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Gardening Guides: Succulents

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By: burgundy bug

Jade plants

Source: Succulents 03 | Penelope Peru Photography P3

Whether you’ve got a green thumb or a knack for killing every plant you come in contact with, you can’t go wrong with succulents.

There are a wide variety of succulents to choose from. Whether you’re partial to cacti, aloe, or jade plants, there are over 60 plant families that contain at least one succulent, according to David L. Mahr, a professor at the University of Wisconsin.

There’s even a cactus called “Old Man Cactus” (Cephalocereus Senilis) named after its fair-colored fuzz.

Old Man Cactus

Source: Old Man Plants | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Succulents are beautiful and incredibly low-maintenance. Seriously. They’re a desert plant, so they’ll forgive you even if you forget to water them for awhile.

The secret to their drought-resistance nature lies in their leaves, which store a lot of water (hence the name “succulent”). In the event that you “misplace your watering can for a few weeks” the plant will tap into its reserve.

Gardening Guides: Succulents


Bear Paw Succulent

Source: Bear Paw Succulent in a Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

What You’ll Need:

  • Succulents (duh)
  • Potting soil
  • A pot / container
  • Sunlight or a grow light
  • Water

Planting Your Succulent

Bear Paw Succulent

Source: Bear Paw Succulent in a Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

For this guide, I will be using a Bear Paw (cotyledon tomentosa) succulent I’ve propagated and a mug that my mother had given me.

Decorative mug

Source: Bear Paw Succulent in a Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Normally, I would advise sticking to pots that have a drain-hole. After all, overwatering a plant is more detrimental than under watering it.

Plants store water in their leaves so they can tough it out during a drought. However, plants are susceptible to root rot as well as harmful fungi and molds if they are overwatered without proper drainage.

That being said, succulents are a bit more sturdy than your typical house plant. I’ve never had an issue with planting them in pots without drain-holes. So long as you don’t regularly drench the soil, you should be fine without a drain-hole, as well.

Mug of soil

Source: Bear Paw Succulent in a Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Once you’ve got your potting and your succulent all sorted out, fill the pot with soil.

Personally, I am partial to Miracle Gro’s African Violet Potting Mix, which is available on Amazon.

Although it is tailored for African Violets, the pearlite throughout the soil offers great drainage, which I’ve found suitable for a variety of plants during my 3-years of gardening experience. It also feeds plants for up to six months, so you won’t have to add any additional fertilizer.

Bear claw succulent in a decorative mug

Source: Bear Paw Succulent in a Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Next, plop your plant in and wallah – you’ve got yourself a succulent!

Caring for Your Succulent

Bear claw succulent in a mug

Source: Bear Paw Succulent in a Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Succulents can be grown indoors or outdoors, depending on where you live. If you do plan on placing your succulents outside after they’ve been growing indoors, you must do this gradually.

To ease the transition, place your succulent outdoors for a few hours each day, increasing how long they stay outside until they are able to withstand the conditions outside for an entire day.

If you haphazardly place your succulent outside after raising it indoors without a transition, the plant will go into shock and die within a few days (trust me, I learned the hard way).

Succulents need partial to full sunlight and must be kept at temperatures above 30° F. Therefore, you must bring them inside when winter rolls around, if you live in an area that gets chilly with the changing seasons.

Remember, succulents are a desert plant. They’re accustomed to droughts. They prefer to be thoroughly watered after their soil has completely dried.

I’d advise waiting until the soil is visibly dry for at least a day or three before watering again.

It’s also worth noting that succulents can be toxic to humans and other animals. Keep your plants out of reach from your pets and small children!

Growing Your Garden

Given the right conditions, succulents grow like weeds. Before you know, your plant will be brimming with shoots and suckers – plants that stem from the host plant.

You can propagate these shoots and suckers by cutting them from the host plant and placing them in their own pot. Alternatively, you can propagate a leaf from your succulent and birth a new plant within a few weeks!

It’s only a matter of time before your window sills and well-lit countertops are brimming with these captivating desert plants.

Bear Claw succulent in a decorative mug

Source: Bear Paw Succulent in a Mug | Penelope Peru Photography P³

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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