Indoor Succulent Primer: Everything You Need to Know for Thriving Succulents

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Succulents are one of the most popular houseplants to have. Succulents are popular because of their low care requirements. In their natural habitats, succulents can survive in harsh conditions. Their durability makes them relatively simple for even beginners or those with less-than-optimal green thumbs when kept indoors. This article will help you discover everything you need to know to have a thriving garden of indoor succulents.

Succulents 101

Indoor succulents are one of the best plants for beginner gardeners but, if not prepped and maintained correctly, even these relatively simple plants can and will die.

Gather Succulent Supplies

Gather Succulent Supplies

To set yourself up for success, start with gathering common supplies you will need for your indoor succulents.

The key to any indoor succulent survival to help them thrive is finding the right pot, soil, lighting, temperatures, and picking the best succulent for your lifestyle.

Containers

Lucky for us gardeners, succulents have shallow roots and can survive in most containers. However, despite not needing much space, succulents need proper drainage because standing water will quickly kill your succulents. After finding your pot of choice or even a Tupperware container, ensure your succulent pot has drainage holes in the bottom.

A pot of choice for many succulent caretakers, especially beginners, are terra cotta pots. Terra cotta pots are porous and help encourage drainage and keeps the soil cool.

Once you have your container and the drainage holes drilled through, you can use a mesh netting, pantyhose, thin wiring, or another type of sifter to allow water drainage but soil retention.

A sifter taped over the holes will allow water to escape the pot and help with optimal drainage to keep your succulent thriving. Most succulents are a type of desert plant, and they do not like being overly saturated with water.

Soil

Picking the correct type of soil for your indoor succulents is simple. A succulent wants quick-draining soil. You can go to your local gardening store and pick up any soil bag that states it is for cacti, succulents, or palm plants. These soil types are optimal for allowing your plant to soak up the water they need and still drain any excess to keep from causing plant death.

If you prefer to create your own soil mixture for your succulents blending equal parts perlite, sand, and potting soil typically forms the ideal mix for these cacti plants. If you use regular potting soil, your plant will be highly susceptible to root rot which is the leading cause of indoor succulents’ death.

When bringing in new succulents, it is always best to repot with fresh soil as soon as possible. Repotting new plants when you bring them indoors will start your plant on a maintenance schedule and allow you to check for any pest lurking.

Lighting

Succulents love sunlight and warmth. Even though they are desert plants, they prefer plenty of indirect sunlight; direct sunlight can still burn these warm-loving plants. If you notice your plant is turning brownish red, that is a good sign your plant is getting too much sunlight and needs to move to more indirect lighting. 

Depending on the type of succulents you picked, some can tolerate low lighting conditions. If you have a succulent kept in low light, keep an eye on the leaf spacing. Leaves that start stretching apart or gapping indicate that your succulent needs a bit more sunlight to grow properly.

Temperature

Succulents love indoor temperatures. The ideal temperatures for indoor succulents are between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Luckily for us, 60 to 80 Fahrenheit is a standard range for indoor living conditions.

Keep Your Succulent Tidy

Grooming your plant is the first step to preventing pests or insects. Pest and insects love dead foliage and rotten leaves. It is best to get rid of decaying plant foliage as quickly as possible to keep them healthy and happy. Grab a pair of shears to keep on hand to make grooming quick and easy.

Along with removing dead plant leaves and flowers it is ideal to keep the soil beneath to stems or plant leaves. Ensure that soil never covers or starts burying plant parts besides the roots. You can cover the soil surface with pebbles to help prevent dirt from getting tossed up. If you decide to add in rocks, be sure you check deep into the soil when watering to ensure you never overwater a succulent.

Succulents are slow growers, but this does not mean they cannot become crowded and untidy. If your succulent starts to appeal leggy, crowded, or too tall, grab your handy dandy pruning shears and start clipping away.

Best Indoor Succulents for Beginners

Choosing the succulent that fits your lifestyle and indoor conditions is crucial for thriving indoor succulents.

Some succulents can survive with low light, some do well when neglected more than others, some succulents are hardy, and some are more tender and need a little more love.

Below is a curated list of the 10 best indoor succulents for beginners:

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe plants make attractive indoor succulents to add to your decor. Aloe plants are relatively simple to care for and can survive with low sunlight requirements. Watering your Aloe plants require soaking and forgetting. Basically, meaning they like to be saturated with water and then forgotten until the soil is about 90% dry before rewatering again.

Aloe Vera plants are not only beautiful succulents; they provide medical benefits as well. The gel from inside Aloe leaves can be applied topically to cuts and burns to provide relief.

Aloe plants are typically indoors located in bathroom and kitchen windowsills.

Indoor Succulents Jade Plant

Jade Plant Indoor Succulents

Jade plants are another easy to care for indoor succulents. Jade plants have oval, fleshy, deep green leaves and thick stems and, with proper care, will grow roughly two inches per year.

Jade plants love light and have low water requirements. Jade plants will do best with plenty of indirect sunlight and water when the inch beneath the top layer of the soil starts to feel dry.

Be cautious to never overwater a Jade plant, just like any other succulent, but Jade plants are not very drought tolerant, unlike other succulent varieties.

Burro’s Tail

Burro’s Tail

Burro’s tails are delicate, divine succulents to spruce up any indoor area. Burro’s tails are known to some as Donkey Tails.

Burro’s tails love direct sunlight if you rotate them periodically to prevent sunburn. These gorgeous succulents thrive best in hanging pots near windows, allowing them to grow and overflow the pot sides.

Burro’s tails are easy to maintain indoors. They are drought-tolerant plants, meaning less is more in terms of watering. Water thoroughly but allow the soil to dry completely before watering again.

Indoor Succulents Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus Indoor Succulents

Christmas Cactus, aka Schlumbergera. Common succulent, especially around holidays, is well-loved and a favorite to many gardeners. The Christmas cactus is not only an easy to care for plant, but it produces beautiful blooms from its stems, unlike other succulents making it a fun succulent to have.

Christmas cactus’ love water but do not want to be saturated. Water frequently during blooming season, but ensure your cactus is in the optimal soil and pot to allow needed drainage. These cacti need plenty of indirect sunlight to bloom and prefer temperatures between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit.

A major hurdle to keep in mind if considering a Schlumbergera is that these succulents need moisture in the air. Many homes, especially in the cooler months, are low on moisture in the air. To supplement this, you would need to add a humidity tray beneath your succulent or place a humidifier close by to disperse needed moisture throughout the air.

Panda Plant

Panda Plant Indoor Succulents

Panda plants are one of the easiest succulents to care for indoors. They do not like frequent watering, do not need extra humidity, and only require indirect sunlight to grow optimally. Panda plants like to be thoroughly watered once and completely dry out between then and the next watering. Panda plants do not need extra moisture in the air because they thrive on normal indoor parameters.

Panda plants are unique plants, and the red markings on the leaf edges makes them a colorful addition to any room. The red markings created by tiny hairs that grow from in trichomes have a velvety feel. The color panda plant gets its name from the look and feel of the plant hairs.

Indoor Succulents Zebra Haworthia

Zebra Haworthia

Zebra plants have dark green thick leaves with white tubercles along the outer surfaces. The cluster of the tubercle bumps gives the plant the zebra-like effect.

It keeps being said that succulents are easy to care for indoors, but this one particularly is another insanely simple plant to keep.

This plant is called the fail-safe for many inexperienced gardeners.

Zebra Haworthia’s do not need much light or watering and do not require much maintenance at all. Repot the plant in fresh soil when you first get it indoors, give it a good watering, find it a location with some sunlight, and then check on your Zebra plant every week or so to ensure it is doing well.

One of the biggest things to monitor with Zebra plants is watering. While they do not require much, you need to be sure the soil is dry two knuckles deep beneath the soil before watering again but also not watering can cause your plant to droop. Checking weekly is optimal.

Hens-and-Chicks

Hens-and-Chicks

Hen-and-Chick succulents love bright light. Finding them a sunny window spot is best to thrive indoors. Hen-and-chick plants require soil and water just like any other succulent, and like most others, they prefer the soak and dry method between watering’.

One of the neat things about Hen-and-Chick plants is that they can survive in cold temperatures. As low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, making these plants great indoor additives for those in cooler regions.

Indoor Succulents Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palms may look like a palm tree and carry the name of a palm tree, yet they are indeed succulents. Ponytail palms are visually appealing and, if well cared for, can grow relatively tall for an indoor plant.

Most palm trees would love water; however, a Ponytail palm not so much. They prefer to be watered well and then allowed to dry out between watering. These palm-like succulents do well indoors because they can grow in low light if they have periodic exposure to higher lighting conditions. Experts say that you can leave your plant on a balcony throughout the summer and bring it indoors in low lighting throughout the winter months, and this succulent will survive just fine. If you prefer to keep your palm indoors, try to allow one day a week at least bright indirect light.

Snake Plant

Snake Plant

The strong, the bold, and the popular snake plant. Snake plants do well indoors because they can survive in harsh conditions, and when given the necessary care indoors, they will easily thrive.

Snake plants have pointy green leaves and scream character. Snake plants do well with medium to high indirect light, prefer the soak and dry method when watering, and do well in low humidity.

Snake plants will rot and die if given too much water, and they can easily sunburn, so providing medium lighting and a light hand with water will be best for a snake plant.

Indoor Succulents Hoya Heart

Hoya Heart

Hoya hearts are just that; adorable heart-shaped succulents that will thrive indoors. The Hoya Heart has a nickname as the sweetheart plant. These plants make the sweetest gifts for holidays and special occasions.

The Hoya heart itself comes from a much larger plant. When trimmed with some stem left, the heart leaf can survive for years. Hoya’s grow at an extremely slow rate, so having a full-blown plant could take decades.

Hoya hearts prefer temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees and can survive in low lighting conditions but will do best in bright indirect light.

Hoya hearts like to be fertilized regularly and watered when the soil starts to dry, but they do not want to become saturated. After watering, allow the Hoya soil to drain and then water again when the soil is dry to the touch.

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Conclusion

As you may have noticed, indoor succulents are some of the easiest plants to manage in your home.

Succulents are not only simple plants, but they are fun and beautiful additions to any space. Do not hesitate to add a succulent to your home.

FAQ

All succulents prefer well-draining soil. Well-draining soil is usually a cacti mixture consisting of sand, perlite, and basic potting soil. The porousness of cacti soil allows succulents the proper draining they need to thrive and avoid root rot. 

Succulents are typically easier to maintain and thrive indoors because they do not require much upkeep. Succulents will do okay if you forget to water them for a week; they do well in medium light conditions and don’t require high moisture levels or indoor temperatures.

This question depends on your definition of plant-like. If you mean broad bases and thick stems or leaves, an option opposite would be the ponytail palm. Ponytail palms resemble more of a palm tree but are succulents and still beginner level of care.

Zebra and Panda plants are super simple succulents to care for and maintain indoors. They are hard to kill, easy to revive if needed, and only require minimal maintenance.

Aloe Vera, Jade Plant, Christmas Cactus, Burro’s Tail, Panda Plant, Zebra Haworthia, Hens-and-Chicks, Ponytail Palm, Snake Plant, and Hoya Hearts.

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