5 Best Fertilizer for Succulents & Cactus
You may not think about fertilizing your succulents, but know that, like many other houseplants, succulents will stay healthier and develop better with regular fertilizing.
If you haven’t been fertilizing succulents and you don’t know where to start, I’ll catch you up to speed with the best fertilizers for succulents, including how and when to fertilize them for best results.
Best Fertilizer for Succulents
The fertilizers below are either specially designed for use on succulents or they are suitable for all indoor or outdoor use.
These are my top picks for fertilizing succulents:
– Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food
Miracle-Gro is already a household name in plant fertilizers. Their special formulation for succulents is designed for all types of cacti and succulents including aloe vera, jade plant and others.
The fertilizer comes in a bottle fitted with a pump to dispense the foamy liquid fertilizer directly to the soil. You can apply the fertilizer directly to the soil of your succulents or you can dilute it in water, and water your succulents with it.
The manufacturer also offers dosage recommendations — 1 pump of the liquid for small pots, 5 pumps for pots larger than 6 inches in diameter. Apply every two weeks.
Should any foam from the fertilizer get on the leaves of your succulent, the manufacturer recommends that you rinse it down. If you don’t rinse the product off the leaves, it could damage them.
– Espoma Cactus! Liquid Plant Food
This liquid plant food is formulated with organic ingredients and contains millions of beneficial microbes that improve the quality of the soil, enhancing the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients and withstand diseases.
It can be used to fertilize succulents and cacti. Simply dilute the liquid in 1 gallon of water using the measuring dose provided and water your succulents with it. Use every 2-4 weeks.
Because this product is approved for organic gardening, you can use it even outdoors without having to worry about any detrimental effects on the environment or any vegetables or herbs you may be growing nearby.
The Espoma Cactus plant food promotes not only plant growth but also flowering in all succulents and cacti. Use as directed, and enjoy healthier and stronger succulents.
– Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Plus Outdoor & Indoor
A granular, smart-release fertilizer formulated with 11 essential nutrients is also among my top choices for succulent fertilizing.
Although not specifically created for succulents, it can be used on succulents too and all other indoor or outdoor plants.
The granules in this fertilizer are coated with a semi-permeable resin that will release nutrients when in contact with water and in warm temperatures, making the release of nutrients during the growing season when it’s most optimal for plants.
One application will feed your plants for up to 6 months, so you don’t need to worry about remembering to reapply it.
Sprinkle over the soil or mix into the soil, then water your plants.
– Succulent Fertilizer by Perfect Plants
This fertilizer from Perfect Plants has been created to meet the needs of cati, succulents and other desert plants. It’s designed to sustain healthy growth and development of your cacti plants and increase petal size.
The slow-release fertilizer comes in a 5 oz resealable bag, but it’s a 5-year supply for a single succulent, so it’s a concentrated formula that will last you a long time even if you have multiple cacti and succulents around the house.
There are two ways to apply this plant food — you can mix it into the soil when planting the succulent or simply scatter on top of the soil.
Make sure to water the plant after applying the fertilizer. Because it’s a slow-release fertilizer, one application will last for up to 6 months.
With this fertilizer, your succulents will be easier to propagate and the chances of stem stretching are also reduced.
– EarthPods Premium Cactus & Succulent Plant Food
These organic fertilizer capsules are probably one of my favorite ways to fertilize my cacti and succulents. One tube contains 100 plant food capsules that stimulate root and stem development and add vibrancy to your succulents.
The Earth Pods are easy to apply, you can simply stick one into the soil near the stem of your succulent or open up the pods and scatter them on the soil around the plant.
The pods contain organic plant nutrients, trace minerals, soil life & humates in a form immediately available to your plants. Add the fertilizer every 14 to 21 days for best results.
As per the manufacturer’s dosage recommendations, you should apply 1-2 EarthPods for small succulents, 2-4 for medium ones, and 4-8 for large succulents.
How Often to Fertilize Succulents?
It’s important to remember that succulents grow at a much slower pace compared to other plants and they don’t require frequent feeding.
But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be fertilized at all. A bit of fertilizing during the growing season will help the plant with any nutritional deficiencies that it may have.
Fertilizing adds vibrancy, enhances root development and stem growth and it’s beneficial to the overall health of the plant.
As for how often you should apply fertilizer to your succulents, the answer is — it depends. It depends on the type of fertilizer and the dosage recommendations of the manufacturer.
The succulent fertilizers I discussed in this article have different dosage recommendations because they’re not all have the same formulation.
Slow release fertilizers usually don’t need reapplying for several months, while liquid ones may need to be reapplied every 2-4 weeks.
Start fertilizing your succulents in spring when the growing season kicks off and in summer. This works for succulents that are dormant in the winter.
Don’t apply the fertilizer more often than recommended on the label. You won’t be doing a service to your succulents.
On the contrary, you may cause toxicity that can burn the roots and harm your succulents.
How to Fertilize Succulents Indoors?
Here too the label of the fertilizing product will give you detailed instructions on how to use the fertilizer on your succulents.
Some fertilizers, like those that come in liquid form, will require that you dilute them in water before you apply them or some can even be applied directly to the soil without any prior dilution.
Slow-release succulents are usually in granular form and you may need to apply them with a scoop provided by the manufacturer or observe other dosage recommendations.
Slow-release fertilizers will last longer (usually around 2-6 months), being a constant source of nutrients for your plants.
These types of fertilizers can be mixed into the potting soil when planting the succulent or spread evenly on the top of the soil.
It’s important to water the soil after applying (and for liquid fertilizers even before) to help deliver the nutrients to the plant and prevent any possible fertilizer burn.
When using liquid fertilizers, they can get on the leaves of the succulents. If that happens, make sure to rinse off any remaining fertilizer.
Fertilizers are not absorbed through the leaves of the succulents, plus they can even burn the leaves.
Effects of Using Too Much Fertilizer on Succulents
Because succulents aren’t fast-growing plants, they can’t handle if too much fertilizer is added to their soil.
Overfertilizing can mean that you’re adding a large amount of fertilizer during an application or that you’re fertilizing more often than you should. In both cases, symptoms may take 2-3 days to appear or sometimes even a week in the case of slow-release fertilizers.
Here are some signs that you may have overfertilized your succulents:
- Leggy growth or elongation of leaves that isn’t related to lack of light
- Discoloration of leaves and stem which could signal a root burn problem, making it impossible for plants to absorb any more nutrients
- Loss of leaves
To avoid these problems, make sure you follow the instructions on the label of your fertilizer and you don’t apply fertilizer more often than it’s needed.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Succulents?
Coffee grounds can be a good source of nitrogen, potassium and magnesium, and they’re used to fertilize many other houseplants.
While I’ve never used coffee grounds on succulents, I’ve heard they can help them look healthier and even bloom more frequently.
But here’s the thing with coffee grounds added to the soil of potted succulents — there simply aren’t enough microorganisms in the soil of potted succulents to efficiently break down ground coffee.
To overcome this hurdle, you can either brew the grounds and use the diluted solution to water your succulents, or use composted coffee grounds instead.
When fertilizing succulents or cacti, think along the lines of little is more. Undiluted fertilizers or fertilizing too much will not help succulents grow faster nor better. Nor will they bloom more often.
Using the right amount of fertilizer will help your succulents establish stronger roots and healthier stems. Your plants will be more vibrant and blooms may be larger and more frequent.
Any of the cacti and succulent fertilizers I recommended will help keep your succulent plants in good health when applied correctly.