How to Fertilize Succulents Scientifically


Succulent plants have captivated the hearts of gardeners and indoor plant enthusiasts for their distinctive and striking appearance, as well as their exceptional ability to flourish in arid and nutrient-deficient environments. Nonetheless, to maintain the beauty of these plants, it's crucial to fertilize succulents regularly.

Armed with the proper knowledge and approach, you can supply your succulents with the essential nutrients that will keep them healthy and vibrant, while evading common missteps that can impair their growth and overall well-being. In this article, we'll delve into the science of succulents fertilizer and furnish practical tips and recommendations for ensuring that your plants receive the nutrients they need to thrive.

When to Fertilize Succulents


Fertilizing succulents at the right time is crucial for optimal growth and overall health. Typically, succulent plants require fertilizer during their active growing season, usually during the spring and early summer months when the plants are most metabolically active and have higher nutrient demands to support their growth and development.

It is imperative to abstain from fertilizing succulents during their dormant period, which occurs during the fall and winter months. Overfertilization during this period may result in an excess build-up of nutrients in the soil, which can cause toxicity and damage the plant's roots, leading to root rot. Additionally, newly planted succulents require time to establish themselves in their new environment before being fertilized, and it's best to avoid fertilizing them for at least six months. Click here to learn more about succulent dormancy.


Observing your succulent's growth and health is essential to determine the ideal fertilizating time. New growth indicates that it's time to fertilize, while a lack of growth or stunted appearance may indicate a need for additional nutrients.

What is the Best Fertilizer for Succulents


Choosing the right fertilizer for your succulents is crucial for their health and growth. In this guide, we will explore different types of fertilizers suitable for succulents and alternative options to help you make an informed decision. Let's dive in:

Synthetic Fertilizer


Liquid fertilizers

Liquid fertilizers are a popular choice for potted succulents because they are easy to apply and quickly absorbed by the plant. Liquid fertilizers are available in synthetic and organic forms and typically come in a concentrated solution diluted with water before application. Synthetic liquid fertilizers usually have a higher concentration of nutrients than organic liquid fertilizers, making them a good choice for succulent plants that require a lot of nutrients.


Granular fertilizers 

Granular fertilizers are another popular choice for most succulents. They come in a variety of formulations, with varying amounts of nutrients, so it's crucial to choose a fertilizer that is appropriate for your specific succulent. Granular fertilizers are typically applied directly to the cactus soil mix and are slowly released over time as the succulent grows. This allows for a steady supply of nutrients to be available to the plant without the risk of over-fertilization.


Slow-release fertilizers

This type of fertilizers will release nutrients gradually over an extended period, usually over several months. They are ideal for succulent plants as they provide a consistent supply of nutrients without the risk of over-fertilization or burning the plant. Slow-release fertilizers come in different forms, including pellets, granules, and spikes.

NPK fertilizer

NPK fertilizer is a synthetic fertilizer that is composed of three primary nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These nutrients are essential for succulent growth and development and can be found in varying ratios in NPK fertilizers. For succulents, a balanced NPK ratio of 2-4-2 is recommended.


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Organic fertilizers


Organic fertilizers originate from natural sources and provide a slow-release source of nutrients to your succulent. Common organic fertilizers include bone meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, and compost. These fertilizers are typically lower in nutrient concentration than synthetic fertilizers but can provide long-term benefits to your succulent.

DIY Succulents Fertilizer

DIY fertilizers can offer a cost-effective and easily accessible alternative for nourishing succulent plants. Compost tea, created by steeping compost in water, yields a nutrient-rich liquid that can be directly applied to the soil around the plant. Banana peels, a potassium-rich source, can be finely chopped and buried to provide essential nutrients. Similarly, eggshells, a potent source of calcium, can be ground into a fine powder and evenly dispersed around the soil to release nutrients over time. However, it is important to practice restraint when using DIY fertilizers and supplement them with commercial options to ensure an optimal balance of nutrients.


Worm castings

Earthworms create worm castings, which serve as a natural fertilizer. They are rich in nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients essential for plant growth. Worm castings can be mixed into the soil or applied as a top dressing, providing long-lasting benefits to your succulent.

How Much Fertilizer Do Succulents Need?


The amount of fertilizer for succulents requires varies depending on the species, size, and environmental conditions. Generally, succulents benefit from a well-balanced fertilizer ratio with a 1-1-1 or 2-1-1 (N-P-K), applied at half strength every two to four weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). During the dormant season (fall and winter), fertilizer for succulents should be reduced, and the strength of the solution should be further diluted or omitted altogether.

Over-fertilization can adversely affect succulents, resulting in leaf burn, soft growth, or reduced drought tolerance. Therefore, it is essential to exercise caution when applying fertilizers, as succulents are sensitive to salts and chemicals. Opt for high-quality, well-balanced fertilizers, and follow the recommended application rates and schedules.


It's worth noting that different types of succulents have varying nutrient requirements. For example, cacti prefer a fertilizer with a higher potassium ratio than other succulents. Therefore, it's essential to research the specific fertilizer for your succulent types to ensure optimal growth and health.

How to Fertilize Succulents?


Fertilizing succulents is essential to ensure their optimal growth and health. However, it's crucial to do it correctly to avoid harming the plants. Here are some tips for how to fertilize succulents:

Water the plants before fertilizing: Succulents should be well-hydrated before fertilizing to prevent the roots from burning. Water the succulent plant thoroughly and wait for the soil to dry out slightly before applying the fertilizer. Click here to get the extra tips on watering succulents.

Choose the right fertilizer: There are several types of fertilizers available for succulents, including liquid, granular, slow-release, worm castings, NPK, and organic fertilizers. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Choose a well-balanced fertilizer with a 1-1-1 or 2-1-1 (N-P-K) ratio for best results.

Apply the fertilizer sparingly: Succulents don't require a lot of fertilizer, and over-fertilization can harm them. Apply the fertilizer sparingly, at half-strength or less, and dilute it further during the dormant season.

Apply the fertilizer to the soil: It is recommended to fertilize succulents around their base in the soil for succulents rather than directly onto the leaves or stem. This helps the roots absorb the nutrients more effectively. If you accidentally get fertilizer on the leaves or stem, rinse it off with water immediately.

Follow the recommended schedule: Succulents should be fertilized during the growing season, typically spring and summer, and less frequently during the dormant season, fall and winter. Follow the recommended schedule and apply the fertilizer as directed.

How Often Do You Fertilize Succulents?


During the growing season, succulents can benefit from more frequent fertilizing, usually every 2-4 weeks. However, it is vital to avoid over-fertilizing. A useful guideline is to dilute the succulent fertilizer to half the recommended strength and apply it exclusively to damp soil.

In contrast, during the dormant fall and winter season, fertilize succulents should be reduced or even stopped altogether. This is because succulents need fewer nutrients during this time and are more susceptible to fertilizer burn. If fertilization is desired during this period, it should be done sparingly, perhaps every 6-8 weeks, and with a diluted fertilizer solution.

It is important to note that the frequency of fertilizing succulents also depends on other factors, such as the type of fertilizer used, the age and health of the succulent plant, and the growing conditions. Monitoring the growth and appearance of the succulent can help determine if adjustments to the fertilization schedule are necessary.


Is Frequent Fertilization Good?


Frequent fertilize succulent is not recommended as they have low nutrient requirements and are adapted to growing in nutrient-poor soils. Excessive fertilizer can lead to the accumulation of salts in the soil, damaging the plant's roots and leading to root rot. It's important to fertilize succulents in moderation and to monitor the plant's health for signs of stress or nutrient deficiencies. 

What Happens if You Don't Fertilize Your Succulents?


If succulents are not fertilized, they may become stunted and lack the necessary nutrients to grow and thrive. The lack of essential minerals, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, can lead to poor plant growth, discoloration, and weakened immunity to pests and diseases. In addition, without proper nutrition, the succulent's ability to produce vibrant blooms and maintain its unique shape may be compromised.

However, it is important to note that succulents are naturally adapted to surviving in nutrient-poor environments and can tolerate longer periods without fertilizer than many other plants. If the succulent grows in a well-draining soil mix, it may already contain enough nutrients to sustain the plant for a certain period.



Fertilizing your succulents is essential to their care routine to ensure their healthy growth, vibrant appearance, and long-term survival. Choosing the correct type of fertilizer, applying it correctly, and fertilizing at the appropriate times are all crucial factors to consider.

By following the guidelines in this blog, you can rest assured that you are fertilizing your succulents most effectively and sustainably possible. Always observe your succulent's growth patterns and adjust your fertilizing routine accordingly.

Investing in your succulent's health and vitality through fertilizing can be a rewarding experience. With proper care and attention, your succulents can continue flourishing and bring beauty to your space for years.


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