5 Ways You're Killing Your Succulent

Succulents: they’re super trendy, add instant boho style to your space, and are incredibly low maintenance plants. They’re become increasingly popular the last couple of years as Southwestern style has taken over the Northeast coast. When She Loves Me owner Holley Simmons started teaching Terrarium Building classes in 2014, they were an instant hit with DC locals looking to bring some California vibes into their homes.


And while it’s true that succulents are a great choice for an easy beginner plant, there are some tricks you’ll want to keep in mind to keep them alive and happy, particularly if you don’t live in a year-round hot, dry climate. We often have questions from customers who are baffled about the state of their desert plants; if succulents are so easy to take care of, why are theirs dying??


The answers come by way of a simple mantra we follow in taking care of all of our plants: Recreating the natural environment of a plant is the easiest way to help it thrive. Here are some tips for making keeping your succulents from succumbing to the elements:


  • Don’t assume they’re indestructible. Just because they’re low-maintenance doesn’t mean they’re no maintenance. Don’t neglect giving them lots of sunlight and occasional water. To those points...
  • Succulents need bright, direct sunlight. As do all desert plants! Put them in a Southern or Western-facing window, or wherever gets the most sunlight in your home. If it’s hot enough in the summer months, they might even be happy outside.
  • Don’t overwater your succulents! This is probably the most common way to kill your desert plants -- While they do need water, they need much less of it than you might think. Water them about twice a month, max.
  • Don’t underwater your succulents! Water your succulents by completely drenching the soil and then allowing it to fully dry out in between waterings. Fun fact: the US Botanical Gardens staff follows the weather patterns in Phoenix and waters their succulent collection any time it rains there!
  • Give Your Desert Plants Some Drainage. This doesn’t mean you can’t use that cute planter you love just because it doesn’t have a hole in the bottom! In that case, we’d recommend including a layer of horticultural charcoal in the bottom of the planter, with a layer of river rocks or small pebbles on top of that to help create drainage. Using cactus soil can also help your plants drain moisture quicker as well.
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    Ready to take your succulent skills up a notch? You can take our best-selling Terrariums 101 class online at any time, here, or plan a socially-distanced terrarium class with friends, here!