Where do succulents grow best? This is one of the most common questions I receive from my readers and followers. When I was starting my succulent growing journey, I asked the same question too. In this post, I will be sharing what I have learned through the years of experience.
Succulents are amazing plants that are native to semi-desert places. They have fleshy leaves and stems that allow them to survive during warm seasons.
Succulents, through their leaves and stems, are capable of storing water. At the cellular level, the leaves are composed of sac-like structures where the water is stored.
The retained water allows the succulents to survive in warm seasons. However, these plants cannot survive in extreme heat temperatures. The average and healthy direct sun exposure are about 4-6 hours a day.
In warmer locations, it is very important to provide shade for succulents. The shade will neutralize the heat from the sun which in turn gives the succulents just enough sunlight.
So, where do succulents grow best? Succulents grow best in places where there is enough sunlight, water, and nutrient supply. These factors determine the overall health of the plants.
But how much sunlight, water, and nutrient is enough for succulents? The answer to this question varies across situations. The most determinants of water and nutrient requirements are environment and climate.
For instance, indoor succulents may require a lesser amount of water than outdoor succulents. In like manner, succulents need more water during summer than in winter.
This means that the needs of the succulents will depend on your location. Your job as a grower is to figure out what exactly your plants need in order to grow healthily.
Succulents just grow virtually anywhere. But obviously, these plants could not thrive in extreme environmental conditions.
Can you grow succulents indoors?
Can succulents survive in the indoor environment? Absolutely, yes. If you failed to grow other houseplants, you might probably want to try succulents. Aside from being easy and hassle-free to grow, they also boost the aesthetic feature of the space.
Because succulents are capable of storing water in the leaves and stems, they are capable of adapting the indoor environment.
Succulents are resistant to drought and dry conditions. They are literally undemanding plants that require almost no effort.
Although succulents can literally thrive anywhere, when indoors, these plants may have special needs that other ornamental plants don’t.
Here are the basic ingredients of survival for succulents:
Succulents are native to semi-desert areas. This means that these plants thrive better if the light source is available. One of the natures of succulents is that they seek for light. Without sufficient light source, these plants may start to manifest growth problems.
For instance, in the absence of light, the stems will start to lean towards the areas where the light is accessible. If you see this in your plants, you need to expose them to sunlight.
If you have time, you can bring your plants outside for a couple of hours a day. Then bring them back inside. This is a good practice in summer. To minimize work, you can place succulents near the window. This way, somehow they can enjoy the sunlight.
During winter, however, the natural light source can be hard to find. The sun may not show up in the sky for days or even weeks. The best remedy, in this case, is to use a grow light for indoor plants.
Unlike other ornamental plants, succulents don’t grow well in the regular garden soil. Remember that these plants are native to semi-desert areas. This means that they love sandy and fast-draining soil.
Thus, making a soil mix similar to what is commonly found in semi-desert areas, should make the succulents happy. To learn more about how to make a perfect succulent soil, you can read my article that contains guidelines on how to do so.
There are specific standards that succulents would want when it comes to containers. Although there are many containers or pots you can choose from, I personally use containers with a drainage hole.
Drainage holes are extremely helpful for succulent plants. The holes serve as an exit point for excess water especially when you use a soak and dry watering method. This watering technique involves soaking the soil completely and then let it dry. The next watering only proceeds when the soil is totally dry.
Unlike other plants, succulents don’t like too much water. What they love is just enough moisture in the soil. So giving just enough amount of water will help them stay healthy.
Constant checking the moisture in the soil will help. You can do it by shoving a finger and take a pinch of it. If it easily crumbles, it is dry and needs water.
When overwatered, there are signs that you will start to notice in your plants. The common ones are blackening of the leaves and softening of the stem.
To avoid this, make sure that excess water drains through the hole of the pot. The stored water will cause the rotting of the roots and the whole plant in the long run.
If you are using the fast-draining soil, your succulents will grow just fine. However, sometimes, you really want to see more of your plants. You want to make them even more beautiful. This can be achieved by giving them extra nutritional sources.
Applying fertilizer will surely boost the growth of the plant. This will be perfect during the summer. Succulents during warmer seasons are actively growing. Choose the best fertilizer for succulents and apply it 3-4 times.
But like water, too much fertilizer will do harm to the plants. So be mindful. During winter, do not apply fertilizer. There’s no need for extra nutrients. This is because, during colder seasons, succulents are dormant or not actively growing.
Choosing the right succulent variety
The key to a successful indoor succulent growing is correct varieties for the indoor environment. This is because not all succulents are perfect good houseplants.
Echeverias are not great indoors too. So you must avoid it. They don’t like low light. These plants tend to stretch out as they try to search the light.
One of the indicators of indoor succulents is their color. Generally, green succulents are low light tolerant. Therefore, they are perfect for indoor environments.
The more colorful varieties, however, are the ones that need more sunlight. An example of this is the Sedum nussbaumerianum. This succulent variety needs light to maintain its color.
Can you grow succulents outdoors?
Succulents commonly are commonly grown indoor. But these plants are perfect for outdoor garden too. The array of sizes, shapes, foliage colors and flowers will certainly make the garden even more lively.
The first thing to consider here is to find the perfect plant for the outdoor environment. This is because not all succulent varieties are great outdoors. In my case, I always choose the hardy succulents to make sure they can endure more extreme climate changes.
What outdoor succulents need?
Like growing indoors, growing succulents outdoors requires two basic things for them to survive healthily: water, sunlight, fast-draining soil, and pot with a drainage hole. Having the perfect combination of these important elements will almost guarantee successful succulent growing.
Like any other plant, water is an essential need for succulents. It is true that they can survive drought longer than other plants. But the total absence of water is fatal to them.
However, succulents don’t like too much water. They can also die from overwatering. As a grower, you need to make sure that you only give just enough amount of moisture.
The best way to avoid overwatering is to implement the soak and dry watering method. This means that, to avoid overwatering, do not water until the soil is completely dry.
Sunlight is another essential element for healthy succulent growing. But like water, too much of it will kill the plant.
When exposed to a scourging sun all day, succulents may get sunburned. If not provided shade, these plants may eventually die.
Before you start your succulent outdoor garden, make sure that you will be growing succulents for outdoors. Again, the basic sign is the color of the plant. Succulents with colorful foliage can thrive under direct sunlight but not the green ones.
But even you have the drought-tolerant succulents in your garden, it is still important to provide them shade. You can expose the plant under direct sunlight for 4-6 hours a day. And take them under cooler areas.
One of the most important elements of successful succulent growing is the fast-draining soil. The reason for this is that succulents do not like compact soil that retains more water.
The great soil for succulents is the one that drains water fast and only retains moisture. This keeps the plants safe from overwatering.
Pot with a drainage hole
If you have fast-draining soil, you also need a pot with a drainage hole. The hole will drain the excess water. The combination of fast-draining soil and pot with a hole will certainly ensure the plant’s safety from root rotting.
With this, you don’t have to worry about overwatering. You can add water as much as you like. The excess water will just drain leaving nothing but moisture.
How and when to plant succulents outdoors?
The perfect time to plant succulents outdoor is during summer or warmer months. This will allow the plants to establish growth before winter comes. If you are living in tropical areas though, you can plant succulents almost all year round.
During rainy seasons, however, you may want to increase the water drainage of the pots you are using. This is to protect your plants from soaking in water.
The best practice is to add some organic and inorganic materials to the soil in the pot. You can add coarse sand, pumice, or grit to the soil to make it drains fast.
If you have just planted the succulent in the pot, do not water it immediately. Wait for a couple of days before you start giving water.
If you want to add fertilizer for the plant, do it during the spring. There are fertilizers designed solely for succulents you can use for maximum growth.
How long do succulents live for?
It is hard to predict how long succulents can live. This is because there are numerous factors that could affect the life of the plants. This may include but not limited to the type of soil you are using, the climate, and the immediate environment.
In like manner, the care and attention that a grower gives to the plant also affect longevity. If cared carefully, succulents can thrive up to years or possibly decades. But of course, this is not always the case. Like any other plant, succulents may die due to several unknown reasons.
The key to making succulents live linger is by understanding their very nature. This way, you as a grower will be able to provide the basic needs of the plants.
Common succulent lifespans
Although determining the exact lifespan of all types of succulents is hard, there are some varieties that are pretty much predictable. Jade Plants, for instance, will able to thrive for about 20-30 years or three decades. But only if these plants are given enough amount of sunlight.
The other one is the Christmas cactus. This plant can live up to 30 years if cared in a warm area. Lastly, the Living Stones. These succulents can last longer than the Jade plant and Christmas cactus if planted in an area that provides the right amount of light and water.
But these lifespans always depend on the quality of care that an owner gives to the plant. Even hardy succulents will die if restrained from receiving an ample amount of basic needs such as sunlight, water, and soil.
In short, it is your job as a grower to figure out what types of succulents you are growing. Doing that allows you to appropriately care the plants. To learn more about where do succulents grow best, read my related post on how to successfully grow succulents. It contains the complete guide. Happy growing!