Have you ever wondered how much sun is needed for your succulents, so that they won’t be etiolated or leggy and still not burn like toast?
Work with movable container
Tip Number 1, if you are just starting, work with movable containers first. Succulents who want more sun can start getting leggy, which is what we call etiolation. Etiolation exhibits a longer internode, which are the part of the stem where the leaves are connected. This happens when your succulent is stretching out to get more light. When your succulents start showing the early signs of etiolation, do move them to a spot where they can get about 2 to 4 hours of sun, specially because not all succulents are the same. This is also why for beginners, or if you have a new succulent that you are not familiar with, I highly suggest that you put them in movable containers first.
Tip #2, use a form of sunshield or shade cloth. If you don’t want to keep moving them around, like a huge umbrella. If you would expose your succulent under the sun for far too long, especially in the summer, this is what happens to them. Burns are irreversible, but the good news is that succulents do grow new leaves.
Observe your succulents
Tip Number 3 is to know your succulents and be observant. Observe them. If you would just look closely, they would really show signs that they want more light with the way they respond to their location. If the Echeverias in this same pot are showing really tight rosettes, meaning they are perfectly happy where they are.
Succulents can grow well without direct sunlight
Tip Number 4, there are succulents that do well without direct sunlight. Most Haworthias, like this Haworthia retusa and Haworthia translucens thrive with hardly any sunlight, too.
How to handle etiolation
Tip Number 5, is how to deal with etiolation. Like sunburns, once your succulent has gotten leggy or etiolated, there is no way to reverse the process, but there is a way to correct it. What is great about succulents is that you can cut them, and they can regenerate and push forth new growth from the point of the cut. For etiolated succulents, you have to cut off the crown like so, and replant it. You can even cut them into multiple sections, and all these cuttings will grow roots and new pups. If you can wait for them to callous over, then you can water them after 7 to 10 days after planting them, or you can plant them immediately without waiting for them to callous over, as long as your cactus soil is dry and make sure to postpone watering for about 3to 4 weeks in the winter and 2 weeks in the summer.
Improvise your sunshield
Can you guess why I know that you can plant fresh cuttings? It’s because I’ve tried it myself. Tip Number 6, as promised, here’s how you can improvise your own sunshield based on your succulent’s needs. So, let me share how I do this. The customizable sunshield are white sheer curtains that I bought online and I gather them in multiple layers depending on the succulent’s tolerance and need for sunlight. So, most of these succulents would only require 2 to 3 layers. You can surely try to acclimate your succulents, but it doesn’t work for everyone of them.
The biggest advantage of this improvised sunshield is that it allows enough sunlight to pass through to avoid both etiolation and sunburn. I totally love the fact that I can adjust this improvised sunshield anytime I want to, specially because the position of the sun in the sky is a lot different in the summer than in the winter. Don’t be afraid to try new things and improvise. “Every setback is a setup for a comeback”. Always look at challenges in a positive way, ‘cause if you will conquer every setback, then you are in for a major comeback.
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