Succulent Watering tips for Los Angeles Climate

yorkiemikiAugust 30, 2013

Hi I'm kinda new to succulents. Well I've had some in the garden and pots that I've just neglected- lots of varieties of Jade, Aloe, Yucca etc. Recently become obsessed with them.

Anyways I had some questions about watering (cuttings versus established plants) in my climate and during different seasons.

I live in San Pedro which is part of coastal Los Angeles so I believe my hardiness Zone is between 9-10?

During the summer I was wondering how much to water established succulents in pots and also in the ground? We have a heat streak and it's been around 83-89 F degrees the past few days

Also what do you recommend as far as shade and watering for cuttings versus estalished plants?

How long do you water cuttings differently ten regular plants?

I recently acquired a lot of cuttings from a neighbor who was moving and he was tearing his plants from his home before he moved haha! I got tons of cuttines of sedum, jade, agave, aloe, aoeniums, echeveria and so many more! I let them dry between 2-10 days and have been potting them in soil. The soil I used is 2 part potting soil, 2 part sand/perlite 1 part small gravel

I expect to be posting here A LOT. I love this forum and am absolutely fascinated by succulents. I've been finding a lot of neighbors just trimming them and throwing them on the side and I can easily get cuttings. It's good to be in Southern California when you love succulents!

Attached is an example of one of my cutting gardens. It has a agave, aeonium, some jade, and sedum varieties.

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First of all, in your climate you can probably get away with watering your succulents whenever you feel like it... it's warm enough that plants in well draining soil can probably tolerate almost daily watering in summers... yet in your moderate climate, you can also probably get away without watering any of them for weeks, if not months, at a time. More water = faster growth for you, that is about as tricky as it gets. Where I lived in inland Los Angeles most of my potted succulents were happy with however often I could water them as long as they were not over shade (which became a problem with time). Stuff in the ground (near pure clay) was a bit trickier, and those that could not tolerate clay took care of them selves soon enough... leaving all the tolerant ones behind to get whatever water they could from me... again, hard to overwater many of these depending upon which species you are talking about.

Eg Never managed to overwater an Aeonium... they seem to tolerate about anything. Aloes are MOSTLY tolerant of a lot of water, but some exceptions (mostly the 'bluish' plants from extreme desert areas resented water). Echeverias often rotted from summer water except for some species that loved it. Yet in winter these same Echeverias loved water all the time. Jades were no-brainers and tolerated whatever I did to them. Tons of water or none at all. Not too many sedums tolerated my inland climate (summer heat killed about 90% of them off leaving me with about 20 very sturdy species that didn't seem to care one way or the other). Agaves are very tolerant, too, but rot from overhead watering in winters (same goes for Aloes- don't like tap water on their crowns in winter... some even rotted from rainwater dripping on their crowns constantly).

Not much to say about cuttings.. most I watered after a week and most did great. Some that didn't, didn't do well no matter what I did, so I can't really comment there.. .but most cuttings prefer no blazing, summer sun... at least at first (not sure if I would consider any sun you get in San Pedro as 'blazing summer sun' though).

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 3:53PM
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Hi Izrddr thank you so much for the post. Your post has helped me a lot.

Out here its definitely cooler than inland, with coastal clouds coming in a lot in the AM, but they tend to burn off. Lately in late August/ September its een pretty blazing, and I've scorched a couple newly rooted cuttings by transitioning them too quickly into full sun.

What would you say the hardiness is in coastal Los Angeles? I was thinking between 9-10?

I have some of the blueish aloes, actually kinda ghost like greyish pink? looks really pretty but i'm guessing thats like the blue u mentioned and I should try not to over water it.

My Jades are doing a bit too well and I have like hundreds of the plants in every pot -LOL

How often do you water your plants when the weather cools here? Like when its in the 60s and 70s during the fall/ winter?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 2:28AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

don't look at usda hardiness zones. Lookup your zip code at sunset magazine for your sunset western garden zone. It will give you a much better understanding as to your climate. depending how close to the water you are, it's probably zone 24.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:03AM
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THanks nil13 that's pretty cool. Yes I'm zone 24 a mild marine climate where winters are mild, the summers cool (relatively but this week have hit a dry 90 degrees)

I'd still like to know how much you should water succulents during winter/ fall? Also when is the best time to do cuttings? I tend to let them dry out for 4-20 days before planting them.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 2:02AM
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THanks nil13 that's pretty cool. Yes I'm zone 24 a mild marine climate where winters are mild, the summers cool (relatively but this week have hit a dry 90 degrees)

I'd still like to know how much you should water succulents during winter/ fall? Also when is the best time to do cuttings? I tend to let them dry out for 4-20 days before planting them.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 2:19AM
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I water when/if/as needed... but often randomly. Most succulents I have that I have not killed yet, are extremely tolerant of my watering strategy (or lack thereof)... I water when I feel like it basically... I find that shaded plants often are overwatered this way (and rot and die, so I no longer have those plants), or underwatered if in full sun (so they curl up a bit, wilt, or in rare instances, die of dehydration... so I no longer have those, either)... which has left me with a ton of plants that tolerate whatever I do. In other words, water when you want to unless you have some very sensitive succulents... there are just too many sensitive species to go into any details, but I can tell you I overwater WAY more than underwater when it comes to cactus... but get it about right with all other major common succulent groups (this does NOT include the mesembs, which I invariably kill off).

Again in your climate, you can do what you want. It is mild enough, but warm enough that if you want to water your succulents a lot, you can... or if you don't want to, you can do that too.. .they will likely be fine either way... just might grow faster if you water them more... I have never had the opportunity to live in a climate as good as yours, so I can't add more to it than that... but most who grow succulents in zone 24 look like geniuses because it is so hard to screw up.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 12:51AM
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Yeah, this nasty heat wave managed to kill some of my smaller ground covers I had in pots. Unfortunately, I didn't keep up on the watering for non succulent plants!

I live in West Los Angeles, so, we get the humid evenings and the fog as well. As my plants grow out of the plastic containers they came in, I transition them into high draining mix and grow them in ceramic/ clay containers. I'm finding that twice (3 times for the wee plants in 2 inch pots) a week in this heatwave kept the cacti and succulents content. I use clay because they're porous and when the winter rains come, I want the roots to dry out as much as possible between watering. Easier for me to deal with the winter damp. The mix I use drains instantly to a few seconds when water is poured through. Been following this schedule since spring and seems to work quite well. The denser and lease draining the soil, the lease often you water.

In regular weather, like we're having at the moment with warm sunny clear days and cool evenings, I'm back to once a week watering.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 8:46AM
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Excellent advice to all the above posters and Izrr and azt, thanks for the local

This invaluable advice from all will shave years off my learning curve.


Any other stories or advice will be greatly appreciated. I love this site!!!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 2:14PM
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