Low-Maintenance Plants Need a Little TLC from Time to Time

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Low-Maintenance Plants Need a Little TLC from Time to Time

Succulents are almost all low-maintenance plants.

If you’re a little lazy with the watering, don’t really like repotting, and forget to prune the won’t complain too much. But low-maintenance doesn’t mean no-maintenance.

Spring is the time to fertilize most succulents. Look for a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen (the first number is the three number sequence shown on the front of every fertilizer container). I find that it is easiest to use water soluble fertilizer that I can add right into my watering can. Dilute the fertilizer to 1/4 strength and add it to your watering can once a month from spring to early summer.

In between the times when you are watering with fertilizer and during the other times of year, you may need to sprinkle your succulents with just plain water. The fatter the succulent’s leaves, the less frequently it will need to be watered. Similarly, the larger the pot, the slower it will dry out. Always check your plants before deciding whether to water. Look for signs that the leaves are shriveling or wilting ever so slightly, or that the soil has become bone dry. Provide enough water so that it begins to flow out the drainage hole. When it doubt err on the side of less watering, not more.

Early spring is also a great time to repot your succulents in larger containers if they have outgrown their current digs. Never use garden soil in your containers. I’ve found that it is easiest to buy bagged “cactus potting soil,” though you can mix your own if you’d like. Combine 1/3 high quality potting soil, 1/3 perlite, and 1/3 coarse sand.

If you see a dried up flower stalk or a dead leaf, I’ve found that flower snips (or even good scissors) are precise enough to cut off just the part you want and not damage surrounding leaves. A toothpick or fork is also handy for dislodging soil or small rocks from succulents that have a frosted coating (if you touch the coating with your fingers it will come off).