Succulents are small xerophytic plants that are easy to maintain and can be found in many shapes and sizes. However, from time to time, some people have experienced their succulents giving off strong scents. Let’s take a closer look at this.
What causes my succulents to smell? Succulents can emit a sweet strong fragrance when they are in bloom. Most not flowering succulents don’t emit any scent until a few conditions become present, such as rot or improper drainage.
Do Succulents have a scent of theirs own?
The majority of succulents, however, are not characterized by a strong herbal essence, but there are some exceptions.
The flowers of mature succulents develop a specific scent that in turn makes the plant smell sweet when it is flowering. Normally in their growing conditions, succulents don’t have much of a smell. But when they flower, they become more fragrant.
A majority of flowering cactuses and other members of the succulent family, such as Hoyas and Lithops, exhibit this characteristic.
Examples of Some Fragrant Succulents
- If you are in search of sweet-smelling succulents, you must consider Lithops which produce scented flowers in the afternoon period during blooming. Hoyas are another succulent that produces scented flowers in the afternoon.
- The cactus genus Mammillaria produces some of the sweetest-smelling flowers.
- The hedgehog cactus is a large genus of South American cactuses that produces fragrant flowers. Hedgehog Cacti is one of the most popular succulents for its beautiful scent.
- In addition to their moderate blooms, Agave virginica leaves behind a sweet fragrance.
- Cactuses of the Cereus genus are known to produce some of the most beautiful smelling flowers, especially the night-blooming ones. The smell, however, can be quite overpowering, especially when grown indoors.
- The flowers of Sansevieria produce a strong sweet scent when they bloom.
- There are several other genera of cactus that emit a citrus-like fragrance, including Epiphyllums and Discocactus.
- When Aloe and Haworthias flower, the smell is extremely mild.
However, some succulent lovers complain that some succulents have their own unique smell, which is not as good as the wonderful sweet scent.
There are several factors that can cause this, some of which can be alarming and others not so much.
Common Reasons Why Succulents Have A Bad Smell
It’s a gardener’s worst nightmare to encounter root rot. With succulents, root rot is relatively common since succulent roots are incredibly sensitive to improper watering practices and poor drainage.
Xerophytes, or plants that require little water, such as succulents, can easily catch rotten roots when watered more frequently than necessary. This smell is due to the soil catching a rotten egg-like smell.
If left untreated, the rot will slowly spread across the upper body of the plant and kill it within a week or two. You will need to check whether the roots are healthy before proceeding. If needed, you will have to perform a bit of surgery to save your succulent.
Fungal manifestation in the soil
In order to grow plants indoors, it is important to have a high-quality drainage system.
Due to the limited supply of resources in indoor conditions, even minor problems, which the plant can easily settle while growing outdoors, become alarming issues.
Inhabiting soil that is poor in drainage will likely result in the soil mixture remaining damp for a long time, which will easily foster the growth of fungus gnats and other pests.
When the roots of the succulent are regularly exposed to waterlogged conditions for days on end, the chances of root rot increase.
Urination by Pets
While investigating why your plants have suddenly started to smell bad even when they appear healthy, it is easy to overlook this reason.
It is most likely that animals will urinate on your succulent plants if you have pets, but if you have succulents in your garden then it is possible that they will trespass and urinate on them. Though not probable, it is definitely a possibility.
Usage of an Excessive amount of Compost in the soil mix
When growing succulents in pots, compost is never a necessity because succulents are well adapted to grow in arid, drought-prone conditions with nutrient-deficient soil.
Compost will actually damage succulents in pots as it will reduce drainage and aeration, and stinks a lot. Therefore, compost is not suitable for growing succulents in pots.
If your succulent smells bad after using compost from your garden, then it could be a viable reason. For example, if you used too many greenery in the compost mix, then it can smell like sewage. So if you are using compost make sure you balance it correctly.
Certain types of Succulents are known to be a bit smelly
You’re right that some succulents smell sweet, especially during the blooming season, while others can have a “not so good” kind of scent.
This varies greatly from person to person. One person may find the scent of a succulent enticing while another may find it irritative.
The smells are hard to interpret, as people react differently to them. I have never experienced such an effect until now.
Root rot is responsible for the foul smell, so you must remove the affected areas with a sterilized knife.
In order to determine whether or not the soil mix is drainage friendly, you should first determine how long it generally takes for the soil to dry, and then act accordingly.
When the mixture is not fully dry within two to three days, then it needs a substantial amount of drainage and should have a higher content of inorganic materials. Succulent soil mixes must be very drainage friendly and contain a higher content of inorganic materials.
If you feel that excessive compost is the culprit behind the smell, then you can consider planting the succulent again in a brand new mix of soil.
Using a cactus soil mix can be used for succulents, as well as mixing in a little pumice or akadama, which will help the succulent do well on its own.
In the case that you are sensitive to the sharp scent of the succulent and that it has a bad smell naturally while in perfect health, you can decide whether to grow it outdoors or gift it to a relative or friend who does not find the scent of the succulent offensive.
Checklist to make sure your succulents do not smell bad in the future
Sun-loving succulents thrive in 4 to 6 hours of indirect sunlight daily. Therefore, keep them near south or east-facing windows and balconies for the best results. A proper amount of sunlight will not only produce better plant growth, but will also help dry out the soil faster.
You can produce your own succulent mix at home by using a mixture of organic components like pumice or perlite, pebbles, coarse sand, gravels, and other inorganic components as well. A sturdy base will save you from lots of headaches in the future.
You should ask around about a particular succulent’s scent if you are particularly sensitive to particular scents before bringing it home from the nursery.
After purchasing succulents online or at a local garden shop, always transplant them because you don’t know what kind of soil they come in. If there is already pest manifestation in the soil, it can spread from that pot to other pots.
Underwatering is not as damaging to succulents as overwatering, so if you’re in doubt, hold off on watering. Let the soil sit properly dry before you water again.