How to Grow Healthy Succulents Indoors

Growing succulents indoors can be a bit tricky. However, with these simple tips you’ll be able to better care for your indoor succulent collection.

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Welcome! I am so excited to help you learn more about growing succulents indoors!

As cute as they are, they don’t always 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!

With a little bit of information you’ll be able to keep your succulents growing happily indoors. Choosing succulents that prefer low lighting will make a big difference in the success of your indoor succulent garden. For example, Haworthias and Gasteraloes are two genus of succulents that do especially well indoors.

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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 need 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 more, but less frequently

Many people will tell you succulents don’t need very much water. That simply isn’t true!

However, over watering is the number one way people kill succulents. So… here’s the deal. Succulents like to have their roots soaked with water but then dry out quickly. Granted, if you keep the soil wet every day, they will die from too much water. On the other hand, simply spraying them lightly with water will kill them too.

I have a whole ebook just about watering succulents. That’s how important it is! You can read the basic technique for watering here, but if you have more questions, I’ve probably covered it in the ebook.

Basically though, you need to be giving your succulents enough water that the soil gets completely wet. Then, let it dry out completely before you water again. Don’t water it daily and don’t use a spray bottle!

Also know that succulents have a dormant period (most of them in the winter) and they don’t need as much water then. Since they are dormant, they aren’t growing and they don’t use up as much water.

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!

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. Again, make sure you are using a well draining soil as well.

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). You can find a great selection of pots at a great price on Mountain Crest Gardens and Etsy. They provide great air flow and allow the soil to dry out easily.

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

If you are following healthy practices for your succulents as indoor house plants (good watering, well draining soil, 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. Gnats are generally avoidable by using a well draining soil mix and allowing your soil to try out between watering.

There are a other bugs that can attack your plants too, including mealy bugs. If you do get mealy bugs, you’ll want to spray them with rubbing alcohol and pour alcohol over the soil to kill any eggs they may have laid. Learn more about treating mealybugs.

My friend Jacki at Drought Smart Plants actually has an ebook all about pests that your succulents might get. If you have a bug problem and it’s not gnats or mealybugs I’d recommend getting her ebook!

Make succulent growing easy and fun with this ebook on growing succulents indoors

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.


2017-10-21T00:24:06+00:00

357 Comments

  1. Breanna December 5, 2013 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the advice!

  2. Megan December 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    Thank you!

  3. Tiffany December 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    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.

  4. Alicia Reid December 13, 2013 at 3:15 am - Reply

    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.

  5. Snow Day DIY | Sio Says Things... January 3, 2014 at 10:35 am - Reply

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  6. Cassandra February 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Cassidy February 13, 2014 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      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.

      • Jen June 19, 2016 at 7:52 am - Reply

        You can use a spray bottle with a mixture of white vinegar and water to remove the buildup.

        • Cassidy Tuttle June 22, 2016 at 11:11 pm - Reply

          Good to know!

  7. Ana February 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    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

    • Cassidy February 22, 2014 at 5:46 pm - Reply

      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.

    • Victoria P. Rosalin Muzik October 23, 2015 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Yes by all means prune back, use the clippings to star new plants. All you do is stick them in the soil and water once a week. By now you know weather you jade will survive that freezing air. I hope it does. I have had my jade for 24 years. It was huge I repotted it 5 times, each time a larger pot. I have started 10 plants from the shoots I cut off, They all are healthy in family members homes. I keep it in a southern exposure window. we live in the north so needless to say it never goes out. It has a stem like a tree. i hope you have good planting.

  8. KateyB March 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Cassidy March 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      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.

  9. Hannah M March 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Cassidy Tuttle March 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      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.

  10. Maria March 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Great info! I used this post to make a graphic for my blog. I linked to you and put your info into the graphic as well.
    http://creativepotpourri.blogspot.com/2014/03/SucculentLove.html
    I love succulents and I think I spent about an hour going from one post to another on your site. Such good info.

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