Succulent Questions and Answers 2017-10-21T00:02:58+00:00
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You are going to LOVE this page!

Below you’ll find questions about succulents submitted by readers, like yourself, and answered by me (Cassidy Tuttle, the author of the book Idiot’s Guides: Succulents and this website!).

This is a treasure trove of great information. Take a look around and see what you can learn! Within each Q&A you’ll find links to blog posts with more information as well as links to related products.

I do make a small commission if you purchase anything through these links (at no extra cost to you), which is what allows me to keep this site going.

A Beginner With Seeds 2017-11-20T11:14:58+00:00

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Question:

I am a complete beginner who would like to get on with succulents, but I am in a care home. Can I, dare I, start with a packet of mixed seed? If so, what sort of growing medium should I use? What should I plant in? I have 2 east-facing indoor windowsills, and can germinate them in a couple of Petri dishes. Do you think this would work? I am 77 without much else to care for.

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Answer:

Absolutely! Seeds are a really inexpensive way to start your collection, though it does take a little more work to get started.

This is such a fun project, especially in the winter! Planting seeds and watching them grow is rewarding, and anyone can do it. Jacki from Drought Smart Plants has a great tutorial for starting succulents from seed which you can find here.

If your seeds aren’t getting enough light, you may need a grow light. This will ensure that your seedlings are getting enough light and don’t stretch out too much. You will also want to make sure they are warm.

In the spring, move your plants to a pot with good drainage and well-draining soil. This will ensure that your succulent babies will continue to grow as healthy as they can!

Further Reading:

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Caring For a Medusa Head Plant 2017-11-22T15:40:22+00:00

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Question:

I have a Medusa Head plant given to me by a friend. It doesn’t seem to be growing, I’m barely keeping it alive.  Hers is beautiful!  What am I doing wrong?  Do I need to give it better soil and how to I water it?  I have it in a pot, most of the time in shade. Thanks!

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Answer:

This is such a fun plant! It’s important to keep Euphorbia ‘Medusa Head’ in well-draining soil, or it can suffer from root rot rather quickly. Do you have it in the original soil? You’ll want the soil particle size to be rather large so that it drains properly. You’ll also want to be sure that your planter has a drainage hole.

Medusa Head plants need more sun than shade. I would move your planter to an area where it has access to at least six hours of direct sunlight. You may want to do this gradually though – you don’t want it to burn from too much sun all at once.

When it comes to watering this fun beauty, it actually needs a surprising amount of water. Be sure that the soil is completely dry before watering it again, and then give it a good soak.

If you aren’t seeing growth though, it could be it’s not getting quite enough water. Try increasing your watering frequency slightly. If that doesn’t help, a fertilizer would also be a good option.

Further Reading:

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Repotting with Coconut Coir 2017-11-17T22:38:27+00:00

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Question:

Succulents and Sunshine has provided my plants with so much great care. Many thanks for your dedication. Bbbbuuuuttttt….now my plants have grown to big for their pots! Do you still suggest the coconut coir and diatomaceous earth for repotting succulents, or do you suggest a purchased soil? And where do you suggest purchasing the soil?

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Answer:

I’m so glad that you like the information on the blog and that your succulents are getting bigger! Soil is something that I cover in great detail in my Successfully Growing Succulents course. There are a lot of options when it comes to succulent soil, but here’s a few of my favorites!

Bonsai Jack soil is a go-to for me. It’s gritty, and the particle size is perfect for drainage.

You can also make your own! Just follow the directions in this post.

  • 1 Part Pine Bark Fines
  • 1 Part Turface (an absorptive rock)
  • 1 Part Crushed Granite

The coconut coir mixed with large particle diatomaceous earth is also a good option and can be easier to find in a lot of countries throughout the world. Just make sure you are using 1/4 DE not the fine powder and you should be good to go!

Further Reading:

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Can you water everyday? 2017-11-17T22:38:27+00:00

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Question:

I live in Phoenix, Arizona. My new succulents are in pots outside in the sun. They dry out every day. Is it okay to water them every day? Should I put them in the shade or just morning sun? I really don’t know how much water they need and the pots are kind of deep. Thanks!

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Answer:

Your Hens and Chicks look happy! As long as they continue to look good, I would say you are fine to continue with the watering schedule. However, as things begin to cool down (even the lovely 70 degree weather that’s ahead) you’ll find they don’t need water as often. Keep an eye out for early symptoms of too much water (click here for more details)

Watering when the soil is completely dry is best for your succulents. I suggest soaking the soil until water drips out of the bottom, and wait until the soil has dried completely through, top to bottom.

Even though the soil on top may seem dry, it’s possible that the bottom of the soil hasn’t dried completely. If you don’t let the soil dry out completely, your succulents can suffer from root rot.

One way to tell when your soil has dried out is by feeling the weight of the pot immediately after watering. Then feel it a day or two later, and notice the difference in weight between when your soil was first watered and then after you think it’s completely dry. You may be wise to wait an extra day, just to be sure the roots have dried.

Watering and determining if your succulent is healthy is something I cover in-depth in my Successfully Growing Succulents course!

Sempervivum ‘Hens and Chicks’ like full sun when it’s cool and partial shade in hotter temperatures. I would recommend putting them somewhere that gets sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
Planting Succulents in Cold Weather 2017-11-17T22:38:27+00:00

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Question:

Can I plant succulents in California this November where temperature is a little cold?

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Answer:

Having succulents throughout the winter can add a lot of color and charm to your home! However, planting them outdoors when it’s cold isn’t the best idea. If temperatures get to be below 40 degrees (and especially if you happen to get a frost), your newly planted succulents aren’t likely to survive.

If you’re in the US, you can use this map to determine which zone you are in. (For International readers, check out this great post by Edible Landscape Designs to find your zone) If it’s below 50 degrees, I would suggest waiting until spring to plant.

There are great cold hardy succulent options, but I wouldn’t recommend planting outside this late in the year. Next year, I’d recommend using Stonecrop Sedums such as Sedum reflexum, Sedum spurium, etc. or some Sempervivum varieties.

Note to readers in the US: You can purchase a cold hardy succulents from Mountain Crest Gardens by clicking here.

Planting succulents indoors and then transplanting them outside in the spring is a great option. Just be sure to plant with well-draining soil, and learn if your succulent is dormant or growing during this time.

Further Reading:

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Replacing soil in pre-potted plants 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

I’ve never had succulents before and have a “brown” thumb. Never had any real success with plants. I saw some succulents at Home Depot that I would like to buy. Do I need to replant them or can I keep them in the original soil?

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Answer:

Soil is very important for your succulent’s health. The soil that they are planted in at nurseries is not generally well-draining, so repotting after you purchase them is key to keeping them happy. You’ll want to either purchase a mix, or make your own.

An easy recipe for making your own mix can be found in my post about well draining soil. It’s also something I cover in great detail in my Successfully Growing Succulents Course.  The recipe originally came from a post by Al on a Garden Web forum.

  • 1 Part Pine Bark Fines
  • 1 Part Turface (an absorptive rock)
  • 1 Part Crushed Granite

That’s it! I suggest getting a mini garden tool kit to help you plant. It makes the job easier and less messy.

Further Reading:

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Can My Succulents Stay Outside All Winter? 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

I live in Pennsylvania, and it gets very cold and snowy. Can I leave my succulents outside all winter?

Can these succulents stay outside all winter
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Answer:

Some people absolutely love the winter, and others definitely do not. Your succulents are no different! Sempervivum ‘Hens and Chicks’ (which you have in your photo) are cold hardy and are able to survive outside in the cold, but many other succulents need to be brought indoors.

It looks like you may have some Sedums in there as well, which will also survive outdoors even in snowy climates.

When bringing succulents in for the winter, it’s important to create an area that is optimal for them. There’s less air circulation indoors, and you may need to adjust your watering habits. If you see your plants growing tall or “stretching,” a grow light can provide them with the light that they need during this season.

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
Are Cacti Succulents? 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

Are cactuses considered succulents? Like the tall spiny sharp ones?

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Answer:

Yep, all cacti are succulents! Though, as I’m sure you know, not all succulents are cacti.

Typically, when most people think of succulents, they think of beautiful Echeverias, Sempervivums, or even Senecio Rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’.  But those beautiful pokey cacti are succulents, too.

A succulent is a drought-resistant plant that is able to store water for times of drought, either in the leaves, stem, or roots. That’s why they’re able to survive so well without water. This doesn’t mean that you should give up on watering them, though!

Succulents don’t need to be watered daily or even several times a week the way other houseplants are. They need times of drought after being watered to help their roots grow strong.

Further Reading:

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New Succulent Grower With a Watering Problem 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

Hi. I love your blog! I am a new succulent grower. About a week ago all the leaves fell off my succulent. When I checked on it again later the main stem was kind of squishy and lighter. Now, the top is a dark brownish purple. Please help!

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Answer:

Learning your succulent’s watering needs can take a little time, but you can do it! From what you’ve described, I would say that your succulent is over-watered. If your stem has discolored to that point and is squishy, what may be the best thing for it is to behead your plant and either propagate the healthy leaves, or replant the top of the plant.

To avoid this in the future, be sure to plant your succulents in well-draining soil. This will give it the best possible start from the get-go. You can either purchase a pre-mixed soil, or make your own.

After you’ve solved the soil problem, the next is knowing when to water. This is something I cover in great detail in my Successfully Growing Succulents Course! Your succulent will tell you what it needs; once you’ve learned the signs of when to water and when to let the soil dry out, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Succulent Master!

Further Reading:

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Succulents in an East-facing Window for the Winter 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

So excited to learn more about succulents! I love the pink and green ones especially, but I’m worried about the amount of light I have in my window. I’m using my best window, which faces East. I do live in the woods, but it is a good bright window. Do you think they will survive?

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Answer:

It sounds like you’ve got a great set-up for your succulents! Fall and winter are beautiful times of year, but also mean shorter days and less light. While most succulents will survive indoors, even with limited light, they will do better with more light.

Depending on what type of succulents you have, this may be their dormant season. While they may not grow much during this time, that does not mean that they do not still need water and light.

If you notice that your plants are beginning to stretch or grow tall, it’s an indication that they need more light. A grow light gives your succulents the additional light they need.

Further Reading:

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Space Between Succulents When Planting 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

When I plant a succulent pot, should I plant them close together or with space around them? It seems like the closer together they are, the better they do, but it uses up more succulents and the further apart they are looks sparse and they die faster. What do you suggest?

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Answer:

Succulent arrangements can be so much fun to put together! Planting your succulents close together will keep the arrangement tight, but planting them further apart will not cause them issues, as long as they’re not too far apart.

It’s really up to you and how much you want your succulents to grow and spread. If you’d prefer they stay the same size, a tight grouping is the best option.

When planting further apart, it’s possible that you will need to water them more often, because there is better air-flow and the soil will dry out faster. This is important for your succulents’ health: good air-flow allows the soil to dry out faster, preventing root-rot.

Another thing to keep in mind is the size of your pot. If you plant your succulents in a pot that is much larger than they are, they will focus more on growing long roots than producing a larger plant.

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
Keeping Succulents Happy Indoors Through the Winter 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

My succulents live outside in the summer. I live in the North Georgian mountains and have cool weather ahead. Every year when I bring them in from the cold of winter they do not adapt well and most die off. I find a warm sunny window for placement. Do you have any tips on how to prevent this sad ending?

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Answer:

Succulents don’t like sudden change, but keeping them happy indoors in the winter only takes a little bit of effort!

We all know that there’s fewer hours of sunlight in the winter months, and succulents need about 6 good hours to stay happy. Keeping your plants by a window can help with this, but if you feel that they’re still not getting enough light, you may consider getting a grow light. This way you can control the amount of light that they’re getting.  If you’re leaving it in front of a window, be sure it doesn’t get too much sun — it’s possible for succulents to sunburn indoors.

If you’re used to watering your succulents outside, it can take a little adjustment when watering them indoors. The soil doesn’t usually dry out as quickly, but you’ll still want to follow the same basic rules: water deeply, but not frequently. Wait until the soil dries out completely before watering it again (it’s possible this is weekly, although you’ll have to watch your plant and learn its schedule).

Following these simple steps should keep your succulents happy and healthy throughout the winter months!

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
When is it Time to Repot? 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

How can I re-pot my succulents that are in a 2.5″ pot? When would I know how to do so?

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Answer:

This is something that I cover in detail in my course, Successfully Growing Succulents. The best time to graduate your succulent to a larger pot is when it syou see new growth on the plant. This isn’t something you’ll have to do often, maybe once every year or two.

Choosing a pot that is the right size for your succulent is key. As a general rule, you’ll want to leave about 1/2″ (about 13 mm) between your plant and the pot. Too little room, and your plant will become root-bound. Too much room, and your succulent roots will take off but the plant itself may not grow as quickly.

Once you have a new pot picked out then follow the directions in this post!

Further Reading:

Have fun watering your succulents stress free with the tips in this ebook!
Cochineal Scale (mealybug infestation) on Opuntias 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

How do you manage cochineal scale (mealybug infestation) on your Opuntias? It forms fuzzy white patches on the cactus and sucks all the moisture out, making individual pads turn brown and die. I live in a central California high desert environment with hot, dry summers and cold, dry winters (average of 13″ of rain a year). I have two large prickly pear cacti in containers in full sun, one with a severe infestation and the other mild. In the summer I water them twice a week. Now, in the fall I am watering them once a week; in the winter not at all. I have treated them with a sulfur spray and a rosemary-clove spray but nothing seems to work.

Have fun watering your succulents stress free with the tips in this ebook!

Answer:

Mealybugs are such pests! The best solution I’ve found to eradicate them is 70% isopropyl alcohol. Pour this into a spray bottle, and thoroughly spray down the mealybugs where you find them.

Since cochineal scale tend to be a little more “attached” than typical mealybugs, you should also hose down your Opuntia to blast the bugs off as much as possible. This hose attachment set from Bonsai Jack would work perfectly. The brass nozzle is powerful but shouldn’t damage your cacti.

It may be necessary to spray with alcohol again anywhere you weren’t able to remove the scale.

Other people have suggested using soapy water to deal with mealybugs, but alcohol is the best solution I’ve found.  This is also something I go over in great detail in my online course!

Further Reading:

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How Long Should You Leave Grow Lights On? 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

Cassidy I purchased T5 grow lights for my succulents.  How many hours per day should I have the lights on? I also purchased your books. Love them.

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Answer:

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the books! Grow lights are a great investment in the life of your plants.

Succulents have growing and dormant periods, just like other plants. Winter is often the dormant season for most succulents, and therefore require less light, but indoors they will still generally take as much as they can get.

When I’ve used grow lights for my indoor succulents, I usually leave them on for about 12-14 hours, mimicking the natural daylight plus a few hours. You want to mimic sunlight as much as possible and make sure to give them some “night” time without any light.

Further Reading:

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Problem with a Cactus 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

I started this project several months ago.  Everything was looked really good, but about a month ago I started losing plants. I used Bonsai Jack soil, didn’t move them to different location, and didn’t over-water.  I live in AZ and they are in an east window, getting indirect sun.  What should I do?

Problems with a Cactus
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Answer:

Beautiful colors! The moon cactus looks lovely, but it appears that the other isn’t being watered enough. That combined with not getting a lot of sun is causing it to stretch and dry out. Gradually increasing the watering frequency seems like the best approach for this cactus.

Further Reading:

 

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Succulent Health in Heat and Humidity 2017-11-17T22:38:28+00:00

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Question:

I’m in Naples, Florida, and have been growing succulents for a few years now. For the most part I use a pumice and well draining soil mix (75% pumice) for both indoor and outdoor planting. I get my pumice from Lexi at General Pumice in California, since they have free shipping, and finding it in quantity locally isn’t possible. But our weather here isn’t succulent-friendly with the rain and heat. I’ve found that planting them outdoors in shaded but bright light areas that don’t get wet is the only way they will survive. Any ideas that would let me grow more that would stand up to our weather?

Answer:

It’s great that you’ve found a soil mix that works for your local area! Humidity and heat can tricky elements when dealing with succulents, but it does not make keeping them happy impossible.

Not all succulents love the heat, but some — like Cacti, Aloe, and Agave — can thrive in it.

While it may not be possible to control the weather, you can control where you are planting succulents, and what you are planting them in. If succulents are planted in the ground, you can use the rain to your advantage: wet soil helps to keep the succulent roots cool.

Adding more pumice to your soil will also help it dry out faster. You even can plant the succulents in all pumice in areas that get a lot of rain.

If you have your succulents potted, be sure that they are in planters with drainage holes. Pot feet are superb at allowing planters to drain, and placing heavy pots on a trolley can help you move them whenever the weather turns poorly.

Also, Bonsai Jack is just down the road from you about an hour in Fort Meyers. If you need pumice in larger quantities you can pickup locally from him.

Further Reading:

Using Alcohol to Remove Scale 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I am new to growing succulents and I really appreciate a good source to go to for help and advice. But, my question is about the alcohol, can that be used on other plants without damage? Does it matter if it’s 70% or 91% alcohol?

Also, will it work on other types of scale like soft brown, sooty black, powdery white, etc? I realize this is wandering off the path of succulents, but, I’ve been gardening for 40 years and most any kind of scale are born in HELL. Looking for any kind of advice I can get. Thanks for your time.

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Answer:

Alcohol is a really great solution to mealybugs, scale, and other pests on succulents. You can also use it on your other houseplants, as well, but I would be sure to test it first, as it could damage some.

I’d recommend a 70% solution – it evaporates slower than the 91% solution, but because of this it can break down the waxy protective layer of pests, while evaporating quickly enough not to harm your plant. This should work on all types of scale.

You may have to reapply the solution every 2 or 3 days until the scale has been eradicated.  In my course, I cover scale in detail.

Further Reading:

Have fun watering your succulents stress free with the tips in this ebook!
Rescuing and Grafting a Moon Cactus 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I rescued this baby a few weeks ago and within days the bottom part began to get very soft and slimy so I put it outside in the shade and stopped watering it. The bottom has dried and seems to be holding its own. Should I cut it off and try to re-root it? Also The yellow part has produced “babies” should I be doing something with them or just leave them alone?

Rescue cactus drying out
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Answer:

What a beautiful cactus! It looks like the top part, which has been grafted on, can be saved, but it’s possible the bottom may not survive.

If the bottom is dried out and seems to be doing ok, I’d let it continue to dry for another week or so and then begin watering again, following this technique.

However, if things seem to decline in the next week or two, you’ll likely want to regraft the yellow section of the cactus to a new base.

The “stem” of your cactus looks like Hylocereus. You can purchase another, and graft the top bulb (which appears to be a Gymnocalycium mihanovichii) to it.

The top “bulbs” are unable to survive on their own, as they are unable to make their own chlorophyll — this is how they have such vibrant colors.  Any babies removed from the top section will need to be grafted onto another stem in order to obtain nutrients.

To graft your cactus, you’ll need the following:

Tools:
A sharp, sterilized knife
Rubber bands
Well-draining soil
A new pot

I would suggest watching this video, and following the directions in this post.

Good luck, and happy grafting!

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
Help With Plant Identification 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

Please help me identify this succulent.. Little buds sprung on the sides of its leaves and grow roots unto itself.. And a just falls off and grow a new plant. Hope you could give me its name. Thank you.

FAQ Needing help with plant identification
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Answer:

Kalanchoe daigremontiana, sometimes referred to as Mother of Thousands, though that name also gets used for Kalanchoe delagoensis and Bryophyllum daigremontianum. The latter is typically called Mother of Millions though.

This is such a fun plant, though in some areas of the world its considered a noxious weed. Those little babies fall off and take root making it difficult to get rid of completely.

But for those of us who grow it in containers and/or indoors, its really fun to propagate!

Further Reading:

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Soil for Repotting Succulents 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

Succulents and Sunshine has provided my plants with so much great care.  Many thanks for your dedication.  But now my plants have grown too big for their pots!  Do you still suggest the coconut coir and diatomaceous earth for repotting succulents, or do you suggest a purchased soil?  And where do you suggest purchasing the soil?

Answer:

What a great problem to have! I’m so glad to hear that your succulents are thriving so well.

Now that you’ll be moving your plants to larger planters, I still highly suggest keeping your soil mixture to the larger particle size. Bonsai Jack soil is premade and designed especially for succulents, but if you’re eager to learn for yourself, this basic recipe is easy to follow:

1 Part Pine Bark Fines
1 Part Turface (an absorptive rock)
1 Part Crushed Granite

Coconut coir and DE are great, especially when you don’t want to worry about your watering schedule. I’d recommend following this recipe:

1 Part Coconut Coir
1 Part Pumice

The important thing to remember with soil, whether planting for the first time or repotting, is to make sure that the soil has a large particle size (1/4” or 6mm ideally). In my course, I cover soil super in-depth! I actually do a side-by-side comparison of soil types so you can see how they handle water. It’s really awesome!

Further Reading:

Watering Arrangements of Different Succulents 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

Do different varieties of succulents require different watering?  If so, can they be planted together?  How would you water them?

Answer:

Most succulents are more sensitive to over-watering than under-watering (Echeverias are a great example of this).  The easiest way to tell what a plant’s water needs are is to look at its leaves. The thicker the leaves, the less water they need.

While it’s generally a good idea to combine succulents with similar water needs, if you are using the “soak and dry method” with a well draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole… you should be fine to combine just about anything.

You may find it helps to pour water directly around one or two succulents that need more water than others from time to time, rather than soaking the soil for the entire pot.

Light is also a consideration you’ll need to take when pairing succulents together.  Some plants, like Echeveria imbricata can handle full sun with afternoon shade, but Haworthia fasciata prefers light to partial shade.

The best way to know how to water is to start by knowing which plants you have. Once you know what plants you are working with, you can determine their watering and light needs.

Again, if your soil is well-draining, and you are watering correctly, you should be able to pair most succulents together and keep them happy!

link to my course, debra’s course, watering, identifying

Further Reading:

Identifying Succulents 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I’m having a difficult time determining what kind of succulent plant I have. Do you know any websites that could me out? Thank you!

Answer:

It can be so frustrating when you’re trying to provide the best care for your succulent, and you’re not sure what you have! In my course, we offer help with identification. There are also a few websites that I recommend when trying to identify your succulent, but something else that may help you is to post in one of these Facebook Groups:

Succulents and Sunshine Community

Succulent Fanatics

Succulent Infatuation

Succulent Addicts United

It’s best to have a good picture of your plant – describing is helpful, but as there are so many varieties of succulent, providing a picture is the fastest and easiest way to get a name for your succulent. Follow the directions in this post to get the best picture of your plant.

Once you know what genus of succulent you have, this website can provide more information. Doing a simple Google search can also give you plenty of care information on that particular species.

Further Reading:

Pale Spots on a Cactus 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I’m worried about my 35 year old cactus. Is it OK if it seems to be getting pale and blotchy?

35 Year Old Cactus Diagnosis

Answer:

Wow, I’m impressed with your cactus! That’s truly remarkable that you’ve kept it thriving for so long.

While most of the cactus looks healthy, I’m inclined to think the paleness is a combination of lack of nutrients and lack of sunlight. It’s really hard for most succulents to get the light they need indoors, and cactus are no exception.

I’d recommend giving it a dose of fertilizer and look into repotting it in new soil. If it hasn’t been repotted in a few years, it’s likely that it’s just needs some freshening up.

You may also find that it will do better with more sunlight. You don’t want to take it right in to full sun, but if there’s an area of the house that gets more light throughout the day, that would be a good move. It may also be helpful to get a grow light.

Taking it outdoors for a little while can help as well. Start in an area with bright shade all day and gradually move it into an area with more sunlight.

Further Reading:

Color-Changing Aeonium 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

Hi Cassidy! Thank you for taking questions! Here’s mine: is this normal coloration and growth for this Aeonium? The red on the outer leaves seems not quite right. Also, it originally was a larger rosette but many of the outer leaves (which are the lower leaves on the stem) have turned dark like this and fallen off.

Coloration and Growth on Aeonium

Answer:

Color changes on succulents are not uncommon, and the same is true for Aeoniums. However, it looks like this is an Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and the coloring isn’t usually that dark on the edges.

You mentioned that it used to have more leaves but that they turned dark and fell off. Normally darkening would indicate rot, but the way the leaves are laying downward, rather than firm and toward the light, makes me think it isn’t getting enough water.

That said, this could also happen if there was a sudden change in sunlight, such as being placed outside for a while. Aeoniums like it cool and brightly shaded. If they get too much sun or heat they will dry up quickly and get sunburn, which looks similar to the little spots I’m seeing on the bottom of the leaves here.

It is natural for the lower leaves of a succulent to fall off as it grows, but if they’re falling off rapidly, it’s likely a watering problem. Aeoniums tend to grow more in the fall and spring, and will sometimes shed a lot of leaves before they begin actively growing again.

Further Reading:

Black Spots on Jade 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I have several Jade plants.  One has black spots on some of the leaves, is this a fungus?  If so what is best to rid the black spots?  A month ago I brought them inside. I cleaned leaves and sprayed with alcohol because of spider mites.  Everything is else is going good.

Answer:

Black spots are generally caused by over-watering, sunburn, or sometimes bugs. The spots won’t go away. Once a succulent leaf is damaged or scarred, the only way to hide the spot is to remove the leaves with spots. If the black spots are dry, it’s most likely caused by sunburn. You can remove the individual leaves, but it’s great that you’ve brought the plants inside. They’ll still need sunlight, but make sure that they’re not getting too exposed.

If the spots are mushy, it’s probably from over-watering. You can remove the leaves with spots on them and then repot the plant in dry soil. Wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again. You should be able to adopt a watering schedule that should help keep it healthy. Watering is something I cover extensively in my course which you can learn more about here.

Further Reading:

Advice for a New Lithops Grower 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I have decided to grow Lithops but do not  know that much about them. Can you give me some guidelines on watering? Since they come from South Africa are their seasons turned around from ours in the Northern Hemisphere? Any books you could recommend would be appreciated.

Answer:

Lithops are so interesting! They are very slow-growing, so knowing that up front can help. They also require less water than other succulents, so be very careful not to over-water them.

Living Rocks have a growing season and a dormant season, just like other succulents. They are dormant in the winter, and require much less water.

I haven’t personally read this book, but it might offer up some great information.

This website can also give you some good tips.

Further Reading:

Caring for Lithops 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

Hi! I’m new to Lithops and love them. Getting conflicting advice on care. I had them under plant lights, but heard they like indirect light. Watering too has me confused; I know not to water while splitting and was advised to separate them.

Answer:

Living Stones are a fascinating addition to any succulent collection! They love light, so they will thrive under grow lights or in a southern-facing window.

Lithops like less water than most succulents, and even less water in their dormant season (fall to spring). Too much water can cause the roots to rot, or the leaves to burst. These succulents can be quite tricky to keep alive. They’re one of the most challenging succulents. Err on the side of too little water until you get a feel for what it needs.

These plants aren’t fast growers, but can be a beautiful addition to any collection!

Further Reading:

How Long to Keep Succulents Under a Grow Light in the Winter 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

What do you do when your succulent garden is indoors under lights for cooler winter temperatures? I read to run the lights for 20 hours in the summer and 16 in the winter. I currently run them for about 15 hours. When do I reduce light and watering for winter?

How Long to Keep Succulents Under a Grow Light in the Winter

Answer:

Succulents have growing and dormant periods, just like other plants. Winter is often the dormant season for most succulents, and therefore require less light, but indoors they will still generally take as much as they can get.

Succulents won’t go through a true dormancy when growing indoors unless you force it with changes in temperature and light. The light from the window will decrease over the winter, but it’s not necessary to reduce the grow light time unless you are going to reduce the temperature in the room as well.

All succulents need darkness each day to maintain a healthy growing cycle, but need at least six hours of sunlight a day to stay thriving. When I’ve used grow lights for my indoor succulents, I usually leave them on for about 12-14 hours, mimicking the natural daylight plus a few hours.

Watering will all depend on what plants you have. Some will still be growing during the winter months, while others will be more dormant. Those that are growing will need more water than those that are more dormant.

This post can help you know which of your plants will need less or more water based on the time of year.

Further Reading:

How Do I Know When My Soil Is Completely Dry? 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

How do I know when my soil is completely dry? Does “completely dry” mean that the soil is dry all the way through (top to bottom of pot)? Or does it mean “dry to the touch”?

Also, some of my succulents in small 2.5″ pots have instructions that say to “protect from frost”. What does this mean, and how would I go about doing this?

Answer:

When I tell people to water their plants when the soil is completely dry, I mean all the soil, from top to bottom. I use the soak method, where I water in a steady stream until water runs out the bottom of the planter. I let that drip out, and then won’t water until – here it comes again – the soil is completely dry.

I’m able to tell this a couple of ways. You can tell by the weight of your plant – when you first water, feel how heavy the planter is (if you’re able). When you think the soil has dried completely, and it’s time to water again, feel the weight of the planter again so that you can start to tell the difference.

The succulents will tell you if they aren’t getting enough water, or if they are getting too much. This is something I cover extensively in my course which you can learn more about here.

You can protect your succulents from frost by moving them indoors when the temperature dips at night. Freezing temperatures are at 32° F, but frost can generally occur between 32° and 36° F. Since your pots are small, you could bring those indoors. If you graduate to larger pots outdoors, you’d want to be sure to plant your succulents in containers that are easy to move, or plant cold-hardy specimens.

Further Reading:

How to Plant Succulent Seeds 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

How do I plant succulent seeds?

Answer:

Planting succulent seeds is similar in process to any other kind of plant (remember planting bean sprouts in plastic bags in elementary school?).

You’ll need a plastic tray with a lid, well-draining soil, seeds, and a spray bottle.

Fill the tray with soil, and spray it with water until it is damp, but not sopping wet.  Place your seeds over the damp soil, place the lid over the top, and place them in a sunny area out of direct sun.

That’s it! Spray the soil as it dries out, and treat the seedlings’ roots like you would a propagating leaf – keep them damp. You don’t want the soil to be too wet (which will cause the seeds and their new roots to rot), but if they’re too dry they will shrivel up and die.

Be patient – this process can take months or longer, and just like any type of propagation, expect some of the seedlings not to make it.

Further Reading:

Succulent Flowers Taking Nutrients From Mother Plant 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

Do the flowers of the Echeveria and other succulents take growth from the plant and must I cut them off to prevent the plant from growing leggy?

Answer:

The flower blooms from Echeverias do take some nutrients from the plant, however they won’t cause it to grow leggy. Blooming is a normal part of the growing cycle for Echeverias.

Some succulents only bloom once in their lifetime though, and in this case, a bloom means the mother plant is finished growing and will die after blooming. Succulents that do this are called monocarpic. A few examples of monocarpic succulents include most Agaves, Sempervivums (hens and chicks), and Aeoniums.

With monocarpic varieties, they generally put off a lot of new baby plants before blooming, so you’re not really losing out on anything. Every once in a while you may purchase a new succulent that is monocarpic and it will bloom within the year. While not typical, this is possible.

The lifespan of a monocarpic succulent really varies. They can live anywhere from a couple years to several decades. No one is quite sure why some bloom more quickly than others.

For non-monocarpic species (like the Echeveria you mentioned) you can leave the bloom on until it dries out, or simply cut it off whenever you don’t like the look of it. The succulent will continue to grow as normal.

Further Reading:

Bowling Balls and Succulents 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I love bowling balls complete with holes (I know it is strange – but I work in alley) the holes are about 2 inches deep but no drainage. What succulents would do best and how much should I water/mist. They are outside under trees – Australia NSW – temps in summer about 40 degrees and winter down to minus 5 where I live.

Make growing succulents a breeze with the step-by-step guidance from my premium course!

Answer:

This is such a fun question! I love that succulents can be planted in just about anything, and bowling balls are no exception!

I would use succulents that have a stem such as Echeveria, some Sedums, Graptoveria, Portulacaria, etc. You can take a cutting of one of these plants, fill the hole of the bowling ball with coconut coir, and then place the cutting in the hole.

You’ll want the cutting to go at least half way into the hole to prevent it from toppling out.

All of the succulents mentioned above are not cold hardy and would need to be taken indoors during the winter. At least for any period where there is a possibility of freezing.

If you want to stick with cold hardy options, I’d recommend using Stonecrop Sedums such as Sedum reflexum, Sedum spurium, etc. These will be just fine outdoors over the winter.

Note to readers in the US: You can purchase a cold hardy succulents from Mountain Crest Gardens by clicking here.

You could also try using Sempervivums, but I’m not sure they would stay in place very well in a bowling ball hole.

As far as watering goes… I’d pour in a tablespoon or so of water in the hole every week or two. It will be hard to check if the soil is dry.

Once the succulent is really rooted though, you could even pull the whole thing out of the hole, soak the soil, and then put it back in. Just pull it out to see if the soil is dry before watering again. That would be kind of fun!

Sounds like you have a great project on your hands!

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
New Succulent Grower Needs Planting Advice 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I am very new to succulents, and I am so chicken about it that I bought a succulent arrangement instead of creating my own. I have a bunch of questions about it. I have had it for about two months, and I believe I’ve watered it about once a week or a little bit less than once a week. It is hard to water, because the plants are packed so tight that I can’t find a place to put a spout anywhere near the soil.

Should the plants be packed up tight? Or is that bad for them?

The string of pearls plant seems to be falling off at the edges of the planter. Is that normal, or is that bad? The hens and chicks plant seem to be getting pinkish near the base of the leaves, which they did not when I first got the plant. Is that normal, or is that bad?

The plant is an indoor plant now, and it does not get much sun, because we don’t have any windows that get a lot of sun. Can it survive indoors without too much sun, or should I consider putting it out on our deck? It will be getting fairly cool in the winter, our average low is about 40° F.

I greatly appreciate any help you can give me and I really look forward to reading your blog and joining the Facebook group!

New Succulent Grower Need Planting Advice -- Photo 1
New Succulent Grower Need Planting Advice -- Photo 2
You'll love the tips in this ebook to help you get more succulents for free!

Answer:

Great question! It can be a bit intimidating when you are just starting out with succulent arrangements!

Having tightly packed succulents is not a problem unless they’re crowding each other for light. I’d suggest using a watering can that has a long, narrow spout to reach down to the soil. If you can’t find one that is slim enough, gently water using the spray nozzle of a hose or kitchen faucet.

The plant you referred to as String of Pearls is actually a type of Sedum. I believe it’s a variety of Sedum album. It’s a type of ground cover so it will spread and look like a trailing plant, which means that its stem will grow long and trail down or flow over the edge of a container instead of growing straight up.

Sempervivums can be so much fun! They change colors as the seasons change, usually showing their most vibrant colors in late winter to early spring. Yours is experiencing a normal color change.

The hens and chicks as well as the Sedum are cold hardy, so they will be just fine outdoors. They would benefit from being outside with more sun.

If you’d rather keep it inside, I would suggest getting a grow light. It can offer your plants the much needed light they need throughout the winter months, and at a relatively low cost.

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
Using Egg Shells to Fertilize Succulents 2017-11-17T22:38:29+00:00

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Question:

I really want to have my succulent plants to be healthy. I tried to experiment by mixing crumbled eggshells to the soil. Is it good or not good for succulents? Maybe it’s too much calcium for them, or is it a good fertilizer for them? Please advise. Thank you so much.

You'll love the tips in this ebook to help you get more succulents for free!

Answer:

You can definitely use eggshells in your succulent garden!  Instead of crumbling them up, I would suggest making a tea out of them.

Rinse the shells so they’re free of any yolk or white, and then pour boiling water over them.  Allow them to soak over night, and then strain the shells out the next morning. Pour the “eggshell tea” on your succulents to give them an added calcium boost. This may also give them some extra potassium, but is lacking in nitrogen, an element that succulents need, so you may need an additional fertilizer that contains that.

My favorite fertilizer to use is Haven Brand’s Manure Tea.  If you choose something different, like a cactus fertilizer, be sure not to purchase a slow release fertilizer, as it can burn your succulents.

Further Reading:

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors
This free course on succulents is so helpful!
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