Seeing your succulents bloom is one of the most rewarding aspects of succulent care. However, it can be quite a challenge. Getting a succulent to bloom requires extra care and attention.
Some see their flowering succulent as proof that they are doing something right. Some just want to see the extraordinary flower produced by some succulents. They can be a sight to behold. While getting your succulent to flower may not be your main goal, seeing them flowering and knowing you succeeded feels wonderful. The process is also truly exciting and provides you with a challenge.
How do you get your succulents to flower? Are there steps to help you along the way? Keep in mind that not all succulents flower. Some can take years to mature and bloom, while others may never bloom. For some kept indoors, the conditions for flowering may just never be good enough. Remember, you are not failing just because you cannot get your succulent to bloom.
Let’s take a look at what influences a succulent’s ability to flower:
The age of your succulent may play a big role when trying to get them to flower. Some succulents take years to mature to flowering age. It is best to only try to get your succulent to flower after having it for 4-6 years unless you bought a mature specimen. If you have a mature specimen you would like to get to flower, read on.
Normally succulents do relatively well in warm temperatures. However, if you would like your succulent to bloom, you need to start paying more attention to how much heat and cold your succulent is exposed to. Most succulents need temperature extremes to flower and thus would never flower in temperature-controlled homes. This means that your succulent needs a period of low temperatures followed by a period of high temperatures.
Most succulents only flower when exposed to temperatures mimicking their natural habitat. If you keep succulents from an environment with cold temperatures, make sure to keep your succulent cool and dormant over the winter period. This ensures that the increase of heat and nutrients over springtime will better trigger your succulent to start flowering. You might want to invest in a heat lamp for your succulent or slowly move them outdoors in spring or early summer. Slowly move them to a warmer area with more intense light over a few weeks to mimic their natural environment.
Succulents growing in their natural environment receive a lot of direct and indirect light which is difficult to replicate indoors. Most succulents need intense light to photosynthesize enough to start flowering. If you would like your succulents to flower indoors, it is best to keep them by a window that receives sunlight throughout most of the day. Succulents also require longer periods of light than usual to trigger flowering. If you do not have a window with ample sunlight, you might want to either move them outdoors for this purpose or invest in a grow light to use indoors.
Make sure you know what kind of succulents you are caring for. Some succulents, like haworthias, can flower in full shade, while others, like holiday cacti (Schlumbergera cultivars), only require short periods of daylight to flower. These succulents are best for keeping indoors. Some need bright but filtered light since they get damaged in direct sunlight and thus won’t flower.
If you see open or lax growth on a succulent that should be compact, there isn’t enough light to flower. If you have a succulent stretching for the light, they also won’t flower.
The photoperiod is the number of hours in the day and night as seasons change. Photoperiodicity is important for setting the biological clock for plants and animals alike. Some succulents, like holiday cacti (Schlumbergera cultivars), need long nights and short days along with cool temperatures to initiate flowering. For many others the opposite is true. They require increasing daylight hours along with warming temperatures to initiate flowering. When artificial light interferes with natural daylight hours, it can influence flowering. Again, make sure you know your kind of succulent to best mimic flowering conditions.
Succulents need water to form new growth and to flower. If they don’t have enough water, they won’t flower. Flowering without water means using water from their leaves which they need to survive droughts. During the growing season water your plant thoroughly. This means giving them enough water that it just starts to drain from the bottom of the pot. Do not water them again until the top inch of soil is dry. In the dormant season, keep them drier than usual. They need this period of drought to trigger flowering. Overwatering is detrimental for succulents so make sure you allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
All succulents need a potting mix that drains well. Succulents do not like to sit in water for too long. Their roots are very susceptible to rot. The most important requirement when looking for a good potting mix for succulents, homemade or commercial, is the ability to drain well. Giving your succulents the right kind of growing medium increases their chances to thrive and flower.
Flowering is important for plants to ensure the survival of the species, so they will flower if possible. While fertilizer is not required, it can give your succulents that extra boost of nutrients they may need to flower. It takes a lot out of a plant to flower so supplementing their needs will only help. It is best to only fertilize during the active growing season. In desert environments, the soil is surprisingly fertile because there is little rain to leach nutrients out of the soil. Fertilizers are best when applied at half strength once a month. This means mixing 1 part fertilizer with 2 parts potting mix. To help your succulent flower, use a fertilizer rich in phosphorus.
A Quick Summary
It is important to keep all elements of this post in mind when trying to get your succulent to bloom. Exaggerating one element while forgetting another just won’t do it for your plant. Also, keep in mind that nothing mentioned above will work if your plant isn’t mature enough to flower. Here is a quick recap of what was covered in this post:
- Make sure your succulent is matured before trying to get it to flower.
- Make sure the temperatures your succulent needs to flower are sufficient.
- Give your succulent the right amount of light.
- Make sure to provide sufficient day and night cycles based on the season.
- Water your succulent properly in the growing season.
- Make sure your potting soil drains well.
- Provide your succulent with half-strength fertilizer in the growing season.
If you are both careful and caring towards your plant, you could be rewarded with a beautiful floral display.