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Under the Spell of Succulents

Succulents have been one of the most popular and easy to grow plants in the garden.  Did you know there are over 10,000 species in the world?  Did you know they produce about 3% of the flowering plants in the world?  In this area of the MG Website, learn how to care for your succulents.  With time on your hands, try some of these easy crafts you can do with succulents.  Check out these other websites for plant ID, and topics on succulents.
Succulent Resources:
a website for succulent and cacti plant id

Bestselling author of Success with Succulents,Debra Lee Baldwin's website: https://debraleebaldwin.com/

Ernesto Sandoval, UC Davis, Propagation of Succulents and Cacti https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb1GjtWsu-w

Echeveria from Ireland's Natl. Botanical Garden
Echeveria from Ireland's Natl. Botanical Garden

Succulent Crafts:


Summer Care of Outdoor Succulents


We all know that succulents are low-water plants, but they are not “No Water” plants.  If they are outside, you will want to water them about once a week.  During the summer, the best time to water your plants is in the early morning before the temperatures rise.  

If the temperatures are over 100F for an extended period of time, you may need to water twice a week.  If they are in pots, water the plants thoroughly to soak the roots and flush out salts.  That means until water drips out of the bottom of the pot.  The soil should not remain dry for long periods of time.  Also, succulents will die if they sit in water.  So make sure you have a fast draining soil.

The fatter the succulent the fleshier the leaves, the more water it will store in its leaves, and the less water it will need.  Cacti are usually less tolerant of overwatering than other succulents.


Shade structure over succulent garden at GOS
Shade structure over succulent garden at GOS
Plants growing on the north side of your home, will get the least sun exposure.  Those on the south will get the most.  Plants on the east side of your home, will get morning sun and afternoon shade.  Succulents like this exposure.  Gardens facing the west will have the intense heat of the afternoon sun, and morning shade. Placing your succulents on the west side of your home is a plan for disaster during the heat of the summer.

A good rule of thumb is keeping your succulents in a location that receives partial shade, like under an awning or place with dappled light from a tree.  Bright shade is ideal and essential for low light succulents like haworthias, gasterias, euphorbias, sansevierias, and sempervivum.  


Some succulents like dudleyas, aeoniums and some aloes will close their rosettes to protect them from the heat.

  The lower leaves will shrivel and dry out, which is normal behavior.  The dried leaves shade the stems.  White, beige or black patches on your succulents indicate sunburn.  This means the cells have been damaged.  The scars will last as long as the leaf does.

To prevent your succulents from getting sunburn, if they are in pots, you can move them to a shadier location.  If they are in the ground, you can cover them with shade cloth, old sheets or screens.  

Rebutia Carnival
 Many of your cacti can take the harsh sun and heat of a western exposure.  But, even these plants may get sunburn if there’s extended periods of high temperatures. 

For questions you may have about succulents contact the UC Master Gardeners helpline via email to mgfresno@ucanr.edu.

Tips For Growing Succulents

 Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems or roots. There are over 10,000 species with unusual shapes, sizes and colors. 

1. If growing outside, they prefer morning sun and afternoon shade.

succulent garden at GOS
succulent garden at GOS

2. There are summer and winter growers. Summer growers are dormant in winter. Winter growers are dormant in the summer. When they are dormant, they don't need much water. 

3. Succulents are easy to propagate. You can take leaf cuttings, or separate pups or offsets from the mother plant. Before planting, let them callus over for a week, then plant. 

4. Plant in a well-draining soil. Use a cactus, palm mix or mix extra perlite in with your potting soil. You can use a top coating on the top of your soil to hold soil in the pot and for a nice finished look on your plant. 

Echeveria agavoides Lipstick
Echeveria agavoides Lipstick
5. Most succulents have shallow roots, so they don't need very large containers. Terracotta pots lose water quicker then glazed pots. Choose containers that complement your plant. 

6. Succulents need some fertilizer. You can add pellet fertilizer like Osmocote to your soil, it will feed your plants for 3 or 4 months. If you use a powdered fertilizer like Miracle Gro, mix it to 1/4 strength. Fertilize once a month during the growing season. 

7. Most succulents prefer temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees. Most can be outside until it gets to be 40 degrees. During the winter months, if you keep your plants outside, they need to be protected from frost. Use frost cloths to protect them from the cold.

Assorted aloes in a strawberry pot
Assorted aloes in a strawberry pot

8. The single most cause of death of succulents is overwatering. From now thru the warm months of Sept-Oct, water your plants once a week. Let them dry out between waterings. Occasionally, when it's 105 +, you may need to water 2x a week. 

9. Try using some unique containers for your succulents like sieves, strawberry pots, bonsai containers, wheelbarrows, shoes, boots, wooden frames, hanging baskets, oak barrels, yard sale finds, pumpkins, Christmas trees, or terrariums. 


Make Your Own Succulent Pumpkin

Succulent Pumpkins are a wonderful centerpiece for your fall table.