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Caring For Succulents

Caring For Succulents

Success is all about watering, light and insects. Simple!

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As with any plant, have a think about where they are native to and try to replicate those growing conditions.

Succulents are generally dry climate plants that like to get a soaking then dry out.

Make sure your container has a drainage hole and that you are using free draining soil. Over wet soils spells trouble along with the use of misting bottles.

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We find that it’s best to replicate nature by soaking the soil and then leaving it to dry out completely. Water less in winter.

Humidity has a bearing on how often you water. Succulents will take out moisture from the air and so need less frequent watering than a plant in a dry climate or one that has been growing inside.

Species with thicker leaves are less likely to need regular watering than those with thin leaves.

If you are growing succulents in the ground the same principles apply- water thoroughly but allow drying out before rewetting

How often you need to water will depend on the air temperature, type of soil and localised climate. Obviously, sandy soils will drain faster than clay or loamy soils.

The challenge is to find the right amount of water for your plants. This will change as the seasons' change.

 * Signs that you are overwatering, the leaves will turn yellow and almost “rotting” off the plant. Under-watering succulents will show the leaves turning brown and shrivelling.

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Succulents evolved under sunny skies in arid environments so it figures that your plants will be best either outside in full sun - {make sure not burning sun all day though} or inside on a sunny windowsill. If they aren’t receiving enough light they will ‘stretch out’ and lose their compact form. If they are inside, consider using a full spectrum horticultural light.

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And insect pests!

Mealybugs, mites, aphids, succulents may get them all.

As soon as you see fluffy white bugs that look like they have crawled through a plate of flour, tiny black specks by the thousands or new leaves looking deformed or discoloured, it’s time to take decisive action. Don’t waste a second!

Mealybugs leave white fuzz on leaves and proceed to lay hundreds of eggs. A major infestation will kill a plant. Dab the blighters with rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or spray with Neem Oil. You can even buy ‘beneficials’ (lacewing predators) that prey on mealy Bugs, way to go! Look in the leaf axils and even down under the soil for these pests.

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Spider Mites come in differing configurations, mainly broad and two spotted forms. The tiny varmints are difficult to see. They are smaller than a pinhead but their orange colour may identify them. You will first notice the new leaves being discoloured, turning pale and diminishing in size. Neem oil works well and is not as harmful as other chemicals. If the problem continues you may have to bring out the artillery like ‘Confidor’ (Imidacloprid). Botanical oils work well while ever you completely spray all surfaces (underneath especially).

Fungal gnats are tiny black flying insects that live under the soil surface and feed on roots. Secondary infection can harm your plants so gnats can become a big problem. Firstly, allow the soil to dry out as gnats love moist conditions. Hang yellow sticky traps out which catch adult fliers and try bacillus (‘Vectobac’), which messes with the bug’s digestion. It’s safe for humans.

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