Only 2 ways you're likely to accidentally kill your succulents


Just because the leaves are drooping, doesn’t mean it’s thirsty. Remember, the name of succulents is derived from the Latin word suculentus, which means juicy. — dpa

Succulents are plants that often prefer to live out their lives in shadows. But the ornamental evergreens with their thick shoots and fleshy leaves are starting to find their figurative place in the sun, and are now regarded as trendy.

Peter Grossmann, from Germany’s Society of Perennial Friends, has long been an enthusiast. “The attraction of succulents is that they are very easygoing, ” he says. “You can just leave them to themselves – less care is more.”

The plants can store a lot of water in their leaves, shoots and stems and thus survive dry phases well, and their name is derived from the Latin word suculentus (succulent, juicy).

Succulents include numerous genera of different families, including agaves (Agavaceae), thick leafed plants (Crassulaceae), and saxifrages (Saxifragaceae). “Cacti also belong to the succulents, ” says horticulturist and author Angelika Throll, “but they are usually regarded as an extra group on their own.”

Too much water

Succulent plants are a diverse and numerous group which can differ in terms of care. Throll therefore recommends that you look up some information on the characteristics of the particular species or varieties you have. But they are mostly very easy to care for and require little fertiliser and water.

Too much water can even harm the plants. “Succulents do not dry out, ” says Grossmann, “and if you give them too much water they will rot.

To avoid overwatering, Throll recommends looking closely at your plants. “If its leaves are hanging limp, that does not automatically mean that it needs to be watered, ” she says. “It could be the opposite – the plant has been given too much water or is even standing in water.”

To rescue an overwatered succulent, pour off the water and let the soil dry out. It’s also a good idea to place a couple of sheets of toilet paper under the pot – this will draw moisture from the substrate and assist the drying process.

Freezing weather

One of the best known succulents for the garden are the sedum species. These low-maintenance plants can even stay outside in winter, but Throll warns some care is needed. “Potted plants should not be exposed to frost, ” she warns. And yet plants in proper flower beds won’t require any extra protection in winter months.

Sempervivums (also known as houseleeks) are considered to be extremely robust. The genus, which comprises several thousand varieties, is heat-resistant and hardy.

“They require hardly any space, grow really well – and multiply, ” says Grossmann. He has more than 1,500 houseleeks in his collection, and finds the changing colours of the leaves in the course of the seasons particularly appealing.

Whether indoors or outdoors, succulents need to be kept in the right growing conditions. “They need permeable soil, and must be kept rather dry – under no circumstances should they stand in water, ” says Throll.

Succulents usually do well in bright places, but they don’t like it too hot, so a window sill above a radiator might not be ideal. – dpa/Melanie Oehlenbach

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