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Growing with Succulents: a Guide on Succulent Care

Freya Bedwell, Staff Writer

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A recent trend in hobbies is growing succulents. Many people, particularly teenagers and young adults, have failed in this endeavor and watch their plants slowly shrivel, and then throw them out, not knowing if they are truly living or dead. As someone with a front yard full of succulents, this is painful to watch. Rather than sit and let it happen, I’ve written a guide on how to care for a succulent.

You will need:

  • A succulent.
  • A container.
  • Soil.

The first step is selecting your succulent. Some that I recommend as a starting type are Pork and Beans, Jade plants, and most types that you will find at places with a gardening section. When selecting your succulent, look for insects or signs of damage that may indicate disease. If you have a friend with succulents, ask them and they can attempt to propagate their succulent in order for you to plant part of it.

The next is selecting your container. Many things will work, but make sure that it has drainage. Drainage means that the water can pass through part of the container, such as a hole in the bottom. Without drainage, it’s very easy to overwater your succulents. Also, remember that if you have a small container, you will have a small plant. If there’s no room for the roots to grow, the succulent will stay small. They’re very adaptable like that- you can basically plant them in anything with drainage, even old wooden crates, shoes with holes in them, and similarly unconventional items.

After that, you need soil. Any type will work, generally, but I’ve found that ‘cactus mix,’ a type of soil sold many places, works best, hence the name. Make sure the soil drains well. If your container doesn’t have drainage like stated in the previous paragraph, such as a jar, make sure you make a sort of filter in the bottom. This can be done by putting a bit of charcoal in the bottom, a layer of rocks, and then the dirt on top of that.

Lastly, you need to care for it well. Where most people go wrong with succulents is overwatering or underwatering them. Since they’re in the cactus family, they don’t need a lot of water- every two days should be enough for most succulents, unless you get a sensitive breed. If you live somewhere where it gets to freezing temperatures, you will probably need to take them inside during these seasons, with a sun lamp to help them- however, here in California, you should be fine, so long as you don’t live in the far northern part where it snows. It’s also important that they get sun for at least part of the day- they don’t necessarily need it all day, but a good majority helps, unless your breed of succulent has specific needs to the contrary. Finally, remembering that they’re alive is necessary- while they can take much more wear and tear than normal plants, if you’re ripping apart their roots and stems they will not survive. It’s also important to note that if you forget to care for these plants for a short time, they may shrivel- this does not mean they’re dead. Continue watering as you normally would, and it may seem to come back to life.

As someone with a fondness for these plants, I hope this popularity grows into something more than just a fad. Succulents are drought tolerant and versatile, as well as incredibly beautiful. To see them in gardens across the Bay would be a dream.

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Growing with Succulents: a Guide on Succulent Care