There's a fair bit of shame involved in killing a succulent, perhaps more than any other plant. It’s like the pinnacle of not having a green thumb: “I can’t even keep a succulent alive, I can’t take care of plants.” We’re told constantly that they’re hard to kill, but guess what? That isn’t exactly true.
I’m a “professional plant lady,” meaning I sell, grow, and care for succulents both in my own business and as a plant caretaker at a hotel. And one of my dirtiest little secrets is that I have a succulent graveyard at home that would blow your mind.
People are so eager to talk about how easy it is to care for succulents, and it can be very frustrating and confusing when your newly purchased plant just fails to thrive. The reality is that there are a handful of different environmental factors and care mistakes that can spell disaster for your new desert friend, but the main culprit is over-watering.
Regardless of where in the world they may come from, most succulents are desert dwellers; they are built to withstand long periods of drought. This means that succulents don’t need much water- but this is also where it can get tricky.
It’s important to remember to at least water your succulents at least every few weeks, but it’s even more important to not over-water them. The worst part is that once they’ve been over-watered, they sometimes look super thirsty (think shriveled leaves and no new growth). I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tried to “save” a treasured succulent by giving it more water.
Luckily, there is hope for the over-watered. Simply resist the urge to water it more (and thus kill it), and make sure it’s in a warm and sunny spot so that it can dry out completely. It may also help to re-pot it in a fresh, dry soil mix that is formulated for good drainage. Just resist the temptation and give it at least two or three days before you water it again.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of succulent care next week!