in close proximity of garden plants that are most commonly targeted by the pests I just mentioned.
Of course, you can always use fungicides and pesticides and whatever, but keep on your mind that you paid a lot for your Korean succulents, and should do all you can to prevent possible infestation with pests. Prevention is always easier than cure. It is also important to isolate any infected succulent immediately. If you spot bugs or powdery mildew on any of your Korean succulent, take it away from the rest of the plants and treat it in isolation. These pests can jump from one succulent to another, and a typical Korean succulent (not as hardy as its predecessors) is an ideal target for them.
You may fail while trying to propagate Korean succulents
This depends on the exact specie of a plant, but if you bought one of the expensive Korean succulents with an aim of propagating it and making a fortune, I must disappoint you. Many Korean succulents lost their ability to propagate with the cross-breeding, or at least it is impacted, and you will find it much harder to succeed. Of course, you can use rooting hormones to improve your chances of succeeding, and with some plants you may actually do so. But with many you won’t.
This is the price we have to pay for the beauty and uniqueness of Korean succulents though. Some things just cannot be replicated.
Give your Korean succulents lot of sun in summer, take them inside in winter
The beautiful colors you see on pictures of Korean succulents are often a result of great care. These succulents love to get a lot of sun in summer, and it is the period of the year when they will show their full beauty and array of colors, which is perhaps the no.1 reason why you bought them :). So do not keep them in some shady place!
Things change in winter, when many Korean succulents are dormant, and super-prone to over-watering. During winter months, it is often enough watering Korean succulents once in a month, or even less often. Even during summer you should make sure to water the succulents only when the soil is dry. Having said that, you do not have to put them in a box and store them in a cellar like some people do with cacti and succulents for winter. You can keep them in your house, just make sure to water them very sparingly.
Learn as much as you can about the particular Korean succulent, in order to achieve the best-possible results
At the end of the day, we currently know over 300 types of Korean succulents, or, said more precisely, succulents that are branded as Korean :). And while Echeverias (is all sorts of strange colors and shape) are the most prevalent, it still makes sense to think about the exact succulent specie you bought, and what care it needs.
The problem is that you often cannot get enough information from the seller. In such a case, your best bet is learning how to care about the original succulent from which a Koren succulent was cross-bred. For example, when you buy Echeveria Lapine, or Echeveria Lenore Dean (an expensive succulent indeed), care for it as you’d for normal Echeveria, at least if you cannot get any information from the seller.
Korean succulents come in amazing shapes and colors, and will catch an eye of every visitor of your house. And while sticking to general rules of succulent care will help you keeping them alive, you should also remember that they are typically more fragile, harder to propagate (if it is possible at all), and more vulnerable to pests of any kind. Keep close eyes on your succulents, and make sure they get what they need. They will pay you back a thousand time with their timeless beauty…
May also interest you: How often should you water succulents indoors?