Just Got A New Succulent? What You Should Do Next

While I was given my first succulent (by somebody who knew how to care for them), when I started buying them for myself I found that the immediate care you give to them is crucial. At first, all of my new plants died not long after I bought them which was extremely frustrating, to say the least. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong but with a bit of trial and error, I learned how best to care for a new succulent (regardless of where I bought it from) which is why I decided to write this article. I didn’t want you to lose the number of plants I lost so thought I’d pass on what I’d learned.

If your new succulent was mailed to you then you should give it a few weeks to adjust before repotting, if it came from a shop though, it’s good practice to repot it straight away. Wherever your succulent came from it be quarantined to prevent other plants from being infected with possible pests.

Succulents are hardy plants but that doesn’t mean they can withstand everything and being shipped or nursery life are two things that can stress these tough little plants. The good news though is that with a little bit of knowledge and care you can give your recently acquired succulent the best start in its new environment. 

Should I water my new succulent?

We all know that succulents prefer being under-watered rather than overwatered but if you’re anything like me you’ll find it difficult not watering any new plant you’ve just bought, but with succulents, this is more likely to be a bad idea.

Of course, there’ll always be an exception to every rule but in the vast majority of cases, nursery-bought succulents are planted in heavy soil that’s terrible for draining. This means that the succulent will undoubtedly have been sitting in damp soil (at best) for quite a while. With this in mind, it’s generally a bad idea to water a succulent you’ve just bought from a nursery (or any store for that matter). Instead, give it at least a week before you even think about giving it a drink.

The only time it’s okay to water a newly bought succulent is if the soil is completely bone dry all the way through. 

While the above is true of succulents that have been bought from nurseries, it doesn’t apply to those bought online. These succulents will be suffering a great deal of stress (having just spent days traveling around the country in a dark box) so need to be dealt with differently. Regardless of how wet or dry the soil is you should give the plant a few days to adapt to its new environment before you even think about watering it.

Not sure when to water your plant? How to water succulents for optimum health.

More often than not you don't need to water a new succulent

How often should I water new succulents?

How new your succulent is won’t have a barring at all on how often you water it, but what it will mean though is that you won’t know when the plant was last watered. With this in mind, I always follow the same rule which is this. If the soil is completely dry give the succulents a good bottom-up watering, otherwise, leave it for a week before checking again.

Should I repot newly bought succulents?

When I first started buying succulents I thought that I had to leave them for a while before I could even think about repotting them, but over time I learned that that wasn’t always the case and that it depended on whether I bought it from a nursery or online.

Repotting succulents bought from a nursery

Over the years of buying succulents I’ve learned that while nurseries don’t neglect their plants they don’t give them the care they need either. They tend to plant them for short-term display rather than for long-term care, and as such most succulents are in small pots that stifle growth, don’t often have drainage holes, and are in poorly draining soil. This means that the plant is, at best, sitting in damp soil but at worst is extremely waterlogged which is why you should repot a nursery-bought succulent as soon as you get it.

While repotting will mean you can give your new succulent the soil it needs it’ll also give you a chance to check the roots and get rid of any dead leaves and roots, as well as remove dried up leaves. Repotting will also allow you to check your plant for pests and bugs, taking action immediately if you do find anything.

With this in mind I’d actually say that repotting a new succulent is the first thing you should do, it also means you can use a bigger pot that will encourage growth.

New succulents are typically planted in small plastic pots

Repotting succulents bought online

While it’s good practice to repot succulents bought from a nursery, the opposite is true for those bought online. The reason for this is they’ll be stressed from the journey to your door and from being stored in a dark container for days on end. The roots will already be stressed and stressing them further by repotting the plant too soon could, in some cases, kill the plant.

Instead, it’s better to give online succulents enough time to acclimatize before you start to think about repotting them. When you first get them open the box, remove any string or rubber bands that are keeping them in place and allow them to sit in the box for a day or two first. After this time you can repot them.

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How do I repot a newly bought succulent?

Repotting a new succulent is pretty much the same as repotting any other succulent, you need a clean pot (that’s around one to two sizes larger than the current one), good quality potting soil, and a hand trowel. You can also use garden gloves if you want but I prefer not to as I think you’re not as dexterous with them.

To start with remove the plant from its existing pot by turning the whole pot upside and sliding the succulent out along with its root system. Don’t worry if it won’t come out easily, you can squeeze the pot or gently tap it to help ease the plant out. Whatever you do though DON’T pull the plant out, this will damage the plant and you could end up killing it.

Once you’ve got the plant out of the pot you can use your fingers to loose any roots that are tightly bound. It’s important that you’re careful though as you can damage them, this is the main reason why I don’t like to use gloves. After you’ve done this put enough soil in the bottom of the new pot so that the top of your succulent’s roots reach around 3/4 of the way up the pot. Next place the succulent in the centre of the pot and fill the rest of it with soil.

Personally, I don’t like to water the succulent at this stage, in part because it’s often been overwatered already. Instead, I wait a week before checking it again. That said though, if the soil (and the roots) are completely dry I will water it.

Should I quarantine a new succulent?

Even if you’ve thoroughly checked your new succulent for signs of pests and insects it’s still good practice to quarantine it away from your other plants. You might not think it’s necessary and is a bit of an overkill, especially as you’ve already checked the plant, but small infestations can be missed so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What should you do if your succulent has an infestation? How to recognize and treat bugs on succulents.

How long should you quarantine new succulents?

I don’t know about you but I get very impatient when I’ve got plants in quarantine, I can’t wait to put arrange them with the rest of my plants but I know I have to wait. The good news is that you only need to quarantine a succulent for two weeks. After that time though don’t just move the plant, instead check it for pests first. If you do find any treat them first before quarantining the succulent for a further two weeks. 

New plants will always need to be isolated from other plants

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

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