Getting A Succulent To Flower: Why Won’t My Succulent Bloom

succulent flower
succulent flower
(Image credit: David Eickhoff)

Most of us love our succulents just for the unusual and different types of foliage. Getting a succulent to flower is an additional bonus from this already wonderful plant. Yet, as proof that our thumb is really green, we may be concerned if there are no blooms on succulents. Learning how to make succulents bloom is somewhat different from getting blossoms on other plants. Let’s look at ways to encourage timely succulent flowering.

Why Won’t My Succulent Bloom?

Flowers usually appear on mature and properly located succulents. If you start new plants from leaves or cuttings, it might be five years or more before blooms appear. This time-frame is even longer for cactus, as some varieties don’t flower until the plant is 30 years old.

If you know the name of your succulent or cactus, try searching for bloom information for the individual plant. Some experts say your succulents bloom when they’re four to six years. Don’t be discouraged though. I’ve had several succulents bloom during their earlier periods.

Many succulents form buds during the moderate temperatures of spring while some wait for the autumn cool down. Others produce blooms in summer. Adequate sunlight is necessary for blooms on most of them, but some plants, such as Haworthia and Gasteria, might bloom in the shade.

Getting a Succulent to Flower

Try to adjust houseplant and outdoor succulents to half a day of morning sun. This helps the plant to chemically create what it needs to produce blooms and is a long-term process. Open and stretched growth on plants that should be compact shows they are not getting enough sun. The same goes for globular cacti. Warmer temps and longer days promote flowering in many of these specimens.

If you keep your succulents indoors, getting them to bloom may be more of a challenge, but getting them settled into the right lighting encourages blossoms. If you’ve been withholding water for winter, resume watering as temperatures warm. Don’t provide excess water, but saturate the soil.

Fertilize while soil is still damp. Increase from ¼ strength to ½ strength feeding of a high phosphorous food monthly. Use these steps if you find your succulent not flowering at the appropriate time.

Learning why a succulent won’t bloom explains how to care for your plants to get them to flower, but it is not much different from the care that keeps them at their healthiest and most appealing. The exception is water. You may be limiting the water you give your plants in order to stress them and get more color. If so, decide whether you want colorful succulents or blooms and water accordingly.

Keep in mind, however, succulents don’t need heavy watering, even to bloom. You may be surprised by a flower on the stressed succulent if it is sited properly – sometimes it’s all about location, location, location.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.