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!

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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. Sue October 2, 2016 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    I bought a birdhouse with succulents on the roof. I’m hestitant to bring it indoors for the winter because it was used by birds and who knows what remains inside! I’m afraid to remove the roof for fear of breaking it. But in Minnesota, it just can’t be left outside. Any suggestions?

    • Cassidy Tuttle October 10, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      Could you move it somewhere under a roof or a protected area? You can also try covering it with frost cloth to protect the succulents on colder days. I’m not sure it would keep them alive for an extended period, but that’s likely the best option.

  2. Kathy Jackson October 3, 2016 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Hello Cassidy
    I have a variety of succulents outdoors in fairy gardens and succulents walls etc which will not survive outside in our cold Canadian winter. I have tried other years to keep them alive inside without much success. Any suggestions you could share would be much appreciated. Thank you

    • Kathy Jackson October 3, 2016 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      Re: my question above…… I also should have asked you if your book on Growing Succulents Inside refers to all types of succulents, even the ones that have been outside all summer.. I’d be more than happy to buy your book if I can find the answers there.

      • Cassidy Tuttle October 10, 2016 at 10:05 pm - Reply

        It does apply to any succulents that are indoors. If you don’t find your answers there though, let me know and I’m happy to refund you.

    • Cassidy Tuttle October 10, 2016 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      The tips in this post are really the best advice I can give. A well draining soil, as much sunlight or artificial light as you can give them and very limited watering. This post may also be helpful for you:

      http://www.succulentsandsunshine.com/caring-for-succulents-in-winter/

  3. Vicki Hannemann October 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    When should I bring my succulents indoors. I live in Wisconsin and have finally been able to grow beautiful succulents in containers and I would love to preserve them. Thank you, vicki

    • Cassidy Tuttle October 17, 2016 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I recommend bringing them in once the temps start to drop below 40 at night. They can tolerate down to freezing for a day or two, but I try to play it safe. Check out this post for more info.

  4. Lora Wise October 19, 2016 at 6:03 am - Reply

    Hi Cassidy,
    Me and my man moved to our new house 2 weeks ago and i ordered few succulent plants from Get Green’s gardening plants category, i would like to grow them indoor and i will use your guide for maintaining them.

    • Cassidy Tuttle October 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      Awesome! You’re in for a fun time!

  5. Ericka O October 20, 2016 at 7:48 am - Reply

    My succulent’s bottom leaves are wilting/drying out and so now its starting to tilt. What should I do? Do I have to replant it in my soil so it’s deeper and it can stand upright again?

  6. […] colder winters, this can present quite an obstacle for those who love succulents. Succulents do need to go through a dormant period in order to thrive and grow each spring and summer, but the extreme cold in many places kills […]

  7. […] was a simple one plant transplant of a succulent that I thought went very well, as the plant is still living to this day.  Succulents do not […]

  8. Rachel December 1, 2016 at 9:39 am - Reply

    I have no idea why my succulent is dying……I have placed beside my table in the office, without sunlight and only water it twice a week.

    Did I neglect it? Or was it because I gave it too much water each time I water it? Since….I just leave a bit of water for it to suck it up.

    Would you enlighten me perhaps? :-(

  9. Maryann December 1, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Can I ask , is there any succulent that would survive sitting in a bowl of the water balls ? Please

    • Cassidy Tuttle December 28, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      I’m not sure. Those may provide to much water for them initially. However, you can give it a try and see what happens! Just don’t experiment with your favorite or most expensive plant :)

  10. Seren December 2, 2016 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Hi!
    Please help!
    I thought succulents were good indoors and they lied lol. It’s winter now and cold. I don’t have enough cash and time for artificial light. How can I grow them indoors?
    I already have one stretched out succulent and feel really bad for it.
    Help!!!

    • Cassidy Tuttle December 28, 2016 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      The only option is really to keep it next to the window with the most sunlight. Once it warms up you can gradually move them outside and give them more sunlight. If there’s an area outside that gets a lot of sun but isn’t very cold during the day that would be a good spot for them as well.

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