Not all succulents were created equal. Some are not the easygoing, laid back plants we were hoping for when we purchased them.
Some are quite fussy about what they want, what they'll deal with, and die before you've taken the time to learn anything about them.
And that's what this article is about - the hardest succulents to grow and care for, why they are that way, and what you can do to try and mitigate your losses with these plants.
Let's get right into it.
1.) String of Pearls
By far the best-selling plant we have. We've been out of them since June and sold all 4500 of them we grew in preparation for this year.
Of these sold, about 900 of them were replacements for people who murdered them... mostly due to lack of knowledge.
In a nutshell, String of Pearls want bright indirect light, a good soaking of the soil when the soil is dry AF, and warm temperature. We created a Succulent Spotlight on these with more detailed care information if you want to learn more.
Give them direct sunlight, a drop of water when they don't want it, and too cold or hot temperatures... and they go kaput.
And don't even get me started on the Variegated String of Pearls... who knows what makes those beauties tick. We don't even consider selling them because of how finicky they are. I swear... one time I looked at one the wrong way and the next day it was gone. 😂
It's always the pretty ones that seem to give our customers the most trouble. :)
Kiwis are gorgeous plants with lovely shades of cream, green, pink, bright pink and the colors vary by season... I literally never know what's going to happen next with their foliage.
What I think confuses people most about are 2 things:
1.) Aeonium go dormant in the spring and summer and go active in the fall and winter.
Understanding that Aeonium want mostly shade, and little to no water in the warmer months can be hard to wrap your head around - especially if you have other types of succulents that are actively growing.
They stop actively growing, and maybe get a little withered around this time - which makes you think they need something like water or fertilizer, or both, and it ends up killing the plant.
They just want to chill out right now and hibernate. They don't need much from you but shade, love and support.
2.) Kiwis, and their cousins, the Sunburst - both absolutely hate when their leaves are touched with bare hands.
The natural oils from your skin will bruise the plants. It won't kill them, but they sure will look like they are dying. Dark spots will start popping up wherever your greasy hands touched them in a matter of days.
Sedum Donkey's Tail
Customers seem to have a problem with these because of misinformation and the fact that they are so fragile.
The misinformation mostly stems from the myth that all Sedum are frost hardy. The truth is only some Sedum are frost hardy, and the Donkey's Tail is definitely not one of them.
In fact, they love pretty much the same environment and care as the String of Pearls - bright indirect light, water only when soil is bone dry, etc.
They are also very fragile plants. A gust of wind can knock off a few of their fat leaves... so imagine what an aggressive shipping carrier can do to these???
Because of how chubby this plant is, they are extra sensitive to over-watering and because of their light green foliage they don't care for direct sunlight.
These tend to be the most gorgeous succulents out there in the market. While we have a few, we don't have the fancy ones... nor would we want to.
Compton Carousels and Silver Prince are drop-dead gorgeous succulents, but they are some of the most difficult plants to care for.
Add a price tag of $20 - $60 for a 2-inch or 4-inch per succulent AND a novice succulent grower - that's a recipe for disaster. You're literally better off burning your cash.
It's important customers understand that not all hybrid succulents are difficult to care for. But some are VERY sensitive to light, heat, and water.
Due to cross-breeding, we find that not all hybrid succulents are not low-maintenance, easy to care plants.
But make sure you know what you're getting yourself into with these expensive beauties. Compton Carousel seem to do best in greenhouses... Do you have a greenhouse?
Too much sun, not enough sun, filtered sun, indirect sunlight, bright shade, and what temperatures it needs, etc - is all important information to have before bringing these into your home or garden collection.
As with anything, you live and your learn. If you do it right, you learn from your mistakes.
Succulent care doesn't have to be difficult, but certain succulents out there will be more difficult than others.
Do the small things right, and branch out from there. Happy Planting!