Watch out, this plant noob has started growing a succulent army.

Watch out, this plant noob has started growing a succulent army. // Blog post and illustration by Asti @ atypicalnarrative

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, this plant noob has started growing a succulent army to take over the world. Oh, don’t run away just yet! It’ll take about 800 years before she can propagate enough to do anything so treacherous. Take a seat and read this post and all will be fine (for now).

I’m really a succulent noob.

Let’s just get this out-of-the-way: I’m a succulent plant noob. My family has never been the kind to have plants around the house and I’ve always preferred to dedicate my nurturing skills towards raising my blind bitch and handsome snot dog instead. I figured animals are okay because they can tell you when you’re doing a bad job. A plant though? Once I received the “you’re a bad mom” memo they’d be dead.

It wasn’t until my mom bought me a couple of succulents that I transformed into this plant-moving Poison Ivy monster.

What started as three little innocent succulent plants in tiny two pots turned into a massive propagation experiment in which I googled all the things, impulsively bought many succulents, and obsessively watched all the detached leaves for any sign that a new plant was forming. That illustration above? I wouldn’t say it’s that much of an exaggeration. Every morning I would literally go upstairs and just stare at these suckers waiting for something to happen and if I saw the slightest hint of growth I would take a picture and praise the plant gods and do a little plant happy dance.

Noobness = life and death.

There’s just something so fascinating about watching a plant come to life. There’s beauty in the way that a succulent can be ruined by over-watering or lack of sunlight and yet still persevere if separated from that toxicity and given a chance. I don’t know if it’s just my experience with depression that makes me value these little guys so much, but boy do I root for every little leaf to grow into its own beautiful plant.

That being said, there have been a few casualties in my succulent army. I’d say only half of the adult plants I’ve started with are actually still alive today because most have rotten to death thanks to my inability to conquer proper watering. It’s gotten to the point where I even have a cemetery bowl next to my army where my poor over-watered plants are placed once I realized the harm I’ve done. RIP my over-watered friends. The sacrifice you made to educate me about succulents’ thirst has not gone unnoticed.

Watch out, I have started growing a succulent army. || Illustration by Asti @ bit.l/yatypicalnarrative

Oh, and that army thing.

Today, I now have over 50 succulent plants I’m trying to take care of and I’m really excited to see how they’ll look when August comes around. Why? Well, while I may have claimed that this succulent army is destined to take over the world, in reality its main purpose is to take part in my wedding. I will be using these little guys to decorate the reception and, if any are big enough, to create my bouquet. (I may even have them available as favors, though that’d be more likely for the big family celebration as most of our wedding guests are from London and it’d be a bit complicated to fly them back.) I’m really excited because my little army adds another personal touch to the wedding and, dammit, they’re just so cute. Let’s hope they all survive the plant cemetery until then…

Your turn! Anyone else a succulent lover? Have you ever tried taking care of any on your own? Or even a different type of plant? I’d love to hear if anyone else has experience with obsessively stalking their growth or mourning a plant cemetery.

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13 Comments

  1. I’m so excited about this, and I want to see lots more pictures! I’ve been mildly obsessed with succulents and cacti for a few years now, but I’m mostly given up on ever being able to keep them alive. Maybe I’ll try again here, with better windows/light, but I’ve had so many beautiful little plants die on me, and I’m not sure I can take much more. I also can’t wait to see all the succulent pictures from your wedding!

    • Haha, believe me, I’m right there with you on the keeping them alive struggle. The best thing about succulents is how easy they are to propagate so as soon as I notice one is starting to fall apart I collect its leaves to propagate into new plants – that’s how I have so many! Of course, they do take a while to grow so even though I have so many they’re fairly small. May end up still ordering some more for the wedding, all things depending.

      Last week was a bit of a mess because I finally started taking them outside since it’s warmer so they can get better light since some are stretching out, but then it was a whole other thing of trying to figure out how much light is okay (some got a little burnt) and how much more water they needed (I ended up overwatering some) so yeah, it’s a constant game! I’ll try to post a couple of pics on Twitter later this week though so you can see them 🙂

      • Oh, that’s a good idea! I should have done that. I guess it’s harder to do with cacti, though, then other types of succulents. I had a mix of both. How many do you have now? I think I overwatered mine, too. I mean, I read up about how to care for them, but it’s still really hard. So go you!

      • Oh yeah, I have no idea about propagating when it comes to cacti. I’ve only gone the leafy succulent route. I think I have about 50 small ones – ones that I have been growing out of leaves over the past half years or the tops from the ones I’ve taken apart, 20 baby ones – ones that are super tiny just starting to grow out of leaves that probably won’t really become much for the wedding, and about 10 big ones (though tbh about half of those were recently bought). I did snap some photos this morning so will share them on Twitter in a bit!

  2. As if you on your own as a Evil Mastermind wasn’t scary enough, you now have a plant army? We’re doomed! 😉

    I saw a succulent shaped candle today and thought of you lol.

    I think I read that if you put your finger in the soil and it’s dry up to the first crease then it needs watering? Something like that. Lol.

    • Haha, yeah, I have read tons and tons of things about succulents. It’s a bit of a learning curve though because they need different amounts of water depending on their size/age and most of mine are leaves I’ve propagated so they started super tiny so figuring out how to do so gradually has been a bit of a mess and I have watered ones that I thought were dried out using the finger test but then fell apart from overwatering so yeah – definitely not as easy as it sounds!

      But still, I’m determined to make it work… even if I have to buy a bunch of new ones before the wedding 😉

    • Thanks Bethany! I’m sure I’ll be sharing pics from the wedding so we’ll see how my succulents are doing then! I’m excited for it!

  3. This is… perhaps the most adorable thing I have read in my life. I adore the idea of all the small succulents you’ve been nurturing decorating your wedding – what a bright & lovely thought! I myself own only two succulents (their names are Napoleon & Pauline) who are my constant companions, & I do look forwarding to getting many more once college has begun & I have a more stable location of my own. I expect many many more pictures of your beautiful succulent babies, my friend! I have no doubt they are utterly gorgeous & will be even more so at the wedding ☺️

    • Aw, thanks! I feel a little bad mine don’t have names like yours though. I guess because I’m still not quite good at keeping them all alive I’m worried naming them will cause some additional heartbreak? haha.

      And yes, will post more photos on Twitter/Instagram soon! (And of course what they look for the wedding. I’m so excited!)

  4. You have 50 succulents?! That’s so cool!! I’m so bad at looking after plants. I should try getting a succulent. It’s really cool that you’re personally growing all of these succulents for your wedding, that’s a really cool touch. I think people will really appreciate that!

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    • If I’m remembering correctly I’ve bought like ten succulents since winter but have about 50 succulents due to propagating them. Unfortunately most of them are quite small because they take a little while to grow out of their little leaves, but hey, I’ll still find a way to make them work. 🙂

      And yes, I do recommend it if you’re up for the challenge! The best thing about succulents is if you notice you’ve done something wrong to ruin the plant early on (whether it’s overwatering or lack of sunlight or what have you), you can pluck the leaves off and watch as they form their own plants! It makes the whole accidentally-killing-your-plants thing a little easier to cope with. 😉

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