How to Care for Succulents in Indian Climate
Succulents are the plants that love their privacy the most. If succulents could ever say something to their human parents something it would be “Mom/ Dad I am independent, please let me be alone at times”. Sounds rude, isn’t it!
But that’s true when it comes to succulents; as these beauties are a native of the desert lands. These plants are bold and tolerant to tough dry uncertain climatic conditions. This tolerant nature of these beauties makes them easy caring and hassle in addition to the carefree houseplant category. These beautiful plants come in various shapes, sizes, colours & designs; each being extremely unique and vibrant. But, every plant lover had a daunting query regarding “How to acclimatize their succulent variants to upheaving Indian climate”.
Indian indoor plant lovers who are interested in growing succulents as house plants need to understand one important fact. The succulents are quite different from the indoor and outdoor plants usually grown in the Indian climate. Most of the indoor and outdoor ornamental greens grown in India are tropical evergreen natives, thriving in moist, rich, dense undergrowth. Whereas succulents are native to deserts, these plants survive in a dry climate with very little to no water. These plants thrive in rocky sandy soil which has no organic matter, so these plants don’t demand fertilization for growth and survival.
It is important to give succulents the right growing condition which suits them, i.e. proper bright light, less water, and rocky sandy soil with less poking or disturbance.
There has been a growing demand for succulents these days because of their traits, appearance, usability, and compactness. These plants are considered good for gifting, like houseplants and office plants. Succulents are tough and easy to care but some important things should be taken care of while dealing with these plants.
The Soil/ Potting Mix
Unlike other indoor plants, the potting mix of succulents is quite different. In the mix, the organic garden soil content must be less and the texture of the mix should be porous, well-drained, loose and grainy. As succulents are native to deserts and the desert soil is coarse, sandy and grainy which doesn’t retain water. The succulents have a robust rooting system to sustain in tough climatic conditions. Hence, the loose potting mix allows the roots to breathe and avoid root rot. The loose mix also helps in faster growth and deep penetration of the roots. Loose soil ensures less moisture retention which gives the succulent a happy environment to grow.
You can either buy the potting mix available on market or you can make one on your own. A good and healthy DIY potting mix should be a combination of coarse sand, vermicomposting, coco peat, neem cake powder, wood particles and tiny gravel/ marble chips if available. Mix an equal amount of all these materials and your DIY succulent potting mix is good to go.
Succulents like compact space rather than an elaborate one. The important thing to check while selecting planters, for succulents is the drainage hole. As a small well-drained container is what goes best for growing a succulent. The reason behind selecting a well-drained planter is to ensure that the water gets drained out easily and doesn’t sit for long after watering. Succulents store sufficient water needed for them to thrive so the soil needs to be well-drained. Otherwise, sitting in water for a long can lead to root rot in the plant. The best choice of planters for succulents can be small designer ceramic pots, glass jars, concrete or cement planters, wooden planters and terrarium jars/ bowls.
The Right Balance of Water and Light
Striking the right balanced potion of water and light is the game-changer in the case of succulents. Being native to desert lands succulents need very less water to thrive. Hence, there is no need to water these plants on a routine basis. Succulents thrive better in dry soil conditions, and they only need water when the soil is completely dry. Succulents utilize the water stored in their well-established root network to thrive when not watered. It is advisable to avoid putting water on the leaves of the succulents to avoid leaf burn. The soak and dry method go the best with succulents. Always prefer to water the plants from the sides rather than spraying them from the leaves. Be careful over as well as under-watering can seize the growth of the plant. So, water your succulents mindfully.
Next comes the right light conditions for your succulent’s happy growth. Most succulents are tolerant to harsh direct sunlight in their natural habitat but when grown in a different controlled setup they get adapted differently. The nurseries usually try to grow exotic and ornamental plants in greenhouses. These are shady areas with bright light to protect the baby plants from extreme climatic conditions in India. The radically changing environment due to global warming has brought about extreme climatic conditions in the Indian subcontinent. Such changes are impacting the flora and fauna negatively. Hence, most succulents can’t tolerate the scorching heat, strong winds and extreme downpours. So plant lovers should expose their succulents to bright indirect light indoors. These plants can be placed on balconies, window sills, and shady places facing south for proper light exposure. If placed in the places facing east/ west these plants will receive either morning/ evening light exposure respectively. The way proper lighting adds to better growth of plants, lack of light or inadequate lighting might make the plant leggy. So one has to make sure the plants get properly balanced light for the healthy growth of succulents.
Some more points to take care of for healthy and happy succulents are as follows:
- The plants need the right temperature between 14- 45 degrees for proper growth, as these plants get dormant during winters. These plants should also be kept away from frost as cold frosts can lead to leaf burn.
- Non-ventilated containers and soil can suffocate the plants and lead to rot and stunted growth. So one should take care of both the factors.
- Succulents do not need much fertilization but any generic fertilizer will be good for growth; a monthly small dose of bone meal and a quarterly spray of NPK spray will do the trick.
- The plants should be watered once in 15 days during monsoon and winters when the moisture content in the atmosphere is more.
- Place the plants in the better-lighted area or add extra plant lighting during these seasons for better light exposure but avoid freezing temperatures as cold frosts can kill the plants.
Here is the List of Succulents which goes well and is suitable for the Indian Climate
- Snake Plant
- Jade Plant
- Moon Catus
So, by understanding and implementing these small tips and tricks we can have wide varieties of these colourful, ornamental plants added to our plant collection.