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Caring for Succulents

Ten Autumn Succulent Must-Do’s

Autumn succulent arrangement

These seasonal succulent must-do’s are mainly for southern and coastal CA, from the Bay Area south. If you live beyond, please visit my site’s Succulents By Season and Region page. 

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How Much Light Do Succulents Need?

Succulents and light

How much light do your succulents need? It depends on the type of plant and where you live. Most haworthias and gasterias prefer shade but can handle some sun along the coast. Many but not all cacti are fine in full desert sun. As a general rule, the majority of soft-leaved succulents want half a day’s sun (in mild climates) and dappled or “bright” shade.

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How Rain Benefits Succulents

How rain benefits succulents

Don’t be surprised if after a good rain, your succulents look brighter and more vibrant. Here’s how rain benefits succulents: It provides dissolved minerals and washes away dust that inhibits photosynthesis; it dilutes and flushes salts and harmful chemicals that have built up in the soil from tap water; and it provides nitrogen essential to growth, especially…

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Frost and Succulents: What You Need to Know

Depending on how long temps stay below freezing (32 degrees F), “frost tender” succulents may show varying degrees of damage. When moisture in the cells of a vulnerable plant freezes, it expands, bursts cell walls, and turns leaves to mush. In a “light frost,” leaf tips alone may show damage. In a “hard frost,” temps stay below freezing…

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Oh No, My Succulents Froze!

Will succulents recover from frost damage? It depends. Here’s how frost-tender succulents looked before temps dropped into the mid-20s F, and after: Here’s the same Euphorbia ammak ‘Variegata, after the frost: Likelihood of recovery: Nil. Too much of the tissue was damaged. But what about the Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ behind it? It’s hope of recovery is excellent because only…

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Cold Weather Care for Outdoor Succulents, By Region

Cold weather care for outdoor succulents

Cold Weather Care for Outdoor Succulents, By Region Should you be worried about your outdoor succulents in winter? It depends on where you live. It’s all about frost. The temperature at which water freezes (32 degrees F) is the Great Divide. Above that, most succulents are fine. Below that, most are at risk. See “Frost and…

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Four Ways to Overwinter Succulents

These four ways to overwinter succulents give you several options, depending on how cold it gets where you live. Most varieties can’t handle temps below 32 degrees F. These common winter conditions can lead to damage or death for dormant (not actively growing) succulents: — soggy soil (causes roots to rot) — excess rainfall (engorges…

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Ants in Your Succulents? What to Do

Late summer into fall, Argentine ants like to nest in the root balls of potted plants. Haworthias, aloes (especially dwarf varieties), gasterias and gasteraloes are highly vulnerable. Ants overwinter in the soil and consume the plant’s juicy core. Leaves eventually fall off and the plant dies. The first line of defense is to create a barrier around your pots using ant…

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How to Stress Succulents (And Why You Should)

Kalanchoe luciae

Plenty of sun brings out brilliant reds and yellows in certain succulents, but how much to “stress” the plants varies depending on where you live, the time of year, and the kind of plant. If there’s a good thing about our too-hot Southern California summers, it’s that heat makes certain succulents stunning. Give aloes and…

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