Succulents are a hot trend, blooming in popularity not just because of their unique beauty—they’re also easy to propagate and nearly indestructible.
More than 25 different plant families contain succulents, with varieties ranging from cacti to yucca, aloes, agave, bromeliads, and even orchids. The word “succulent” is derived from the Latin word sucus, which translates to “juice” or “sap.” The plants are native to deserts and arid climates.
“All cactus are succulents, but not all succulents are cactus,” says master gardener Kathy Bokelman-Zeeb of Papillion. “I couldn’t even take a guess at the number of succulents. They would be at least in the thousands.”
Before starting this DIY project, I decided to get an expert opinion. Gardening gurus directed me to Bokelman-Zeeb. I also searched the web to educate myself on the do’s and don’ts of succulents.
One common mistake is overwatering. This is (most likely) the No. 1 way for a novice gardener to kill their succulents. Succulents need watering when the soil feels dry, but Bokelman-Zeeb says each calls for different care.
“Preferably, you water on a sunny day so they dry out better—rather than a cool day because succulents don’t want to sit in water—you don’t want to encourage rot or mold in the soil,” Bokelman-Zeeb says. “In warmer months I water a lot more, but over the winter, you might only water once every month to keep the little rootlets from drying out.”
She recommends using very loose soil that drains well (there are several brands of potting soil intended specifically for succulents/cacti) and a pot that has holes for water drainage. Non-draining pots can be used but require more attention.
To ensure longevity and beauty of the plants, make sure to fertilize. Bokelman-Zeeb says the fertilizer should be diluted to one-fourth strength in water.
Above all, have fun with your succulents—whether you choose to group them for slower growth, or pot them alone and watch them grow. Let your imagination go wild. Possibilities are endless when it comes to planting succulents. No matter the style of décor—rustic, classic, or modern—they go well everywhere!
Items for this project:
- Shallow bowl, preferably with holes (which can be drilled if not already present)
- 12-15 succulents in many varieties
- Succulent fertilizer
- Succulent/cactus soil
- River rocks or small pebbles
- Activated filter carbon (found at pet stores)
- Decorative moss (optional)
- Battery-operated string of lights (optional)
- Step 1: Place a layer of activated filter carbon on the bottom of the pot for drainage.
- Step 2: Add your succulent soil. Fill 1/4-inch from the top of the pot.
- Step 3: Take each succulent out of its container. Place them on top of the soil (move them around until you find the best placement).
- Step 4 : Scoop out soil for appropriate holes. Plant succulents in about the same depth as their previous container/pot. Tap firmly around roots to set plants securely.
- Step 5: Place a thin layer of pebbles or granite chips on the soil for top cover. This helps keep the moisture away from the base of the plants.
- Step 6 (optional): Use some decorative moss and battery-operated lights to illuminate the arrangement.
This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of OmahaHome.