Common problems of succulents
Nowadays succulents are widely used mainly for the purpose of house and garden decor and purifying the air. The fresh, plumpy and engorged leaves and stems of Sensivaria, Aloe, Jade, Kalanchoe give the house an aesthetic and lively presence and greatly enhance our home gardening ideas. One of the striking features of succulents is, it requires very less care and can grow optimally in the arid climate. Other benefits of growing succulents include- their leaves and stem help to treat medical conditions like small cuts and burns, they improve the humidity of the house, and add oxygen to the environment.
But every now and then you may see some signs that your succulent is not growing properly or maybe dying like the etiolated leaves, abrasion on the plant, the mushy and bloated leaves, and the brown spots on your succulents. Not to worry!!
Common problems of succulents
In the following section, we are going to discuss the common problems faced with succulents and their remedies.
1.WATERING THE SUCCULENTS:
Any deviation from the optimum watering level can cause damage to the plant.
Overwatering turns the leaves and stem yellow, bloated, and soggy, and mushy, and will rot the roots. Whereas, Under Watering the plant makes the leaves crispy, wrinkled, shriveled, and lead to wilting of leaves. Drooping of leaves may also occur because of inadequate water supply.
Solution: The under-watered leaves can return to the normal state with proper 1-2 water cycles. Always make sure the pot of the succulents should have a hole underneath it to prevent the clogging of water within the pot.
Only water the succulents when the soil on touching feels dry and water until the water come out of the hole in the pot. Always maintain the air pocket in the soil by using sand pebbles or chips to exclude the possibility of retention of water in the pot ultimately preventing the soggy and mushy state of the plant. Following this will solve most of the common problems of succulents
In case the overwatering of succulents is beyond repair try to select the healthy and viable part of the plant and repot it.
Succulents don’t require a great amount of sunlight compared to other plants thus overexposure to sunlight can turn the leaves and stem of succulents into vivid colors like red, orange, brown and the leaves turn blotchy, this condition is also known as sunburn.
Solution: As soon as you see these signs on your succulents, move them to a shady place. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight instead of following the concept of filtered sunlight i.e. cover the plant with a light cloth or glass to prevent the extreme exposure of sunlight and harmful UV rays that could be damaging to the succulent.
When you notice that your newly bought succulent is turning yellow in color or its stems are stretching out and leaves are growing wide apart that is not normal. The condition is called etiolation and it’s an indication of reduced sun exposure or sun exposure without acclimation.
Solution: whenever you bring a new succulent home or move it to a new location always follow the principle of acclimation. Steps of acclimation are as follows:
•In the first week, expose the succulent to morning sun for 4 hours and then put back in shade. Do this daily for a week.
• In the second week daily expose the plant to 6 hours of sunlight and then put it back into the shade.
•In the third week daily expose the succulent for 8 hours of sunlight.
•In the fourth week, expose the plant to full-day sunlight and then put it back to a shady location.
This process of acclimation prevents the plant from sunburn and will give a healthy start to the plant growth and will revert back the succulent to its original healthy state.
When the plant fails to grow in height, girth and doesn’t produce new leaves and buds it is regarded as stunted growth. Many factors like under exposure to sunlight, lack of proper nutrients, poor aeration of soil could lead to this condition.
Solution: Expose the plant to optimum and filtered sunlight and you can also follow the concept of acclimation. Secondly, provide adequate nutrients to the plant via adding fertilizer. Use of liquid fertilizer in the growing season of succulents that is from February to August will be more effective for plant growth as succulents are dormant in winter. You can also feed bone meals to the plants as they are a rich source of calcium and phosphates. Use of 20:20:20 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) fertilizer is also recommended.
The succulents are dormant in winter but if the drop in temperature is below 32°F it may freeze the moisture present in its leaves that bursts the cell of the plant making it vulnerable to the climate and will prevent its growth in the spring season. Frost burn mainly affects the tips of the leaves of succulents.
Solution: Firstly carefully examine the succulents leaves and if the layer of frost is protecting the plant from future frost then don’t pluck the leaves but if the frost is too deep in the leaves remove them and move the plant to a protecting cell where the temperature is optimum to prevent the frosting of the succulents.
6.PESTS AND SUCCULENTS
Unlike other plants, succulents are less vulnerable to the pest in the environment. But here are some common pests deteriorating the growth of succulents:
•MITE INFESTATION: succulents manifest dark and blotchy leaves on mite infestation. And it usually spreads from the site of infection to the whole plant. Mites can cause the formation of cancerous nodules in aloe plants along their leaf margins.
•APHIDS: they colonize the plant and suck out the nectar and moisture present within the succulents leading to the formation of blacks and brown spots on them.
•MEALYBUGS: mealybugs infestation leads to wilting and withered leaves because these pests suck the juice from the engorged leaves of succulents. If the condition is left untreated it can lead to the death of the plant. Mealybugs can also colonize the roots and can result in rotting of the roots and impaired plant growth.
•SCALE: these pests are like small white cottony cells and grow superficially on the surface of succulents resulting in a whitish appearance of the plant.
•FUNGUS GNATS: these fungi are large-sized pests colonizing the soil. Their larvae feed on the nutrients from the soil and deprive the plant of proper nutrition and result in rotting of roots and stunted growth of the succulents.
Solution: Proper and frequent use of miticide and pesticides especially during the growing season. You can apply the spray of the insecticides or dip a cotton swab in the insecticides solution and apply it over the affected part of the plant.
Eco-friendly insecticides like neem oil and pyrethrin can also be used.
The tools which come in contact with the infected part of the plant should be sterilized with bleach or isopropyl alcohol to prevent the spread of infection to other plants in the garden. The process of drenching can be used to get rid of the pests on succulents. If the pests infestation is left untreated then it can be fatal to the plant.
•Tips to properly plant and propagate the succulents to prevent the above-mentioned conditions in the future:
1.Always plant the succulents in a shallow pot except for Sensiveria as it grows long and needs a bigger pot for proper stability. Since the succulents are 3-4 inches in height and their roots are small thus, planting them in large pots could lead to retaining of water and will make the plant leaves and stem mushy and over-engorged with water.
2.Do not use clay soil for planting succulents because clay soil retains water and can rot the roots.
3.Maintain proper aeration in the soil by adding Bajri, sand chips, pebbles, and perlite to prevent retention of water in the pot and adversely affecting the growth of the plant. The use of chips and pebbles in the pot above the roots helps to prevent the splashing of water to leaves and excludes the possibility of excess water retention by the leaves of succulents.
4. Only water the succulents when the soil of the pot is dry and water until the liquid comes out of the hole in the pot. Always water the succulent from below via roots not above the leaves. The presence of a small hole in the pot is a prerequisite for planting succulents to maintain proper aeration and excess water drainage.
5.It is advisable to use Terracotta and clay pots for the succulents as they are spacious and allow proper aeration and help the root to keep cool.
6.Maintain the PH of the soil of succulents using charcoal pieces and provide the plant optimum conditions to grow.
The aforementioned techniques helped me to give my succulents proper growth and health. Following these tips and techniques will definitely solve most of the common problems of succulents and your queries regarding the health of your plant and will provide you the remedies to revert the ongoing conditions of your succulents into a healthy one.