How to Keep Succulents Alive

How to keep succulent alive?Succulents are indeed easy to care for since they do not require so much irrigation and do not need a nutrient-rich substrate.

Best soil for succulents

But if they are so easy to care you may be asking your self. 

Why did my succulents die? Why is my succulent getting sick easily?

If you start in the world of succulents and cacti and they die or get sick easily, do not worry, in this article, I will show you the common mistakes when planting succulents.

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Errors we make during a succulent maintenance

1.Excess irrigation

The main problem that can affect your succulent and the mistake that majority makes is the excess of irrigation. 

One of the characteristics of succulents is water susceptibility. 

This is why at the time of watering you succulent plants you must do so in moderation, to avoid rotting the roots of the plant or even its death.

That is why the best advice I can give you is to water your succulents only when the substrate is completely dry, especially if the plant is in a pot and in the winter season, where you should leave the substrate completely secondary for a few days, before to water the plant again.

2.Shortage of irrigation

It is normal to hear so much that succulents die faster due to excess water, that due to lack of water, but if you go to the extreme of not pouring enough water to your succulent with time it will die.

Although succulents can get sick from excess water, they still need the water needed to grow.

For this reason, it is important that when watering the plant, you pour enough water into the substrate so that the succulent can quench your thirst.

To prevent your succulent from dying, what you should reduce is the continuity of the irrigation and not the amount of water at the time of watering.

Is important to have a balance. Not too much neither less.

3.Little space to grow

It is very common to find pots with different succulents, which are very beautiful. 

But we must keep in mind that these arrangements are temporary and do not last long because each succulent began to grow and spread and if the succulents do not have enough space to grow, that can cause the plant to die.

That is why less is more if you are going to create your succulent arrangements you must ensure that your plants have enough space to grow or have them individually. 

Succulents are beautiful by themselves, and they give an elegant and natural touch to your home, so you don’t need to have several succulents in the same pot to make them look pretty.

So don’t just focus on beauty make sure to keep up with the health of your succulent. And having a pot with space so you succulent can grouth is part of it. 

4. Do not use the ideal substrate

Although succulents are not very demanding in terms of the substrate, the one you choose must be ideal for your succulents. 

The ideal substrate for a succulent plant is the one that has excellent drainage, that is, a substrate that is not kept moist by for a long time, the substrate must also be very low in nutrients, and must contain a greater amount of inorganic matter, than organic matter.

Also, do not use a conventional gardening substrate, since they do not have enough drainage and keep the humidity longer. Which can cause the development of pests and root rot? 

It is better to use a special substrate for cacti and succulents or if you already have some experience you can venture to make your mixtures.

Mixtures for succulents:

Recipe #1

50% potting soil

50% pumice – pumice stone

Recipe #2

3 parts potting soil

2 parts pumice

1 part coconut peat

Recipe #3

3 parts of potting soil

2 parts of coarse sand

1 part perlite (or pumice stone)

5. Use pots without a drain hole

It is important that when comparing a pot for your succulents, be sure that it has a hole in the bottom of the pot since this helps the substrate to remove excess water.

Although succulents can live in pots without the drain hole, it is much harder to keep them alive, since as we mentioned earlier the worst enemy of succulents is moisture, and without this hole in the pot, the substrate will take longer in drying, which can cause rotting of the roots of your succulent.

So when buying your pots, not only look at whether it is beautiful or not, or if it goes with your decoration, but also take into account that the pot must have the drain hole, so that your plant can live for a long time.

6. Don’t get enough sun

Like any plant, succulents need sunlight to grow and to live. 

I know some succulents can burn in the sun, but you still have to give your succulent some sunlight.

If you have your succulent outdoors, what you can do is remove it from the sun in the sunniest hours of the day during summer times (12:00 pm – 4:00 pm) and have it directly in the sun the rest of the day, and so you make sure that your succulent receive the amount of sun needed to grow, but without burning its leaves.

You can also have your succulents indoors as long as you place it in a corner that receives at least 6 hours of good lighting.

If you see that the leaves of your succulent are stretched, it is because they are not receiving the necessary amount of sun, and if this happens, move your succulent site and put it in a place where it receives a greater amount of sunlight.

7. Do not fertilize them

When succulents are planted in pots it is more difficult for them to receive enough food to be healthy.

That is why it is important to fertilize them from time to time, especially during the growing season of the plant (spring and summer). 

Just be careful not to overfeed, as this can cause your succulent to grow too fast and weaken. 

To fertilize your succulent you can use organic fertilizers such as worm humus. 

You can fertilize your plant even if it is not in a pot, because although they do not need the fertilizer to live it helps them grow stronger and faster.

8. Use atomizer to water the plant

In coercions to avoid watering them too much, we make the mistake of watering the succulents with an atomizer. 

As we mentioned earlier, succulents need enough water to live, imagine that you have thirst all day and when you drink water, just drink a few drops of water, it will not be enough, right? The same goes for succulents, if you water them with an atomizer, they don’t absorb enough water to grow.

In addition to watering succulents with an atomizer on the leaves, this can cause the leaves to rot or stain. 

That’s why it’s better to water the substrate directly using a hose (you can add an accessory in the form of rain). 

And remember, what you should reduce is the regularity of irrigation, not the amount of water at the time of watering.

9. Use high nitrogen fertilizers

Nitrogen causes rapid growth. 

This seems like a good thing, but it isn’t. 

This growth causes succulents and cacti to devote most of their energy to their growth, instead of using this energy to protect themselves from pests. 

So when you go to buy fertilizer for your succulents, make sure it has a very low level of nitrogen, to avoid this problem.

10. Plant the cactus in very large pots

Sometimes to avoid being transplanting succulents, people decide to plant succulents, in very large pots, which is a mistake. 

The excess substrate in the pot causes the substrate to remain moist for much longer. 

The logic is as follows, the more land, the more water around your succulent.

That’s why it is better to plant your succulent in a pot slightly larger than the plant, and when the pot is too small for your succulent plant, transplant it to a pot 15% larger than the previous one.

11. Transplant at any time of the year

If you transplant your succulents in the autumn to winter season the cactus will likely die.

Because at this time the days are shorter, cold and rainy. 

What can cause the roots to suffer from wet feet, drown and eventually the plant will die.

12. Use dish at the bottom of the pot

The dish at the bottom of the pot is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when taking care of your succulents, since the dish will keep the substrate wet all the time, causing root rot.

I know that you use the dishes to avoid wetting the floor, but so that you can also take care of your plant, remove the saucers and throw away the water that remains in the dish, immediately the substrate has finished eliminating its excess water.

Problems or diseases that can affect succulents

1. Wrinkled sheets

The most attractive of succulents is their fleshy leaves and their variety of colors, so we want the leaves to look pretty and healthy. 

If you see your succulent leaves wrinkle, it may be due to several factors:

  • Excess water: Excess water can cause the roots of succulents to rot and die. This means that the water will not reach the leaves of the succulent, causing its leaves to dehydrate and wrinkle. That is why the plant takes care of excess watering.
  • Lack of water: I know it sounds somewhat incongruous to say that succulents get sick from excess water and lack of water. This is simple, when we do not give enough water to the plant, this causes dehydration in it, which causes the leaves to wrinkle.

So if your succulent leaves begin to become wrinkled, you should analyze whether the leaves are wrinkled by excess water, or lack of water.

  • Too much sun: There are types of succulents that support without any problem being in full sun, but there are others that do not. If you see that your plant begins to look wrinkled or dry, and it is not because of excess or lack of water, it is best to remove it from the sun, especially in the hours of the most intense sun (12:00 pm – 4: 00pm), so that the plant can recover.

2. Fall of the leaves

At some point, the leaves of the plant fall off. 

But not knowing how to keep succulents alive can cause the leaves to fall prematurely. 

These errors can be:

Problems due to temperature: As we know succulents are endemic to arid areas, where it is normal for plants to be exposed to prolonged periods of heat.

How do succulents respond to these hot periods?

With leaf falls.

Although this is normal, you can protect your succulents, you just have to place them in areas where they receive sun protection during the most intense sun hours (11am – 3pm). 

Another option is to place a protective mesh over the succulents.

On the other hand, frost also causes succulents to lose their leaves.

In this case, you will have to move the succulents inside your home, or use a greenhouse.

Little light: Succulents need enough light to grow healthy. You will know if your succulent is not getting enough lighting if its leaves are elongated, and your plant looks stretched. 

Locate your succulents in well-lit areas.

Chemical burns: If you misuse chemical products (such as fertilizers, fungicide) can cause the leaves to fall into succulents. 

In the case of fertilizers, use half the dose recommended by the product manufacturer.

If you use a chemical fungicide, read the manufacturer’s instructions well and do not reapply more often than recommended.

3. Mealybugs

The symptoms of the presence of mealybugs are bumps, hardening, waxy secretions attached to the leaf or the stem, and that are seen both in more woody areas, such as green areas of the plant. 

This may be the most widespread and known pest.

How to cure the plant?

This pest is relatively easy to control. 

The plant can be sprayed with pressurized water, thus eliminating cochineals. 

You can also prepare a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol and pass it over areas infected with the pest and then rinse with water.

If you notice that despite everything the plant does not recover, there may be cochineals hidden in the substrate on the roots. 

So transplant the succulent, cleaning the roots with water if you see mealybugs. 

If the plague persists, use a treatment with Diazinón, Lizetan or Folithión.

4. Red Spider and Mites

As with mealybugs, mites are hard to see with the naked eye. 

But we can tell if the plant is being attacked by mites or red spider is through the symptoms. 

The symptoms produced by the attacks of the red spider are yellowish or grayish spots all over the leaf.

On the underside of the leaves, a fine cobweb is observed, where reddish or even yellow or greenish mites dwell (the easiest way to see the mites is using a magnifying glass). 

How to cure the plant?

For its eradication, we will use commercial products such as Acaricides, specially prepared for this purpose.

5. Caterpillars and worms

Our succulents can be attacked by caterpillars, which cause different damage, depending on the caterpillar. 

It can eat the leaves and young shoots. 

Other caterpillars stay between or inside the stems and leaves of the plant, which can weaken the succulent much, although they do not necessarily kill it.

How to cure the plant?

In the case of the presence of a plague of caterpillars in our succulents, given the great variety of insect larvae, treat with insecticides to the effect. 

Or you can use the same preparations as for mealybugs, since they also treat this pest, killing the caterpillars.

In the case of soil worms, they are more difficult to kill, since they remain hidden in the substrate and sometimes directly invisible until they are not plague and adults. 

The larvae remain in the substrate and feed on the roots, so we will have to replace the substrate and apply an insecticide to the substrate for this purpose.

6. Snails and slugs.

The symptoms they present are: areas eaten on the stem and leaves and the presence of characteristic slime. 

They can completely devour the attacked plant.

These usually appear due to excessive humidity, rainfall or irrigation. 

Snails and slugs are usually present in the most tender and juicy areas of the plant, which makes it easy to locate these types of pests.

How to cure the plant?

To remove snails or slugs, you only need to apply commercial insecticides suitable for it, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Control the watering between the application of the insecticide, so as not to eliminate it with the irrigation water.

An ecological, but slower solution is to arrange on the substrate of containers with beer. 

The beer attracts them and they will drown there, which will allow us to eliminate them.

Also, place a leaf of lettuce embedded in beer, as a claim. 

Another claim may be, tomato mixed with a specific granulate against snails, metaldehyde, to eradicate them. 

For example; Mesurol

7. Aphids. (aphids)

Aphids are difficult to observe in succulents. 

It is a very common pest and usually, appear in plants that have rosette-shaped leaves.

The symptoms are; rolled leaves, twisted buds, growth stop, and blackened areas. 

The attack and bite of the aphids, cause that the growth and the development of plant stop. 

This type of plant is usually located on the underside of the leaves, in the tender shoots and form very nourished groups.

How to cure the plant?

They are easily removed, just add to the moistened substrate, commercial insecticides suitable for this type of pests. 

We can mention the famous Folithion or even the sprayable Lizetan.

How to Keep Succulent Alive – Conclusion

Ok to conclude make sure to remember this key point and you will keep you succulent alive and well. 

1. Use the ideal substrate

As we have mentioned the worst enemy for succulents, it is moisture. 

For this reason, the substrate where you plant your succulent plants must have a very good drainage system, especially if they are planted in pots.

2. Have adequate irrigation

Just as the substrate is important for the care of succulents, so is the frequency of plant watering. 

To avoid rotting problems, water the plant only when the plant substrate is completely dry. 

But in times of autumn and winter, leave the substrate completely dry for several days before the next watering.

3. Use a pot with drainage

It is important that the chosen pot is not only beautiful, but also has a hole in the bottom of the pot, which will help the substrate to remove excess water, and thus prevent the roots of the plant from rotting.

4. Good lighting

You must place your succulent in an area where you receive a good amount of light. You can choose to place the plant in full sun, or if you want to prevent the leaves of your plant from burning (with some succulents it can happen) place it in semi shade. If the plant is indoors, place it in a place where it receives sunlight, at least a few hours a day.

5. Transplant

Remember to only transplant succulents from spring to summer, and transplant it to a pot 15% larger than the previous pot.

Hope this article was helpful when taking care of a succulent some time it is very basic the order in witch caring for the plant.

So it is not that difficult at all. But what is quite important is the attention we give to the plant and consistency care.

You do this and you succulent will have a long life.