The Succulent: A Serial Plant Killer’s Worthy Opponent

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I have never had a green thumb, but I am also not a quitter. I have always been told to keep trying to grow a garden, keep planting, and eventually, I will be able to keep plants alive or make them grow.

After years of continuing, I am here to tell you that my thumb has NOT turned green, I can’t keep plants alive, nor can I grow them.

I have a tendency to forget things like giving them water, making sure they have sun… You know, the essentials that plants need to live. I am a busy lady, wife, and mother, I barely give myself enough water on the daily to live!

As I started reading about a certain kind of plant called a succulent, a plant that can go days and weeks without water, I was quite impressed with these fierce cacti. After learning more about them, I thought that surely I could keep one of those things alive. Alas, I was wrong again, I am sad to say that I have killed several succulents.

It started with one succulent, just one, that stayed alive for about 4 months, then died. It went too many weeks without water, oops. How hard can it be to water a plant? In my world, it’s dang near impossible, I guess. Then my good friend gave me another succulent, which I am afraid didn’t make it even one month before it died.

I was saddened by my lack of effort in these poor, dried-out succulents that I convinced myself I should try again. This time I bought ten succulents, including an aloe vera. I figured my odds of keeping some of them alive were better if I had multiples. I collectively bought succulents from Town and Country, Home Depot, and Fred Meyer’s, all in Idaho Falls. Town and Country had the best selection out of all three places, and I am honestly surprised that I didn’t walk away from there with more than I did. They had a great variety of succulents that I hadn’t seen yet nor even knew existed. Home Depot and Fred Meyer have a decent variety of your basic succulents.

This time around I made sure to use the correct potting soil, containers, and, more importantly, watered the appropriate amount of water in an acceptable time. I read numerous websites and asked several of my friends questions regarding their experiences with succulents which surely added to my success. Finally, my succulent endeavors had paid off.  My little garden continues to grow, which makes me so happy inside! Finding joy in unexpected places is what living is all about. I had no idea that I would find a calmness from tending to succulents, but I have!

 

It’s now been eleven months since the beginning of my succulent journey and plant shenanigans. I am happy to report that all ten of my plants survived, and I have added more succulents! I have also expanded into propagating my succulents (growing new succulents from other succulent leaves or droppings.) That has been an experience all in itself and I am still learning about that. But, if you find that you are a serial plant killer, like me, then I encourage you to buy that cute succulent that you have been eyeing. You may not keep one alive the first time, but your odds will definitely be better the next go around.

Tips to remember when trying to keep succulents alive:

  1. You must use a special cactus succulent soil to plant them in. I use Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Potting Mix. It can be difficult to find in the off-season, but all hardware stores and nurseries carry this product heavily during Spring, Summer, and Fall.
  2. Don’t over-water your cacti! I water my succulents every 10 to 14 days. I give them about 1-2 tablespoons of water, I don’t measure so that is my estimated guess. Succulents need one good watering every couple of months but be sure to wait a couple of weeks before watering again.
  3. Trimming. It is important to trim your succulents. Some of the leaves will fall off or die and stay attached. Carefully remove them from the stems. You can also use these to propagate more succulents, but I will leave that for another day.
  4. Sunlight. My succulents are in shade for a good part of the day but they seem to thrive anyway. Constant, direct light is not necessary when growing succulents.
  5. Repotting. As your succulent starts to grow you will need to re-pot them. If you want your cacti to grow big and strong, they need a proper amount of room to do so. Remember that all succulents need a pot with good drainage.

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