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How-To’s & Tips

How to Behead and Replant Echeverias

Fancy ruffled echeveria

Fancy ruffled echeverias—those large, flowerlike succulents—eventually need to be beheaded and the rosettes replanted. This is a bother, but it comes with a benefit: New clones will form on old, headless stalks. But not always. Here’s how to ensure success.

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Wind and Your Succulents

Agave flower spike in the wind

Certain succulents seem made for wind, like dasylirions. Succulents by and large withstand high winds. However, those with delicate leaves, thin skins, and leaves that pop off easily are at risk of impact damage. Hanging pots and baskets are especially vulnerable to wind gusts.

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Avoid Mail-Order Succulent Misery

Senecio herrianus (String of tears)

Recently Mountain Crest Gardens, a succulent mail-order nursery in Northern CA, asked me to evaluate their packaging. They selected succulents especially challenging to ship: aeoniums that mar easily: a cactus with glochids, a euphorbia with milky sap, and quite a few with leaves that are fragile, brittle or pop off. The box arrived upside-down on a 95-degree day.

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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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Use Plastic Bottles to Make Pots Lighter

Why I put plastic bottles in big pots

I use plastic bottles to make large pots lighter before I add potting soil. It makes pots easier to carry, cuts down on the amount of soil needed, and is better for shallow-rooted succulents. Before I plant any tall or large pot, I half-fill it with tightly capped empty water bottles. Good design and aesthetics…

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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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Succulent Windowsill Pots DIY

In this Succulent Windowsill Pots DIY, you’ll find out how to make a quick, colorful, succulent windowsill garden. Sunbathing helps succulents maintain their symmetry and color, and whenever you look out your window or work at a countertop or sink nearby, you’ll see and enjoy them. These six pots, each 3-inches in diameter, come as…

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Succulent Desk Buddies, DIY

“Desk buddies” are succulents that look good on your desk and require almost no care. They’re cute and classy, and visitors invariably ask about them. All you have to do is dribble water on them twice a month (which also keeps them dusted). Here for your enjoyment is a step-by-step DIY project for creating a…

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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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Make a Low-Light, “Scooped from the Garden” Succulent Arrangement

This succulent dish garden is perfect for a bright-shade location, such as indoors near a window. It makes a great gift, and all its components are readily available. Owner Jeanne Meadow displays it on her covered patio and waters it minimally (once a week in warm weather, once a month in cool). You’ll need: One…

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