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FERTILIZING: How To Get Big Luscious Succulents

How to fertilize succulents. What fertilizer do succulents need? How much fertilizer do succulents need? How to fertilize succulents properly. What Are some good Succulent Fertilizer Products? What Are some recommended Succulent Fertilizer Products?

In this blog, we go over some dos, and don'ts of fertilizing potted succulents. Scroll along with us for more info!

Photo By: Fallon Michael

Succulents can grow in conditions that are infertile and do not always require fertilization. If your succulents are growing in the ground, there is really no need to fertilize. They keep the nutrients that they need from their substrate, but over time, soil bases become nutrient depleted, especially in pots. So most potted succulents can benefit from some fertilization and will grow their best when offered plenty of nutrients!


Get To Know N-P-K Ratios - What Does NPK Mean?!

N-P-K stands for:

N - Nitrogen promotes leaf growth and can cause plants to stretch when applied too much.

P - Phosphorous promotes root growth, flowering and fruit set, and it also boosts disease resistance.

K - Potassium supports the plant's ability to use and process water and other nutrients.

NPK values will usually be on every fertilizer product as # - # - #. (Example | 1-4-4) Some examples of NPK values for succulents start as low as 1-1-1 and range up to10-10-10. These 3 values represent the macronutrients present in the fertilizer, fertilizers with additional micro nutrients are especially beneficial to plant health.

Our Tip: Avoid products where the N value is higher than the P and K values. It is also important to realize that although 1-1-1, 5-5-5, and 10-10-10 are all balanced fertilizers with the same ratios, anything over 10-10-10 contains far more nutrients than succulents truly need. This may cause faster growth but risks burning the roots.

Pro Tip: Consider the goals you have for your plants when choosing strength and never exceed the applications rates on the label; anything over 10+ N-P-K it's best to dilute.


What Are Succulent Fertilizer Products?

Few Examples:

Be aware! With numerous choices out there, not all are ideal and some can be harmful to your succulents; like burning their roots. Always do your research on any item/product you are uncertain of before use, or ask in our Succulent & Propagation group on Facebook.

Well-fed plants grow faster, and with all this active growth it can mean that frequent waterings and upgraded re-potting might be necessary more often. If you just created a beautiful and highly packed arrangement, faster growth may not be something you want to happen. As in low light conditions, adding additional nutrients can mean that plants etiolate quicker, consider fertilizing unnecessary. For these reasons, we suggest fertilizing once you feel comfortable that all other elements are in balance first.


How To Fertilize Potted Succulents

Do you want your succulents to grow big and lush? In that case, the more fertilizer you use the faster the growth! If you want them to develop slowly (like with arrangements) use very little or nothing at all and let them develop naturally. If growth is not a concern, you can apply a low-dose liquid fertilizer fairly frequently, about every couple of weeks.

  • Liquid Fertilizer - We like to mix with water and water like you would normally.

  • Granular - Mix right into the soil or sprinkle over the top.

  • Compost or Worm Castings -

    • New Pots - Mix right into the soil before potting plant

    • Planted Pots - Top dress with 1/2-1 inch of compost or worm castings 2-4x a year, depending on your seasons.

Our Tip: Succulent & Propagation group expert Ingrid Flaatrud likes to use Osmocote® Plus granular, as she prefers something handy that's quick & efficient.


When Is The Best Time Of Year To Fertilize?

Based upon the species, and of course where you are growing them, indoors versus outdoors, they may slow down growth or become dormant in summer or winter. Succulents do the bulk of their growth during their growing seasons.

Keeping this in mind there are 2 different ways to approach fertilizing:

  1. Bi-annual: Feed in late winter/early spring when the first signs of growth appear and again in late summer/early fall when temperatures begin to drop.

    1. Our Tip: Appropriate products for this method are slow-release granular fertilizers like Osmocote® Plus or a top dressing of compost or worm castings. Always apply at the rates specified on the label. If you are unsure of anything, ask your fellow members in Succulents & Propagation!

    2. Pro Tip: Do not fertilize if your succulents are dormant.

  2. Continual: Feed throughout the growing season with liquid fertilizers that are formulated only for succulents. Always read all directions and dilute as directed.

    1. Our Ti: Miracle-Gro® Succulent Plant Food is a fair-priced liquid fertilizer that gets the job done! Only 2 pumps per 1 QT of water is necessary and then water as you would normally. This method can prevent burning of the plant's roots and allow for more frequent fertilizing.

Fertilizing can be a scheduled thing! Just be aware of the potency and frequency that you fertilize.

Have Questions? Ask Away!



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