chopstick and succulents

Important Succulent Care Tips ( How Not To Kill Your Succulents)

How to not kill your succulents
how to take care of succulents

If you are a beginner in growing succulents, you need to know some essential care tips to keep them alive.

Because, although succulents are living plants, they are not the same as the common plants we see every day.

Have you seen some beautiful succulents posted online lately? 

Colorful succulent cuttings
Colorful succulent cuttings by Chopstick and Succulents

Weren’t you amazed at how vibrant their colors are and how interesting they look?

I’m sure you would agree that be it in arrangements or displayed by themselves, succulent plants always look so charming, and you might get excited to also give this hobby a try. 

Looking at them may make you desire to grab one or two for yourself. 

Taking care of succulents can’t be that hard, right? 

You buy the plant, the soil, and a pretty container. Put the soil in the pot and stick the plant in. 

Done. Easy.

Tweezers for succulents and gardening scissors combo
Here are the tools you need for gardening with succulents.

And listening to what other people say about these plants—them being resilient, low maintenance, and so easy to grow, you think growing them is a piece of cake.

But once you bring a few of them home, you’ll find out that growing them is far from easy.

That is because these chunky babies are not like the common plants we are so used to growing. 

For most plants, you give them a lot of water, and they’ll be so happy and healthy. But, for succulent plants, one watering mistake can destroy them. By destroy, I mean kill them. 

And watering them is not the only hurdle. You’ll encounter other issues later as your collection expands and you take care of multiple species.

To help you avoid frustrations and to help you successfully grow succulent plants on your first try, I’ve compiled these six amazing succulent care tips.

6 Amazing Succulent Care Tips For Beginners

  1. Plant them in containers with drainage holes. 
Succulents planted in a container with drainage holes

The fastest way to kill your succulent plants is by overwatering. Planting them in containers without drainage holes will increase their chances of getting too much water.

When you use containers without drainage holes, the topsoil might look and feel dry, but the soil below might still be wet, and the roots of the plants are sitting on soggy soil for a longer time.

If you add more water, thinking it’s time for their drink, you’ll be giving them too much. And before you know it, you’ll have mushy plants with transparent leaves. Unfortunately, these leaves will also start to fall off at the gentlest touch.

Keep in mind that succulents are water-retaining plants. They store water in their leaves, stems, or roots. Therefore, they cannot tolerate too much water. 

The longer they have access to water, the more water gets absorbed. Later on, you will notice that the leaves become soggy, fall off, and then your plant might eventually die.

  1. Use a fast-draining soil mixture. 

Many succulents come from an environment, like the desert, that does not have a lot of water and nutrients in the soil. So, to make it ideal for your plants, we need to recreate that environment when we put together our potting mix.

Creating a porous soil mixture for succulent plants allows more water to drain through and for the soil to dry fast.

You can purchase ready to use cactus and succulent soil mixes or create your own.

The formula that I have been using is a combination of organic and inorganic soil mix.

2 part potting soil (organic)

1 part Perlite (inorganic)

1 part coarse sand (inorganic)

Unlike other common plants we see every day, wherein as long as you give them enough water, sunlight, and nutrients, they will remain alive and happy, succulents are a little bit temperamental.

You need to consider several factors and adjust your care to them as you go; the plant species you are growing, soil, container, sunlight, and your environment.​

If you are new to succulents, and you’ve been struggling with how to keep them healthy and happy, know that even some experienced gardeners had a hard time dealing with them at first. I know a few people who are really good with plants that also struggled in the beginning.


Perlite will improve the drainage and help prevent the soil from becoming compact. Adding Perlite is to make sure that the soil will not hold too much water.

Coarse sand will also improve the drainage of the soil and prevent compaction. At the same time, it will help mimic the kind of sandy and rocky soil where most succulents naturally grow.

The potting soil will provide the essential nutrients they need to grow well.ute:

More materials you can substitute:

For organic components, you can use compost, fine pine barks, coco coir, worm castings, potting soil, or carbonized rice hull.

For inorganic components, you can use either perlite, lava rocks, pebbles, decomposed granite, chicken grit, or coarse sand.

  1. Water when the soil is completely dry. 

Watering succulents can be tricky sometimes for those who are new to this succulent hobby.

There are tricks that can help you avoid making mistakes. One way of avoiding giving succulents too much water is to ensure that the soil is completely dry before you water again. Do not just go by the number of days in between watering.

You must check your plant. Feel the soil with your finger. If it is still soft or a bit moist, wait for another week before watering again.

If you are not sure about how and when to water succulents, check out my book “Water me Next Week, A Succulent’s Plea—a beginner’s guide to watering succulents.” 

Gardening With Succulents Book
Recommended book for succulent beginners. You can listen to the FREE Audiobook sample here.

You can also use a gadget like a moisture meter to check the soil’s moisture level.

When you are sure that the soil is completely dry, you can water depending on the status of the plants.

Succulents love a good soak rather than just sips of water. To ensure that your plants receive adequate amounts of water, especially when the medium is bone dry, wait for the soil to absorb the water you just poured. Then repeat watering until you see the water coming out at the bottom of the container. 

  1. Avoid watering the leaves.

Especially in mid-morning when the heat of the sun is intense. Water drops can settle on the leaves of these delicate plants and can magnify the sun’s heat, causing some scorching or discoloration on the leaves. Unfortunately, you cannot fix sunburned leaves. However, you can leave them on the stem as they will outgrow them as they grow new leaves, or you can break them off to propagate.

Sunburned succulent leaves with watermarks

In areas where the temperature is milder, this is not an issue. But during summer, when the temperature is in the three digits, watering when it is very hot can also damage their leaves—water preferably in the morning before it gets too hot.

If your succulent plant collection is not that massive yet, you can manually water them. Use a watering can with elongated spouts to avoid wetting the leaves.

Free succulent online course
grow succulents with clarity and confidence. Free online course.
  1. Pay attention to the location where you are growing them.

Your location plays an essential role in your success in growing succulent plants. Adjust your care especially based on your climate. 

Consequently, taking care of succulents indoors is not the same when they are outdoors. You might need to adjust your soil mixture or the frequency of your watering depending on where these plants are grown.

Learn how to grow colorful succulents
Learn how to grow colorful succulents (Online Course)

6. Do not generalize their care.

There are thousands of succulent species and their care needs vary. For example, some succulents can survive very arid locations such as the desert,  but others cannot. 

Some can even tolerate frost, while others will get destroyed. So pay attention to the kind of plant you are growing and their specific care needs. 

To help you understand further how to not kill your succulents, watch this YouTube video.

Chopstick And Succulents YouTube Channel

Now that you’re knowledgeable of these basic but very important succulent care tips that you need, go ahead and get yourself those succulent plants. Don’t forget your soil mix and containers. 

If you want to start propagating more succulents, check out these amazing propagation tips.

Happy planting!

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