succulent care in hypertufa

All Dried Up? or Plump & Perky? – Succulent Care 101

It’s all about Succulent Care in the late springtime.

Well, really it is a concern all year long. But in the late springtime when everything is waking up and putting on a pretty show after such dull winter colors of white,  brown and gray, we need our hypertufa pots to look great.

I have spent a lot of time going over all my hypertufa pots, troughs and bowls and most of them have come through the cold season really well. But a few have needed sprucing up a bit. So I want to tell you what I do with the dried up ones to make them pretty and perky again. ( Check out all my succulents and sedum posts.)

Succulent Care from The Hypertufa Gardener

Succulent Care 101

First of all, I have to evaluate how all my succulents and sedum endured the winter season. Here in Ohio zone 6, winters have freezing temperatures for long periods of time. Sometimes it stays below zero too, and the wind chills can even reach  20-30° below zero.  So I try to plant only very hardy varieties for my outside containers.

In the early spring weeks, I look my containers over to check for die-back or injury. Some varieties will have a lot of leaves or petals die back and others hardly seem changed at all in the winter weather.  In order to keep everything looking nice, I usually address this as early in spring as it is safe to pull and replant them. I have done this chore as early as February when the warm weather suddenly surprises us for a few days.

Image of sempervivum with chicks

If I find a rosette that seems to have a lot of die-back, I refresh that “hen” by pulling it out and removing the lower brown leaves or petals. You can just pull these out and discard them into your compost. Be sure to examine for any bug infestation. Also, discard any sempervivum or sedum that looks squishy since it may have a disease or virus.

One spring, I found an ant invasion and had to completely dump a large trough and put in fresh soil. Ants had set up housekeeping there, and no amount of cinnamon or hydrogen peroxide would work to remove them. So I dismantled the whole thing, washed and rinse each plant, roots and all, and re-potted the lot.  What a mess!

image of cascading sedum album coral carpet

When I need new potting soil to top up a container that has “settled,” I mix up some soil from just a bag of good potting soil. I prefer one without fertilizer, but sometimes that is hard to find. If I am mixing, for instance, one gallon of potting soil, I add about 1 cup of vermiculite and 1 cup of poultry grit so that I am sure of good drainage.

Good drainage is the key to the best succulent care!  And I DO NOT put gravel in the bottom of my containers. I explain about that in this post so be sure to check that out if you haven’t already.

I like to clean up the succulents at a time when the containers are dry. I think that it is easier on the plant itself to survive if it is not damp. Especially these succulents. Dampness is a big No-No. So I clean up, add soil, trim and re-pot with a dry mix.

I feel the succulents or petals removed do best if I leave them dry for at least a 24-hour period so that any wet cut edges have a chance to heal over before I reintroduce water.  I have even left a tray of leaves or chicks on a tray for weeks before I ever plant them. 

image of fresh trimmed hypertufa pot of succulents

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I think any unhealed wet roots are most like to set up any fungal infection or bacterial problems at that time. So let them dry for a short period before giving them a soaking in. You can keep an eye on the moisture level in your containers with a Moisture Meter. These make it so simple to know if you need to water or not.

If you can manage to catch some rain water, this is ideal for using to water your succulents. 

drawing of rain cloud

This garden syringe is great for watering your plants. It is so easy to control where the water goes and to put the water into the container at the base of your plants. And it is wonderful for watering inside in all my terrariums.

What if the Soil Level has shrunk too low?

This is when you need your premixed potting soil. If the level of soil in the planter is an inch or more down from the top, I think it looks much better to pull the succulents out and add soil as you clean and re-pot.

Succulent Care - Large Sempervivum(1)(1)

Use a pencil or chopstick to ease the plant out of the old soil, if necessary. I use my fingers if possible.  It should come out easily if the soil is dry and loose. Add extra soil and tamp down so that you have soil again reaching to the top edge of the container. The same pencil can help you poke a hole into the soil to replant the semp. You can trim the “tail or stalk” off with clean shears. (Wipe them between cuttings with a Lysol or Clorox wipe so not to distribute any disease.)

When you are all finished and have your bowls or troughs as full as you’d like, let them set for about 24 hours and then water them well. I have top-dressed mine with small stones and poultry grit because I think it looks so nice.

Now we are all ready for a new growing season. What do you think of that?





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