Many of you may have discovered the beauty and low-maintenance of using succulents (including cactus) in containers.


With succulents coming in a myriad of colors and unique shapes, they add welcome beauty to our outdoor spaces.

Blue Elf Aloe (Aloe x ‘Blue Elf’)

While using succulents, as opposed to flowering annuals, in containers is more of a low-maintenance option, they do need to regular applications of fertilizer.

Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

Succulents that are grown in the ground get their nutrients from the surrounding soil.  Micro-organisms in the soil are constantly breaking down organic matter, which adds nutrients.  

However, the soil in pots doesn’t undergo this process and plants will need supplemental nutrients in the form of fertilizer.

This is even true of cactus and other succulents.

Lady’s Slipper (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
So how do you go about fertilizing succulents in containers?

1. Type of Fertilizer: You can use a liquid, low-nitrogen fertilizer or go for the organic option of fish emulsion.

2. How Often to Fertilize: If you water your potted succulents monthly, apply the fertilizer at full strength, following package directions for ornamental plants.

– For succulents that are watered 2 – 3 times a month, apply the fertilizer at 1/4 the recommended strength.  

3. When to Fertilize:  Succulents should be watered during the growing season, which begins in spring, goes through summer and lasts into early fall.  


Using succulents in containers is a great way to add unique beauty to your garden and with regular fertilizing, will go on looking their best.


Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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