"They respond well to neglect," is what we often tell first-time succulent customers. We get asked almost daily, "which one is the heartiest?" and "which one will I be able to keep alive?" That's the beauty of succulents--they are one of the easiest plant species to care for and with thousands of different succulents to choose from, you can easily find one you love that will last for years.
The most common mistake new succulent owners make is over-watering their succulent. Over-watering causes the roots to rot and often, the plant dies. Since succulents are shallow-rooted, they do very well in containers (alone or even with other plants) and the wonderful thing about containers is that you can move them from outside to inside and from place to place inside your home to ensure they get enough light to thrive. "But how often should I water?" you ask? Seldom!
In fact not for 4-8 weeks at a time, especially during the winter months when they are dormant. Your succulent will tell you when you need to water. They start to look a little dehydrated (kind of like we do with a hangover). Give them a good, long, soak in water (much like a good rainstorm in the desert), allow the container to drain for an hour or so in the sink (we make sure our wooden boxes are not water tight for this reason), and then place it in a light-filled room.
Most varieties need at least half a day to a full day of sunlight. In extremely hot areas some afternoon shade is recommended. At the height of summer, even if the plant is indoors, you will want to ensure your succulent is not too close to the window and getting too much light and heat. You will also want to take care when you move the plant from cool indoor spaces (such as an air conditioned room) to outdoors and make the move gradually by placing the plant outdoors in the morning sun for a short time at first. Just like us, succulents are not fond of sharp, drastic changes to their environment.
As for the soil that makes for optimum succulent health, we use a custom-mix and then top many of our succulent planters with gravel. Gravel not only looks wonderful, it provides nice drainage for when watering. But gravel is not your only option for topping off your succulent planter--seashells work well as does moss. Our current favorite is the flapjack and we love its fat red-tipped leaves and we top that planter off with string of pearls
Looking for more advice?
Our "go-to" book for all thing succulent is Succulents: The Ultimate Guider to Choosing, Designing and Growing 200 Easy-Care Plants by Robin Stockwell. Not only is he often credited with starting the vertical succulent movement, he is also a super cool surfer dude who has written THE comprehensive book on succulents for beginners as well as experienced growers. Robin Stockwell focuses specifically on 203 varieties of succulents in his book from aeonium to senecio and everything in between. We truly cannot recommend this book highly enough.
So whether you come see us or find your succulents elsewhere, don't hesitate to purchase the one that catches your eye. They respond well to neglect and they actually provide numerous health (and aesthetic) benefits.
Lastly, check out this piece from our friends in Colorado--it's a basic overview of the many delights succulents offer, including easy propagation. We agree with Rob Proctor of Colorado that even the most "green-thumb-challenged" folks will able to grow and propagate succulents year-round.
We are always happy to answer succulent-care questions so feel free to message us on through our Facebook page or call us at 816 933 9509.