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Plants that are able to store large amounts of liquid either in the leaves, the stem or the roots are called succulents. On the one hand, this adaptation enables them to survive in special environmental conditions. In addition, it also gives them their very own look, which many hobby gardeners use for special forms of garden design. We will tell you here what effects the special features of succulents have on watering and how you can avoid gross care mistakes.

Succulents in nature

Although the popular succulent plants can come from a wide variety of regions, the prevailing conditions there have numerous characteristics that are always the same:

  • Highly permeable soils with high drainage capacity
  • Low water storage capacity of the substrate
  • High proportion of coarse soil components, on the other hand, low proportion of humus
  • Intense sun exposure
  • Low humidity
  • Overall low frequency and amount of precipitation
  • Water supply through rare but then intense precipitation, e.g. thunderstorms or heavy rain

danger: Especially when it comes to humidity, there are individual members of the succulent family that - deviating from the usual environment - thrive in regions with very high humidity. If such a plant is to be grown at home, there are different options for water supply.

Water succulents properly

Assuming that the succulents in the pot or bed at home ideally find similar conditions as in their natural environment, the optimal watering can also be derived quite easily from their natural water supply:

  • During the growth phase (usually March to approx. September) seldom but thoroughly water
  • Reduce the frequency and duration of watering outside of the growth phase
  • Space between waterings 5 to 7 days, for deciduous succulents 1 to 3 days
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • For potted plants, pour off excess water from the saucer
  • Allow substrate to dry between watering
  • Ideally, use rainwater or stagnant tap water that is not too hard

danger: Dry off does not mean dry out completely. Otherwise the fine root hairs, which are essential for absorbing water, will die off.

Tillandsia, Tillandsia

notice: Tillandsias (Bromeliads) and a few other succulents obtain their water mainly via suction scales on the leaf surfaces. It can make sense to spray the plants daily instead of just watering them in order to imitate the high humidity that prevails in their natural location and to optimize water absorption.

Common grooming mistakes

Since the representatives of the succulent family are generally quite undemanding and therefore easy to keep, recurring errors - apart from incorrect site conditions - are mainly limited to watering the plants. In order to avoid significantly damaged or even completely dead plants, the most common mistakes and their consequences are briefly mentioned here:

Waterlogging in the pot

  • Caused by: insufficiently permeable substrate, too much watering, no water drainage in the pot
  • Leads to: root rot and death of the plant
  • Cause: Mold or rot in the sensitive root areas

Watering damage to leaves

  • Created by: extensive pouring from above
  • Leads to: initially yellowing, over time increasingly soft leaves, later dying
  • Cause: the interaction of water and solar radiation impairs the sensitive leaves and even burns the leaf surfaces

Watering damage to the stem or stalk

  • Created by: Pouring into the rosette of the succulents
  • Leads to: standing water on the stalk or stalk, permanent death of the whole plant because the stalk rots
  • Cause: rapid spread of putrefactive bacteria or mold with rapid damage to the plant
Money tree, Crassula ovata

tip: Succulent plants can vary greatly in their water requirements. As a rule of thumb, thicker leaves require less water than thinner leaves. If you arrange plants with similar leaf thicknesses, watering is made much easier, since no specific consideration of each individual plant has to be made.

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