Succulents are well known for their longevity. These drought-resistant plants flourish in arid conditions where less hardy plants would quickly perish. Succulents are easy to propagate, easy to grow, and require little to no maintenance throughout their long lifespan.
So how long can you expect a succulent to last in your ornamental garden in the Isle of Wight (or indeed across the UK)? We asked our expert gardeners for advice.
What Are Succulents?
Succulents are a type of plant that evolved to live in arid, dry climates. They absorb and store water in succulent-like, fleshy pods or stems to help them survive when there’s little rainfall. The most obvious example of a succulent is a cactus, a plant most people will know.
There are many species of succulents, ranging from the drooping vines of strings of pearls to the spiky thorns of Agave americana. Succulents are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and there are more and more species being introduced in ornamental gardens each season.
What’s the Lifespan of a Succulent?
Because there are so many different species of succulents from all over the world, it can be difficult for gardeners to give an average lifespan for these types of plants. The lifespan of a succulent depends largely on its species, but also on how well it’s cared for.
To give you an idea of the disparity of lifespans, a few examples won’t go amiss. The longest living succulent in the world is thought to be the Mexican giant cardon, or elephant cactus, a type of rugged cactus that lives in the arid deserts of Mexico and can live up to 300 years! You’re unlikely to be growing this large species in your ornamental garden in the Isle of Wight, however.
Smaller species you could grow in your ornamental garden in the UK include aloe vera or strings of pearls. For aloe vera, the lifespan can vary between 5 and 25 years, largely depending on the conditions and how well it’s looked after. For strings of pearls, this lifespan drops dramatically to just five years.
The reality however is that a succulent plant like a string of pearls could live forever. While the original plant will die off after five years, it often propagates itself, allowing new roots and plants to grow in its place. Gardeners can easily take cuttings too, and plant many more succulents.
How to Care for Succulents
As you can see, the lifespan of a succulent varies from species to species. While succulents are incredibly hardy and require little attention, they need a certain level of care if you want them to meet their maximum lifespan.
For that reason, it’s important to know how to care for succulents if you want them to have a long and fruitful life in your ornamental garden.
The major points to consider are:
Are your succulents inside or outside?
What compost do you need?
How much sunlight does your succulent need?
How much watering does your succulent require?
Keeping on top of these factors and providing the optimal conditions for your succulents will prolong your plant’s lifespan. We’ll go into these points in general detail below, but always remember to ask at a garden centre for specific information related to the species of succulent you’re looking to plant.
Where Should Succulents Be Kept?
Succulents are best grown in plant pots, be they plastic or terracotta. Importantly, the plant pot needs a drainage hole in the bottom to allow excess moisture and water to escape.
Succulents are great because they can be grown indoors or outdoors. If you’re growing them in a pot, you can easily transfer your plants inside or outside the house too, to vary your interior and exterior design.
Succulents will also thrive in a greenhouse environment, although this isn’t necessary for most species.
What Compost Do Succulents Need?
You need to think about the type of compost you’re using when taking care of succulents, as they need the correct nutrients to thrive. If you’re in doubt, ask our friendly staff for information to get the compost composition right, because every plant has its own unique requirements.
As a general rule, we tend to recommend a 50/50 or 40/60 mix of multi-purpose compost/perlite, pumice, potting grit, or pine bark for most succulents. Different gardeners have their own preferences however, so you can always ask your fellow gardeners for advice on a particular succulent species.
How Much Water Do Succulents Need?
Succulents can survive on very little water throughout the year. If they’re in your back garden on the Isle of Wight, they’ll need almost no watering if they’re in a position where they can absorb rainwater.
In summer, you might want to give them a little sprinkling if it gets really hot. If there’s a summer drought, the plants will survive but will need some water to keep them in their best condition. If there’s been no rainfall for a few weeks, give them a good soaking.
If they’re indoors you’ll need to water your succulents regularly, as they’ll have no other means of absorbing moisture.
How Much Sunlight Do Succulents Need?
The amount of sunlight a succulent needs can vary dramatically from species to species. In your back garden, you can leave succulents in sunny positions and they’ll generally thrive.
Indoors, you need to make sure your succulent can get enough sunlight or it might start to wilt or even perish. To keep it healthy and extend its lifespan, make sure it has access to sunlight for as much of the day as possible.
Contact our friendly team at Eddington House Nursery to find out more about caring for and propagating succulents so they can live a long and healthy life in your ornamental garden. We stock a wide variety of succulents, and are happy to help with all your gardening needs. We even host an annual flower show on the Isle of Wight, where you can find inspiration and first-hand gardening tips from experts.Back to news