Some plants are like some people - fussy. They will throw tantrums, If they don't like the food you give them, or put them in a place they don’t like or sometimes they will act up if you give them too much of something. Succulents are one of them. One also has to understand, that we have taken them away from their natural habitat and are trying to tame them. An unhappy plant is no way good for us. It doesn’t give the positive vibe, instead it fills our lives with negative energy. So let’s try to understand them a little bit so that they can adjust in the new environment, be comfortable and happy and also pleasurable to us.
Succulents are one of the most beautiful plant species, with their in-numerous colours, textures, shape and form. I was drawn to them for the obvious reasons but then I didn’t understand them and ended up with a lot of casualties in my hand. So I decided to get to know them and brought home many varieties that caught my eyes. I started off with the hardy variety (as per a list I found online). This is what I have learned from past one year experiment. One might argue that one year is not enough experience but it can be if you have taken it up as an experiment and dedicated enough hours.
First of all, one has to understand where they come from and the weather conditions they thrive in. Please read the link for succulent natural habitat. Everywhere you read or watch videos, succulents are described as "easy to grow”. I do not agree with that. They are easy to grow given that you have been able to recreate its environment. If you have read the links, you know that they are basically “survivors”. But when we bring them into artificial environment, they are not able to survive as well. Eg., Delhi has all kinds of whether throughout the year. It’s very dry and hot, its very humid and hot, it’s very dry and cold and in between is the transitional weather that is conducive to all living creatures.
Let’s break it all down for succulents.
Things that one has to consider:
Soil: If you have the right soil, half the battle is won. Sandy, packed with the necessary nutrients and also one that doesn’t hold water. If the soil mix retains water, and that happens with sticky soil or cocopeat, succulents will absorb excess water and rot. It's something like when you dip your hand in water for too long.
Sunlight: The quality of sunlight along with the temperature it translates into. Scorching sun will burn them out, lack of sun will kill them. If it’s too cold and are exposed to extended period of morning & evening dew (this means excess watering) and less sunlight, that translates to over watering and lack of light = death. In cold, long winter, bring them indoors and sit them on sunny window or covered area. Refer to the natural habitat. As a thumb rule they like moderate temperature in human environment.
Water: Since they live in harsh conditions, by nature they absorb water fast and store it in their body anticipating uncertainty in availability of next round of water. Therefore, if the soil is moist they will keep drawing water and thus rot. Kind of like gluttony. But they also have a thresh hold for draught. You will notice them shrinking if they are in dry soil for too long. But interestingly, right watering will bring them back. That’s why they are called “easy care”. (But please avoid putting them through that torture.)
Humidity: Same as the above point. That is why it's important to bring them indoors during rainy season and in winter and keeping them in dry condition.
Propagation: Succulents are easy to propagate and you can get overwhelmed with how much you can grow. They grow from the leaves they drop. So if you have the right soil mix, right light, air, water conditions you can actually end up with a nursery of succulents.
If you are an expert on plants and unfamiliar with succulents nature, I hope you find this helpful and able to apply the basic knowledge to care for long lasting succulents. But if you are a novice and do not have time or inclination to spend time on care but love succulents there is option for you as well. Let’s admit it succulents are a treat for the eyes. There are two ways of treating succulents:
A long lasting bouquet that will last a few months or
A Long lasting plant that will last years
I will suggest the first option for novice plant lovers.
Whatever said and done, there are easy care succulents and there are really fussy ones. And then there are annual succulents, that will last only one season. So if you pay a little attention and can figure out what kind of grower YOU are, you can find your right succulent partner.
You can look up the net for more information or you are most welcome to write to me to help you find your Succulent partner.
Additional info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succulent_plant