Autumn succulent arrangement (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Ten Autumn Succulent Must-Do’s

You're aware of autumn in sun and shadows, shorter days and drier air, and so is your garden. Smart plant parents are attuned to wind, rain and frost. And they're vigilant. Succulents recovering from summer heat and sun are especially vulnerable to pests.

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

Senecio and aeoniums

Blue Senecio mandraliscae and aeoniums, from my latest video: How to Fill Gaps in Your Succulent Garden

In September and October...

(1) Aeoniums and senecios (shown above) are emerging from summer dormancy. Cut back leggy aeoniums, replant rosettes, and discard old plants roots and all. See how in my video, How to Refresh an Overgrown Succulent Garden (4:48).

(2) Trim Senecio mandraliscae by several inches, and plant cuttings in gaps. Old stems branch where cut, which helps mass plantings grow fuller. See how in my new video, How to Fill Gaps in Your Succulent Garden (2:21).

(3) Apply a weed preventer (pre-emergent herbicide). This nontoxic, granulated powder stops seeds from germinating. Spread it before the first rainstorm wherever you don't want annual weeds. More.

(4) Check your garden's run-off. Create channels that divert rain from succulents in low spots. If they sit where water collects, they may rot.

(5) Treat agaves for snout weevil. This essential preventative needs doing in spring and fall. It also saves infested plants if caught early. What to use. 

Autumn succulent wreath

(6) Create a wreath that'll transition from fall into winter. See my video: Make an Autumn-Themed Succulent Wreath DIY (3:58).

(7) Fertilize in-ground succulents with Ironite. Ideal for newly planted gardens, it boosts spring growth. Take care it doesn't stain hardscape.

(8) Scrub cochineal scale off opuntia pads. Remove the bumpy white colonies with a soft-bristled shower brush dipped in Safer soap. Read my articleWatch the video. 

Ants on gasteria

Ants on gasteria

(9) Check for ants in outdoor potted succulents, especially haworthias, gasterias and aloes. A tell-tale sign is soil in the crowns, pushed up from below. What to do.

(10) Heat, sun and Santa Ana winds can desiccate succulents. Cuttings are most at risk because they lack roots, so plant them after the winds die down.

Cochineal scale on Opuntia (paddle cactus) (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Cochineal Scale on Paddle Cactus, What To Do

White fuzzy lumps on paddle cactus are cochineal (coach-en-ee-al) scale, a parasite that pierces the plant’s skin and consumes its juices. It’s used to make carmine dye.

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Agave snout weevil damage (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Agave Snout Weevil Prevention and Treatment

Agave snout-nosed weevil is a half-inch-long black beetle with a downward-curving proboscis that enables it to pierce an agave’s core, where it lays its eggs. Grubs hatch, consume the agave’s heart, then burrow into the soil to pupate.

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Mycoplasma on crassula (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Succulent Pests and Problems Q&A Forum

Are pests or mysterious maladies causing problems with your succulents? This page is a forum for you to ask questions, leave comments and share what works for you. Others can see and benefit from the answers. Your own tried-and-true solutions are welcome, too! 

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  1. Anita Epstein on September 20, 2019 at 9:13 am

    I am new to your site and I am very much enjoying the info you are providing for novice succulent gardeners. I live in the mid-Atlantic area and all of my succulents have to stay indoors because my balcony on the 8th floor will fry almost anything on it. I get about six hours of hot-hot sunlight in the summer.

    So I would really appreciate any advice for those of indoor succulent and cactus admirerers to prepare for the oncoming fall and winter seasons in our area. The days are still pretty sunny and hot here and will probably be that way into October.



    • Debra Lee Baldwin on September 20, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Hi Anita — Winter sun is not as intense, so they should be fine. Frost is more of a concern, so watch the forecast and cover them when it gets down into the 20s. Protect them from harsh sun in summer with something that will diffuse the light, and you like looking at—like latticework.

  2. Kathryn Tobias on September 20, 2019 at 9:19 am

    You recommended Ironite for in-ground succulents. All my succulents are in pots. Do they need something this fall?

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on September 20, 2019 at 9:23 am

      No. Ironite is for lush green growth come spring, and is primarily for newly installed, in-ground plants. Let your potted succulents rest over the winter and feed in the spring.

      • Lizzette Martínez on September 20, 2019 at 9:54 am

        Hi, I am new to your site, and very gratefull for your advive. Thank you. May God bless you. I live in a tropical place, and love suculents. Learning to take care of them. Some are good, some die más some were eaten by little birds. Is there something to do, so the birds not eat them? Sorry for my english. Thanks

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on September 20, 2019 at 10:02 am

          Hi Lizzette — Is it possible to provide food that the birds like better? Numerous wild birds visit my Southern CA garden, and none have ever eaten my succulents. See my video, Create Beautiful Feeders for Backyard Birds (5:00).

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