Indoor succulent care doesn’t have to be a mystery. Our complete how-to guide gives you all you need to care for your succulents. Succulents are known for their thick stems and swollen, fleshy leaves. These puffy appendages act a water reservoir, allowing the plants to live in arid climates that may experience minimal rain. What their drought resistant physiology means for indoor gardeners is that succulents don’t require frequent watering. Also, they can survive even when you’ve forgotten about them for a while. This does not mean, however, that they don’t require certain essentials to flourish.
Indoor Succulent Care - Watering
Regardless of the type of plant, watering is often the factor that determines if your plant lives or dies. Plants that don’t like a lot of water can be easily killed by overwatering. On the other hand, plants that do like water will shrivel and die if you neglect them for too long. Just because succulents don’t need to be watered frequently doesn’t mean you can just water them however you like.
Overwatering succulents can cause root rot and they can eventually die if their root system is perpetually soaked. At the same time, they do need to stay hydrated. When it’s time to water, give them a nice, deep watering. Then let them dry out completely before you water them again. They can actually survive on just dew or mist, but they do prefer more than that to thrive. You definitely don’t need to water these guys daily. And in their dormant period, which is typically the cooler months, you can water them even less often.
Provide Ample Sun
Some species of succulents do very well in low light, but most varieties like to get a lot of sun. In fact, succulents typically enjoy about 6 hours of full, direct sunlight per day. So, place them near a bright south or west facing window. If you don’t have ample sunlight available in your house, you can purchase a grow light to provide a boost. Or, if you aren’t too picky, just go with a species of succulent that does well in low light. Snake plants or jade plants are popular low-light-loving options.
Indoor Succulent Care - Proper Soil
Drainage is incredibly important for succulents, because they don’t like to sit in a pot full of stagnant, water-soaked soil. Your best bet when it comes to potting soil is to use a potting mix made for cacti and succulents. These special mixes are designed to be well-draining yet still retain enough moisture to provide ample water to the roots. Succulent potting mixes often contain a good deal of perlite and small gravel. They may even have some coarse sand mixed in. African Violet potting mix will work for succulents as well.
Choose the Right Container
Again, drainage is a must. Unless you’re the succulent whisperer and can intuit the exact amount of water your plant needs, choose a pot with drainage holes. Drainage holes are your back up plan for when you accidentally over water your plants. They’ll allow all that excess water to drain away from the roots. Glass jars and terrariums look great when they’re filled with succulents. But if you worry about overwatering and drainage, try a nice, breathable terra cotta or ceramic pot.
If you’ve purchased your succulent from a nursery, you’ll probably need to repot it. Consider a slightly larger pot, so it has room to grow. Succulents don’t usually need as much repotting as other plants. Choose something with ample space, and you should be able to leave it in that pot for quite a while.
Watch for Pests
Pests aren’t often a problem for indoor succulents but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Fungal gnats, mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites could take up residence on your succulent if given the chance. This opportunity is usually provided by bringing a new plant into your home that already has an infestation. To prevent contamination of your other plants, place new plants in a temporary quarantine. Watch them for a few days to be sure no little pests have hitched a ride into your home.
If pests find their way in and become a problem, you can usually save your plants with a little TLC. Mealy bugs can often be washed off with a powerful spray of water. Or try using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Scale can also be removed with rubbing alcohol or you can simply scrape them off the plant. You’ll notice you have spider mites if you see any small spider webs forming on your plants. You can usually just wash them off by spraying your plants with water. If all else fails, you might need to try some insecticidal soap to completely remove the infestation.
Signs Your Succulent is Unhealthy
Keeping a casual eye on your succulent will tell you if it’s content or in trouble and needs your help. Yellow, brown, transparent, or droopy leaves are all signs that your succulent is getting too much water. Shriveled or dry and crispy leaves will let you know it’s not getting enough water. Brown, crisp leaves might also mean your succulent is getting way too much hot, direct sunlight. Spindly stems or leaves that start trying to grow toward the sun are signs your succulent needs more sunlight.
Unless your plant actually dies, these problems are almost always fixable. Adjust your watering schedule or move your plant to a more suitable lighting situation. Or, if it seems like it’s growing too big for its current home, repot it with fresh soil. Don’t worry if you see the lower leaves shriveling up and dying. This is very normal, and you can just pick them off. It is a problem if the newer, uppermost leaves are dying though. In this case, you may need to adjust the care you’re giving to your succulent.
Indoor Succulent Care - The Wrap-up
It’s not difficult to care for succulents, as long as they’re getting enough sun and the right amount of water. Their soil can dry out before they need water, so you don’t need to keep a constant eye on them. Succulents are hardy little plants, which makes them an excellent choice for beginners. They’re also a great option for those who tend to kill everything they try to grow. Different species have different care requirements, so make sure you read the plant’s label to determine their specific needs.