How to Plant and Fertilize your Succulents

Often people think that you don’t need to fertilize succulents. As with most plants, succulents will benefit from regular fertilizing. Find out how often you should fertilize and what you should use!

As with all plants, succulents need nutrients to help them grow healthy and beautiful. Surprisingly though not many people think succulents need fertilizer! While they can get some of the nutrients they need from the soil, fertilizer will help them grow more full and produce better colors. You do have to be careful not to use a fertilizer that is too strong, otherwise the succulents can burn. However, the right fertilizer used every few months can dramatically change how well your succulents thrive.

Your succulents will thank you for fertilizing them! Find out how often you should fertilize succulents and what you should use

Cold hardy Sempervivums and Sedums

The idea behind manure tea is great: it’s like using compost or manure as fertilizer, but you don’t get messy and it doesn’t stink. It’s a great natural way to fertilize succulents and my succulents loved it! It is really safe for the succulents and they grew so much larger and healthier than they would have otherwise.

Here is how you make manure compost tea.

How to Brew it Yourself

You can make a tea out of well rotted manure or good compost. Compost contains a more complex array of microbes and nutrients. And compost that has heated up to 135 degrees for three days will also ensure that your tea is free of most disease-causing organisms. If you don’t have your own supply of compost, you can use a good quality, commercially produced compost. In testing here at Gardener’s Supply, we made an excellent batch of tea using the compost made at our community composting facility. If you use manure, make sure it has been composted because fresh manure can contain disease-causing organisms.

Brew your tea in a 5-gallon bucket. Put in about a gallon of rotted manure and 4 gallons of water, stir well, and let the bucket sit near the garden for several days. It’s important to stir the mixture gently several times a day to incorporate oxygen and help dislodge the microbes from the solid material. Without adequate oxygen, you may get a foul-smelling, anaerobic soup that can contain unfriendly bacteria. If your tea turns smelly, add some fresh water and stir more often. The aerobic bacteria will reestablish themselves as soon as there’s an adequate supply of oxygen. To apply the tea, I just dilute it with water (in a watering can) at a rate of about 1 to 5. As you use the tea, top off the bucket with more water, and you can brew quite a few gallons before starting a fresh batch.

The tea is mild enough that it won’t burn your succulents if it gets on top of the leaves. I poured the tea into a large watering can and generously poured it on my succulents just like I would with any other watering.
How often do succulents need fertilizer?

Now that you know about a great fertilizer, you may be wondering how often to fertilize succulents. While you can fertilize succulents as often as once a month, especially if you’re using manure tea, they will generally do just fine with one fertilizing each year in the spring. For a lot of succulents this is the beginning of their growing season so they can are ready to use the added nutrients. If you have mostly winter growing succulents, I’d recommend fertilizing in the fall.

If you decide to use something other than manure tea for your succulent fertilizer, stay away from slow release options. These are extremely potent and can often burn the succulents rather than help them grow. I recommend using a water soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength.

Fertilizing indoor succulents

I’ve gone back and forth on whether indoor succulents need fertilizer. Ultimately, I’ve decided to fertilize mine just once per year in the spring (when the days are getting longer). The fertilizer causes succulents to grow more quickly which can cause a lot of stretching if you’re succulents aren’t getting enough light. If possible, move your succulents outdoors to a bright, shady area just after fertilizing to help them stay compact as they enjoy the boost of nutrients. If you do keep them inside, try to give them as much light as possible and even consider using a grow light.

 

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