How to Revive Sad Succulents
Hardy succulents are perfect for low-maintenance outdoor planters and landscaping because they can tolerate hot summers, cold winters, and infrequent watering. The classic Hens & Chicks plant is so hard to kill that its Latin name, Sempervivum, means "always alive". We decided to stress a large 20 inch by 20 inch planter full of Sempervivum and Sedum to its limit, in order to share with you the astoundingly simple way to revive them.
This nightmare was once a beautiful living wall. It was originally planted in May of 2016 with a 40 cell wall planter (sorry, this item has been discontinued) and a selection from our hardy plug trays. It hung outside on a wall with plenty of sun, but received no rainfall from its location under the eaves of the roof. While this planting appeared to be beyond repair, we were not without hope. We brought it into the filtered light of the greenhouse, watered it deeply once a week, and waited.
One Week of Care
After a mere seven days, there was already a noticeable improvement. The Sempervivum hearts glowed green with life and crispy rosettes filled with water and unfurled their leaves. The growing tips of some of the Sedum varieties also began to show signs of life.
Six Weeks of Care
With another five weeks of regular watering and slight protection from the sun, all the succulents were vibrant and refilling the cells of the wall planter.
Eight Weeks of Care
To be clear, all we had to do so far to achieve this astonishing recuperation is tend to the succulents' needs for filtered sunlight and occasional water. At this point there's been no planting, fertilizing, soil adding, or pruning. Without spending a dime, we were able to revive the equivalent of 30 two inch Sempervivum pots, 105 Sempervivum plugs, and 49 Sedum plugs with an estimated retail value of $306.40.
With a solid base of healthy succulents, the planter just needed a few touch-ups to look its best. There were a couple of gaps to be filled, some overgrown Sedum spurium to prune, and the Sempervivum rosettes that were blooming needed to be replaced before they went to seed and died. We were able to transplant chicks from some of the original rosettes into new parts of the planter to fill in gaps for free. In the photo below you can see the final results of our two month succulent revival project.
Final Succulent Planter Makeover
- Moved planter out of full sun and into bright, filtered light
- Watered weekly for eight weeks
- Removed overgrown Sedum and blooming Sempervivum
- Filled gaps with the following varieties:
- Sempervivum heuffelii 'Mystique'
- Sempervivum 'Grammens'
- Sempervivum calcareum 'Fire Dragon'
- Sempervivum 'Red Nails'
- Sempervivum 'Silver King'
- Sedum divergens
- Sedum japonicum 'Tokyo Sun'
- Sedum album 'Black Pearl'
- Sedum dasyphyllum
- Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce'
- Sedum sexangulare
- Sedum 'Little Missy' (variegated)
Even if your succulents appear completely dead, resume proper care by following the tips on our plant care guide and you may be surprised by how many burst back to life. Extreme succulent recovery does not require huge effort or expensive interventions; with small adjustments to sunlight, soil, ventilation, and water, most hardy succulent damage can be reversed completely and save you a lot of money. Including the succulents added in the final step, our planter holds about $340 worth of plants, but only cost $31 to refill.
Have your own experience with these amazingly resilient succulents? We would love to see your before and after shots! Feel free to share them in the Customer Photos section of our website by clicking Submit Your Experience.
For more information on these incredible plants, check out the following resources: