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  • Writer's pictureLeah Sacks

Plant Problem Prevention

For this blog post, which is intentionally a bit shorter due to constraints on time in our lab meeting, I wanted to spend a little time researching and covering how to not kill my plants. Specifically, I have two cute new little succulent plants that I just bought that I want to not kill. I don’t really have a great history with not killing plants. I have managed to keep some plants alive in the past, but they belonged to other people. I don’t know, maybe that made the stakes higher? In any case, I did just a little research on how to take care of my succulents and I’ll share it below, along with a picture of my cute new plants.

My biggest takeaway from all of my reading is that I really have to keep in mind that succulents are desert plants, and they should be treated that way.

1. Pot and Plant

As a desert plant, succulents down usually sit around for a long time in very wet soil. The soil of the desert is more sand than organic material. The takeaway here is that the soil drains well, and thus, my new succulent plants need to be in pots that have drainage. Either ones with holes in the bottom or I have to water them even less so that the soil isn't full of water. I also read multiple times that I need to avoid crowding my plants. Sometimes succulents are sold with a couple all together, when really they each need their own space! And then the other more obvious takeaway was to start with a healthy plant!

2. Soil As I just mentioned, the soil of the desert is more sand than organics, so it drains well. With the soil for my new plants, I have to mimic that. I could use cactus soil or I can use soil with other things added in. The common suggestions are adding perlite, pumice, or literal sand. And soil that drains particularly well will suit the goal. On that note, succulents can be fertilized in the summer, the growing season, but only a little or they will grow too fast to support themselves.

3. Light

The desert has a lot of sun. Like, a lot of sun. So you can imagine that my poor succulents will also need a lot of sun. Most sites I've looked at recommend 6+ hours of sunlight a day. However, I was cautioned against introducing new plants to that much light all at once. They should be sort of.... cautiously introduced, a bit at a time. They also need to be turned occasionally to make sure that all sides of the plants are getting sunlight while they grow.

4. Water

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is water. In the desert, plants go for long periods without much water, but when it rains, it pours. Correspondingly, my succulents don't need to be watered very often, but the water should get pretty wet when they do get watered. Overwatering can drown them and kill their roots, but with good soil and a good pot, hopefully I won't kill them off too quickly. They should also be watered in accordance with the seasons. My succulents are more likely to grow a lot and need water in the spring and summer, so watering more compared to the winter is suggested. In the winter, my plants will need very very little water, as they will essentially go dormant and not grow very much.

With the above categories of thought in mind, I wanted to show you all my new little plants! I bought them at a house plant nursery this past weekend, along with their pots, and I'm very excited about them!

Anyway, hope you all liked my plants! Here are some of the sites I looked at:

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