Succulents are all the rage. Cute and colorful, the fleshy plants have a reputation for thriving without much care thanks to their ability to store water in their leaves. But while their low-maintenance superpower reputation is warranted in places like San Francisco, you live in Northeast Ohio. “In Cleveland, you really have to try to keep it alive,” says Daniel Gifford, owner of Lakewood Plant Co. Follow these tips so your next succulent lives a long, hearty life.
1. Let the light shine. While your succulent looks great in that empty spot on your bookshelf, it doesn’t mean that’s the best place for it. “You need to have it in a bright, lit location near a window,” Gifford says. Be wary of direct sunlight, however, which can cause succulents to burn.
2. Check your mates. While succulents can survive some inattention, it is best to check on them once or twice a week. “Everybody wants a maintenance-free plant,” says Bill Hendricks, president of the Midwest Cactus and Succulent Society. “Plastic works best when you want maintenance-free. Plants live, and plants die.” The biggest factor is watering every seven to 10 days based on the pot size. “Soak it really well, like a rain,” says Gifford.
3. Step away from the can. Don’t reach for the watering can just because your succulent has some browning on the leaves. “It naturally happens with plants,” Gifford says. That’s especially true during winter months when there is less light and humidity. A possible cause may be root rot from overwatering. Gently pull the plant from the pot and examine the roots. A change in root color and texture may be a sign of rot. “When in doubt, don’t water,” Gifford says. Cut back to watering monthly. If the soil begins to separate from the side of the pot, it’s time to water your succulent again.
4. Get beyond cacti. Hendricks suggests Haworthia, a genus of about 60 varieties native to southern Africa, as a good introduction to succulents. Haworthia grow from 3 to 5 inches and resemble aloe, but with white flowers when in bloom. “They’re easy to grow and are a windowsill plant,” Hendricks says.
5. Have some fun. Because succulents come in so many shapes and colors, creating an arrangement means a smorgasbord of hues and textures. Follow the thriller-filler-spiller method, which combines a large focal point (thriller), a base that makes up the majority of the arrangement (filler) and an accent that falls over the container’s edge (spiller). But don’t forget about the health of the succulents as you build that dazzling plantscape. “Try to combine plants that have the same water requirements,” says Hendricks.