How to Care for Succulents Indoors

I’ve received a few emails lately asking how to care for succulents indoors, especially during the winter. I know a lot of you are living in areas similar to mine (not conducive to growing succulents outdoors year round). Since I definitely have some experience growing these beauties indoors I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and observations with you today!


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First off, I will say that succulents tend to grow best outside. As cute as they are, they don’t make the best indoor house plants. That said, if you love them as much as I do, you’ll grow them anyway! And you should! There are a lot of other indoor house plants that may not be as picky as succulents, but succulents are tough enough that they still survive  and do fairly well inside. Haworthias and Gasteraloes are two genus of succulents that do especially well indoors.

Learn how to care for succulents indoors!

For those of you with cold winters, bringing your succulents inside before it snows will actually be a good thing for them. Most succulents are dormant during the winter. They need a period of cold to help them produce better blooms in the spring and summer. I’ll outline some tips below that will help your succulents stay as healthy as possible while they are living indoors. Some of these tips will seem familiar (see 5 Tips for Growing Succulents) but these will be directed specifically toward growing succulents inside.

6 Hours of Sunlight

When succulents are indoors it’s often hard for them to get enough sunlight. They generally about 6 hours a day. You’ll want to keep your plants as close to the window as you can, but be careful not to let them get sunburned if the light from the window gets too hot. This tends to happen most with south facing windows (which tend to get the most light if you’re in the northern hemisphere). I’ve kept my succulents in an east facing window, right up against the window, and they have done really well. If your succulents aren’t getting enough light they will start to stretch. colorful Echeverias are especially prone to stretching indoors. If there isn’t anywhere that gets brighter light (or more hours of light), don’t worry! After it get’s too stretchy for your taste, just cut off the top and propagate it! The bonus is that you’ll also get more plants :)

Water Less

This is only true during the winter months of growing your succulents indoors. If you are growing succulents indoors during the summer, just water as normal, waiting for the soil to dry out before you water again. During the winter though, succulents don’t need very much water at all. Since they are dormant, they aren’t growing and they don’t use up as much water. I generally water my indoor succulents about every 2 weeks in the winter. Many people recommend even less, but I’ve found that having the heater in my house running tends to dry out the succulents pretty quickly. Just keep an eye on the soil. You’ll want to let it dry out completely and then give it about a week before you water again.

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I get quite a few emails with people who think their succulents are dying because the leaves are wilting and shriveling up. Here is a little secret, just like all plants, eventually the lower leaves of succulents are going to shrivel up and die. You should only be concerned about dying leaves if the newest or uppermost leaves on your succulent are shriveling. If it’s just the ones near the bottom of the stem (closest to the soil), you don’t have anything to worry about!

Tips for Growing Succulents Indoors - Succulents and Sunshine

Avoid Glass Containers (or anything that doesn’t drain)

Glass containers generally aren’t a great long term potting solution for succulents, especially during the winter. Succulents do not like to be sitting in soggy soil so a glass jar (or terrarium) is not going to make your succulent happy. This seems to especially cause problems in the winter when succulents need even less water than normal. Often succulents will get bugs or diseases from having soil that is too wet.

If you just love the glass container you have your succulents in, be so so careful with how much water you give it! I would measure out how much water you are pouring on and make sure you only put in enough water to just get the soil damp. The same thing goes for a container without a hole for water to drain out. Air flow is especially important for succulents in the winter to help keep the soil mostly dry and the plant breathing.

If you can help it, I really recommend staying away from glass unless you know your succulent really well and are confident in your watering skills. My favorite pots to use indoors are terra cotta and glazed ceramics (as you can tell from the photos). They provide great air flow and allow the soil to dry out easily.

Indoor Succulents - Succulents and Sunshine

Temperature

If you grow your succulents indoors year round, they won’t notice much change in temperature unless they are right by the window. As a general rule, succulents like to be warm during the summer and cool during the winter. If you can, keep the temperature in the summer between 70 and 80 degrees. During the winter, you’ll want your succulents to be a little colder, between 50 and 60 degrees. Most succulents can tolerate higher and lower temperatures as well, but those are the ideals. Generally it is not a good idea to let the succulents get below freezing as this tends to cause damage to most succulents. I’ve found that having my plants by the window and keeping my house at a normal temperature for me seems to work just fine. They get a little warmer by the window in the summer and a little cooler in the winter.

Bugs

I think I may need to devote a whole post to this at some point so I’ll just cover the basics here. If you are following healthy practices for your succulents as indoor house plants (good watering, sunlight, airflow and temperature), bugs should not be a problem. But… they often are still. I haven’t had too many problems with bugs but I’ve had quite a few ask about how to take care of them. My experience has mostly been with gnats. You’ll generally get gnats if your soil stays too wet. There are a bunch of other bugs that can attack your plants too. If you do get bugs, I’d recommend cutting back on watering. You can use a solution of dish soap and water or diluted alcohol to kill off any bugs that may find a place on your plants. A google search will bring up some other options as well.

How to Grow Succulents Indoors - Succulents and Sunshine


Hopefully you feel better prepared to take care of your succulents indoors now! If you have any questions , leave them in the comments below or send me an email! For an even more in depth guide, be sure to check out my ebook, Growing Succulents Indoors. You can also find some great succulent pottery for indoor growing on the Products I Like page.

63 Responses to How to Care for Succulents Indoors

  1. Congrats on the little succulent grower you’re expecting and thanks for the advice! I’m still mastering the art of keeping some succulents indoors. This will definitely help.

  2. Thank you so much for the information. I’ve been trying to grow succulents indoors. I started to give up but I’ll keep trying.

  3. I’m a college student who’s been growing my ‘babies’ since mid-high school. I’m not particularly good with them, but I like them. Anyway, I live in southern Ontario (Canada!) and we have really hard water, so when I tried using terra cotta planters, I got this weird white build-up on the outside of them that I couldn’t scrub off. Any suggestions for avoiding this in the future or a way to get it off when it does happen?

    • My guess is it’s some sort of calcium or salt build up from the water evaporating. I’m not sure what you’d do to remove it, but if you use filtered or distilled water (less convenient than tap water) I would guess that won’t happen.

  4. Hi — It’s been sunny here in Lake Tahoe that I take my jade plant outside for some sunshine and bring them back inside at night. I totally forgot to bring them back inside last night where it was at least 30 deg out. Now that stems are all droopy. Can they be saved? Should I prune them?
    Please help — Ana

    • It’s hard to say if permanent damage has been done, but most likely you’ll still be able to save the plants. I’d keep them inside in a relatively warm environment and just keep an eye on them for now. Often it takes a few days for the damage to really show up. If you see white/cream colored patches the plants were likely “frost bitten”. They will continue to grow but will just be scarred. I’d give them at least a week before cutting anything off. Then if they still don’t look healthy you could cut off the tops and replant and just keep watering the stem with roots and see if new growth starts to form.

  5. Hello!

    I am very new to the succulent world, I received a whole pot of them for Valentines day and I am loving it! I do have a question- Some of the succulents seem to be growing at a very fast rate, but after reading this post I am wondering if instead they are “stretching” for more sunlight. Is there a way to tell the difference between growing and stretching (this seems like an odd question, if it is please let me know)? It has been a very grey winter here in South Carolina but they are in an area that gets the most sun for our house. Any advice would be wonderful! Thanks so much!

    • Most succulents will keep a tight compact shape and just grow larger. If it is their current growing season (which winter is for quite a few succulents) then it’s likely just growing. If it’s getting really tall and spaced out then it is probably stretching.

  6. Hi, I have some succulents. I used them for my wedding two summers ago and then I had them inside – they’ve been inside every since. I’d love to start creating some outside pots for this summer. When you create pots for outside, do you bring ALL of them inside in the winter, or do you just let them die? We live in Minnesota so its below 60 2/3 of the year and snow for about 5 months. I don’t really want to bring outdoor pots inside during the winter – but, I also don’t know if I just want to let them die off either.

    • If you plant tender succulents that don’t survive below freezing you’ll have to bring them in to keep them alive (unless you have a greenhouse). You can plant cold hardy succulents (most sempervivums and many sedums) that will last through the winter outdoors. simplysucculents.com has a great selection of cold hardy plants. I did not bring in all of my tender succulents and they all died despite my best efforts. This year I plan to use only cold hardy if I keep any outside over the winter.

  7. I am from New Delhi, India and new to growing of succulents. While trying to know more about succulents,I came across Succulents & Sunshine and found it very useful.I am finding it difficult to grow aeonium and the plants dies after around a month. Please guide me how to survive the plant. The summer has just started and the temp. hovers around 30 to 43 C.

    Thanks…
    vinod gaindhar

    • I would say to follow the guidelines on this post. But beyond that, Aeoniums are winter growers. They like cooler temperatures and they don’t like a lot of water in the summer. You’ll want to keep them out of direct sunlight and keep an ion them to see if they need to be watered or not. It may take some experimenting, but I’m guessing the water and temperature are going to be the two biggest issues.

  8. Hello, I am wondering where you order your succulents from? I live in Alaska and I’m looking to order a bunch. I remember you recommending a site to me before but I can’t remember which one you had told me about.

  9. Hi! It’s my first time to try growing a succulent plant. I’m not really sure of what type I have now but it looks like a sempervivum and echeveria. I placed on my desk with indirect sunlight coming from my window. Everything seems to be fine until when I got home last night. A mouse took a bite on my plant, at least three leaves have been damaged, and another two leaves had minor bites. I am concerned that my plant would die, especially now that rainy season is coming and no sunlight would come. I don’t know where else to ask for. :(

    Thank you,
    Cye of Manila, PH

    • That sounds rough! I think as long as you don’t over water and give your plant as much light as you can it should still grow. You can either leave the damages leaves on, or if you don’t like how they look, you can remove them as well. It should continue to grow either way.

  10. hi!im sheetal.i stay in india..in chennai..my temparature is hot n humid most of the time..but i simply love succllents..want to grow them indoors..could u guide me in that regard?with what are the dos and donts..
    waiting for your reply..
    thanking you.
    sheetal

  11. Hi,

    I have a succulent that I believe was overwatered. The root rotted away and the succulent topped over. I followed the instructions to cut off the root and let it air out and scab over. It is scabbing and I’ve noticed the newly cut area is still turning black. What should I do next?

    thanks,
    Laura

    • Any black isn’t a good sign. I would say to cut off the stem to get rid of any black you can see. My guess is there was still some rot in the stem and it’s just taken some time for it to show on the outside. Hopefully you’ll still be able to salvage it and get it to grow again!

      • I cut off some more and sprinkled some cinnamon on it. How long should I leave it alone until I replant it? Also should I water it somehow while it scabs, I noticed during the last scabbing period, the succulent started to wilt a bit, not sure if it’s lack of sun or needs water. Thanks in advance.

        • I would leave it at least 3-4 days without water. The scab will prevent it from getting too much water when you do plant it. The succulent will start to shrivel because it’s pulling on the stored water to help keep it alive. That is totally normal. Once it dries out and you’ve planted it, I’d recommend watering every 4-5 days until it gets roots (you can gently tug on it, if it resists there are likely roots growing).

  12. Hello,

    I love your website! It is very helpful.
    I live in Denver and have a wide variety of indoor succulents, but primarily have aloes. I recently moved, and the best spot for succulents in my apartment (and pretty much the only spot for the light they need) also happens to be the coldest room in the winter as it is quite drafty. Many of my plants touch the windows, and I’m scared that this will damage them this winter. Do you think they’ll be okay touching the cold window? I tried to move some of them so they aren’t right up against it, but I’m space-limited. I don’t want to underestimate their hardiness but also don’t want to hurt them! I appreciate any advice.

    Thank you!
    Lauren

    • They might do ok, honestly, it depends on what types of succulents. Some succulents can tolerate cold and freezing much better than others. If you don’t know the varieties, you can post here to get help with that. Then I’d recommend searching for the plant name and see what you can find as far as their cold tolerance. Try to put those that tolerate cold closer to the window. You could also rotate them from time to time so no one succulent touches the window for more than a week or so.

  13. Thanks for the advice! I’m a first time succulent grower and just brought them indoors for the winter. My house does not get a lot of natural sun and so I have had a grow light on them. I started experiencing a lot of stretching and since have changed the light to a t5 fluorescent. Now some of the leaves of the succulents closest to the light are turning pink. Are they getting too much light now? They are still looking so so spindley and I am not sure what to do. Any advice or tips?

    Thanks!!

    • Turning pink can actually be a sign they are getting enough light. Many succulents will “blush” or change colors when they receive adequate sunlight. If you can, look up the varieties you have and see what colors they generally are. If you don’t know their names, post a picture here and see what people say. Also, succulents won’t go back to being compact once they’ve stretched out. The new growth can be compact on top of the long stem. If you don’t like the look you can propagate them! More details on how to do that here.

  14. Hi, thanks for the post.

    I have a question and would be happy if you help me with that.
    I live in Berlin and and in an apartment with south face windows. I have just got an ALoe Aristata. Now I have placed it just next to the window facing south. So it does not really get much light. I have no experience with succulents and in general with the plants, but I do really like to keep this little plant happy. Do you think, A. Aristata could make peace with low light or that would be a problem ?

    The other problem is in Watering. The pot is very small and the big rosette has taken almost all space. So I found it extremely difficult to water it. Staying water in the center of rosette seems to cause problem to me but I am no expert on that. Could you also comment on that please?

    Sorry for my bad English :)
    Cheers!

    • You should be fine to grow Aloe aristata in lower light. It likely won’t grow as large and will grow rather slowly.

      As far as watering, I’d avoid getting the rosette wet if possible, but most likely it will all drain through. I have a watering can with a small tip that I use to get just the soil wet. It can definitely be tricky though. Since you are indoors, be sure your pot has drainage or your plant can easily rot.

  15. Thanks dear learned a lot more tips for keeping succulents inside. i have two hawarthia outside. just want to know will they be doing good if brought inside. my living room is a bit dark but can lit light when required. pls answer.

    regards

  16. I just received 20 little baby succulents. They are adorable! I need to pot them and wondering how many I should put in a pot together and/or how far I should space them apart so they will grow comfortably and quickly (it’s winter). Any suggestions? Thanks for all the info!

    • How fun! If you make a really tight arrangement with them, they will grow more slowly. If you’d like them to get bigger and put off more new growth I’d recommend putting a little space between them, 1/2″ to an 1″ maybe? It’s really up to you and whatever you think looks best!

  17. This is my first winter with succulents. Just recently I went to my college’s Horticulture field day, where I got an Aeonium Zwartkop. I had wanted one since i first saw it and months ago and I was so happy to finally have one. But this morning i went out into the livingroom to check on them and I saw a handfull of perfectly healthy leaves that the Zwartkop had thrown for no reason. My parents think that the plasma TV the zwartkop was next to somehow caused it to thrw the leaves. Do you have any clue whats going on? Oh, and one more thing, is it normal for a bunch of leaves to shrivel up and drop of in the winter?

    • My guess is it’s not getting enough water. Winter is the active growing season for Aeoniums so they need a little more water than normal. The lower leaves will die eventually, but a bunch dying/falling off all at once makes me think it’s not getting enough water.

  18. Hi! I bought a succulent around two weeks ago but some of the leaves were already red when I bought it (eep). What does this mean? I searched around and it says that it means it got too much direct sunlight before I bought it so I made a decision to place it beside my window. There’s enough light but it’s not direct sunlight because my window doesn’t face the sun at all. I’ve watered it twice since I bought it and my problem right now is that some of the leaves are still red and most (probably all) of the leaves seem to be wilting. What should I do?

    I really want to keep this baby succulent alive and happy :(

    • Most succulents that turn red are happy to be red! It’s definitely not a problem! It sounds to me like you are on the right track. If the leaves are looking shriveled, you may be under watering or over watering. If it’s in well draining soil and you haven’t watered it for a week or more, give it some water. If you’ve watered it within the past 2-3 days, give it a few more days or wait for the soil to completely dry out before watering again. Feel free to send me photos if you’re still concerned!

  19. Thank you so much for the advice!
    I live in Hawaii, so it’s always summer year round. I put My newly-bought baby succulent in my office that has strong AC during weekdays, and no AC whatsoever during the weekend. I watered it once a day during the week just to see the soil got wet. It’s been only 1 week, but I noticed that the leaves are more flat and stretched out than a week ago. There are also several round dry-out spots on couple leaves.
    Is it because it’s too cold and no sunlight? Please advice.

    P.S. I took it home and put it outdoor now.

  20. Hi, I’ve had my succulent for a month now. It’s lower leaves become soft and some become wrinkled. As I know overwatering is not good for succulents, I often water it once every week or 1.5 week now (because the weather is quite cold). I also place it beside my window. Can it be because it doesn’t have enough light or overwater/underwater? Please help me if you have any advices!

    • Soft and wrinkled leaves does sound like over watering. Most succulents need less water when it’s cool. It generally takes longer for the soil to dry out as well. If they don’t have enough light they will start to stretch out and lose their original shape. I’d say to cut back on watering to every other week (you can also check out this post) and if they are stretching then put them in an area with more light.

  21. Thank you for such an informative post! I just received my very first pot of succulents for my birthday from my sister. She thought I could keep it on my desk but there is no sunlight there. I’m not sure if they are in the right kind of pot… she potted them in an adorable glazed pot (raw ceramic on the inside). Do you think the air will flow appropriately in this container? Would it help to put rocks in the bottom? It was a very sweet gesture but I’m not sure she did any research on how to pot them first. They have been sitting inside with my other plants and I can tell they have stretched out since the 27th. I am nervous to clip it… any wrong way to do that? Now to find an east facing window…

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Jill

    • Exciting! A ceramic pot is a great choice for succulents, especially if it has a drainage hole. If not, you’ll just need to be careful not to water very frequently and measure out how much water you pour on. It’s easy for the roots to rot from water pooling in the bottom of the pot. If you’re able to add a drainage hole that’s the best way to go. You could also put it in a smaller pot and then in the ceramic pot (so you can dump water out of the ceramic pot after watering). As far as clipping the stretched out parts, go for it! Here’s my posts on propagating if that helps. Best of luck!

  22. Hi!
    I am sheetal…i live in india,chennai…i was an interior designer…i love plants…i have small container garden..my house is east and west open…lately i fell in love with a succullent called the string of pearls..its gorgeous…i would love to grow succullents in my garden…it would be so nice of you if you could guide me about them..specially how do i water the string of pearls…because it tends to rot if i water it…
    please help..waiting for your valuble advice…

    thanking you
    sheetal

  23. I’ve just stumbled upon your site and am now hooked. I’ve read every page I could find about succulents. My Mom had 2 cinder blocks full of lovely hens-and-chickens for many years. When she died I brought them home with me placing them in a couple of places @ the outside of my house both full sun and partial shade. They did not do well in partial shade at all and putting them in full sun fried them. I live where the summers are quite warm and often humid and winters can get to single digits. I think, from reading your blog, that I likely underwatered them. So I must have been doing everything wrong! Because they were my Mom’s I definitely want to save them! There are a few new ones coming up now which thrills me. The cinder blocks are still full of the dried, brown succulents from last year. Should I cut those out, trim them back or leave alone?

    • Thanks for stopping to comment! It is possible you were underwatering, however, after being in the shade they plants need to slowly acclimate to hot weather with full sun. The ones that are growing there now should be just fine though. I would pull out the dead succulents as much as possible. You may want to transfer them to a different container. Cinderblock can get very hot in full sun which can burn the roots, which could be another reason most didn’t survive. If you could put them in a terra cotta or ceramic pot they may do a little better. It’s not a huge deal, especially if new growth is starting to show, but something to consider. Best of luck! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  24. Hi.
    Im Duc from Vietnam – south east Asia country. I just falled in love with these kinds of flower these days. Luckily I found guidance from your very very useful posts.

    I planted the succulents in a wooden box with soil plus coconut coir. However, there is not direct sunlight around my balcony. Is it okay for them to grow heathy or I have to put them under direct sunlight?

    Addition, I have a succulent in glass container. I dont know the name but it has pink (or red) border around the leaves. The leaves are getting stretch and pale, I think. Is it shortage of sunlight or what? Coz i put it near the window (most sunlight in the apartment), any solution to make it better? I really dont want the lovely creature dead :( Pls help.

    I want to attach a pic but dont know how. Any way that I can send you a pic?

    • Feel free to send me a photo via email: info@succulentsandsunshine.com. I think the plants in the wooden box should be fine. Succulents need bright light all day but not necessarily direct sunlight. The plants in the glass container sound to me like they probably need more like. They could also be getting a little bit of root rot as with most glass containers there isn’t anywhere for the water to drain out. I’d say to put it close to the window with the most light. If you can move it outside from time to time that can help too.

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I'm Cassidy, a professional photographer turned succulent addict and the author and photographer here at Succulents and Sunshine. This is me with my wonderful husband and super cute baby!

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