Following a brutal, early-September heat wave, I tackled common, post-summer succulent concerns. See them in my new video: Post-Summer Care for Succulents (6:49).
It's a candid, warts-and-all, behind-the-scenes, damage-control assessment. You may notice that my garden is not quite the Eden I showed you six months ago in Debra Lee Baldwin's Idea-Filled Succulent Garden (15:00).
Yet as sad as many of my succulents look (perhaps yours do too), I have good news: These are resilient plants. Follow my simple suggestions and---if still breathing---your succulents will likely bounce back.
Diagnose and fix post-summer succulent concerns
Numbers in parenthesis indicate where these topics appear in the video.
Scorched tips (0:52). The method I demonstrate for pruning Agave attenuata works for winter frost-burn, too: Use long-bladed scissors and prune to a point that follows the shape of the leaves.
Sunburn (1:32 and 4:59). I show you preemptive measures (like covering the plants with non-woven fabric), but once the damage is done, there's not much you can do except trim.
Echeveria edema (1:46). Shading my echeverias during the heat of the day helped most of them, but unfortunately not all.
Mealy bugs (2:05). These lint-like pests snuck up on my echeverias when I wasn't looking. I immediately dosed them with alcohol.
Shriveled leaves (2:49). Succulents naturally draw on stored moisture to survive dry spells. No worries, leaves will plump when it rains.
Yellow stems and burned patches (3:08). These can be serious, but it depends. For example, my dragon-fruit cactus surprised me.
New plants, wrong location (3:18). Looks like I need to redo (and rename) my "mangave terrace." It's way too sunny.
Dead-looking aeoniums (4:31). It's tempting to yank them, but wait! Take a closer look. They may merely be asleep.
Keeled-over paddle cactus (5:29). Oops. Guess it needed more hydraulic pressure (i.e. water).
Cochineal scale (6:16). Another sneaky pest! I take a two-for-one approach: While hand-watering my opuntia, I blast off the bugs.
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.
These late-summer care essentials for succulents come from my own experience with growing hundreds of varieties for decades in my inland Southern CA garden. Excessive heat and sun can do as much damage as midwinter frosts. Here’s what I do routinely every year.
Certain readily available succulents not only get by on rainfall alone, they’ll grow in nutrient-poor soil and can handle searing sun and frost. No-water succulents for Southern California gardens that are native to the Southwest and Mexico include dasylirions, agaves, cacti and yuccas. They thrive from south of the border to the Bay Area and…
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!