Cactus and Succulents forum→Succulent advice

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caolais
Jun 9, 2020 5:46 AM CST
I'm very new to owning plants and I have no idea what I'm doing so I was hoping for some advice. I got 9 tiny succulents a few months ago and most of them seem to be doing fine, but there are a couple that I'm worried about.

Firstly, my aloe squarrosa came with 2 huge plants in one tiny pot and a third one has appeared recently, so I'm guessing I need to repot them. I have no idea how to do that or what size of pot I should get or what type of soil I need. Like I said I don't know what I'm doing and all the articles I've found have been too vague.
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My hawthornia reticulata looked fine until recently, but a week or two ago it suddenly shrank. I think this is because of the two new plants that have started to grow in its pot and so I would need to repot this one too, but maybe under/overwatering contributed too?
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One final question - currently I'm keeping the pots in the plastic trays they came in so the water and soil that comes out the drainage holes doesn't go all over my windowsill but this means they're quite cramped. How do I stop my windowsill from getting covered in soil without using the trays?
Name: Connor
Boerne, TX
Smotzer
Jun 9, 2020 9:09 AM CST
caolais said:I'm very new to owning plants and I have no idea what I'm doing so I was hoping for some advice. I got 9 tiny succulents a few months ago and most of them seem to be doing fine, but there are a couple that I'm worried about.

Well first off Welcome!!, not only here but to the caring for succuelnts and cacti world too!

caolais said:Firstly, my aloe squarrosa came with 2 huge plants in one tiny pot and a third one has appeared recently, so I'm guessing I need to repot them. I have no idea how to do that or what size of pot I should get or what type of soil I need. Like I said I don't know what I'm doing and all the articles I've found have been too vague.
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And yes a repot will be necessary as that is definitely out growing its pot. So dont worry we can walk you through how to repot and everything involved. When going up in size for most succulents and related species, I usually do not like to increase pot diameter by more than two or three inches at a time. Its hard to tell exactly but that looks to be about a 3in pot. So anything like a 4-6 in pot would work, but pots that are on the shallower side will be better than deep pots of the same size, this helps with minimizing "sitting" waterlogged soils when increasing in size.
And as far as soil goes, you will want a fast draining mix. I personally make my own, that is comprised of about 75% stone aggregate components and 25% organic material. There are succulents and cacti mixes though, but I have never used them cause im not sure if they still hold water too well, for my personal preferences.

caolais said:My hawthornia reticulata looked fine until recently, but a week or two ago it suddenly shrank. I think this is because of the two new plants that have started to grow in its pot and so I would need to repot this one too, but maybe under/overwatering contributed too?
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I mean it would appreciate a bigger home as well, but im not sure if i can say about under or over watering. How do you water, what us the frequency of when you do?

caolais said:One final question - currently I'm keeping the pots in the plastic trays they came in so the water and soil that comes out the drainage holes doesn't go all over my windowsill but this means they're quite cramped. How do I stop my windowsill from getting covered in soil without using the trays?


Well im not sure how long they are allowed to sit in the drainage water afterwards, could present an issue with watering too heavily and being allowed to sit in water. But one alternative, because i don't like succulents, cacti, or caudiciforms to sit in water, Is you could water them all in the bathtub or sink and allow them to drain and then put them back on your windowsill. That would get rid of the need for it.

Feel free to post pictures of all your plants and we can tell you what should or shouldnt be repotted at this time, and anything else we might be able to offer as far as advice off of that. And feel free to continue to ask questions and I, and others, will be happy to help you learn!! Take care and welcome again!
[Last edited by Smotzer - Jun 9, 2020 9:10 AM (+)]
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Name: Mike
Massachusetts (Zone 6a)
Region: Massachusetts
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munchies24
Jun 9, 2020 12:52 PM CST
A lot of great advice here from Smotzer. Those pots are definitely too small but those are a couple of good looking succulents! Just going to add a couple of my thoughts.

For watering, the indoor plants I have I usually just take outside and soak, and let the excess water that flows out dry up before I take them back inside. If you're able to I'd go that route so they can dry better and not miss out on any sunlight. A little bit of dirt is unfortunately inevitable unless you become very good at controlling water in pots without drainage holes.

Also, when you repot (because you need to), a combination for soil that I find works well is a mix of 50/50 Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus to perlite. With it my plants are healthy and haven't had any issues with overwatering. Like Smotzer pointed out, a lot of straight-from-the-bag big name potting mixes for cacti and succulents will retain too much water so you'll need a mix of something unless you order your potting mix purpose-made from a grower or supplier.
[Last edited by munchies24 - Jun 9, 2020 12:56 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 12, 2020 10:02 PM CST

Moderator

You have been given good advice.

A few comments about the aloe. It is Aloe juvenna, not squarrosa (a frequent misidentification... squarrosa has recurved leaves, your plant does not). Not that the care is particularly different. I would encourage the maximum possible amount of light with that plant, and the other one too, more than they have been getting.

You can prune the aloe if it ever gets top heavy and it will branch profusely from the base. The pot is really very small for the size of the plant. I thought maybe it might be helpful to show some different plants that I've grown here to give you an idea of how big the pot should be for a healthy clump. First two plants in 8 inch pots, last plant in a 10 inch square pot. This plant does have fairly robust roots.



Connor's suggestion of a 4-6 inch pot is good. I would use a 6 inch pot for that plant. It needs to be wider than deep, with holes at the bottom.

Welcome!

caolais
Jun 20, 2020 4:08 PM CST
Thank you all for the advice, that's really helpful.

Smotzer said:
Its hard to tell exactly but that looks to be about a 3in pot.


The pots are all 2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep, and now that I'm looking closer most of the others are probably too cramped as well.

Smotzer said:
How do you water, what us the frequency of when you do?


I pretty much just water them when the soil feels dry, which isn't that often since I'm in the UK and it never stops raining here. I use a pipette to water since it's precise and I won't end up with water everywhere, but watering them in the sink and letting them drain seems like a better idea, so thank you for that.

Baja_Costero said:
I would encourage the maximum possible amount of light with that plant, and the other one too, more than they have been getting.


Unfortunately I don't think they can get much more light since it's almost never sunny here and my window faces north-east. Is there anything I can do to counteract that?

Baja_Costero said:
It is Aloe juvenna, not squarrosa


Thanks for the correction - I was just going off the label it came with so I'll change that.

I'm moving in a week so I'll have to wait to repot them until then so I know how much space I have to work with. They'll likely get even less light there which I'm worried about. I got these plants to help brighten up the house, but if they won't survive without more light I could move them outside and get some that don't need so much for inside. I doubt any succulents or cacti would fit that description, but if anyone has suggestions for plants that can survive without much light I would appreciate it.

Here are all of my other plants (apologies for the bad quality photos - my phone has the worst camera). I'll include the names they have on the label but please correct me if any of them have been misidentified.

Crassula arborescens
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Echeveria pelisuda
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Echeveria derenbergii
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Hawthornia limifolia
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Crassula ovata
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Gasteria 'Little Warty'
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Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg'
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 20, 2020 6:42 PM CST

Moderator

I would think the only way to get more light would be to go artificial, but that's something I have zero knowledge about or experience with.

Those are some nice looking plants you have. Once you're settled in the new location, I'd recommend moving all of them up a pot size or two. You'll find it easier to water your Echeverias if there is a little space around the edges to aim the stream. Maybe an inch wider than those plants would be good. Wait a week after repotting before watering for the first time.

The Echeverias would be most likely to need strong light, if I had to choose among your plants. The real issue probably will come up in the late fall and winter when the sun is lowest in the sky and travels the least distance E-W. Any time your plants do not actually "see" the sun for hours a day, cut back on the watering frequency, especially in winter. And avoid using fertilizer for at least a year after you repot them, perhaps never touch the stuff, depending on the light.

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