How to Really Care for Succulents

Ah, succulents. With their captivating shapes, stunning colors, and survival skills that would make Bear Grylls jealous, these desert divas have taken the gardening world by storm. But let's be honest, caring for succulents can sometimes feel like you’re trying to tame a wild mustang. Fear not, our fellow green-thumb enthusiasts, for McDonald Garden Center has got your back! Prepare to embark on a wild journey into the world of succulent care, armed with our entertaining guide and a sprinkle of plant-whisperer wisdom. Let's dive in!

Know Your Squad:

Succulents come in all shapes and sizes, from the spiky daredevil, known as agave, to the plump and adorable jade plant. Each succulent has its own personality and quirks, so it's crucial to know your variety. Take the time to research and understand the needs of your succulents. Not all succulents are the same and therefore, do not always have the same needs as one would expect from a class of plants. Are they sun worshippers or shade seekers? Do they like dry soil or prefer a sip of water now and then? Get to know them better than you know your favorite TV characters, and you'll be off to a great start! If you aren’t sure where to begin or where to look, our Green Team is here to help at our year-round locations to get you on the right track. 

The Sun Is Your Succulent's Bestie:

Picture this: you're at the beach, working on your tan and sipping a refreshing drink. That's precisely how your succulents feel when they soak up the sunshine. These sun-loving plants need a solid dose of direct light to thrive. So, find them a cozy spot by a sunny window or even on your outdoor patio. Just make sure they don't get sunburned - some varieties need less sun than others. Introduce them to the sun gradually, and you'll have a happy succulent. No Light? No problem. Amend your dim situation with a grow light and your succulent should  be just fine.

PRO-TIP: When succulents get extreme direct sunlight, some will even start turning pink! (especially if there is any variegated foliage) This is normal, as long as your succulents are not also wrinkling, which means they need more water. 

Water, But Not Too Much:

Succulents have nailed the art of staying hydrated through generations of evolving. Their plump leaves are actually specially formed to be much like a water tank that they can drink from at any time. This makes watering sometimes a tricky task.

The key to watering succulents is watering deeply and not so often, it's a delicate balancing act. Underwatering can cause your succulents stunted growth and wrinkled, yellow foliage. This is many times recoverable as long as you get back on your succulent’s desired watering schedule. On the other hand, overwatering is the ultimate succulent crime, leading to mushy roots and sad, droopy foliage that usually causes succulents to give up on living all together. So, let the soil dry out between waterings, and your succulents will thank you with new growth and maybe even some blooms! 

The Right Mix:

Our succulent companions need a good, well-draining soil mix to be able to strut their stuff. Grab a potting mix specifically designed for succulents and cacti, like our Black Gold mix available at our year-round locations. Or, you can make your own mix with some sand, rocks, or perlite to ensure excellent drainage. Imagine it's their catwalk, and the soil is their fancy designer outfit—they deserve the best!

Feeding Time, Y'all:

Just like us humans, succulents need a little nutritional boost every now and then. Get yourself a succulent plant food, like Schultz Cactus Food or We the Wild’s Grow Concentrate and follow the instructions on the container. Be gentle with your feeding frenzy—too much plant food can lead to some serious leaf burn. Remember, succulents are a fan of moderation!

Repotting Adventures:

As our succulent buddies grow, they might need a bigger pot to stretch their roots. Succulents like to be in tight pots, so you will know that it is time to repot when the succulent is either pushing at the sides of the pot, deforming the pot, or you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot. When the time comes, find a new home for them, pot them up in fresh soil, and watch them relish their new digs. 

Congratulations, our fellow succulent enthusiasts! You are now armed with the knowledge and the wit to care for these desert dwellers. So go forth, embrace the succulent ways, and create a delightful oasis filled with these resilient green confidants. Happy succulent gardening, everyone! To learn more about what’s growing on at our garden center, check out Mike, the Garden Guru, and his webinars with new plants, products, and expert planting advice. To keep inspired and grow with us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok to dig into the joys of gardening!