With succulents gaining popularity, chances are you’ve gotten one yourself! But these are no ordinary plants and they won’t thrive with an ordinary watering schedule.
I’ve been growing succulents and cacti for about two years now and a few have died since then, sparking my interest in succulent care and something called “root rot”.
Here’s how to protect your succulents and cacti from over-watering and the inevitable backlash of root rot!
Pick a Watering Schedule and Stick with It!
Ever wonder why it takes forever to grow your succulents to a reasonable size? This is because their roots soak up water at a much slower rate than most leafy plants.
This makes it extremely easy to over-water them, causing their roots to flood. This is how the root rot begins to take its course, making your plants vulnerable to developing the problem in a very short amount of time.
You should only need to water your succulents and cacti once a week, allowing the water to build up before soaking into the soil. This allows the water to create a thin film across the whole container to saturate the soil underneath in an even manner.
This is the best way to water any plant as it allows all of the plant’s roots to soak up some water, rather than just one-half of them. It also stops the chances of certain roots getting over-watered and others being bone-dry.
Now that you know how to water them properly, you need to know how often to water them. Each plant is unique, but most succulents and cacti prefer to be “flooded” once a week. No, don’t over-water them for fun, but do allow the water to pool at the top as described above.
Most succulents don’t need more hydration than that, so be careful with watering them like this several times a week. Unless they’re outdoor plants and you live in a dry-heat climate, in which case you should keep them out of direct sunlight and should water them twice a week.
Integrate drainage into your planters
Sometimes even with a tight watering schedule, your plants can still be at risk of getting root rot. This is because any water that doesn’t initially get soaked up will sit at the bottom of your planter, keeping the roots soggy and prone to bacteria blooms.
Internal drainage is a way to avoid this from happening because let’s face it, some of the cutest planters don’t come with holes drilled in the bottom. It’s also super simple to integrate into your planters as you can add it in before changing the pot your succulent comes in.
At the bottom of your empty planter, add rocks ranging in size, starting with the biggest and ending with pebbles. This provides an environment that is difficult for succulent and cacti roots to grow in. Instead, if they outgrow the container they will grow toward the sides and there’s no risk of the longest ones staying submerged in water all week long!
Next, add a layer of sand. This layer separates the roots from the rocks just in case they try to sneak their way down.
In many of my planters, I mix my soil half and half with sand for my plants that are a little pickier about the amount of water they’re receiving. This keeps the flow of water downward as many soils with added nutrients retain water and can aid in the acceleration of root rot.
Now you can switch planters and your succulent will be much happier in its new home!
Succulents and cacti don’t have to feel impossible to take care of, and what seems inevitable can be avoided with a few simple tricks. Integrate these into your plant care and you’re sure to keep your plants growing strong and healthy!
This is only the second post in a series about gardening, plant health, and earning your green thumb! Be sure to subscribe to my mailing list so you don’t miss more posts to come in this series, plus extra tips and tricks unreleased to the blog that’ll help your plants flourish.
Until next time!