General Care Guide

Are you curious about succulents? Have you dabbled before but it didn’t go to plan? Do you have some now that seemingly aren’t thriving? I wanted to write a simple care guide for anyone who’s looking for some basics.

Just for some background on me, I started collecting succulents in late 2019 but the addiction took hold rapidly! Since learning the basics I wanted to help others have their plants thrive too.

The biggest issue when buying succulents from main stream supermarkets or shops is the substrate they are potted in is unsuitable. Often it is coco coir or something very lightweight to make them lighter and cheaper to ship. It’s often very water retentive and the opposite to what the plant needs.

Tip 1:   If you buy a plant ready potted succulent or cacti, repot it as soon as you get it home

Next is what substrate should you repot into? Now there’s a huge variety of opinions on this and each person has their own preferred mixture, I will give my personal mixtures that I use for my own plants. I like to use John Innes number 2 for the organic part, some people also like to add fertiliser such as worm castings. For the inorganic part I use a mix of horticultural grit, pumice and sharp sand (not normal sand). Other options include lava rock, pon, perlite or fine aquarium gravel.

Tip 2:   Repot into roughly any of the following mixtures:

Cacti – 75% inorganic and 25% organic
Succulents – 60% inorganic and 40% organic
Lithops – 90% inorganic and 10% organic

Then we move to the big question, when do you water? Contrary to what people say both cacti and succulents do require watering to survive, the key is to not over water. Plants tell us when they need a drink, leaves will start to droop or shrivel. One other way you can check is to see if the substrate is bone dry, to do this ideally use a probe as it will give a more accurate reading, failing that you can use your pinky! Once watered then allow the soil to totally dry out again.

Tip 3:   Only water your plants when they tell you they need it

Moving lastly onto light. This is one area which varies hugely depending on the species of plant. Generally speaking most succulents need quite a lot of light, failure to provide this will cause them to become a different colour and sometime stretch and disfigure. The worst offender for stretching are Echeveria, they need a lot of light! To prevent this happening a lot of succulent owners keep their plants in a greenhouse or cold frame, that way the plant can maximise use of the daylight regardless of the season. If you plan to keep your plants indoors then the assistance of grow lights will dramatically help your plants gain enough light to thrive.

On the flip side there are multiple succulents which can cope with lower light levels, a few examples of these are Sansevieria, Aloe, Haworthia & Gasteria.

Tip 4:   Consider where you will house your plant and how you can provide it with sufficient light levels.


I hope this gives you some helpful hints and tips to care for your succulents!