Wednesday, 13 July 2016

How To Care For Your Succulents

If you know me (or follow me on Instagram), you'll know that I am actually obsessed with plants. I have an entire windowsill full in my bedroom, and my desire to buy more is constant. After recent trips to IKEA and Leeds Market I thought I would write a little post for the not-so-green-thumbed. Although people often say that it is near on impossible to kill succulents and cacti, I know that's not quite too. I've never actually killed a cactus or succulent (or any plant for that matter!), but I do know that it is ridiculously easy to kill a cactus!
Water // This is the biggest killer of plants. Unlike most house plants, succulents can survive with very little water. You're much more likely to kill them by overwatering them as opposed to under-watering. During the summer, most succulents and cacti go through a ‘growth’ phase. During this phase they need plenty of water and nutrients.  When the weather starts to cool down, they need a lot less water. In the summer you should water them once a week, and then go to once every two weeks when it cools down. Giving them too much water causes them to rot, so I recommend using an atomiser and just positioning the nozzle into the soil. I have this one from Amazon, which was pretty cheap - but I think it's designed for slightly bigger plants!

Light // Did you know plants can get sunburn too? Yes they originate in the desert, but the majority of varieties can't handle the heat from the sun. While they appreciate a lot of light, being in the midday sun (especially during the summer) can cause scorch marks. I keep the majority of my plants in full sun, so I tend to only buy plants that can hold their own against the sun. If you're looking for varieties that can withstand hotter temperatures, look for plants that are red, blue, grey, or ones covered with needles. Varieties that are green or variegated (the tips are different colours to the main part of the leaves) are most prone to sunburn. 

Food // You only need to feed your succulents once a year. Use a well-balanced organic fertiliser (such as a liquid houseplant feed or a specialist cacti feed), and using half of what the packet tells you, feed when the weather starts to pick up during spring. 

Re-potting // I'm far too lazy to repot my succulents and cacti. I like them the size they are, otherwise I wouldn't have bought them. If you are really serious about your plants, they should be replanted into bigger pots every 1-2 years or whenever they start to look too big more the pot. When re-potting make sure you opt for a pot that has a drainage hole in the bottom, otherwise the roots will rot and the plant will die. Make sure you use gritty, sandy, or specialist cacti soil so they have the right nutrients needed to thrive. 

Ditch the terrarium // Whilst terrariums look adorable and totally Instagrammable, they don't give the breathing room needed by succulents to survive. The vast majority of succulents come from warm, dry climates and so depend on good air circulation to breath.

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