Succulent Plant Care


“Succulent” is a widely used term for plants that store water in their roots, stems or leaves and are often characteristic plants of dry habitats. Various plant families, such as Cactaceae and Euphorbiaceae, contain succulent species. Succulents, often used as houseplants, require minimal care and are durable. They make interesting specimens whether they're grown indoors or out. Examples of succulents include candelabra cactus (Euphorbia lactea), aloe (Aloe barbadensis) and agave (Agave spp.).


Succulent plants require quick-draining soil. A plant like cactus, in spite of its reputation, does like water, just not too much of it. Waterlogged conditions cause rotting of succulent plant roots. Washington State University Extension recommends coarse sand, perlite and organic materials as good amendments for succulent soil mix. Mix 1 part garden soil with a combination of 2 parts sand or perlite and one part organic material, such as compost.


If a plant is showing signs of water-stress, such as dropping parts, indented leaves or if the coloring looks off, water it. Succulents may not require water during the winter at all, or just once or twice, depending on the species and growing conditions. It's easier to control the amount of water available to succulents when they're grown in shallow containers rather than in large pots.


Light requirements vary by species and whether the succulent is grown outdoors or as a houseplant. Plants such as the candelabra cactus require full sun, whereas aloe tolerates partial shade. Indoor succulents do well near a bright, south-facing window.


Appropriate climactic conditions for succulent plants varies by species. Aloe is hardy only to USDA zone 9, such as in warm areas of central Florida. Some desert cacti survive in cold temperatures for extended periods, but will not tolerate wet conditions while experiencing cold temperatures. If growing succulents outdoors, choose species that do well in native habits with climates similar to your area. Acclimate succulent plants slowly when moving them from indoors to outdoors during the year.


Succulent plants do not require a lot of fertilizer. University of Illinois Extension recommends dilute fertilizer solutions only applied during the longer days of spring and summer.

Keywords: succulents, succulent plant care, succulent plants

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."