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Top 10 Succulent Care Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

So, you think succulents are the ultimate low-maintenance houseplants, right? Well, think again!

Sure, they’re quirky and laid-back, but these desert beauties still need some TLC to thrive. If you’re not a seasoned gardener, keeping them alive can be trickier than you’d expect.

Most Common Succulent Care Mistakes

succulent plant close up

Overwatering vs. Underwatering

Overwatering’s probably the most common mistake I see. Succulents store water in their leaves, so they don’t need frequent watering. Watering too often can cause the roots to rot. On the other hand, underwatering can make the plant shrivel and look unhealthy. The key is to water them thoroughly, but only when the soil is completely dry. For indoor succulents, this could mean watering once every two weeks or even less.

Using Non-Draining Containers

Using decorative containers without drainage holes is another pitfall. Succulents need well-drained soil to thrive. Containers without holes can cause water to pool at the bottom, drowning the roots. A simple fix is to plant your succulents in a smaller pot with drainage and then place that pot inside your decorative one. This way, you can remove the inner pot when watering and let it drain completely.

Misting Instead of Proper Watering

Misting succulents might seem like a good idea to prevent overwatering, but it can actually harm them. These plants don’t need the extra humidity that misting provides, and it can even cause rot. Instead, use a container with drainage holes and a well-draining succulent potting mix. When you water, give them a good soaking only when the soil is dry. This simulates the natural desert environment they’re adapted to.

Addressing Light and Placement Issues

succulent 3

Insufficient Light for Healthy Growth

Giving succulents enough light is key for their growth. Most succulents need at least six to eight hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily. I once placed my succulent in a dim corner, and it started stretching out and losing its vibrant color. This phenomenon, called etiolation, occurs when succulents try to find more light. Move them closer to a well-lit window, but avoid direct sunlight initially to prevent sunburn.

Inappropriate Seasonal Exposure

Seasonal changes can affect your succulent’s health. In winter, I noticed my succulents’ growth slowed down because they received less sunlight. It’s essential to adjust their placement during different seasons. In summer, ensure they’re not getting scorched by harsh midday sun, while in winter, move them to a brighter spot.

Wrong Placement Affecting Temperature Regulation

Temperature fluctuations can stress succulents. I once kept mine near an air vent, and it didn’t do well with the constant hot air in winter and cold drafts in summer. Ideal temperatures for most succulents range between 60°F to 80°F. Keeping them away from vents, windowsills, and drafty areas helps maintain a stable environment.

Soil and Pot Selection for Succulents

pots of succulents

Importance of Using the Correct Soil Mix

Using the right soil mix is vital for keeping succulents healthy. Regular garden soil isn’t suitable because it retains too much moisture, leading to root rot. Instead, go for a dedicated succulent soil mix, like the Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix. If you’re into DIY, blend one part coarse sand with two parts potting soil and one part perlite or pumice. This mix ensures excellent drainage, keeping roots dry and happy.

Choosing the Right Pot Size and Material

Picking the correct pot is just as key. Always choose a pot with drainage holes; it prevents water from pooling at the bottom and drowning your succulent’s roots. Avoid tiny ceramic pots with no drainage. They might look cute, but they’re a death trap for your plants. Aim for pots made of breathable materials like terra cotta or unglazed ceramic. These help excess moisture evaporate faster, which is perfect for the dry conditions succulents love.

The Dangers of Overcrowding

Succulents might look cute when crammed together, but overcrowding can lead to several problems affecting their overall health and growth.

Succulents in tiny pots

Planting Succulents Too Close Together

Planting succulents too close together can hinder their growth. Crowded plants compete for sunlight, water, and nutrients, often leading to stunted growth and poor health. When succulents don’t have enough space, they can become leggier as they stretch towards available light, mirroring the behavior seen in etiolation. Overcrowding also increases the risk of pests and diseases spreading quickly among your plants.

Mixing Succulent Types with Varying Needs

Mixing succulents with different needs can create a challenging growing environment. For instance, some succulents thrive in bright, direct sunlight, while others prefer indirect light. When placed together, one type can either get too much light or not enough. Furthermore, varying water and soil requirements can complicate care routines. A succulent needing frequent watering shouldn’t share a pot with one that prefers dry conditions, as this mismatch can lead to root rot or dehydration.

Maintenance Mishaps and Misunderstandings

Even though succulents are pretty resilient, they’re not completely foolproof. These plants need proper care, and it’s easy to make mistakes that can affect their growth and health.


Neglecting Seasonal Maintenance and Dormancy

Ignoring seasonal maintenance can be a big problem. Succulents have different needs depending on the time of year. During the growing season, usually spring and summer, they need more water and nutrients. However, in fall and winter, many succulents go dormant and require less care, including less water. Overwatering during this time can lead to root rot. It’s essential to adjust your care routine based on the season to ensure your succulents thrive year-round.

Failing to Repot or Refresh Soil Periodically

Another common mistake is failing to repot or refresh the soil periodically. Most succulents need to be repotted every 1-2 years. This helps refresh the soil, providing the plants with the nutrients they need and avoiding soil compaction. Over time, soil can become depleted and compacted, which restricts airflow around the roots. Using a gritty, well-draining succulent soil mix when repotting can help keep your plants healthy. If you notice your succulent outgrowing its pot or roots poking out, it’s a sign it’s time for a new home.

Misinterpreting Succulent Health

Taking care of succulents isn’t always straightforward. Misinterpreting their health can lead to big problems.

succulent 2

Signs of Overfertilizing

Overfertilizing succulents can do more harm than good. If your succulent has soft, mushy leaves, it might be getting too much fertilizer. Yellowing leaves and rapid, weak growth are other telltale signs.

Too much fertilizer can also bring out pests. Bugs like aphids love overly lush growth, creating more health issues for your plant.

Recognizing Signs That a Succulent Is Unhealthy

Spotting an unhealthy succulent early on can save you lots of trouble. Discoloration, such as yellow or brown leaves, often indicates stress from overwatering or too little light. Soft, mushy leaves suggest root rot.

Look for stunted growth. If your succulent’s not growing, it might need more sunlight or a better-draining soil mix. Spotting these signs early can help you adjust care routines quickly and keep your plant thriving.