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Succulents

Ice plant is a great plant for the rock garden.

How to Make the Best Potting Soil for Succulents

Succulents are hearty desert plants specifically adapted to weather-worn soil, storing water inside their leaves and stems. The roots of succulents are so efficient in absorbing moisture that constantly moist soil will kill a succulent plant. For the best potting soil mix, create a porous soil that will drain well and dry out quickly.

Place two parts potting soil, one part perlite and one part course sand in a bowl.

Mix the soils together until well blended.

Place in a gardening pot and plant the succulent.

How to Transplant an Ice Plant

Gather all the stems of the ice plant together and trim back to about 4 inches.

Dig up the ice plant with a hand trowel, taking out a root ball about 4 inches in diameter. Set aside in a shady spot. Sprinkling water on the root ball helps keep the roots from drying out.

Dig a new planting hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball. Ice plant requires perfect drainage, so improve the soil by mixing in about one-half pea gravel. Plant in full sun.

Place the ice plant in its new hole, backfilling with the improved soil.

Water deeply to settle the plant in its new location.

Lightly mulch the planting area with pea gravel. This helps with drainage and keeps the tender ice plant leaves from sitting on soggy soil.

Water the ice plant when the soil becomes dry until it becomes established. This should take two to four weeks.

How to Plant Succulent Plants

Planting Succulents

Plant your succulent in a pot with a drainage hole if you plan to grow it indoors or use it to add interest to your outdoor landscaping. Fill the pot half full of a potting mix designed for cactus that has sand and nutrients in it. Then empty your plant from its nursery pot and place it in the decorative pot. Fill to within a half inch of the rim and pat the potting soil down firmly with your hand.

Plant your succulent outdoors if you wish. Choose a sunny location where you know the soil does not promote standing water after a rain.

Build a raised bed for your succulent because this will ensure good drainage. To build a raised bed, dig a shallow trench around the border of the planting area and dump the soil in the center. Then dig in about one shovelful of compost and one shovelful of sand for an area that measures 2 feet by 4 feet.

Dig holes for your plants that are slightly larger than their nursery pots. Remove your succulents from their pots and gently loosen the root system to promote root growth and spreading. Then set your plants in the holes you dug and fill in with the soil/compost/sand mixture you dug out.

Water your succulent once a week during its active growing season, but reduce the frequency when it is dormant in winter.

How to Plant Ice Plants

Locate an area of the garden that is well-drained and receives at least three hours of sun each day. Look for a south-facing location or a place that gets winter sunlight if you live in a cooler climate.

Clear the area of weeds and organic matter and rake smooth.

Plant ice plants 12 inches apart at the same level they are planted in the nursery pot. Moisten soil around new plants while planting to prevent air pockets from forming around roots. Water occasionally if plants appear stressed during an unusually dry period.

Care for a Succulent Dish Garden

Succulents remain green year-round in indoor dish gardens.

Step 1

Place the dish garden in an area that receives bright but indirect sunlight. A location near a sunny south-facing window supplies enough light, as does a location with filtered light through a sheer curtain. Direct sunlight can burn and damage the succulent leaves.

Step 2

Select a location away from cold drafts, such as near open windows, doors or air conditioner vents. Constant cold air damages the succulent plants.

Step 3

Water the plants when the soil in the dish dries out completely. Provide enough water to moisten the soil but avoid standing water. Most dish gardens don't have drainage holes so careful watering is necessary. If your dish has drainage holes, empty the water from the drip tray after irrigation.

Step 4

Fertilize once monthly with a soluble low-nitrogen fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer at half the rate recommended on the package. Only fertilize in the spring and summer growing season and stop fertilizer treatments in fall and winter.

How to Grow Succulents in an Office

Succulents require little maintenance to thrive.

Step 1

Select a succulent that can tolerate the lighting in the office. Unless it is a sunny office, such as one that has a south- or west-facing window, select a plant with minimal lighting needs, such as an echeveria. You can also plan to use artificial lighting, whereby you can select a plant that needs more light.

Step 2

Plant the succulent in a pot that contains 1 part high-quality potting soil and 1 part coarse sand. Plant it to the same depth as its old pot. Use a porous container, such as a terracotta or clay pot, which has not been glazed.

Step 3

Place the plant in its permanent location. Near a sunny window is typically ideal, but you can also place it 6 to 12 inches away from a cool, white fluorescent light, which is turned on for 14 to 16 hours a day, according to the University of Minnesota.

Step 4

Water the succulent thoroughly after planting. Water it until the water drips out of the bottom of the pot. You need to water a succulent about once a month when the soil dries out. In the winter when there is less light and the plant is dormant, it needs even less watering.

Step 5

Dilute a houseplant fertilizer by half or use half the recommended dosing on the label. Apply it to the soil around your succulent about once a month. Do this only in the spring and summer. If you are using granular fertilizer, fertilize just before watering your plant.

How to Plant a Red Apple Ice Plant

Red apple ice plant is similar to this red-flowering ice plant.

Purchase bedding plants or dig rooted pieces of existing plants. This plant develops roots where the trailing foliage touches soil.

Prepare planting beds by turning the soil in a sunny area with your spade. You needn't amend the soil with compost or other organic materials. Make the area wide enough to accommodate the future, spreading growth habit of this plant.

Dig holes with your trowel large enough for the root balls of each plant. Leave 6 to 8 inches of space between your planting holes.

Set one rooted piece or one purchased plant into each hole, distributing the roots around the base of the plant. Then fill holes with the native soil you removed.

Water the area thoroughly with a sprinkler for about 15 minutes to allow the soil to settle around your newly planted red apple ice plants.

How to Cut a Fishhook Succulent

Wait for late winter to early spring, when the fishhook plant gets ready to resume active growth after winter dormancy. You can also cut the plant when it first resumes growth after dormancy. While you can cut in summer, it's less desirable.

Rub a sharp knife or razor with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol to sterilize the blade. Avoid using scissors or pruners since this can crush the soft tissue inside the fishhook stem.

Cut a section of stem using your sterilized razor or knife. How much you want to cut is up to you, and depends on your purpose. If you want to grow new plants from the cuttings, take a cutting of several inches. If you are only trimming the fishhook plant to keep long tendrils off the ground, you can cut as little as you need. In general, avoid cutting off whole shoots if you're making cuttings, as these can be tricky to root.

Take as many cuttings from your fishhook as you need. When you finish, re-sterilize your knife or razor with rubbing alcohol.

How to Identify Succulent Plants

Study the leaves of the plant. If the leaves are thick and ridged, then the plant is a succulent. Succulent leaves are specialized for their desert environment in that they store water more efficiently than regular plants in their leaf tissue.

Look for thorns or spines on the plant. Succulent plants use spines and thorns as a defense mechanism against animal nesting and feeding.

Check the winter temperatures in the area of the plant. Succulents are desert plants, requiring temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check the soil. If the soil is sand or clay, then it is most likely a succulent, as succulents thrive in desert sand.

Water the plant every day for a week. If the plant's leaves appear swollen at the end of the week, then it is a succulent, and the leaves are storing as much water as possible. After this step, avoid watering the plant again for at least a month.

How to Take Care of Sempervivum Plants

Grow the sempervivum in sandy soil. Use equal parts of soil and sand. This will provide the drainage necessary to keep the plant’s roots from remaining too moist.

Water the sempervivum only when the soil is completely dry. Do not water at all during the winter.

Fertilize the sempervivum monthly from April through September. Use a fertilizer formulated for succulents and apply it at the rate suggested by the manufacturer. Always water the plant before fertilizing.

Remove dead plants and fill the area with sand if you will not be planting a replacement.

Plant Care for Mother in Law's Tongue

Plant mother-in-law's tongue in a container with good bottom drainage. Use a commercial potting soil formulated for cactus mixed with half perlite.

Place mother-in-law's tongue in full sunlight. Although the plant will grow in lower levels of sunlight, it will thrive in bright light.

Allow the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. Usually, mother-in-law's tongue should be watered no more than once a week. During the winter months, water sparingly, no more than once a month. Mother-in-law's tongue, like all succulents, is prone to rot in excessively moist soil, especially in cool weather.

Fertilize in early spring, early summer and early autumn, using a general-purpose liquid fertilizer for indoor plants. Withhold fertilizer during the winter months.

Repot every one to two years, as the plant's roots grow rapidly and can break the pot if it becomes root-bound. Move the plant to a container one size larger.

How to Care for a Wooly Rose Succulent

Put the woolly rose in a sunny spot, but move it away from the window on hot summer afternoons, or put it behind a sheer curtain to filter the sun‘s rays. The heat can become so intense it can burn the plant.

Water woolly rose only when the soil is dry to the touch, and then water it until the water runs through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Never let the pot sit in water. Excess moisture will cause succulents to rot.

Transplant woolly rose if needed, but it’s best to keep it in a fairly small container. Use potting soil formulated especially for cactus and succulents, because it will have enough gritty, course material to promote good drainage.

Fertilize woolly rose once in spring and once in summer, using a good-quality liquid houseplant fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer to only 1/4 of the strength indicated on the label.

Check woolly rose for insects occasionally. Although cacti and succulents aren’t attractive to most pests, they can be susceptible to mealy bugs, which hide on the bottom of the leaves or in the rosettes. Mealy bugs are easier to control if you spot them early. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently remove the mealy bugs from the plant.

How to Grow Ice Plants

Prepare the ground in a sunny, well-drained location. Use a spade to cultivate the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Work in 2 inches of well-rotted manure.

Place ice plant seeds on top of the soil. Cover the seeds with a light dusting of soil, or simply press the seeds into the soil with your fingers. Allow 6 to 8 inches between each plant, as crowding will inhibit air circulation and can promote mildew.

Water the seeds lightly with a hose and spray nozzle. Keep the soil damp until you see new growth. After that time, ice plant needs water only during hot, dry weather. Water ice plant twice weekly if you live in a hot desert environment.

Move the plant indoors before the first freeze in autumn. Dig the ice plant and re-plant it in a container filled with commercial potting soil for cactus and succulents. Use a container with a drainage hole in the bottom. Place the plant near a sunny window and keep the soil damp.