Indoor succulent. Photo | Terra Hyke

Succulents soothe the soul

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By Emily Moore

Succulents are an awesome, low maintenance plant that are uniquely adapted to dry climates by storing water in the leaves, roots and stems. This makes them excellent plants for both indoor and outdoor spaces. That said, you still need to get the basics right. Here are the necessary light, water and soil requirements for succulents.

A succulent living in a Sunset Hall window. Photo | Terra Hyke

How Much Light Do Succulents Need?
Indoor Light for Succulents
Your succulent requires at least four hours of direct sunlight daily through a sunny or bright window. If you don’t provide adequate light, the succulents will search for the light and end up growing long and thin features. This fast growth gives the plant a light green color with leaves sparsely placed, and without intervention, it will gradually die. Normal succulent growth is slow with dark green leaves placed compactly. If you notice abnormal growth, gradually introduce the plant to the sun.
Outdoor Light for Succulents
Even though most succulents loves sunlight, they do appreciate some afternoon shade during the hotter months to avoid burning. In their natural habitat, succulents are protected by taller trees and shrubs from direct sunlight. You should slowly introduce your new plant into sunny conditions since you may not know what conditions it grew in. In spring, protect them with a shade cloth.


How much water do succulents need?
While some succulents can hold water for a long time, they have a cycle of filling up and draining to simulate a dry climate. It’s a good idea to develop a watering schedule that will allow the plants to dry before watering again. Keeping them moist constantly will result in rotting. You can use the pot’s weight, a chopstick, or your finger to check if the soil is dry before another round of watering.
You can also keep an eye on the leaves; dry leaves will look shriveled, while saturated leaves will look plump and soggy. Just keep in mind that not all succulents are the same, and there are succulents that are extremely water-sensitive, while others are more tolerant.
During their bloom and active growing season, most succulents need more water. Water before the soil is completely dried out to keep the cycle unbroken. In winter, water every twenty or so days.


What kind of soil do succulents need?

As long as your container can drain water, succulents are healthy in the container of your choosing. Photo | Terra Hyke

The soil used for your succulent should be mixed well so that it drains well, which will help to avoid rotting the plant. Consider a soil mix of 2/3 potting soil with 1/3 slate chips or any small stones for indoors plants. For those plants that stay outside, use 50/50 soil and slate chips since it has higher chances of receiving more water regularly from rain. The safest bet is usually to use a soil specifically formulated for succulents (succulents are a common houseplant, so your local gardening supply store should have some).
Avoid using glass containers or any container that does not drain. Since succulents don’t like sitting on soggy soil for long, this kind of pot will eventually kill the plants. A well-drained soil is required for aeration and to keep the soil dry most of the time especially in winter when humidity is high, and there is no sunshine to dry up the soil.

 

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