How Long Do Succulents Live? How To Keep Them Alive

Ed Wike
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What’s The Average Succulent Lifespan?

It’s widely agreed among succulent enthusiasts, with thousands of succulents growing in their homes, that the average succulent lifespan is 3-5 years. That sounds like a long time, but it’s actually not very long when you realize that depending on the type and variety, some succulents live up to 200 years. Most succulents, however, will be around for a lot less than that.

The reason that most succulents die within 3-5 years is that they are the varieties that are grown merely for their looks and wouldn’t survive outdoors. They are loved partially because of their different shapes and colors. Most plants of the same variety grow at the same rate, so you might not notice when they start to lose their vitality for a while.

If you want to propagate succulents and enjoy them for years to come, you need to learn more about proper care. The average lifespan of a succulent that is grown with proper care is 15-20 years. So having your own green thumb in the world of succulents is the key to creating a yard or indoor garden where you will be able to enjoy the same succulents for a generation.

Understanding Succulent Growth

Disregarding height, succulents come in many shapes and sizes. They range from very round like the jade plant, to very tall like Echeveria nodulosa and Echeveria secunda, to very thin like Aloe braccata and Gasteria pennicilindrica. Some grow in multiples, others are single specimens. The plant that gets the most attention is probably one of the Echeveria succulents, and the best known and most popular is a hybrid of Echeveria gibbiflora called Bressingham Spinata.

The main characteristics of succulents are drought resistance and succulence. As succulents are a plant group that survives primarily on water collected in the leaves, when a drought occurs, for example, when it hasn't rained for some time, they have to store or replace what is lost. The best way to do this is to let the leaves shrink up to store more moisture. As the leaves are needed for transpiration, they will grow once the weather is more advantageous, like during a rain shower.

Some leaves will eventually turn into long, tubular shapes while others will look more like a star. The shape of the leaf is important as it allows succulents to get the most sun possible, enabling the plant to harness the most sunlight before the water is lost.

Keeping Succulents Alive

The word Succulent is used to describe any plant, which can be grown in areas which are sunny, dry, or windy. So while water storage is the key characteristic, succulents can be quite a varied group of plants. The key words to remember when buying succulents are "sun" and "dry".

Lots of succulents thrive in areas with dry or sandy soil, and it is not advised to water them too frequently. In fact, over-watering your succulents is one of the main causes of succulent failure.

Most succulents can be grown indoors, but they also need some fresh air. It is not advised to place them in an airtight space, and you should keep them away from air conditioners, dryers and heaters.

Plus, if your succulent is growing under your patio, balcony or porch, make sure that it is protected from heavy rain and from being in any water that drains from your roof.

Your succulent isn't getting enough water if:

The leaves are curling and look shriveled.

The leaves look wrinkled and soft.

The leaves look like they have been badly burned.

The cuttings are shriveled, brittle and discolored.

If you think that your succulent is not getting enough water, follow these steps:

Helping Your Succulents Live Longer

To keep your succulent plants alive, first, let’s talk about the main reason plants die. It’s called root rot. The leaves are green, the soil is moist, and it seems there is nothing wrong with your plants. But for a while, maybe even for a long while, your plants have been slowly dying. The roots have rotted and are rotting. The soil is soggy and wet, the perfect breeding ground for fungi.

The root rot is caused by overwatering. If you keep the soil soggy wet, it will rot. But how can you overwater if succulents are supposed to live in sandy soil with no water? You can’t. Let the soil dry out almost completely, every four to five days. You will know if you overwater or if you need to water if the leaves are limp, or the tips turn brown, or it seems dry.

Another reason that succulents die is improper light. In bright sun, your succulents will make enough food by photosynthesis, they will not need to take up water. It’s when you place them in full shade that they will start to look thirsty.