How and When to Fertilize Succulents


Key Takeaways

  • Succulent fertilizer is a mix of nutrients that promote healthy succulent plants, help them grow faster, produce more vibrant colors, and bloom more often.
  • Every succulent fertilizer will contain the active ingredients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, otherwise known as the NPK ratio. We suggest a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer for succulents**.
    • Other essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, are present in smaller amounts in succulent fertilizer.
  • It’s important to give just enough fertilizer without overfertilizing them.
    • Overfertilizing can burn or even kill your succulent plant.
  • Fertilizing succulents is best done during the growing season, which lasts from spring to fall.
  • The main types of succulent fertilizer come in granular, liquid, or slow-release**. Alternatively, you can make your own DIY succulent fertilizer.

**we really like this slow-release fertilizer – click here for more information.


Fertilizing succulents is important as it provides the nutrients they require to grow and thrive.

By doing so, it promotes thick, supple leaves, vibrant color, and long-lasting blooms. Nutrient balance can also prevent root rot and pest infestations.

However, in order to get the nutrients they require, they should be fertilized on a regular basis.

There is a wide range of succulent fertilizers, which are available in liquid, granular, and slow-release formulas.

In this post, we will cover how to fertilize succulents, when to add succulent fertilizer, and what succulent fertilizers to use.

Why Use Succulent Fertilizer?

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One key reason to use succulent fertilizer is to support healthy growth. While succulents can survive with little water, they still require essential nutrients to develop thick, supple leaves and strong stems.

By supplying these nutrients, you are promoting the overall health and resilience of your succulent.

Another reason to use succulent fertilizer is to maintain or improve the appearance of your plants.

Fertilizing succulents can enhance their natural color, promote blooming in flowering succulents, and encourage the development of bushier, more compact growth patterns.

This results in a more aesthetically pleasing plant and, in some cases like snake plants, helps the succulent become a more effective air purifier.

What is Succulent Fertilizer?

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Succulent fertilizer is a plant food that is specifically designed to provide essential nutrients for succulent growth and development.

Succulents, like all plants, require nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are commonly referred to as N-P-K. These nutrients are essential for plant growth in a variety of ways, including leaf, stem, and root development.

Succulent fertilizers come in a variety of forms, including liquid, granular, and slow-release formulas. Each type of fertilizer has a distinct function, and the choice will depend on the requirements of the particular succulent.

When to Fertilize Succulents?

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Fertilizing succulents is typically dependent on a few factors, such as plant type and growing conditions. In general, succulents should be fertilized once or twice a year, preferably in the spring.

We say “springtime” because this is the time when succulents are actively growing and can best utilize the added nutrients.

How Much Succulent Fertilizer Should I Use?

When it comes to fertilizing succulents, less is often more. Most succulents are not heavy feeders and don’t require large amounts of fertilizer.

In fact, too much fertilizer can harm or even kill the plants. It’s essential to use a light hand and choose a formula specifically designed for cacti and other succulents.

For most succulents, use half the amount of fertilizer recommended on the label. A low-balanced soluble fertilizer, such as an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 formula, is best.

For example, if the label specifies 1 tablespoon per gallon of water, use only half a tablespoon for your succulents. This diluted solution ensures that the plants get the nutrients they need without being overburdened.

What Type of Succulent Fertilizer Should I Use?

There are different types of succulent fertilizers available, including liquid, granular, and slow-release fertilizers.

General-purpose plant fertilizers typically have a 5-10-10 ratio, but we suggest using a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer that is designed specifically for cactus and other succulents.

We personally use this slow-release fertilizer because one application lasts for months!

It slowly dissolves into the soil on its own, so there’s no worry about over-fertilizing.

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Can You Make Your Own DIY Succulent Fertilizer?

Yes, it is possible to make your own succulent fertilizer.

The number one positive about making your own succulent fertilizer is that you control what goes into the fertilizer.

By mixing organic and inorganic materials, you can make your own succulent fertilizer that is rich in nutrients for your succulents.

The ideas for DIY succulent fertilizers are endless, but here are several examples.

Compost tea

Compost tea is a popular and effective DIY fertilizer for succulents. It is made by steeping compost in water for at least 24–48 hours. This process extracts all the essential nutrients from the compost, which are then used to fertilize the plants. To make compost tea:

  1. Fill a bucket up to 70-80% with water.
  2. Add the contents of your compost bin into the water.
  3. Let the mixture steep for 24–48 hours.
  4. Strain the liquid and use it to water your succulents.

Benefits

The tea contains a high concentration of nutrients and contributes to the improvement of soil quality.

Compost tea is a great way to provide a broad range of nutrients to your succulent plants. It’s also an excellent way to recycle kitchen scraps and yard waste.

Disadvantages

Compost tea can have inconsistent nutrient content due to variations in the compost used and brewing process. There is also a risk of harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella contaminating the tea during the steeping process.

Also, compost tea can be a bit messy to make, and it requires a bit of time and patience to prepare.

Lastly, depending on what is in your compost, it could have a very strong smelly odor.

In particular, it is beneficial for succulents, which require well-drained soil with excellent drainage (i.e. pot with drain holes) in order to thrive.

Eggshell fertilizer

Eggshells are a rich source of calcium, which is beneficial for the growth and development of succulents. To create an eggshell fertilizer:

  1. Crush the eggshells into a fine powder.
  2. Sprinkle the powder on top of the soil around your succulents.
  3. Mix it gently into the top layer of soil to provide added nutrients for your plants.

    Benefits

    Eggshells are a great source of calcium, which is essential for plant growth. They’re also easy to come by and can be recycled from your kitchen waste.

    Disadvantages

    Eggshells can take a while to break down, so they may not provide immediate nutrients to your plants. They can also attract pests if not crushed finely.

    Fish Tank Water

    Fish tank water is an excellent natural fertilizer for succulents as it contains all the essential nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. When you change the water in your fish tank, don’t discard it; instead, use it to water your succulents. This method is especially beneficial for plants that prefer slightly acidic soil.

    Benefits

    Fish tank water is an easy and convenient way to provide nitrogen to your plants. It’s also a good way to recycle water from your fish tank.

    Disadvantages

    Fish tank water contains high levels of nitrogen, which can overfertilize if used too often. Second, fish tank water can accumulate salts in the soil, causing soil toxicity and nutrient deficiencies in succulent plants. Thirdly, fish tank water can smell very bad. Fourthly, fish tank water and succulent pot soil may have different pH levels, causing pH imbalances and nutrient deficiencies. Finally, fish tank water can contaminate succulent plants and soil with bacteria and pathogens.

    Banana Peels

    Banana peels can be used as a natural fertilizer for succulents because they are rich in potassium. Potassium is essential for plant growth and overall health. Here’s how to utilize banana peels as a fertilizer:

    1. Bury one or two banana peels in the soil before planting your succulents.
    2. Alternatively, place the peels under mulch and allow them to decompose.
    3. Another option is to purée the peels and pour the mixture directly onto the soil around your plants.

    Benefits

    Banana peels are a great source of potassium, which is essential for plant growth. They’re also a good way to recycle kitchen waste.

    Disadvantages

    Banana peels can attract pests if not buried deep enough in the soil. They can also take a while to break down and release nutrients.

    FAQ

    What Is A Natural Fertilizer For Succulents?

    Compost is a natural fertilizer for succulents. Compost is made by decomposing organic matter such as leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps. As a result, organic plant nutrients are produced that can be used to improve the fertility and tilth of garden soils. Compost also aids in the promotion of healthy microbial populations in the soil, which benefits plants.

    Are eggshells good for succulents?

    Yes, eggshells can be good for succulent plants. Eggshells are an excellent natural fertilizer for succulents because, when crushed and added to the soil, they slowly release calcium, potassium, and other minerals into the soil, which helps the plant’s growth and overall health. They can also help increase soil drainage and aeration. However, it’s important to crush the eggshells finely before adding them to the soil and to use them in moderation, as too much calcium can harm the plants.

    Are Coffee Grounds Good As Succulent Fertilizer?

    coffee as a fertilizerPin

    Yes, coffee grounds can be good for succulent plants. Coffee grounds are acidic, and succulents love acidic soil. When added to succulent soil, coffee grounds can increase drainage and aeration, as well as provide organic matter that boosts nitrogen availability and provides other nutrients and minerals for healthy growth. However, it’s important not to overdo it with coffee grounds, as too much acidity can harm the plants.

    Do I Fertilize Indoor Succulents the Same as Outdoor Succulents?

    indoor vs outdoor succulentsPin

    Fertilizing succulents indoors and outdoors can be very different. Generally speaking, an indoor succulent that’s potted and watered more will need more fertilization compared to an outdoor one living in the garden. Succulents planted as outdoor plants usually have access to a lot more nutrients as they have more soil to retrieve them from, and will only need to be fertilized once a year or less.

    What to Do After Adding Succulent Fertilizer?

    watering succulent after adding succulent fertilizerPin

    After adding succulent fertilizer, it is important to water your plants. However, you don’t want to overwater them, as succulents do not like saturated soil. The best way to water them is to wait until the soil is dry to the touch before watering them again. You can tell if they need water by checking whether the soil is dry and by checking the leaves; if they are wilting, then they need water.

    Should I Use Liquid Fertilizer on Succulents?

    Yes, you can use liquid fertilizers to feed your succulents. Although solid (or granular) fertilizers are perfectly fine to use on succulents, liquid fertilizers may be a little better. Liquid fertilizers aid in the absorption of the required nutrients by plants, while maintaining moisture levels in the soil surrounding them. A small application of liquid fertilizer once every two weeks should be sufficient.

    Other Succulent Plant Care Issues to Consider

    Aside from fertilizing your succulents, there are a few additional things to consider when caring for them.

    Most succulents require well-draining soil, indirect sunshine, and regular watering. Here are some additional posts about succulent care that you might be interested in.

    References

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