The Do’s and Don’ts
When they tell you that succulent plants are easy to grow, and will take any kind of abuse and laugh at it, don’t believe it.
There are a few ways to kill off succulents.
One is to keep them in a dim room and not give it enough light.
The other common way is by the wrong watering regime – meaning at the wrong time.
The other way is to water them incorrectly.
There’s a theme here. Succulent plants are not as care free as they’re made out to be, but with some guidance, you can grow them successfully.
Succulent plants originate in dry climates and have evolved to deal with drought, but with the ability, and need, for some periodic flooding.
If you can copy this by the way you water them, they’ll be happy and healthy, all other things being equal.
It goes against all of our nature as good plant moms to deprive plants of water, but when you remember their origins, you can feel better about being cruel to be kind.
- Use warm (room temperature, ‘tempered’) water
- Use rain water, water from an air conditioning unit, or distilled/filtered water
- Water only when the soil is dry
How do you know the soil is dry? There are several ways, and only you will know which one is right for you.
You can poke a finger into the top inch or so of the soil and feel the moisture level, use a water sensing meter to tell you the exact amount of water in the soil, or use my method; pick up the pot and heft it, to test the weight.
This only works if you consistently use the same kinds of pots (like terracotta clay pots, for instance). Over time, you’ll get a good handle on whichever method you choose.
Don’t Do This;
- Water with cold well water, directly from the tap
- Water from overhead, onto the leaves, unless the leaves are dusty
- Water when the plants are in full sun
- Water when the plant is dormant. Let it completely dry out until the next time you water it.
Other things to remember; don’t let pots of succulents sit in a saucer of water. They have extremely fleshy roots in some cases, so excess moisture in the soil will cause them to rot.
Use a potting soil that has water holding polymer crystals – this way, even when the soil is bone dry, it will be easier to re-wet it. More on soil for succulents here.
This section of the article was written by Sara Taylor, one of my most popular guests.
How to Care for Succulents While on Vacation
Caring for any indoor plants can be quite tricky. Succulents are no exception to this rule. There might be some obstacles to overcome while caring for them as well, especially if you need to travel a lot.
It may be because you want to go on vacation, or if you need to travel a lot because of the work requirements.
In such cases, it’s not that easy to care for more demanding plants, so succulent care is a good alternative option.
Today, we’re going to focus on some of those difficulties, and to see what are the best ways to care for succulents while on vacation.
Water Your Succulents Before You Travel Away
If your trip is not that long, what you can do is simply water your succulents before you go on a trip. It also depends on the season and the climate.
When the weather is colder, succulents can survive longer without water. As for the spring and summer months, you want to water your succulents more often. However, you should probably know that succulents can survive without water for some time.
This is what you also must take into consideration when traveling. You don’t want your plants are left completely without water since that can lead to their premature death.
So, if you intend to travel for a longer period, then you should probably consider some of the other methods on this list. For instance, if you know that your trip will take more than one month, then it’s better to either set up the self-watering system or to ask or hire someone to water your plants instead of you.
Create a Well-Thought Out Self-Watering System
One of the best options to choose from if you have to travel for more than a month is to create a well-thought self-watering system.
Now, you can make it by yourself, simply from all sorts of materials that you can find around your own home.
A lot of people use plastic bottles, combined with shoelaces, to create self-watering systems. Apart from that, you can simply buy the finished products.
There is a lot to choose from on Amazon and local stores. You can get various watering globes, plant watering spikes, humidity trays, as well as self-watering planters, depending on your needs.
With these gardening tools, you can maximize the efficiency of your watering, even when you are not physically present to water your succulents.
They are usually easy to set up and offer some amount of customization when it comes to maintaining the precise watering schedule.
This is a perfect solution for people who need to travel a lot, and who can’t afford to spend a lot of time with their succulents.
Set Watering Timers
Apart from just the regular equipment we’ve mentioned above, you can also use advanced devices, such as plant humidifiers or different types of grow lights, to boost the development of your home-grown succulents even further.
Now, these devices need to be started or turned off every once in a while, and if you travel a lot, you can’t really do that, can you?
For this reason, you can use another pretty handy tool, which is an automatic timer, which will do these actions for you.
You can set up the timer to turn on the artificial growing lights at a specific time or day and night, so your plant could always have a much-needed light.
Also, depending on where you live, you might need to use humidifiers to reach the desired humidity levels of your plant. The timer can help you with this as well.
Last, but not least, if you’re using sprinkler systems to water your plants, you can also add a timer and set it to sprinkle your succulents every day.
Of course, this is usually the case during warmer months, when you can put them outside to get a bit of natural light.
Pay Someone to Keep Your Succulents Happy
If you don’t fancy using all these devices, you can also turn to the more traditional approach and hire someone to do water your succulents while you are away.
There are numerous people who do this, from students who are just trying to earn some easy money, to professional gardeners, who decided to make a living in this field.
Also, if you have decent neighbors who you trust or other family members nearby, you can ask them for a favor and they could also water the plants for you.
One tip that could prove useful is to always write instructions to the people who do this for you since there is no one who knows more about your plants than yourself.
This way, you can be sure people won’t make assumptions about the watering schedule, and kill your plants by mistake.
This was everything there is to know about how to care for succulents while on vacation. Now you can rest free and focus on your travels more, without worrying about your plants.
Sarah writes for the Indoor Garden Nook, and she especially likes using watering globes to keep her plants happy.