During lockdowns and quarantines, you may have taken up a new green hobby in the form of gardening. Though most people's living rooms or bedrooms now resemble out of control jungles or a growing oasis of green (at least that's the case on social media), you might be wondering why your living space looks like a cemetery for plants with dead leaves everywhere. Even if you are not fortunate to have a green thumb, there are certain plants that require little to no care.
In the age of millennials, succulents are the most trendy choice.
This enchanting plant variety often prefers to live out their lives in shadows. But the ornamental evergreens with their thick shoots and fleshy leaves are starting to find their figurative place in the sun.
Peter Grossmann, from Germany’s Society of Perennial Friends, has long been an enthusiast. "The attraction of succulents is that they are very easy going," he says. "You can just leave them to themselves – less care is more."
The plants can store a lot of water in their leaves, shoots and stems and thus survive dry phases well, and their name is derived from the Latin word "suculentus" (succulent, juicy).
Succulents include numerous genera of different families, including agaves (Agavaceae), thick leafed plants (Crassulaceae) and saxifrages (Saxifragaceae). "Cacti also belong to the succulents,” says horticulturist and author Angelika Throll, “but they are usually regarded as an extra group on their own.”
There are mainly two big sins that could accidentally lead to the untimely death of your succulents. These are:
One of the best-known succulents for the garden is the sedum species. These low maintenance plants can even stay outside in winter, but Throll warns some care is needed. "Potted plants should not be exposed to frost,” she warns. And yet plants in proper flower beds won't require any extra protection in winter months.
Sempervivums (also known as houseleeks) are considered to be extremely robust. The genus, which comprises several thousand varieties, is heat-resistant and hardy.
“They require hardly any space, grow really well and multiply," says Peter Grossmann. He has more than 1,500 houseleeks in his collection and finds the changing colors of the leaves in the course of the seasons particularly appealing.
Whether indoors or outdoors, succulents need to be kept in the right growing conditions. "They need permeable soil and must be kept rather dry – under no circumstances should they stand in water," says Throll.
Succulents usually do well in bright places, but they don’t like it too hot, so a window sill above a radiator might not be ideal.
Too much water
Succulent plants are a diverse and numerous group that can differ in terms of care. Throll, therefore, recommends that you look up some information on the characteristics of the particular species or varieties you have. But they are mostly very easy to care for and require little fertilizer and water.
Too much water can even harm the plants. "Succulents do not dry out,” says Grossmann, "and if you give them too much water they will rot.
To avoid overwatering, Throll recommends looking closely at your plants. "If its leaves are hanging limp, that does not automatically mean that it needs to be watered," she says. "It could be the opposite – the plant has been given too much water or is even standing in water."
To rescue an overwatered succulent pour off the water and let the soil dry out. It’s also a good idea to place a couple of sheets of toilet paper under the pot – this will draw moisture from the substrate and assist the drying process.