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How Not to Kill Your Succulent


My dream is to one day be a green thumb — one who knows the difference between annuals and perennials, one who can make sense of the soil aisle (so many choices!), one who uses words such as “tilth.” But one must start small, young grasshopper. Enter the succulent, a beautiful starter plant that has a rep for practically taking care of itself.

But I must admit, I’ve been though a couple of succulents now. I watched as they wilted, dried out, and turned a particularly depressing shade of brown, wondering how I managed to kill a plant that was supposed to be, well, un-killable. But after a little research and some patience, I think I’ve corrected my errors with my third succulent, which is currently thriving and boasting a beautiful shade of emerald green. (Third time’s a charm, after all.) Here are a few things to remember to help you get it right the first time around:

Succulents love sunshine, so I leave mine on a sunny windowsill most days. If you would rather show off your succulent on your not-so-sunny coffee table or bookshelf, then play musical chairs with placement and let it hang out in a sunny spot for at least 6 hours a day.

Less is more. In the summer, you’ll want to water your succulent about once a week. In the winter, you can get away with once every two weeks. The top half of soil should be dry every time you add water. Look at the leaves for your cue—firm and plump leaves are good to go, soft and pliable could use some H2O.

Succulents love well-draining soil. Opt for soil varieties that mix in gravel or sand.

Keep it cozy—smaller pots are ideal since succulents like to keep their roots tight and close to each other.