Taking care of a small succulent
Hi, I'd like some help.
I am a student and I recently received this small succulent as a gift. I tried looking online for how to take care of it but all the information was catered towards real dedicated gardeners - what soil mixture to use, when to fertilize it, propagating them etc. I need some basic advice:
1) How often do I water it ? I read online that you water it once the soil is completely dry, but i don't really have a way to check as touching the soil would mean ripping the plant out;
2) moving it to a bigger pot - I don't really know if this is necessary, but if it is ,how could I do it? I don't want to purchase a 20L bag of soil. could I get some soil from the park and mix it with something maybe? (I live in the UK for reference).
Thank you for your help!
It looks like an Echeveria, and should be treated the same way as most succulents.
It should not be watered at all in Autumn and winter, the dormancy will encourage it to flower in spring/summer, when it only needs occasional watering. Water it no more than once a week, but only when you are confident that the soil is pretty dry. A few weeks without water, or even a few months, will not do it any harm.
Feed occasionally with low nitrogen fertiliser, quarter strength. Tomato fertiliser is suitable.
It needs sandy/gritty soil, with little organic matter. John Innes no. 3 with equal amounts of coarse grit is suitable. Soil + grit should be ok if you have loamy or sandy soil.
It is an echevaria and looks as though it could do with a bigger pot. I understand you not wanting to buy a huge bag of compost just to do one plant. If you cannot rake up some gardening friends that could give you a bigger pot, some compost and some grit/sharp sand, you will need to take a trip to your nearest garden centre and buy a small bag of cactus compost which will have it all mixed in, and a slightly bigger pot. The bags are quite small (about the size of a box of washing powder) so not too much waste. Measure the plant across the top in inches and buy one size bigger. The best pot to buy would be clay and called a half-pan ie it is not as deep as a regular pot and they are not very expensive. And your echevaria will look much better in it. Try to get the size so that when your echevaria is potted on, there is about half an inch of soil visible between it and the side of the pot. This means that you will then easily be able to tell whether it is dry or not. Bonus!
When you are potting it on try not to touch the leaves a lot as you will spoil the bloom on them. Put it on a sunny windowsill (not south facing if possible as they do not like too much direct sun). And be careful when watering it to not get water on the leaves. Water once a week from April to Sept/Oct and then perhaps only once a month till the following spring.
The reason why you shouldn't use soil dug up from the park is manyfold. 1. it will be full of weed seeds so not sterile and 2. you don't know where it has been, what has peed on it etc!