The most common problem people have when starting out with succulents is overwatering. Imagine a cactus in the wild. Where do you see it?—probably some sandy expanse, right? Succulents and cacti are typically desert plants, and as such they’re adapted to living in dry, arid environments. They are xerophilic, and aren’t used to receiving lots of water.

Overwatering can cause your plants to die pretty quickly. Too much moisture in the soil:

  • causes root rot
  • prevents plants from absorbing nutrients properly 
  • attracts garden pests, and makes your soil a great breeding ground for them
  •  promotes bacterial and fungal growth

Signs and symptoms of overwatering

  • wilting—succulents may become visibly sad and droopy looking
  • Yellowing leaves (chlorosis)
  • Edema—blisters and bumps that leave permanent scars on leaves
  • leaf drop—even healthy looking new growth may begin falling off the stems.
  • squishy stems and leaves

Continue reading “7 Tips to Stop Overwatering and Killing your Succulents and Cacti”

Why do you need one?

Sometimes your plants just aren’t getting enough light and need a little extra care. Most succulents prefer a minimum of 6 hours of bright, direct sunlight a day. When plants aren’t getting enough light they start to etiolate or stretch out in search of more. This causes  the stems to elongate, leaving large gaps between the leaves, and losing the distinct rosette shape many succulents have.

Another instance where you might want a setup like this is to encourage and speed up propagation by having better control of growing conditions. 

Combining two items can make a world of difference and your plants health and growth. Continue reading “How to make a propagation / etiolation station”

The other day I took a quick trip over to the Lowe’s garden center. Initially I was just going in to find a drill bit for a future project—hopefully I’ll be adding some drainage holes to some cheap ceramics and glass that will make great succulent planters. I’ll let you know how that goes in the future.

Of course I had to go look and see what they had in stock. I’m hunting for some Lithops or living stones—as usual nothing like that to be found. I sighed about the coloring crimes that were committed to these cacti and walked away.

Continue reading “Succulent salvage—saving some clearance plants”

I recently picked up this succulent at Lowe’s.

It was labeled generically as haworthia asstd./haworthia spp. I’ve since been told it may likely be haworthiopsis coarctata, and a stop over at Wikipedia certainly validates the opinion that it is a haworthiopsis of some kind.

The plant looked pretty crowded in its pot, and I wanted to separate some of the pups for propagation.

Continue reading “Separating Haworthiopsis for propagation”

Quarantine Succulents to Keep Problems from Spreading

Whether we’re talking about new plants you just brought home or one of your favorite plants starting to look sickly, a good safety measure can be to quarantine succulents.

kwôrənˌtēn/ noun
a state, period, or place of isolation in which people, plants, or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infections or contagions are placed.

New plants

So here’s the thing, pests and other problems can spread quickly among a close population, and big store shelves full of plants make excellent breeding grounds for them. When you bring home some new little succulent or cactus, you don’t really know what else you might be bringing in with them. Surely you’ve inspected the plant before buying it, just to make sure it’s in good health, but there could be pests, insect eggs, fungus, or bacteria in the soil that you won’t see. That’s why I recommend quarantining your new plants for a short while. Continue reading “Quarantine succulents to keep problems from spreading.”

How and why to sterilize your soil before potting

Why would you sterilize soil?

Taking the precaution to sterilize soil can kill off insect eggs, fungi, and bacteria that could potentially cause harm to your plants.

In my previous post, why-all-of-my-succulents-almost-died-and-what-i-did-to-save-them, I discussed needing to re-pot my plants because of over-watering, root rot, and an infestation of mealybugs. I didn’t want to run into the same problems with bugs and bacteria. This time, I decided to sterilize the soil first.

If you were potting some plants and ran out of fresh dirt, you can sterilize the old soil to make sure no contaminants are living in it before reusing.  Because I was weary over my recent bout with pests, I was using a fresh new bag of Miracle-Gro cactus and citrus mix the when I decided to try soil sterilization, but you can also use this method to freshen up old soil before re-potting. Continue reading “How to Sterilize Soil”

What happened?

A little over a month ago nearly all of the succulents on my porch started showing signs of deterioration. It started with one pot at first—my most recently acquired echeveria. I watched in dismay as the problem spread to my other succulents over the course of the next two weeks. Leaves were falling off, and my previously fat little plants were shriveling up. After a thorough inspection, there were a few of the most common issues happening at the same time. Here’s why all of my succulents nearly died:

Continue reading “Why all of my succulents almost died—and what I did to save them.”