Hero Image

The Latest Dirt - July 2023

Problems with Succulents

By Stephanie Hargrave

Client’s question:
I live in Walnut Creek and recently had my front and backyard landscaping done. A couple of the cactus plants seem to be dying. They get full sun and initially twice a week water. Now they are on a weekly watering schedule. Please advise.

Stephanie Hargrave’s reply:
Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk with your question about some succulent plants in your new landscape.

Here are some tips to ensure your succulents/cactus thrive in your new landscape:

  • Make sure they are planted in soil with lots of good drainage. Adding pumice or perlite to the soil where your succulents are planted would be helpful. Your plants are new enough that you could carefully dig them out, mix pumice into the soil and replant.
  • Succulents do not need a lot of water, and a couple of times a week is a lot of water. I suggest irrigating only once a week or less. Let the appearance of your plants be a guide. You’re doing the right thing if they look healthy with less irrigation. I water my succulents by hand weekly in the spring and summer heat. No watering if it is raining or in the cold of winter.
  • Make sure that your plants are able to take the sun of the area they are planted in. Most succulents cannot handle the superheat of the hot afternoon sun in Contra Costa County.
  • Using rock mulch rather than wood mulch around your plants would be best. If you don’t care for the look of rocks, make sure that the wood mulch is pulled a few inches away from the base of your plants.

Here are a few resources from various Master Gardener programs:

I hope this information is helpful!

Client’s photos: