Succulents: How I Maintain the Stressed Colours
Okay if you have been reading my blogs you probably will know I am totally into stressed colours. It's very challenging and the results usually very rewarding. And if some of you have bought my plants of which majority of them are at their stressed colours so you are probably looking for some tips and ideas to maintain their stressed colours.
I am here to share some of my tips.
We should know by now that succulents stress for few factors:
- Soil & water frequency
- Pot- pot with drainage hole
If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about perhaps this link would be a good start first.
If you just bought some cute succies from me, first of all you should focus on rooting them. I used to love using water propagation. However I have gone super lazy these days so I just leave on the racks and let them air root themselves.
The next step is your soil. My suggestion is less compost as possible. Remember that stressed succulents mean harsh conditions and environment. Therefore keep your compost to minimum by mixing more perlite, vermiculite, pumice, clay pebbles or if you are familiar with my soil mix ratio, go with it. My Korean supplier told me they grow them in akadama soil which is Japanese volcanic stones (high in nutrients, light weight, good drainage) however it's ridiculously expensive to buy them in UK.
I am going to skip the type of pot, presumably you already know you MUST have pot with drainage hole/ holes...
I am also going to skip the water frequency. Just remember 'Less is more' is our favourite motto.
But we are focusing on these two today:
First of all you should know that I grow my succulents at outdoor and in polytunnel.
I couldn't emphasize about the importance of letting them stay outdoor as the extreme weather keeps them stressed. If you have not let them outdoor (especially if you have the space) by now, I mean why not? If you have greenhouse or conservatory, that's good but you would need to watch out if they don't block away the UVB ( as normal window blocks UVB which is key to stress colour). Just remember newly potted succies should not put under the sun directly, you still can leave them outdoor but under the shade or indirect sun so that they can get used of the being outdoor. That applies if you are planning to bring your indoor succies to outdoor for the first time.
My favourite tool is LUX meter app (it's free to download to your phone) When the winter sun is out the reading should be around 15,000 to 100,000 lux or more depends on how good is your phone. If the reading could hit over 30,000 lux, congratulations you have found the sweet spot to grow them outdoor. Unless it's raining or crazy wind with special names I usually try to leave them outdoor, exposing to direct sun.
But I have recently added a layer shading net as my lux meter is showing over 100,000 lux (April 20).
As you see from the readings the top was the reading before I put up the shading net, so lux reading is reduced around 37% under the shading net. That might reduce the chances of getting sun damage.
The infamous E.Aranjuez
E.Aranjuez back in Jun 19 (it's still early summer with slight chilly)
E. Aranjuez in Jan 20 (full winter stressed)
I know UK winter is ridiculous but I am talking about if you are lucky enough to get full sun (even it's 1 degree), you would be surprised to know that the succulents actually loves winter sun.
I didn't have polytunnel until early January this year although my tiny polytunnel is unable to fit my entire collection. So I covered the wired shelf rack with polythene sheet (designed for greenhouse), plant fleece and tubular heater. Yes I do turn on the heater when it's below 5 degrees as I don't really want them to go full dormant. The ideal condition is to have them under full winter sun and have the heater on at night to keep them above 0 degree. Give it 2 days and you will definitely see the difference. I know we don't get much sun in UK during winter, but if the sun is out bring them to salute the sun.
Personally I find the sweet spot is between 0-20 degrees. March and October are always my favourite months because the crazy storms are over and we do have sunny days (not overly too sunny) that I can leave them out completely day and night in the garden.
Even Red Velvet would turn into Green Velvet during summer
As much as I love them to stay stressed throughout 365 days a year but in reality they will all turn green when the weather gets warm. We are blessed with super sunny days for the most days in April and I can see some of them are starting to lose some colours although majority of them still enjoying the full sun and cool nights. However my succcies usually have their stressed colours from late autumn til early summer.
Some of my succies still have slight stressed colours during summer but I don't really focus too much on stressing them as summer is all about survival. Summer tends to get very humid and so it really depends which are the unlucky ones. It's totally normal to have rotten succies during summer and if they keep rotting then you definitely need to check the cause. See my summer guide for more details.
Honestly I am lazy person which in way growing succulent actually suit me compared with other needy plants. Succulents won't die if I didn't water them for weeks which give them an opportunity to train themselves to absorb as much water as possible whenever I water them.