Succulent care varies by the season

The definition of a succulent is: a plant adapted to arid conditions and characterized by fleshy water-storing tissues that act as water reservoirs. Succulents are plants with thick, fleshy leaves, as well as cacti.

The definition of a succulent is: a plant adapted to arid conditions and characterized by fleshy water-storing tissues that act as water reservoirs. Succulents are plants with thick, fleshy leaves, as well as cacti.

Succulents are grown for their unique, interesting shapes, stunning flowers and resilience.

Give these plants a sunny window with direct sunlight, the appropriate amount of moisture, some fertilizer and they will grow.

The most important thing to remember when caring for cacti or succulents is that many varieties have a long dormancy period from October to March. During dormancy, it is sufficient to water every six to eight weeks. Watering more often will leave the soil wet, which can cause the plant to rot.

Come March, inside succulents begin to break their long dormancy and again require regular water and fertilizer. At this time of year, the plants are still growing slowly so one application of water and fertilizer once a month is usually sufficient.

Once new growth begins to appear April and May, increase the water and fertilizer applications to about once a week if the soil is dry.

The plants can be left inside in a warm sunny window or moved into a warm, sunny spot on the balcony, deck or garden from June to August.

If they are to go outside, the plants need to be acclimatized slowly. Start by taking the plants outside for a few hours each day. Increase the length of time outside until the plants is left outside for the summer months. Plants that are not acclimatized burn, resulting in large, ugly brown patches that will be present until that part of the plant is removed.

An actively growing cacti or succulent should be watered and fertilized weekly during June and July. Continue to water once a week in August but do not fertilize as the plants need to stop growing to prepare for dormancy.

Take all indoor succulents inside around the end of August or early September, before the first frost. By the first of October, most succulents will be dormant.

As with everything, there are exceptions. Christmas and Easter cacti are found in the tropics as opposed to in arid conditions. Their climatic requirements are similar to tropical plants. The best way to keep any plant healthy is to imitate the climate where they are found in the wild. Cacti thrive in warm areas and go for long periods of time without water. When water arrives, it is often a swift downpour. This is duplicated by letting the soil dry out and then watering heavily. Always soak the soil, allowing the water to flow through the soil and out the bottom of the pot. Dump excess water out of the saucer, ensuring the roots do not sit in water.

While specialized cacti potting soil is available, it is not necessary. Use any potting soil with good drainage.

Special cacti fertilizer is also available but most plants will thrive if they are watered with a water-soluble 20- 20- 20 fertilizer that is at half strength.

Transplant only when the pot is very crowded. The plant should only take up one-third of the room in the pot. With good growth, the plants will need repotted in approximately every two years. Clay or ceramic pots with drainage holes are recommended for larger plants as they tend to get top heavy and tip over. Occasionally, a mealy bug or an aphid will feed on a succulent but usually they are pest free.

Looking for a house plant that requires very little care? Try a succulent or two.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid races to 100 points this NHL season

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid sprinted to a 100-point NHL season and… Continue reading

A Foodora courier is pictured as they pick up an order for delivery from a restaurant in Toronto, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Two-year EI review needed to buy time for needed tech upgrades, Qualtrough says

OTTAWA — Canada’s employment minister says a budgetary pledge for funding to… Continue reading

A person wears a face mask as they walk through McGill University during light snowfall in Montreal, Sunday, December 20, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Some universities say no to proof of vaccination requirement

A COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t be a requirement to return to the… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, participate in a virtual discussion with seniors from Residence Memphremagog in Magog, Que., from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats are on the move in advance of a potential election this year, recruiting candidates, training volunteers and grappling with how to kiss babies and press the flesh in a virtual, pandemic-restricted world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Grappling with how to press the virtual flesh, parties gear up for election showdown

OTTAWA — The three main national parties are firing up their election… Continue reading

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Most Read