6 Steps to Keeping Succulents

6 Steps to Keeping Succulents

If you have recently purchased a succulent, odds are you made the purchase thinking it would be easy to keep alive. Maybe it is starting to look a little sad or just isn’t growing as much as you had hoped. As a succulent amateur, I have definitely killed my fair share of plants and succulents. However, I have slowly learned what it takes to keep these tricky plants alive! Use these 6 tips to help you grow a beautiful succulent!



1. Water with care.

The easiest way to kill a succulent is from overwatering. Succulents are drought resistant plants and can thrive without regular watering. They only need water every other week to once a month. Make sure the soil has completely dried out before watering again. Some of my succulents have no had water in almost two months and are doing great!

Maybe you’re thinking, “What are the signs of over or under-watering?”


There are a few signs to look for if your plant isn’t receiving enough water. The soil will be completely dried out and the leaves on the succulent (especially near the bottom of the plant) will begin to wrinkle. This means the plant is low on water and rehydrating with the water stored in its leaves. Water modestly and the wrinkling should fix itself in about a day or so!

 The leaves on the bottom succulent are beginning to wrinkle.



Unfortunately, over-watering is a lot harder to fix than under-watering. The telltale signs are pretty obvious: If the leaves near the bottom are turning yellow, feel mushy, and fall off the plant very easily, your succulent has had a bit too much water. Also, if the stem of your plant is turning black, it is too late to save unfortunately. If your succulent is just losing leaves, there are few options that COULD save it. Let the soil completely dry out and give it some more time after that before watering. If you have already done this and are still losing leaves, remove the succulent from the soil and any dirt clinging to the roots. Let the succulent sit out of dirt for a day or two before repotting in new soil. This will allow the roots to dry out from any moisture that was stuck in the soil. Once in new soil, do not water for a week or more. A good measure is to hold off watering until your succulent is no longer losing leaves or when the leaves begin to show signs of being under-watered. 



2. Use the correct soil

As mentioned, succulents do not like too much water, so the soil they are in plays a big factor in keeping them happy. Succulents need a special soil than is well draining; this soil should have large particles (like perlite or crushed rock) to help absorb any excess water. Succulent and cactus specialty soil is easy to find at any gardening center. If your succulent isn’t look so great or the soil never seems to dry out, you may need to replace it!


3. Choose the right pot.

A succulent won’t reject the pot you put it in, but they do grow better in certain kinds. Terra-cotta pots help to absorb water and dry out the soil. However, they are not mandatory! Any pot will do as long as other conditions are good! It is VERY important to have a pot that has drainage holes. A pot without drainage will hold in excess water and likely rot your succulent.



4. Sunlight

Succulents love light! Placing them in a sunny windowsill will help them grow and will also help to dry the soil out between watering. Some succulents thrive in bright light all day, but others will get sunburnt. That’s right! Your succulent can burn if they are not acclimated to getting direct sun all day. Many of the more delicate succulent varieties will do just fine with a few hours of morning light, as it is much less intense than afternoon sun. To prevent sunburn, just slowly acclimate them to getting more light!



The top photo is a succulent that was getting all day sun. The bottom photo is the SAME succulent 1-month later after being moved into a north-facing window. It is still growing, but has lost some of its vibrancy due to the lack of direct sunlight.


 5. Accept what happens

Arguably, succulents can be really tricky to take care of. Don’t let it get to you if they die. I have lost tons of succulents to silly mistakes. It happens. You will learn more with each one!


6. Don’t throw away fallen leaves

Did your succulent lose a leaf that looks healthy? Don’t throw it away! Succulents are masters at propagating and can sprout a whole new plant from fallen leaves. Give it a few days to allow the leaf to callous over where it was attached to the main plant. After that, lay it on top of a layer of dirt and spritz with water when the soil is dry. I usually water mine every 2-3 days. You will begin to see white or hot pink roots form and even a small leaf. In a few months, you’ll have a mini version of the original!



This blog post could probably drone on for multiple pages but to keep things sweet, I have condensed it down to the bare essentials of caring for succulents. Every plant is different and may react in its own unique way. Hopefully these tips will bring out the master succulent caretaker in you!