Ultimate Guideto Succulents
If you’re new to the world of succulent plants then you’re in for a treat. Varied, exotic, unique and sometimes even architectural in looks, these amazing plants come in all shapes, sizes and colours. They’re also great at cleaning up the air. What’s not to love?
So, what makes succulents different to all your other house plants? This group of plants are recognised for their ability to store water within themselves – usually in their leaves or stems. In fact, their name even comes from the Latin word sucus which means juice or sap.
This trick comes in pretty handy when you consider that most succulents are found growing in dry, arid locations where they don’t get much to drink. As a house plant, this makes succulents incredibly low maintenance. They’re so good at it, they can pretty much look after themselves - perfect if you tend to be a bit forgetful!
These little plants also do an excellent job of purifying the air - they add fresh oxygen and improve the humidity of your environment. Why is this important? Well, improved air quality can make you feel better and enhance memory and concentration levels. Sounds like the perfect reason to put a succulent in an office or a room where a child does their homework!
Aside from their powerful air-purifying properties, some succulents have other health benefits. For example, the gel from Aloe Vera is not only good for treating minor cuts and burns, it can also help rejuvenate your skin as it contains a substance called humectants, which help to bind moisture in the skin.
Fancy finding out more about succulent plants? If you need some idea on which one is best for you, tips on how to look after them or simply want to know how often to water succulents, our ultimate guide to succulents will answer all your questions.
Types of succulents
With over 10,000 types of succulents available, there really is something for everyone when going for this plant. Depending on the type you choose their leaves can be soft and velvety or rough and hard. They can even deliver a blaze of colour in their foliage and flowers.
First things first, the argument over whether to include cacti in this group - some say yes and others no. The definition of succulents describes a plant that can store water and cacti are incredibly good at doing this so we like to include these spiky pals in our succulent family. Cacti love the sunshine which makes them a perfect choice if you have a sun-drenched south facing room. They can even survive on a sunny windowsill! There is a vast range of cacti available in different shapes and sizes.
How to look after succulents
Every succulent will have different needs depending on the type you get. However, the main rules are pretty similar for each one.
We’ve already mentioned that succulents survive in dry conditions by storing water in their stems, but how often do you need to water succulents when they’re in your home? Overwatering is the most likely reason your succulent is not thriving as it makes the roots rot. Unlike our normal house plants, succulents don’t need much to drink. During the growing season, which is usually spring and summer in the UK as the temperatures get warmer, they will need watering about every one or two weeks. When they go dormant and the days get colder, you can cut this back to about once a month.
Always check the soil before giving a drink. If you’ve been overdoing it the leaves usually lose their colour. If it gets to this point take the plant out of the pot, cut away any dead roots and put it back into a new container with dry soil. Not enough water and your succulent will probably stop growing and you may see brown spots appear on the leaves.
Even though a lot of succulents live in hot environments they are quite resistant to colder temperatures (it does get chilly in a desert at night). Most of them can cope with temperatures from 12°C up to 26°C, so consider the temperature in each room to find the best place to put it.
Your succulent won’t need much food either, a slow-release fertiliser during the growing season is best. You can also help freshen up your succulent by repotting with some new soil about once a year. Finally, If your plant becomes a bit unruly, give it a little prune to bring it back into check.
Where to place your succulent
With so many types of succulents available, putting these plants into your home will create a variety of different looks. Think of it like your own little piece of artwork all wrapped up in a plant!
One thing you must remember is to keep your succulent plant out of direct sunlight – the only rule here is if you have cacti, then they need a lot of it! Instead, choose a spot that is bright with plenty of daylight. If you’ve only got a shady spot, don’t worry - some plants like the Snake Plant or Haworthia can survive quite happily.
If you love the look of the succulent but don’t have much space, you’re in luck. There are several varieties which don’t grow very big. Why not group a selection together and put them in a decorative Terrarium – they’ll look amazing hanging in your sunroom or as a decoration on your hallway table.
How to propagate succulents
Whether your succulent plant is getting too big for it’s pot or you want to share some of this plant with your pal, the wonderful thing about propagating succulents is that it is quick and easy to do.
There are several ways to propagate a succulent, but remember, not all the methods work on each variety and you should check before getting stuck in.
The easiest way to propagate your succulent is from a leaf – perfect for any novice. First, remove one or more healthy leaves from the plant. You can gently tease the leaf off the plant by giving it a little wiggle. Make sure the base of the leaf stays intact (the bit which connects it to the stem) – this is where the new growth will come from. If it breaks it won’t work. Now let the leaves dry out for a few days.
Once dry, fill a tray with some soil and place the leaves on top – no need to push them in. After a few weeks, you’ll see little pink roots start to appear. At this point give a good water using a spray bottle if the soil looks dry.
When the main leaf starts to fade, it’s time to act by placing each root into its own pot. You can try and pull off the original leaf (although it may break the roots) or leave it on until it drops off. Now be patient and let them develop!
Another way to propagate your succulent is to take a stem cutting (it’s usually more successful than leaf cuttings.) Starting with a healthy plant, cut off a stem just below a joint section. Remove any leaves from the bottom of the stem and then let the cutting dry. When dry plant the cutting and water whenever the plant needs it. Your plant should settle in and start to grow.
The last option is to remove any offshoots that have appeared next to the main plant, although not all succulents create this new growth. These offshoots or pups are fully formed plants and already have their own roots growing. Carefully remove the offshoot using a knife and then place in a new pot. It's worth removing offshoots to help the main plant put all its energy into growing.
Feeling clued up? Whether you’re expanding your plant collection or want to send one to that special person in your life – these plants stand for enduring and selfless love after all – shop our range succulent plants.