Genral succulent watering guidelines

BlindSeaman(8b/Oregon)May 10, 2007

Hello, about a month or so ago my girlfriend and I went to a local nursery and bought a gorgeous succulent. Unfortunately I can't remember exactly what kind it is. It almost looks like a little tree and has green leaves with dark purple tips. Anyway, I talked with an eomployee at the nursery and she showed me the soil they use for their cacti and it looked like really good stuff, drains well etc.

What I'm worried about is my girlfriend has told me that she thinks the plant isn't doing well (we are doing the distance thing right now). I think it may be from a lack of watering as this started initially when she hadn't watered it for a couple of weeks. I would hate for her to lose this great looking plant but am cautious not to over watering.

So with that in mind, how often should a succulent be watered when it is in soil that drains very well? Also, should it be saturated when watered like a normal house plant? It is currently sitting her room which is about 70 degrees and in a window with good light.

I'll try and find out exactly what its name is this evening and possibly get a picture or two up. Thanks.

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Each plant is different on exact amounts. Lithops and split rocks can go with just a small drink. Jades during the growing season can tolerate pretty deep watering. That by the way is the way I was taught to water. Let the soil dry almost completely between waterings, and then, water thoroughly. IF you have peat in your soil,(which if you bought ready-made box store soil, you probably do) you are going to have to water from the bottom. Get a containter that is at least 2/3 the size of the one your plant is in and at least two inches wider. Put your plant still in its pot in the other pot and fill with water. Let it sit until you see moisture on top of the soil (or at least close to the top; you can push away soil to see what it looks like). Then pull it out of the watering pot. Every other time I water, I top water thouroughly after I get the soil moist. This helps insure that salt and mineral build-up doesn't occur in the soil. I would suggest to do a search on soil mixes and get away from brand name c&s soils. They are mostly junk because of the peat and lack of grit material. You could also consider going peatless and using something like coir in your soil with fired clay and pine bark fines.

Can you give a better description of the plant? What are the leaves shaped like, what is the stem like? How are the leaves arranged on the stem? Without a picture or knowing what you have, it is hard to tell you ideal conditions.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 7:25AM
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Thanks for the reply tanyag. The plant is called a zwartkop aeonium hybrid. I believe that is pretty close to its actual name, it is written in sloppy cursive so a letter or two may be off. The soil is the nursery's own custom succulent mix so I assume it is pretty good. I'll see if I can get more info on what it consists of when I go down to visit this weekend.

I've included a link to a picture of the plant below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Zwartkop Aenoium

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 3:12PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Well that sure looks like an Aeonium :) But not 'Zwartkop' :(

Anyways, Aeoniums can get quite thirsty when they are growing, and I imagine it will be growing quite well kept warm indoors and with good sun at this time of year. I would suggest watering it thoroughly and then waiting for the soil to dry out before watering again. But don't leave it dry for long while it is growing. In winter you can keep it mostly dry, although if you keep it at 70F it might need some water.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 5:28PM
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sjv78736(austin texas)

Definitely not *A. Arboreum 'Zwartkop'* which is fully purple. I would say an *A. Arboreum* though, and a nice one too.
Aeoniums are winter active, summer dormant. Soon this plant will need a whole lot less water. Two weeks w/o water is not likely to kill this plant...too much water definitely will.
hth - Jo

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:47PM
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Aeonium are mediterranean plants, and are more actively growing during the spring and fall, going dormant when hot in summer and cold in winter.

During dormancy, keep them dry. During active growth, they can be watered well after the soil surface dries out.

Don't expect this plant to be healthy if kept indoors for an extended period. They need at least some sun for growth, and will grow weak if not given a proper cooling period during the winter.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 7:55PM
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sjv78736(austin texas)

BSM - yeah what he said...

X - I think this goes to regional differences...always a good reminder when advising others. What you would recognize as a proper winter only last 4-5 weeks here, with perhaps a half dozen nights of freezing temps. I do water less in that time - but had not connected it to dormancy, rather, I don't want them to have *cold/wet feet* for this short period. Summers are long, very hot and aeoniums struggle then (at least for me). They can really shut down at that time. I move them into part-shade and cut back watering until temps drop below (100 ha! for sure) at least 90.
Let us agree...aeoniums aren't fond of extreme temperatures

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 8:46PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

I figured the western half of Oregon wasn't so different from England. Aeoniums don't go properly dormant here in summer, unless they are kept in a greenhouse, and they certainly don't do anything in winter. Technically they may not be dormant in winter, but if the sun don't shine and its only 40F during the day, they don't grow much ;) I don't really know, I've never lived in Oregon, let alone grown an Aeonium there.

Its worth mentioning that if you do let it grow in winter, which is quite likely if it stays inside and you water it, then it is likely to stretch really badly and you will end up with a trailing Aeonium!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 4:14PM
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sjv -
Agreed - aeoniums are not fond of extremes

What you describe seems more than adequate in terms of when I suggested a "proper winter" me, a "proper winter" simply means that there is a period of perhaps 6-8 weeks or so when temps are not high enough for active growth, so basically night-time temps below about 45F will accomplish that with many succulents, even though many will tolerate even lower.

Cold and wet is not a good combination with almost any plant, let alone succulents.

Hot and wet is often an equally dangerous combo, as is with Aeonium, which are used to dry mediterranean summers.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 6:06PM
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