Welcome to my Simply Succulent Blog!

Why do this?

This is a great new adventure for me! After a career change, I found myself with a lot more free time. However, I was in search of a new hobby to fill my time and give me a healthy way to channel my energy.

Early in 2020 while I was browsing Mercari, an online site where people can buy and sell almost anything, I stumbled upon a listing for a cute little plant called a “succulent.” Believe it or not, I had never seen nor heard of a succulent before! I followed the urge to buy the little succulent while secretly hoping my new hobby was not going to be online shopping!

I had never really been a “plant person” so I had no idea if my thumb was green or brown. A few days later my plant mail was here! This has led to my continued excitement to this day for receiving plant mail. (More on that later!) As I gazed upon my new lovely acquisition, I had a feeling one was not going to be enough.

I have spent my life doing most things to the extreme. Well, succulents are no different! As I realized these sturdy little plants could take a lot of abuse, like no water for a few weeks, I knew I had to have more. There are just way too many varieties including rare succulents that can only be found online. I ordered more online and also locally until I had many, many succulents!

I found that getting my hands dirty was not as repulsive as I had always believed. Watching tiny plants grow from one or two leaves was immensely rewarding. I had found my new hobby! One thing that anyone who has grown succulents for a while eventually realizes is that these things can really multiply! I began outgrowing my house and patio!

Hesitantly, I got on Mercari and listed my first succulent for sale. I already had so many of that particular one, I didn’t think it would hurt to let it go. To my surprise, it sold fairly quickly and I had just started my new business!

I’m excited to share what I have learned about succulents and houseplants in this blog, along with answering any questions succulent lovers might have. I’m hoping that the lessons I have learned through trial and error can benefit other succulent enthusiasts. So let’s start a fun and exciting journey together!


Watering My Succulent

Asking when to water a succulent is the most frequently asked question of most people when they first get a succulent. Most of the time the succulent is such a cute, tiny thing. It must not need much water, right? Wrong. How about just giving it some misting every few days? Nope. This succulent needs watering every few days just like most houseplants, correct? Absolutely not!

Remember where that cute little guy originally came from? It is usually an arid region with long, dry periods such as the deserts in Africa. A succulent is used to going long periods with no rain followed by a torrential downpour. This is why watering succulents should mimic the same pattern of dry periods followed by plenty of water. If these conditions are met, your succulent should live and grow happily every after! Not necessarily. That is where things get difficult for most of us.

It just seems, well hard, to not water a living thing for a week, two weeks, or (gasp!) three weeks! I do not want to be accused of being a negligent plant owner! After all, I can keep things alive! Just one look at my kids and dogs running around can attest to my skill at feeding and watering living creatures. But for some reason, like a moth to a flame, my watering can is drawn to that little succulent. Then just like that, all the leaves turn yellow, fall off, and there is nothing left but sweet memories of a healthy living succulent.

One reassuring thing is that it definitely gets easier after you have killed a few succulents by overwatering. There are a few ways to check and see if it is thirsty. Two of the easiest ways are by checking the soil and leaves. The majority of succulents do best with the soak and dry method. Meaning, soak your succulent with water until it is pouring out the drainage holes, and wait until the soil is bone dry before watering again. This method works great unless you have used a top dressing to give your planter a finished look. Gritty soil mixes also makes it difficult to tell when the soil is dry. A soil moisture meter can be an inexpensive and easy way to check if the soil is dry.

If those methods do not work, simply giving your succulent a scrutinizing gaze can give you lots of information. The best way to tell whether or not you should water your succulent is by the appearance of the leaves. A plant that needs watering will have wrinkled, shriveled up leaves. Water depletion causes this since succulents store water in their leaves and stems. As the need for water continues to increase, the succulent starts wilting and looking droopy.

A few dried leaves at the bottom of a succulent is normal, but with a lack of water, multiples leaves start drying up and dying. Leaves no longer look plump and juicy. They are flat and just lifeless.

The problem of too much watering can often be difficult to tell. When I first started growing succulents, leaves dropped off my plants with the slightest touch until only one leaf remained on a bare stem.

Before it gets to this point though, an overwatered succulent will have soft, mushy, almost translucent leaves. Of course, noticing the problem before it gets to this point is the best thing to do because there still may be time to save that plant!

The solution to these problems seems obvious. Just give more or less water whatever the case may be. Well, if it was that simple, there would not be hundreds, if not thousands, of articles, books, and videos on how to water succulents! You might be thinking at this time how you have heard in the past that succulents are so easy to care for and how they are hard to kill. You are still right to assume this because it is true!

After a little trial and error, and thanks to my handy gritty mix succulent soil, it has become easier to care for all my succulents. I use a combination of a very gritty soil mix and cactus soil for all my succulents. This helps water run right through the pot and keeps the roots from staying wet. Because of this, I usually water my succulents every 8 to 9 days and sometimes 14 days for my larger pots. When using just cactus soil like Miracle Grow, I could go 10 to 14 days without watering because the soil is denser. The downside to this is the risk of overwatering the plants increases.

I always check the leaves first and see if it needs watering. Sometimes the weather is cooler and the succulents do not require as much water. In Louisiana’s August heat, I water my plants every 7 days. Now I can just glance at my String of Dolphins or String of Pearls and tell if they need to be watered. When I am in doubt, I wait a day or two. It is much easier to save an underwatered succulent than an overwatered one.

This may all sound complicated, but it really is quite simple. In no time you will quit murdering all those gorgeous succulents you just bought and will be enjoying how easy they really are to care for!

So You Bought a Succulent, Now What?

Caring for Your New Succulent

I always get that feeling of excitement everytime I get a new succulent. Even though I have bought hundreds of succulents by now, I still run through the thoughts of “What am I going to do with it? Should I repot it or not? Do I need to water it now or wait? Should I make an arrangement with it or let it shine by itself?”

The first thing I like to do is repot my succulent, especially if I purchased it from a large chain store or a large nursery. The majority of the time these places have used regular potting soil or something similar to it. This type of soil holds moisture, and succulent roots hate to stay wet! I use a special mixture of part cactus soil and part gritty mix of sand and pebbles. This makes water drain quickly from the pot when watering. It is more difficult to overwater a succulent when using a gritty mix as potting soil. Remember, the quickest way to kill a succulent is by overwatering!

Photo by urbanorganicyield.com

I nearly always choose planters that have a drainage hole. It just makes it simplier to keep from overwatering the succulent. A pot without holes can be used, but be sure to use less water when watering it so the roots will not stay wet and rot.

When ordering succulents online, typically they are shipped bare root or semi-bare root which means without a pot. Some succulents with shallow, delicate root systems, such as the “String” succulents, are shipped in nursery pots to protect the roots. Other succulents that are difficult to handle, such as Watch Chain, are also easier to ship potted.

Watch Chain and String of Pearls

No matter what, succulents need to be unpacked and unwrapped immediately. Most of the time they are very dry and dehydrated, so I like to repot and water immediately. Occasionally, some succulents still have wet soil and are not dehydrated. I will usually repot these but will wait a few days to water them even though I am replacing the wet soil. This is my past experience from when I first started collecting succulents. I killed many right away because I watered the succulents that had moist soil when I repotted. Even then, succulents are easy to overwater.

In general, succulents are hard to kill unless they are overwatered, moved around a lot, or touched too much. They just want to be left alone and watered infrequently. If this is followed, your succulent should be hard for you to kill! Our joke about succulents is, “They thrive on neglect!”