1. Provide enough light
For the most part, succulents thrive when given full sun, but will also be happy in bright light. Pale, leggy growth are signs that your succulent is not receiving enough light. Browning on the leaves is an indicator that your succulent is getting burnt by too much sun. The sun is stronger in summer and weaker in winter, so you may have to move your plants according to the seasons. Make sure to rotate your succulents weekly to encourage even, upwards growth.
2. Avoid overwatering--but don’t forget, either!
Succulent plants have low water requirements thanks to their water-retaining leaves. As a good rule of thumb, it’s best to lightly water your succulents weekly or once the soil is completely dry (not just the top few inches!). If you notice blackening, falling of the leaves, and pink tinged edges, the plant is being over watered. If the leaves are starting to soften then shrivel and fall, your succulent is in need of water.
3. Research you succulent.
Each type of succulent is different. While these instructions are a great starting point, if you notice your succulent starting to struggle and you’re not sure why, we recommend referring to our succulent selection list to determine what type of succulent it is.
What are Succulent Plants?
“Succulent” is a word used to describe any type of plant with thick, squishy leaves. These plump leaves are filled with water, giving these plants the ability to thrive in areas with dry soil and little to no rainfall. Incredibly, each leaf has the ability to grow a whole new plant if partially tucked in soil and kept in low light. While each type of succulent from Sedum to Senecio has their own watering and light requirements to take note of, they are all incredibly rewarding and easy to care for plants.
Succulent Light Requirements
One of the biggest reasons why succulents plants don’t make it is due to lack of light. While some types of succulents, such as Haworthias, can deal with lower light conditions, most at the very least need bright light and many will thrive in full sun.
- When introducing your succulent plants to a location with full sun or a location with very low light, it’s best to transition them into it. Use a curtain to soften harsh light or keep the plant further from the window for the first week; for shadier spots, slowly introduce the plants by moving them weekly to a spot with less and less light.
- Rotate your succulents biweekly to encourage even growth.
Succulent plants have low water requirements thanks to their water-retaining leaves, making them great candidates for beginning plant parents and advanced plant lovers alike. The frequency of watering depends on the type of succulent and their environment. Temperature, light, and humidity all have an effect on water requirements.
- As a good rule of thumb, it’s best to lightly water your succulents weekly or once the soil is completely dry (not just the top few inches!)
- If you notice blackening, falling of the leaves, and pink tinged edges, the plant is being over watered. If the leaves are starting to soften then shrivel and fall, your succulent is in need of water.
- Succulents love humidity. Although not necessary, your succulents would be thankful for the occasional misting or being kept near a humidifier.
Succulent Terrarium Care
Terrariums are a great option for succulents. Glass terrariums create a micro-climate of increased light intensity, temperature, and humidity, ultimately making succulent care less work while also being an excellent addition to your home decor.
- Placing a glass aerium too close to a bright window could potentially burn your plants, so it’s important that your terrarium does not receive direct sun unless it’s north-facing.
- Succulent plants kept in terrariums are easier to overwater due to slower evaporation and a light watering is recommended weekly or even biweekly, depending on the humidity of the room. Eventually your succulents will outgrow their terrariums, and it’s recommended to separate them into their own containers when this happens.
Air Plant Care
What are Air Plants?
Air plants, or Tillandsia species, are some of the easiest to care for houseplants. The term “air plant” refers to their ability to live on the surface of tree branches instead of in soil. Tillandsia plants are epiphytes, meaning that they absorb water through their leaves instead of through their roots. Air plants only grow roots to cling onto another surface, and it won’t hurt the plant if you decide to give their flyaways a trim. It is important to give your air plant enough light and water, which we will explain in this care guide.
Air Plant Light Requirements
The natural environment for air plants is in southern climates with hot suns, growing in the crooks and crevices of tree branches under a dappled canopy.
- In a home environment, this best translates to an east or south facing room filled with bright, indirect sun throughout most of the day. If your air plants are being kept in a terrarium or “aerium,” please refer to the last section of this care guide.
- Air plants are able to survive on full-spectrum fluorescent lighting alone as long as they receive at least 12 hours a day. If you are using artificial lighting, make sure that the lights are full-spectrum or else your air plant will not make it.
How to Water Air Plants
Watering is the trickiest part of Tillandsia plant care. Like most plants, an air plant’s water requirements are dictated by the light they receive as well as the temperature and humidity of their environment. Air plants are epiphytes, meaning that they absorb water particles through their leaves instead of roots. This ability is thanks to being covered in tiny white hairs called “trichomes,” which catch water particles from the air and hold water to their surface. This is what gives air plants, especially Xerographica, their silvery-white look. Our fingers cause these tiny, water-collecting hairs to break off, which is why it is important to handle air plants as gently as possible. When the surface becomes wet, the leaves will turn from white-ish to green, which is known as “greening” your air plant.
- In nature, Tillandsia plants receive water through their humid environments and the occasional rain. To mimic this, give them a heavy misting once or twice a week (the plants should be green but not dripping) or a very light misting daily. If the humidity is higher in the room they are being kept in, such as in a bathroom window or a small room with a humidifier, your plants should be happy without regular misting.
- The biggest sign that your air plant is not receiving enough water is if the leaves at the base start to wrinkle and loosen.
- If you have a larger air plant such as a Xerographica, occasionally check the underside to keep up on their health. A well watered air plant will have a shiny white base that looks moist to touch but actually isn’t, and potentially two or three naturally loose leaves. If you notice the base of the plant starting to look translucent, more than one layer of bottom leaves starting to wrinkle and loosen, or if the leaves are curling inward more than usual, your air plant is likely not getting enough water.
- Give your plants a soak by placing them in a bowl filled with no more than 2 inches of water for 5-10 minutes and give them a shake to remove any excess water. Additionally, it’s recommended to give your dried out air plant a good “greening” with the mister.
- Tillandsia plants are much more forgiving to being underwatered than overwatered. Signs of overwatering include the base going from white to slightly translucent (Xerographica), the bottom of the leaves will start to brown and eventually, the whole plant will fall apart. Keep your plant in a dry area to evaporate any excess moisture and avoid watering until there is fresh growth or shriveling at the base. Unfortunately if your air plant has been given too much water for too long, there is little chance of it coming back.
Caring for Aeriums
An “aerium” is a terrarium specifically for air plants and other epiphytes like spanish moss. While ultimately less work to maintain, keeping plants in an aerium creates a micro-environment that is hotter and more humid than its surroundings.
- Placing a glass aerium too close to a bright window could potentially fry your plants, so it is important that your aerium does not receive direct sunlight unless it is north-facing.
- Aerium plants are easier to overwater due to slower evaporation, so a heavy misting is only recommended weekly or even biweekly, depending on the humidity of the room. To do this, remove the plants and give each one a good misting to “green” them before placing back into the terrarium. It’s a good idea to also check the bases of the plants for any signs of stress once when you do this. Eventually your air plants will outgrow their terrariums, and it’s recommended to separate them into their own globes when this happens.