Questions about succulents?

A lot of customers ask us questions about how to maintain or troubleshoot their succulents.  We do our best to add those questions and our answers here.  Hopefully you can find what you need, but if not, please contact us at [email protected].  Thanks!

Q: Will my succulent plants survive outside during the winter?

A: That depends on the plant and where you live. Our plants are labeled with the minimum winter temperature they will withstand.

Q: I don't have any full-sun areas. Can I still grow succulents?

A: Yes! There are many succulents that thrive in partial shade. We can help you select the plants that are best for the growing conditions where you plan to plant the succulents. 

Q: We are having a problem with mealy bug infestation on our succulents that we have been collecting for several years. We've tried different methods to eradicate them, but they're tough to get rid of!

A: For such a pervasive problem, we're going to recommend you take this on as a complete redo project for your collection. This will be a lot of work, but can have benefits besides eradicating the pest.

The first step would be to bare root all of your plants. Remove all soil and dispose of the soil. Wash roots and plants with a medium to high pressure spray with one of those spray nozzles that has adjustable spray volumes. Prune all roots to about 1/4 to 1/2”. If there are lower leaves that are funky, remove and discard them. If there are plants that are fully covered in bugs and egg masses, you will have to decide to either discard and replace later, or to go for it and try to clean them thoroughly.

After the plants have been thoroughly cleaned they should be stored in a clean, airy, protected environment. Plants should be in a tray or nursery flat raised so there is airflow beneath it. Each plant should be place upright in the tray with next to other plants, but not on top of other plants.

The area where the plants were housed when they had the infestation will need to be cleaned. Wiping surfaces down with a cleaning solution is recommended. All containers should be cleaned and if possible sterilized before reuse. For containers that are inexpensive and replaceable, I would discard them and buy new. For containers that are decorative and more expensive and personal, clean them as thoroughly as you can.

Allow your plants to dry and the pruned roots to heal for about two weeks at this time of year. Do not store the plants in direct sun. Filtered sun, or morning sun is best. Keep out of rain.

After one or two weeks, prepare a solution to lightly mist the roots and foliage with a pesticide that is recommended to kill mealy bugs. I would then wait another week, re mist with pesticide and then replant all of the plants in new succulent soil.

Will this totally eradicate your mealy bug problems? Possibly, but we would not count on it. Mealy bugs, like aphids, can move in when the aid is blowing and the egg masses move in the breeze. Most important is to keep you eyes open for new infestations. Bugs generally appear first in the new growth of the plant, deep down in the area where the new leaves are emerging. When watering plants, always look into the new growth area for pests, eggs (white powder), and deformed leaves, a sign something is sucking the juices out. At the first sign of an infestation be aggressive and treat the plants. Re-treat the plants once or twice after the first treatment.

Also, check the soil periodically in random containers. This will allow you to learn what the condition of the roots is while also checking for any infestation in the soil.

I have had an Agave Blue Nova in the pot and it has been doing well. Two weeks ago I planted it and now the bottom leaves are turning yellow/brown. I haven't been watering it much. I have another just like it still in the pot and it looks great. What am I doing wrong? 

A: As you already have noticed, it is having difficulty with the transplant. This could be caused by any number of factors but I think the most important is the time of year.

The best time of year for transplanting into the ground is middle to late spring, summer, and early fall. This is dependent on where you are gardening.

Other factors that could be influencing the health of the plant include: how the plant was handled during transplanting, the condition of the soil, care the plant received during and after transplanting, and the weather during and after transplanting.

Is it possible the temperature went to freezing after transplanting?

From November through February this plant is pretty much asleep and therefore is unable to establish its root system in the landscape.

At this point, remove the plant from the ground, clean the soil off the roots and place the bare root plant in a shady protected area. Check the roots to see if they are healthy and remove any dead or unhealthy roots. It is best to keep the plant out of the rain during this time.

In a week, or two, put the plant in a container in a moist, but not wet succulent plant potting mix. Water sparingly through winter. When you get well into spring, late April, early May, you can retry the plantingin the ground. Make sure the soil you are planting into has been prepared by turning it and making it loose.