For my first real gardening post, I thought I’d explain the gardening that so many people are lured into due to its apparent easiness (sometimes it is, others it is not) and explain where everything goes wrong.
The problem with the rarer, more arid succulents (Stapelia, Lithops, many Pachypodiums, etc.) is that they have a very fine line when it comes to watering them. Too much water will kill them (as I have done many times) and too little water, will also kill them. This seems like it is impossible and while it is difficult, I can assure you it’s not impossible.
An arid lithops from my collection is shown below. These have a nice indicator as they swell as they take in water, but are some of the easiest to kill via overwatering.
To start off, here are a few words about root rot and how to prevent it. Root rot occurs when water around roots creates a fungal disease and kills the roots, later leading to the death of the succulent itself. The first way to prevent this is by choosing a well-draining substrate, with large amounts of lava rock, lava sand, or perlite. Anything that dries quickly. I suggest 50% cactus mix and 50% lava rock, but many other approaches can be taken, specifically if using perlite or pumice.
One should also know to water more during the growing season and less during the dormant season (with sometimes more than a month left between waterings). This goes for Hoyas as well, which I’ll write about at some point. Different amounts should be given for dormant succulents, but remember that if you want to be safe, less is more.
Now that I’ve explained the main real problem around succulent gardening, you can rest assured that by following these steps you (probably) won’t be killing your next arid succulent.