Question. How many plants do you have in your home? If you’re turning up your nose either because A) you’re trying to avoid thinking about how pitiful all of your plants currently look or B) you don’t really have any because, unfortunately, the rooms in your house are where plants come to die, this is the kind of article that has your name written all over it.
Personally, we love plants. They’re not only pretty to look at and comforting to have around, but they also significantly reduce the amount of air pollution that’s indoors. Also, there are studies to support that they can lower heart rates and blood pressure too.
That’s why, even if you weren’t naturally born with a green thumb, we want to help you to discover ways that you can keep your indoor plants living well beyond just a week or two. One of the best ways to do that is to opt for a succulent plant.
What’s that? Basically, it’s the kind of plant that feel thick and “fleshly” more than other plants (for instance, all cacti are succulents). They also are plants that tend to retain more water. Some are even considered to be…low-maintenance (yep…not every plant is stressful to care for).
Ah. Bet that piqued your interest, right? Whether you already own one of these kinds of plants or you’d like to give them a try, here are seven things that will help you to keep them alive and well beyond just a couple of days.
Study Plants Before Buying Them.
A huge mistake that a lot of people make is buying plants before researching what kind would best suit the climate they live in as well as their personal lifestyle. As far as succulents go, if you want to go with indoor ones that are aesthetically-pleasing and easy to take care of, some of our favorites include Burro’s Tail, Christmas Cactus, Jade Plant, Pincushion Cactus and Ponytail Palm. We like all of these because they don’t require a ton of watering—or upkeep, in general.
Choose the Right Containers.
If you decided to get your succulents from a nursery, it’s always a good idea to repot them once you get home. Try and avoid using glass containers; they make it impossible for the roots of your plants to breathe which means they will probably rot overtime. Instead, go with a container that comes with a drainage hole and is about 2” larger than the one your plant was originally in (that will give it room to grow). Here are a few of our favorite pots to use.
Have the Right Foundation.
Some people only have sand in their succulents’ containers. The reason why we frown on that is because too much sand can become super dense overtime. When that happens, it can result in too much water being in your plants’ containers. Instead, opt for a mixture instead— potting soil, sand and pumice.
Choose the Right Windows.
Succulents can be pretty finicky when it comes to how much light they prefer. Your best bet would be to place yours near a window that either faces south or east. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your succulents get no less (or more) than six hours of sunlight each day. Oh, and you might want to keep them kind of close (but not too close) to a vent; that way, they can get a little air flowing in their direction as well.
Use the “Chopstick Trick”.
If you absolutely hate forcing yourself to remember to water your plants, this is one of the main reasons why you can’t go wrong with having a succulent or two. Some of them can easily go days, if not weeks, without being watered. In order to know how much yours requires, speak with someone at a plant nursery or even Google the name of your plant for some specific maintenance tips.
But in general, a helpful tip is putting a chopstick into the soil (think of it like putting a toothpick into a cake that you are baking). If when you pull the chopstick out, you see some soil on it, your plant has a good amount of water. If you don’t, it’s time to give it some. (Don’t water its leaves; just the soil.)
Pay Close Attention to the Leaves.
It’s normal for leaves to fall off of plants; succulents are no exception. Just make sure that they are coming off from the bottom, close to where the soil is. If more leaves are dying from the top, that could be an indication that you’re overwatering them, there are pests that are irritating the leaves or that the plant is diseased in some way (a nursery can “diagnose” all of this for you).
Succulents (especially indoor ones) and fertilizers have an interesting relationship. We say that because, technically, succulents don’t need fertilizer in order to survive. BUT if you want yours to really thrive, adding a little fertilizer certainly can’t hurt.
The key is to make sure that the fertilizer you choose contains equal parts N (nitrogen), P (phosphorous) and K (potassium) and that you apply about half the amount of what’s recommended on the package. As far as how often you should apply some, once in the spring (preferably April) and once in the summer (preferably June) should be all that your plants need on an annual basis.
If you do this—and maybe talk to them from time to time—we’d be shocked if your succulents didn’t last for years to come. And if you just don’t seem to have the space for succulents in your home or simply don’t know how to make space in a sun lit area, check out our vertical gardening tips! Good luck!