What is a succulent? What is a cactus?
Succulent are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. Cacti are spiny plants that occur in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They conserve water, as they are usually find in drier climates. All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti!
What is an airplant?
Airplants are a type of flowering house and garden plant native to the southern U.S., Mexico, and Central and South America. This variety of tropical plants in the pineapple family is nicknamed air plants because they absorb water and nutrients from the air through their leaves and don’t require any planting or soil at all.
What kind of potting soil do I use for my succulent or cactus?
Succulents should be potted in a fast-draining mixture that’s designed for cacti and succulents. If you don’t have access to a specialized mix, considering modifying a normal potting mix with an inorganic agent like perlite to increase aeration and drainage.
When building a terrarium, its especially important to use a specialized potting soil mix, perlite, and activated charcoal beneath a layer of pebbles or gravel. The layer of pebbles or gravel with provide extra drainage, while the charcoal eliminates any odor.
We recommend using Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Potting Mix!
How often should I water my succulent or cactus?
Water only when the soil is dry! Don’t water if the soil is wet! If it takes 3 weeks for the soil to dry, then water in 3weeks. If it takes 10 days for the soil to dry, then you can water in 10 days! During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once ever 3 weeks or a month. Overwatering and ensuing plant rot is the single most common cause of plant failure.
Overwatered plants are soft and discolored. The leaves may be yellow or white and lose their color. A plant in this condition may be beyond repair, but you can still remove it from its pot and inspect the roots. If they are brown and rotted, cut away dead roots and repot into drier potting media. Or take a cutting and propagate the parent plant.
Succulents prefer generous water during the growing season - spring and summer. An underwatered plant will first stop growing, then begin to shed leaves. Succulents are not cactus. They will begin to show stress, withered, droopy leaves etc. Alternatively, the plant may develop brown spots on the leaves. A good drink will plump them up.
How do I water my succulent or cactus?
Gently water around the base of plant, making sure it does not overflow. Never use a spray bottle or a water to water your succulent or cactus! Using a spray bottle or mister directly on the leaves and stem of your plant can cause rot and fungal growth! And remember, only water when the soil is completely dry!
Additionally, consider using a plastic syringe to water your succulents and cacti, especially if you have a larger planter or terrarium. This will ensure water gets right to the roots of your plant, and prevents water from getting on the leaves and stem.
How do I water my airplant?
Method 1: Using a spray bottle or mister, spray room temperature water directly onto the leaves of the plant. When water starts to drip off of the leaves, stop watering. Repeat this process 2-3 times a week during the summer, spring, and winter, and less frequently during the dormant winter months.
Method 2: If you don’t have a spray bottle or mister, fill a bowl or your sink with room temperature/lukewarm water. Soak the airplant for 30 minutes and remove. Gently shake off any excess water from the leaves. Repeat this process once a week.
Remember to use room temperature water, and not cold water. Cold water can cause stress, which can lead to brown and brittle leaves. If your airplant’s leaves beginning to curl inward or shrivel up, it isn’t getting enough water! Soak it in a bowl or sink filled with room temperature water overnight, and remove in the morning, shaking off the leaves.
How much light should my succulent or cactus be getting?
The amount of light your succulent or cactus needs depends on the kind of plant you have. Typically, succulents and cacti need anywhere from 4-8 hours of morning light. Afternoon light can be a bit too harsh for these plants, and can lead to scorched leaves and sunburn! When you first get your succulent or cactus, acclimate it to sunlight gradually. Keep it in the shade or indirect sunlight, and slowly introduce them to direct sun. If you put them under the sun right away, for too long, you may burn your new plants!
How do I give my airplant enough light? What kind of light does my airplant need?
Set the air plant near an east-, west- or south-facing window if possible but not in direct sunlight. It can be set directly in front of the window if a sheer curtain is hung between the plant and window. The optimum amount of light will result in a vigorous air plant with healthy green or gray-green leaves. Inadequate light will cause slow growth and pale leaves. Excessive light will turn the leaves tan, dry and brittle. (Optional) - Use a fluorescent lamp to provide additional light. This is particularly helpful if there isn't a bright, sunny window in the house. Set the light up so that the bulb is 6 to 8 inches above the air plant and leave it on for 12 to 18 hours each day, depending on how much natural light it receives. The light should be turned on in the morning around sunrise and turned off 12 to 18 hours later.
What kind of temperature does my succulent or cactus need/like?
Succulents are much more cold-tolerant than many people assume. As in the desert, where there is often a marked contrast between night and day, succulents thrive in colder nights, down to even 40ºF. Ideally, succulents prefer daytime temperatures between 70ºF and about 85ºF and nighttime temperatures between 50ºF and 55ºF.
Freezing temperatures can damage or destroy your succulents. We don’t recommend any of our succulents being left outside in freezing temperatures.
Extremely hot temperatures with direct sunlight and lack of water can all damage and or destroy your succulents. A little shade can make all the difference. Direct sunlight can also effect the coloring of your succulents, making some of them brighter, redder etc. It can also fade the coloring on some.
What temperature does my airplant like?
Optimum temperature range for airplants is 50 - 90 degrees F. Most will die with frost.
Should I fertilize my succulent or cactus?
During the summer growing season, carefully fertilize as you would with other houseplants. Caution though, you can damage or destroy your succulents by feeding them improperly. Stop fertilizing entirely during the winter.
We recommend using Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food!
Should I fertilize my airplant?
Feed air plants a dose of fertilizer every four weeks. Liquid, water-soluble fertilizer with a 10-5-5 ratio is fine. Dilute the fertilizer to one-fourth the recommended strength and mist the air plant with the solution in the morning. You can fertilize by adding a pinch of Bromeliad or Orchid fertilizer to your mister.
Can I put an airplant in my terrarium?
Yes! Airplants do not like to be crowded by other plants, so if you are adding one to your terrarium, make sure you are giving it adequate space. Additionally, placing an airplant directly onto wet soil, or dry soil that you intend to water in the future, can cause crown rot. To avoid this, place a layer of stones, pebbles, or decorative sand underneath your airplant on top of the soil.
Additionally, be careful of how you water your airplants in your terrarium! Using a mister or spray bottle to water your airplants if okay, but this does NOT work for succulents and cacti. In fact, it can cause them to rot and get fungal growth. In short, make sure you do not get any mist on the leaves of your succulents or cacti!
We are not responsible for any plant damage or death after it leaves the premises!