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Plant Care for Succulents & Cacti

As spring quickly approaches, the need for quality plant care becomes a necessity in most households. My poor plants have been forced to wait indoors all winter long and are in dire need of some vitamin D. Much like us, plants require a certain degree of nurture and special care to ensure their longevity.

With the cacti and succulent craze still going strong, many of you may be struggling with maintaining that “nursery fresh” look. Although they require very little attention, cacti and succulents can often be the most challenging plants to keep alive depending on the climate and environment you live in.

According to an article on Pistil’s Nursery, the three main factors that affect their rate of survival are: light, water, and temperature. Not a novel idea, but having too little or too much can severely affect the health of your plants.


First things first, succulents and cacti LOVE light. Do not place them in a dark corner or in a room without windows. Placing your pots near a south facing window will maximize the exposure to sunlight – allowing your plants to thrive and grow as they please.

Succulents behave strangely when they don’t get enough light. Often, you’ll see discoloration in your succulents if they need more light – deep green will fade to pale green, and bright pink, purple or yellow colors will often revert to just plain green.

Too little light also causes their growth patterns to behave oddly. Plants will often “reach” for sunlight and will grow taller and more spindly than a normal rosette pattern. The same goes for Cacti, causing strange growth patterns and pale discoloration.

Conversely, too much light can have adverse affects.  If you move a succulent or cactus out onto the porch for summer  and it suddenly goes from receiving no direct sun to getting 3 or 4 hours of direct sun per day, the odds of it getting a sunburn are more than likely. Unfortunately, there is no way to repair burned leaves. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Ensure to prune the dead leaves and adjust the environment so your plants receive the proper sunlight exposure.


Too little water is often better than too much water, however succulents receiving too little water will pucker and appear slightly shriveled. Give your plants a thorough watering (but make sure your soil is quality cacti soil because it drains water rather than absorbing it).

However, too much water can have similar effects. An overwatered cactus will shrivel up, much like an under watered one, but will be mushy to the touch, rather than just puckered. Key signs of overwatering include browning or blackening leaves or stems, browning or blackening at the base of the plant, mushy or leaking plants, and plants literally rotting before your eyes.


Considering cacti and succulents are desert dwellers, they are naturally adapted to cooler nights. In fact, they crave them. However, too cool of temperatures can pose a threat because they often go hand in hand with humidity- which ultimately means root rot. It’s recommended to be on the safe side when it comes to winter watering and just giving the plant a small dose, rather than thoroughly saturating soil.

Conversely, too hot will also cause problems for your plant babies. Temperatures that are too hot in an indoor growing environment lead to watering issues. If your plants are outdoors during summer, they’re going to dry out really fast. You might need to water your succulents and cactus twice a month, or even every week, depending on the heat and exposure.

High temperatures can be also an issue for succulents and cacti can be when placed in a window. The heat of the sun through the glass tends to be intensified, and can burn your plants.

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