Succulent care is relatively easy, especially when compared to other plants.
First, make sure you don’t indulge in overwatering (the number one cause of a dead succulent), second put it in the right type of potting soil and in the right kind of light, and third fertilize your succulents.
Succulents don’t need much fertilizer but the benefits of fertilizing even just once a growing season are significant.
While fertilizing a succulent may seem weird at first (imagine fertilizing cacti), remember that watering can cause nutrients from your soil mix to be flushed away.
If the soil is lacking nutrients, succulents may not be able to grow as large or as vibrant as they could or they could also die. Periodic fertilization, or feeding, helps.
Plus, even if watering hasn’t flushed away the nutrients, some gardeners still fertilize their succulents to encourage rapid growth.
However, feeding too much can also cause problems like root and leaf rot. Below we cover everything you need to know before you start fertilizing, including what fertilizers to use and how to use them properly.
When to Fertilize Succulents
For the best results, fertilize succulents in their growing season. For some succulents, such that is spring and summer, for others it is winter.
When succulents are fertilized in their growing seasons, they use the nutrients to grow fuller and more vibrant. Fertilizing during their semi-dormant period doesn’t have the same effect.
For example, let’s consider Echeveria. A winter-dormant plant, Echeveria’s growing seasons are spring and summer.
Ideally, you’d feed your Echeveria at the onset of spring and keep doing so every month until fall arrives.
Stop any feeding after fall, which is its semi-dormant period. In winter, give it minimum watering about once a month and provide maximum sunlight possible.
In short, fertilizer your summer growing succulents in spring and winter growing succulents in fall. Once is enough for a year, but you can also fertilize them more frequently if you prefer.
What Kind of Fertilizers Should You Use?
Only feed your succulents with mild fertilizers. Strong fertilizers can burn a succulent and may even cause rot in roots as well as leaves.
A liquid fertilizer is the easiest and best fertilizer for succulents. It is more effective to evenly spread in the soil, thus providing the plant with vital nutrients.
A word of caution: Slow-release fertilizers can burn your succulents.
When looking for quality fertilizers for your succulents, check your local nurseries. Miracle Gro has a line of succulent-specific fertilizer that is worth considering.
Making manure tea for your succulent
One of the best fertilizers for succulents is the manure tea. Manure from cows, goats, and even hens have been used in farming for years. Manure works better than most chemical fertilizers.
This is how manure tea works: buy your manure tea from online or your local nursery. It comes in a tea bag and, despite its name, doesn’t have a foul smell.
Take your tea bag and place it in a large container of water. The container should have at least one gallon of water but no more than five gallons.
Let the tea bag seep in the water for 2-3 days the manure tea is ready! Manure tea is mild, so you don’t have to worry about burning your succulents, so you can pour freely over your plants.
If looking for more of a DIY project, below we will go over how to make the proper succulent fertilizer at home.
How to Make Organic Fertilizer at Home
Making fertilizers for your succulents at home can save you bucks and home-made fertilizer will be organic and healthy for your plant. A win-win situation!
Succulents need a very low-nutrient fertilizer since they are naturally adapted to nutritionally lean soil. Keep this in mind as you make your organic fertilizer at home. A little nutrient goes a long way for a succulent.
Let’s go over our preferred way: making eggshell tea!
Eggshell tea: After you are done eating that delicious omelette or sunny side up, save those eggshells for your succulents! First, rinse the eggshells with water, getting rid of any residue of the whites or the yolk.
Then, put the eggshells in a bowl or pan and fill with boiling water. Let that sit over night. The next day the tea is ready!
This tea is calcium-rich and is great for watering your succulent.
How to Apply Fertilizers
For indoor succulents in pots, the easiest thing to do is put liquid fertilizer or eggshell tea in your watering can. This way you can water your succulents and fertilize them at the same time.
For your garden of succulents, less fertilization is needed as they can pull nutrients from the soil itself. Just use half of the fertilizer that is recommended, whether it’s liquid fertilizer close to the soil or granular fertilizers sprinkled across your garden.
Is it Okay to Fertilize Your Succulents Frequently?
Some gardeners add a little bit of fertilizer during each watering. This promotes rapid growth and causes the succulent to grow “soft”.
However, we recommend you don’t fertilize your succulents more than once every month (or two months) during the growing season.
This allows the succulents to get only necessary nutrients to grow and thrive.
Is it Okay to Not Fertilize Your Succulents?
You technically don’t need feed your succulents fertilizer. After all, succulents naturally grow and thrive in soil that has minimal nutrients.
But fertilizing your succulents, even once per growing season, is recommended to promote fuller growth.
However, if you are planning to keep your succulents small and compact, for example in a terrarium, don’t feed them fertilizer.
General Tips for Fertilizing Succulents
Although fertilizing succulents makes them grow prettier and stronger, there are certain scenarios where it can do more harm than good.
- Only fertilize your succulents during their growing season. Avoid fertilizing in their dormant period at all costs.
- Always water your succulents before you fertilize.
- If you have just repotted your succulents, wait for at least a month. This lets your succulent’s roots adjust to their new home.
- Don’t use liquid fertilizers directly on the soil, but mix it with water first.
- If your succulent isn’t getting enough sunlight, don’t fertilize it. It can and will cause etiolation.
Whether or not you fertilize your succulents is up to you. It has added benefits but it can also be a waste of time (or even detrimental) if done incorrectly.
Succulents are sturdy houseplants and are used to arid climates with nutrient-less soil. This means they do not need fertilizer and will grow just fine with proper watering technique and a good soiling mix.
However, if want the extra growth fertilizer brings, follow the tips above to do it right and keep your plant happy and healthy.