Houseplants forum: Succulent Care

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Name: Victoria J.
Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Nursery/Garden Center Employee
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Vikjk
Aug 16, 2015 9:17 PM CST
I work at a nursery/garden center, and I'm supposed to take care of the houseplants... But I have essentially no training in said department. First off, I need help with miniature succulents.

-They don't get much light, which causes root rot.
-There are lots of them. Lots.
-They come in tiny pots, so they dry out pretty fast.
-If I water them, they easily get root rot.
-Did I mention there are lots of them?
Whistling
If it grows, I can kill it.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Aug 17, 2015 6:20 AM CST
:welcome:, Victoria.

Regardless of lack of light, you need to curtail the watering greatly. Succulents can literally go weeks without water, and if mature, they can go a month. Many succulents will "tell you" when they need water because their fat leaves will begin to shrivel. Is there some place in the nursery that gets more light? If so, perhaps you can talk the owner/manager into letting you move the succulents to that area.

drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Victoria J.
Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Nursery/Garden Center Employee
Image
Vikjk
Aug 17, 2015 8:04 AM CST
drdawg said: :welcome:, Victoria.

Regardless of lack of light, you need to curtail the watering greatly. Succulents can literally go weeks without water, and if mature, they can go a month. Many succulents will "tell you" when they need water because their fat leaves will begin to shrivel. Is there some place in the nursery that gets more light? If so, perhaps you can talk the owner/manager into letting you move the succulents to that area.



We are going to bring the whole houseplant display up towards the front of the store, closer to the windows, and install better grow lights this week. So yes, the lighting situation should improve.

So even though the pots are so tiny, they still need basically no water?
How do I water them? I've been told to use a bucket and dunk them. Is that right?

If it grows, I can kill it.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Aug 17, 2015 8:16 AM CST
Victoria, I will have to let those more knowledgeable growing succulents tell you about watering. I literally water all mine with a hose-end, "gentle rain" attachment..............not too scientific, I know. Sighing! Since I let my potting media get really dry, I will water the plants (I don't worry that water gets on the leaves, and for many growers, I realize that is a no-no) until the water runs out the drainage holes, and then re-water them after perhaps 15 minutes so that I know the media is thoroughly moist.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
[Last edited by drdawg - Aug 17, 2015 3:43 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #930517 (4)
Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Aug 17, 2015 8:56 AM CST
Hi Victoria and Welcome!

I am not an expert either but I grow over a hundred succulents. Ken is right about the water. In the winter I have my plants inside under very little light and they get water once a month.

If the plants are inside they do not get watered for six weeks or more. The only time my sucs get watered once a week is when they are outside and it is hot. Those fat leaves have a lot of water in them.

You do not need to dunk each plant above watering is fine.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Aug 17, 2015 9:32 AM CST
Cinta, you are way more expert than I. Succulents are just a "novelty" plant for me (I am a tropical plant guy Sticking tongue out ) and as often as not, I just give these succulents away or include them in shipments of tropical plants (a gift).
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Aug 17, 2015 11:54 AM CST
Hi Victoria Welcome!

In our commercial stores here, the succulents are mostly in a filtered but bright light area, there is screen to help provide shade to the plants during the hottest part of the day. As succulent as they are holding water in their leaves or stems, they also burn when intensity of light is too much. Usually I see them being deep watered heavily at least once a week.

In my garden, I do similarly, potted in very well draining soil, shallow containers with drain holes, and I water them once or twice a month. But have to adjust when our forecasts are intense dry and triple digit hot, I may step up watering mid-week.

Succulents have varying growth habits, some being desert-types, alpine, or tropical types. So the desert types really wants very dry conditions with full sun, so most cacti falls in that category, the alpine and tropical types are okay part sun-part shade. Some succulents go semi-dormant in intense heat days, so it is understandable if they seem to slow down in growth. They resume active growth again when temps cool down in the mid 70's to low 80's.

Stomates of succulent leaves are closed during the day, so they ably save their water. So if you can direct watering more directly at soil level and do watering early part of the day, that way, the leaves and roots can dry out properly and not invite fungal rotting. I would not go dunk watering either, just water thoroughly at least once a week and let it dry out. It would help if you water with a long nozzle sprayer so you can easily direct/spray the water directly to the root zone area.
[Last edited by tarev - Aug 17, 2015 11:56 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #930675 (7)
Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Aug 17, 2015 12:21 PM CST
Trev the reason I water so infrequently is because of my sun intensity in my zone 6 is our sun is not as intense in a more moderate climate. We are also more humid. In our zone and air difference once a week if it is not in the 80s and in direct sun will rot succulents.

Once a week is going to be too much. The nursery have them growing indoors. To add to the problem that she is having is they are talking about bringing closer to the window inside a store that is probably air conditioned. They are in the condition of the succulents I pick up from lowes for a 1.00. They are inside the store probably air conditioned and being watered in that peat based nursery tiny pots drowning and chocking to death. They are not in a well drained soil, no sun or warmth to even make them want or need a drink of water. Hilarious!

Ken I am no where near an expert. I am the one growing them in pots with out drainage. I send everyone into panic when I say that. But it is the only process I have discovered help my plants to survive with my non-watering habit, my love of combo pots and every other no, no in growing succulents. I just break all the rules.

I am only regurgitating what every one have said to beginners of how o grow them. Hilarious!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Aug 17, 2015 1:22 PM CST
Humidity will indeed be a factor in watering succulents, that is why got to let the plants dry out and do watering at the early part of the day. Victoria did mention the plants are in tiny pots, so drainage is faster. And if I remember it right, Cinta, at times, you do not put drain holes in some of your containers, so water drains a lot longer, so the longer pacing of watering is okay in your set-up.

In Victoria's set up my understanding, it is in tiny pots with drain holes, so just got to water once a week. It will also help to know the orientation of that window where it will be placed. Now if they intend to just put it by the window in an airconditioned environment the interval can be a bit longer, however those plants will surely etiolate, and will grow lanky and weak, especially if the orientation of that window is North. These plants enjoy the summer warm temps with a bit of shade if temps are exceedingly high, with the exception of cacti which truly enjoys as much full sun as it can.

Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Aug 17, 2015 2:34 PM CST
I was leaning toward less is better for succulent especially in the North. I repeat we are talking a different sun intensity and number of sunny days. I see what the plants look like at Lowes when I bring them home. That growers soil is soaking wet and the plants are on their way to dead. I love it because I can get them for 1.00 but if you want them to survive since they are being grown indoors being by a window in our climate is not much better than being in a dark basement. I grow my succulents in full sun because the sun is not as intense as the sunshine in your area.

I have my plants in the sunroom in the winter and we have so few sunny days in the winter they are lucky to get two drinks all winter the soil would never dry out even the coir pot that stays dry even when you water the plant when they are outside. I know it is hard to believe but living up north is a big difference.

So we do not confuse her I think the best method is for her to look at the soil and make sure it has dried before watering. Even if it has been 4 weeks if the soil is not dry do not water. She is going to have a better chance for life of the plant if is dry than if it is wet. Wet she is guaranteed a dead plant.
Name: Victoria J.
Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Nursery/Garden Center Employee
Image
Vikjk
Aug 17, 2015 8:49 PM CST
Okay, everyone... that's a lot to process, but thanks bunches for giving me REAL interaction lol! Books just haven't been cutting it for me.

There are a lot of drafts from the air conditioning all around the store. It's a small building, so there is only 1 side that has natural light... the northwestern side (not ideal, again). There are 2 installed grow lights (which, incidentally, are in all the wrong places and only a few of the houseplants receive light from them). We're hoping to re-situate plants and lights to get a better environment, but I'm a beginner working with less-than-ideal conditions. These succulents are definitely in tiny pots with drainage holes. They seem to dry out very quickly, but if I water them - even when they seem very dry - they still get root rot very easily. I just don't know how to judge dry from slightly moist, or dry from TOO dry. It's ridiculous!! I honestly think with no decent lighting, water isn't even the real problem.

I am going to take my camera to work tomorrow and try to show you what I'm working with (and hopefully even get some identification with the succulents. Our vendors NEVER tag them, so I'm at a huge loss when it comes to helping customers.)

This is a pretty open-ended problem until you can get a good scenario - my apologies for that! I'll do my best to get more solid info.

By the way, I'm in the middle of Nebraska and our weather fluctuates like crazy. Outdoors is incredibly humid most of the time at this time of year, but the inside of our store seems bone dry?? I don't know lol... This whole situation is working against me.

Hopefully this helps you help me more? Hilarious! Hilarious!

Thanks for all the welcomes, by the way Smiling I really appreciate all this help! So much better than trying to do this by myself....
If it grows, I can kill it.

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