One of the most exciting parts of growing succulents is watching them bloom, but when should you expect this to happen?
Succulents can bloom at different times depending on the species, climate, and growing conditions. Some succulents bloom in the summer, while others bloom in the winter. Some succulents may not bloom at all, or have such tiny flowers that you won’t even notice them.
When should succulents flower?
Succulents should flower when they’re anywhere from a few months to a few years old, depending on species and growth rate. With proper fertilization and light, succulents often flower in warmer months, but some species flower in winter.
Let’s explore when succulents should flower. We’ll look into the factors that influence blooming, such as light, season, and fertilizer, and offer tips on how to encourage your succulents to bloom.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting with succulents, this article will provide valuable information on when to expect your succulents to bloom.
Getting the basics right is the first step in making your succulents flower, so make sure you know how to provide good care to your succulents.
Fertilizing is an essential part of making succulents bloom. Here’s a guide to natural succulent fertilizer.
Succulent Flowering Basics
Age and Flowering
The age at which a succulent will start flowering depends on the species and the growing conditions. Some succulents will start flowering when they are just a few months old, while others may take several years.
In general, most succulents will start flowering when they reach maturity. This can take anywhere from one to five years, depending on the species. Some succulents may take even longer to reach maturity and start flowering.
Monocarpic vs Perennial Succulents
Monocarpic succulents are plants that die after flowering once. Perennial succulents, on the other hand, will continue to grow and flower year after year.
Monocarpic succulents are known for their spectacular blooms, which can be quite large and showy. However, once the plant has finished flowering, it will die. This is because monocarpic plants put all their energy into producing flowers, which takes a lot of resources. Once the plant has finished flowering, it has used up all its energy and has nothing left to sustain itself.
Perennial succulents, on the other hand, will continue to grow and flower year after year. While their blooms may not be as spectacular as those of monocarpic succulents, they make up for it by producing blooms year after year.
Get the Basics Right
Your succulents won’t flower unless the soil and water are right, regardless of what you do with fertilizer, lighting, and pest control. Before dealing with the things that keep succulents from flowering, make sure you’re doing the basics to enable them to bloom.
Succulents thrive in well-draining soil that mimics their natural habitat. Use a succulent-specific or cactus mix soil, which is typically formulated to provide good drainage.
You can also create your own soil mix by combining equal parts of potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite or pumice. This mixture allows water to flow through the soil quickly, preventing waterlogging and root rot.
Proper drainage is crucial for succulents as they are prone to root rot if their roots sit in water for too long. Choose pots or containers with drainage holes to ensure excess water can escape.
Succulents have unique water requirements. Overwatering is a common cause of blooming issues. Here are some guidelines for watering succulents to encourage flowering:
- Allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions. Succulents prefer periods of drought, and their roots should not remain constantly moist.
- Water deeply but infrequently. When you water, ensure the water reaches the root zone and saturates the soil. Then, allow the excess water to drain completely.
- Avoid frequent light watering as it can lead to shallow root growth and weak plants.
Adjust the watering frequency based on the season and the specific succulent species. Succulents generally require less water during the dormant winter months and more water during the active growing season.
Fertilization and Flowering
Succulents need a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus to flower. Nitrogen can encourage leafy growth, which is not ideal for encouraging flowering. On the other hand, phosphorus promotes root and flower growth.
You can find fertilizers that are specifically designed for succulents in most garden centers. These fertilizers usually have a high phosphorus content and a low nitrogen content. Alternatively, you can use a general-purpose fertilizer that has a high phosphorus content.
The frequency of fertilization depends on the type of fertilizer you are using. If you are using a slow-release fertilizer, you can fertilize your succulents once every three to four months. However, if you are using a liquid fertilizer, you should fertilize your succulents once every two to four weeks.
During the blooming season, you should increase the frequency of fertilization to once every two weeks. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and avoid over-fertilizing your succulents.
Lighting for Getting a Succulent to Flower
Succulents require optimal light conditions to bloom successfully. If your succulent is outside, it is likely getting enough sun. Look for leggy growth and replant the succulent somewhere sunnier if necessary. Indoors, getting enough light to encourage succulents to flower is more challenging. Here are some tips.
- Bright, Indirect Light: Most succulents thrive in bright, indirect light. Place them near a south-facing or east-facing window where they can receive several hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day. If you don’t have access to natural sunlight, you can use artificial grow lights specifically designed for plants. Position the lights close to the succulents, about 6 to 12 inches away, and keep them on for 12 to 14 hours a day. If your succulent is getting leggy and not flowering, it’s likely not getting enough light.
- Avoid Intense, Direct Sunlight: While succulents love light, intense, direct sunlight can be damaging. It can cause sunburn or scorch the leaves of the plant. If your succulent is exposed to direct sunlight, particularly during the hottest hours of the day, consider providing some shade or filtering the light with sheer curtains, blinds, or a sheer cloth. This will help protect the succulent from excessive heat and sunlight.
- Adjust Light Intensity: Different succulent species have varying light requirements. Some succulents, such as Echeverias and Sedums, prefer brighter light and can tolerate more intense sunlight, while others, like Haworthias and Sansevierias, prefer moderate to low light conditions. Research the specific light requirements of your succulent species to provide the appropriate intensity for blooming.
- Monitor Light Duration: Along with intensity, the duration of light exposure also plays a role in succulent blooming. Many succulents require a specific photoperiod or light-dark cycle to initiate flowering. For example, some succulents may need shorter daylight hours during the winter months to trigger blooming. Adjust the light duration based on the natural light cycle of the season or the specific requirements of your succulent.
- Rotate the Plant: To ensure even growth and prevent your succulent from leaning towards the light source, rotate the plant every few weeks. This will promote balanced development and encourage flowering on all sides of the succulent.
Pest Control for Healthy Blooms
Succulents are generally low-maintenance plants, but they are still susceptible to pests. Pests can damage the plant’s leaves, stems, and flowers, which can affect the plant’s ability to bloom. When a succulent is stressed by pests, it’s less likely to bloom.
Identifying Common Pests
Here are some common pests that can affect succulents:
- Aphids: These tiny insects can be found on the undersides of leaves and stems. They suck the sap out of the plant, causing the leaves to curl and yellow.
- Mealybugs: These pests appear as white, cottony masses on the plant. They suck the sap out of the plant, causing stunted growth and yellowing of leaves.
- Spider Mites: These pests are too small to be seen with the naked eye. They suck the sap out of the plant, causing yellowing and bronzing of leaves.
- Scale Insects: These pests appear as small, raised bumps on the plant. They suck the sap out of the plant, causing yellowing and wilting of leaves.
- Handpicking: You can remove pests by handpicking them off the plant. This method is effective for small infestations.
- Pruning: Prune the affected parts of the plant to remove the pests. This method is effective for localized infestations.
- Insecticidal Soap: Insecticidal soap is a safe and effective method for controlling pests on succulents.
- Neem Oil: Neem oil is a natural insecticide that is safe for use on succulents.
- Rubbing Alcohol: Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and apply it directly to the pests. This method is effective for small infestations.
How to Force a Succulent to Flower
While you cannot force a succulent to flower in the same way you might force some other plants, you can create favorable conditions to encourage blooming. Here are some tips to increase the chances of your succulent flowering:
- Provide Adequate Light: Succulents generally require bright light to bloom. Ensure that your succulent receives sufficient sunlight or provide artificial grow lights if necessary. Place them near a south-facing window or provide at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
- Optimal Temperature: Many succulents require a period of cooler temperatures to initiate blooming. Check the specific temperature requirements for your succulent species and try to provide the appropriate range. Some succulents may require cooler night temperatures or a drop in temperature during the winter months to trigger blooming.
- Maintain Proper Watering: Succulents are known for their water-storing abilities, and overwatering can hinder blooming. Ensure that you are following the appropriate watering schedule for your succulent. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent root rot and promote healthy blooming.
- Avoid Disturbance: Once you notice flower buds forming, avoid moving or disturbing the succulent as it may disrupt the blooming process. Minimize repotting or any activities that could potentially damage the developing buds.
- Provide Dormancy Period (If Applicable): Some succulents require a period of dormancy or rest to stimulate blooming. Research the specific needs of your succulent and, if necessary, adjust the light, temperature, and watering to mimic its natural dormancy period.
- Apply Balanced Fertilizer: Providing a balanced fertilizer formulated for succulents can promote healthy growth and blooming. Use a fertilizer with a greater content of phosphorus and apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Remember that not all succulents bloom readily, and some may only bloom under specific conditions. It’s important to understand the natural blooming habits of your succulent species and provide the best care possible to encourage blooming.
Why Your Succulent Isn’t Flowering Decision Tree
- Is your succulent receiving enough sunlight?
- If the succulent is not getting sufficient sunlight, it may not bloom.
- Make sure your succulent is placed in a location that receives at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day.
- If the succulent is indoors, consider placing it near a south-facing window or using artificial grow lights to provide adequate light.
- Is your succulent getting the right amount of water?
- Overwatering or underwatering can prevent succulents from blooming.
- Ensure that you are following the appropriate watering schedule for your succulent species.
- Most succulents prefer a well-draining soil mix and should be watered only when the soil is completely dry.
- Avoid excessive watering, as it can lead to root rot and hinder blooming.
- Is your succulent getting the necessary nutrients?
- Lack of nutrients can affect a succulent’s ability to bloom.
- Provide your succulent with a balanced fertilizer specifically formulated for succulents, following the package instructions.
- Feed your succulent during the growing season (spring and summer) when it is actively growing.
- Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can cause salt buildup and harm the plant.
- Is your succulent getting the right temperature conditions?
- Extreme temperatures, either too hot or too cold, can impact blooming.
- Most succulents prefer temperatures between 60°F and 80°F (15°C and 27°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night.
- Protect your succulent from extreme heat or cold by providing shade or bringing it indoors during extreme weather conditions.
- Is your succulent mature enough to bloom?
- Some succulents require maturity before they start producing flowers.
- Check if your succulent has reached the appropriate age for blooming. This can vary depending on the species.
- Research the specific blooming requirements for your succulent to determine its maturity period.
Succulents That Flower
- Echeveria: Echeverias are popular succulents that produce stunning rosettes of fleshy leaves. Many Echeveria varieties, such as Echeveria elegans and Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg,’ are cherished for their eye-catching, bell-shaped flowers that can range in colors from pink and orange to red and yellow.
- Adenium obesum (Desert Rose): Adeniums are tropical succulents that produce showy, trumpet-shaped flowers in a range of colors, including shades of pink, red, white, and yellow. These blooms often have striking patterns and can be quite large, making them a focal point of the plant.
- Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy): Known for its vibrant and long-lasting blooms, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana produces clusters of small, colorful flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. These flowers create a striking contrast against the succulent’s fleshy, green leaves.
- Schlumbergera spp. (Christmas Cactus): Christmas Cacti are popular succulents that are cherished for their ability to bloom during the holiday season. These plants produce showy, tubular flowers in various colors, including pink, red, white, and purple. Their flowering is often triggered by shorter days and cooler temperatures.
- Stapelia spp. (Carrion Flower): Stapelias are unique succulents known for their unusual star-shaped or bell-shaped flowers that often have a distinct, unpleasant odor. Despite their odor, these blooms are intriguing and can be quite large, often showcasing intricate patterns and colors like maroon, yellow, or brown.
- Epiphyllum spp. (Orchid Cactus): Epiphyllums are epiphytic succulents that produce large, fragrant flowers resembling orchids. These flowers can be found in various colors, including shades of white, pink, orange, red, and purple. They often bloom at night and have a captivating appearance.
- Aloe vera: While Aloe vera is primarily grown for its medicinal properties and ornamental foliage, it also produces tall spikes of tubular, orange or yellow flowers that attract pollinators.
- Crassula ovata (Jade Plant): Jade Plants occasionally bloom, showcasing clusters of small, star-shaped pink or white flowers. These blooms are a delightful addition to the plant’s glossy, jade-green leaves.
- Gasteria spp. (Gasteria): Gasterias produce unique tubular flowers that can vary in color from white and pink to red and orange. The flowers are often adorned with intricate patterns and appear on tall stalks above the plant’s rosettes.
- Gymnocalycium mihanovichii (Moon Cactus): Moon Cacti are grafted succulents that feature vibrant, colorful, and often bi-colored flowers. The flowers can be in shades of pink, red, orange, or yellow, adding a playful touch to these small, round plants.
- Lithops spp. (Living Stones): While Lithops are renowned for their camouflage-like appearance, they surprise with daisy-like flowers that emerge from the cleft between their leaves. The flowers can be white, yellow, or pink, and they open only during the day.
- Pachypodium spp. (Madagascar Palm): Pachypodiums, resembling miniature palm trees, produce striking, trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of white, cream, yellow, or pink. These flowers are often fragrant and appear atop long stalks.
- Sedum morganianum (Burro’s Tail): Although Sedum morganianum is mostly cherished for its trailing, succulent stems, it occasionally produces clusters of small, star-shaped pink or red flowers during the summer.
- Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls): String of Pearls is a trailing succulent with distinctive bead-like leaves. It can produce small, white, daisy-like flowers that add a delicate touch to its cascading foliage.
Succulents that Flower in Winter
- Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera spp.): These popular succulents produce stunning tubular flowers in shades of pink, red, white, or purple. They typically bloom from late fall through winter, making them a festive addition to indoor or protected outdoor spaces.
- Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata): Similar to Christmas cacti, Thanksgiving cacti also bloom in late fall to winter. They feature colorful flowers in shades of pink, purple, or white and are known for their segmented, arching stems.
- Winter-flowering Aloes (Aloe spp.): Some species of Aloe, such as Aloe striata and Aloe arborescens, bloom during the winter months. These succulents produce vibrant clusters of tubular flowers in shades of orange, red, or yellow, which attract pollinators even in colder weather.
- Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy): This popular indoor succulent is known for its profusion of vibrant flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, or white. It tends to bloom during the winter months, adding a splash of color to your indoor spaces.
- Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose): Although not a traditional succulent, the Christmas Rose is a winter-blooming perennial with lovely white or pink flowers. It thrives in cooler temperatures and can add a touch of elegance to your winter garden.
- Echeveria elegans (Mexican Snowball): While Echeveria species typically bloom in spring or summer, Echeveria elegans sometimes produces delicate pink or coral-colored flowers during the winter months. These charming rosette-shaped succulents are popular for their powdery blue-gray foliage.
I think succulents are gorgeous whether they’re in flower or not, but I know how frustrating it can be to look forward to seeing those gorgeous, unique blooms and never get to see them. Follow these tips and you’ll likely see those blooms soon.
Do you have cacti in your succulent collection? They have special needs when it comes to blooming, so make sure to check out this guide on how to get cacti to flower.
Looking for the showiest succulent flowers you can find? Many of the succulents that grow in hot sun have the best flowers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for succulents to flower?
The time it takes for succulents to flower varies depending on the species and growing conditions. Some succulents may flower within a few months, while others may take several years. Generally, succulents will flower when they have reached maturity and are receiving adequate sunlight and water.
Are you supposed to let succulents flower?
Removing flower buds encourages more leafy growth and prevent the plant from using too much energy on flowering. If your succulent is weak or recovering, it may be best not to allow it to flower, or only allow a couple of flowers.
Do succulents die after flowering?
Monocarpic succulents die after flowering once. Perennial succulents, on the other hand, will continue to grow and flower year after year.
Can you propagate succulent flowers?
You can propagate succulents that flower. However, the flower itself can’t be propagated. The flower stem doesn’t typically have the energy to produce a new plant, having already produced a flower. Most succulents that flower can be propagated by a leaf or stem cutting or by producing offsets.