Cactus · Succulent

Watering and Rotating Succulents

Welcome to the pilot blog of The Succulent Whisperer!  I am so excited you are here!    I love all things cactus and succulent, and have a YouTube channel to go with this blog.  If you want, go take a look!  Now let’s get to know each other a little bit.

I got started in succulents a couple of years ago after a trip to Phoenix, Arizona.  We visited the Botanical Gardens and saw the most beautiful plants in creation!  Wonderful colors, amazing flowers, and humming birds!  Really, there were humming birds, and lizards! So, I asked one of the horticulturists how they got the succulents to do all the gorgeous things they do, as most of the desert has brownish green succulents.  The nice man told me how they do it!  “Water, he said, water.”  That was it, water!  He also described how he potted the succulents in containers and in his own collection.  Drainage, as it turns out, is not the answer, but potting is a topic for another blog, so more on that later!  Anyway, I came back to my Midwest home and decided I wanted to get me some succulents!  We had an art day and painted mugs to repurpose into planters.  Planters for Succulents!!  Yay!  Succulents!  Then, we had a visiting the nursery day and bought 10 succulents to go into our mug planters.  Those planters were destined for a set of windows in my living room.  Of those original 10 plants, 9 are still living.  One turned out to be an annual (which I did not know were a thing in succulents) and it lived the first year.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I now have more than 200 succulents in my personal collection.  They are gorgeous!  I love them!  I also name them! And I talk to them.  (They like it.)

I am going to make a few assumptions about you.  I will assume that you are here because you like succulents and would maybe like to grow one or more.   I admit that I fail to understand why a person would not love succulents (for real, even my husband thinks I am a little weird, but, more on that later)!    I will assume that you are hoping to learn information on how to grow succulents or at the very least, keep them alive long enough to be respectable.  I can help you do that!!  I also have a few warnings, and things you should know.  I do not grow and use succulents like the bulk of the people on Pinterest and in floral shops.  If you have a truly “black” thumb, most succulents are not for you.  But, I will help you find a plant that is extremely hard to kill.  Also, you should know there is a point at which a succulent cannot be saved, but I might be able to help you save a sick succulent.  I have been extremely successful (for the most part) at growing succulent and cacti.  I have even grown some from seed. (I really would not recommend this, it is very, very slow.)  Many of my succulents have flowered, which is stunning and very exciting!  We can learn about succulents together!

Arguably, the single most important thing about a succulent is water (think back to the botanical gardens), so that is the topic today.  Watering succulents is a very debated topic.  How to, when to, and what to water are open to discussion.  If you were to search Pinterest for how to water your succulents, you will find a few options.  The first is to use a spray bottle to lightly mist your precious plants every couple of days.  In order to prepare to use a spray bottle, gently remove the plant from its pot, and throw the plant in the garbage.  This early and merciful end will save you from watching your plant die a slow and disturbing death due to both rot and dehydration.  Never use a spray bottle to water your succulents, ever!  Never!  Except propagating babies, otherwise never!  There is no mist in the desert!

Others will tell you that you don’t need to water your succulents because they absorb water from the air.  That is utter nonsense!  There is no humidity in the desert either!  Air plants actually (sort of) do this, but not really, so anyone that says they do is a liar!  You must water your succulents regularly!  But not too often!  But, often enough!

So, I will assume your succulent is planted in proper soil.  Like a dessert, it should be well draining, but able to hold water for a period of time.  The plant needs to soak up as much water as it needs, but not sit in wet soil.  I make my own succulent and cactus soil, and I will give you more information on that later.  I  water my plants with tap water.  If you want to collect rain, or purify urine or whatever, you can use that to water.  (ok, maybe not urine.)  But, water from the tap works well, and all you have to do is turn on the tap.  Anyway, the trick to watering succulents is to completely soak them (keep water off the actual plant, though, water stains are unattractive and standing water causes rot.)  And then wait for the soil to be completely dry before you water them again.  If your plant is sick, more water is almost never the answer. Watering every two weeks is a good jumping off point.  Then adjust based on the specific plant needs.  I water every 3 days to every 14 depending on the plant.  In general, cactus need less water, but not always.  Just be sure the soil has dried completely.  I use a moisture meter in some of my big pots, to be sure the soil dries completely, but you can just look at the soil and stick your finger in the soil to see if it is dry.  If it is not dry, don’t water!  If it is dry, then water.  Water thoroughly and well.  Soak it, and then put it back in its window, until the next time!  Waiting until your plant is showing signs of dehydration is not a great way to time water intervals.  Dehydration stresses these plants, and stress leads to slow growth, pests, and disease.  Disease!  So water when you should, not after or before!

One more thing.  It is often a good idea to rotate your succulents with respect to the brightest light.  Succulents will lean toward the sun, so rotate as least a quarter turn each time you water.  If you have a very fast growing sedum or other fast grower, rotate them once a week.  Then they will grow more straight and not so bendy.  Although, some of them are just bendy, and that is how they are supposed to be.

Thank you for reading!  I look forward to hearing from you with questions and comments!  See you next time!

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