I’m addicted to succulents. So much so that it’s getting a bit ridiculous. If, like me, you’re one of those people that always kills house plants, then succulents might be for you. They take barely any looking after, and they’re quite happy for me to go on trips and don’t require anyone to look after them while I’m away (which is just as well as my lot can barely manage to feed themselves, let alone look after anything else). Just a disclaimer here: I’m no expert (many look very similar – I can’t, for example, tell my Echeveria from my Pachyveria) but this is just my trial and error, learned over time method. Yes, there have been some casualties along the way – but hey, that’s another thing about succulents – the small ones are really cheap, so it’s not the end of the word. My succulents all seem pretty happy and none of them die any more, so I must be doing something right. Here’s my easy guide on how to look after indoor succulents, including how to repot, water, and care for them long term. Onwards!
Succulents for beginners
I started off with the sort of ‘chubby’ looking succulents. Yes, I know, not very technical, but the ones that have got the big fat leaves. They seem to be the most forgiving if you’re new to this sort of thing and they’re excellent for Instagram. I’m not a fan of cacti (hello, I have teenagers, I have way too much spikiness in my life already), but they’re also supposed to be pretty easy to care for. Chubbies like Echeveria store water in their big, fat leaves. So if their leaves are big and fat, you can be fairly confident that they have enough water. If they start to look a bit limp, well, there’s your hint.
My newest additions are the two in the top picture. The spiky one is called a Haworthia limifolia ‘Spider White’ (or ‘fairy’s washboard’ – how cute is that?!) and the other one, which I liked because it looks a bit like samphire, is a Crassula (the same group of plants as my much loved money plant, below), but that’s about as far as my knowledge runs. The one on the left is Mother in Law’s Tongue – another one that’s practically impossible to kill. My mum bought me this variegated one and I absolutely love it.
How to water succulents
Once you’ve got your succulent happy and well drained in their pot (see below), they pretty much look after themselves. I leave all mine until they’re really quite dry. depending on the weather, this can be a good couple of weeks – you can tell as they feel really light when you pick them up. Then I just water them all at once. They don’t really like to be dribble-watered, so it’s best to give them a thorough soak, a good drain, then leave them alone.
I sit all mine in the sink and gently pour the water all over them, lifting them up until I know they’re completely soaked as the water is dripping out of the bottom. Leave them to drip for a while (they don’t like to sit in water) before popping them back in their places.
How to repot your succulents
When you first get a succulent, especially if it’s a gift, they’re often just shoved straight into a ceramic pot (we’ve all seen the ones in a teacup on Pinterest). While they’ll live like that for a while, it’s not really their thing. They prefer to be in a pot with drainage holes in the bottom. I started potting them up in terracotta plant pots, but I’ve actually gone off that a bit, especially as you have to find bigger ones as they grow and they start to look a bit ugly on the windowsill. But anyway, assemble a little kit with some shingle, some little plastic plant pots and some succulent compost (it’s got grit in it for extra drainage), plus your chosen pot, then you’re ready for action:
Carefully pull your succulent out of its current pot and have a quick look at the roots – if there are any dead or yucky ones, just snip them off.
Next, pop a layer of shingle in the bottom of the pot, then add in the succulent compost. Pop in your succulent, then pack the compost all around the edge, pressing it down with your fingers. Give it a water and it’s ready for it’s new home inside another, more attractive pot. If it’s sitting a bit low, lift it up with the help of a couple of corks (funny, I always seem to have a ready supply of these). Happy days.
Here’s the Haworthia in its new little pot:
Where to display your succulents
Another reason why I love succulents, is that they really love my kitchen windowsill. This is where I spend most of the time anyway, so I get to admire them often. They love a sunny spot (I do, though, move them if the sun is really blazing through the window, or if someone’s opened the window and there’s a chilly breeze blowing through – I appreciate I’m beginning to sound a bit mental now).
Here’s my lovely new fairy’s washboard in its new home. This shelf is right near the window, so it should be really happy here.
So that’s it. You’re ready to fill your home with succulents. If you’ve got any great tips for me, do share in the comments below.