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.

Learn how to care for succulents indoors!
Graptopetalum paraguayense, Portulacaria afra variegata

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 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!

Tips for Growing Succulents Indoors - Succulents and Sunshine
Portulacaria afra variegata, Echeveria harmsii

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.

Indoor Succulents - Succulents and Sunshine
Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’

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!

How to Grow Succulents Indoors - Succulents and Sunshine
Graptopetalum paraguayense

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.

282 Responses to How to Grow Healthy Succulents Indoors

  1. Thanks for such a great post!
    I bought a succulent less than a month ago and the lower leaves are shrivelling up…I had it sitting on my desk and I’m wondering if it has been disturbed by the light from my lamp?? The guy in the garden centre told me they should have no direct sunlight and to water from the bottom once a month…. What should I do?

  2. Hi! One of my plants has a very long offshoot but the off shoot has flowered. Can i propagate this flowering offshoot or keep it as is until it dies then remove?

    • Great question! When a succulent blooms you can save the flower stalk once it starts to dry out and then harvest the seeds for propagation. You can see how to do that here. It does not work to propagate it by cutting and replanting the bloom stalk though. You can just cut it off once it dies and not worry about propagating from seeds too :)

  3. Hi! I’m trying to start a succulent pot of of my own. I was wondering what types of succulents would be good for beginners. I will put them in my window, which faces east, so they would get plenty of morning light. I have very cold winters and very hot summers, but lately the winter has been warmer than usual. They would be inside, on my window all the time, unless I let them outside for the spring and summer. I’m looking for some neutral colors with maybe one or two bright colored ones, varying in height.

  4. I place my succulents in large coffee mugs. They are just cute for desks and counters that way. I place a layer of river rocks on the bottoms for drainage that way the roots do not sit in water if I give them too much water. The water will sit in the layer of rocks avoiding the roots. So far my first dying little succulent has grown bigger than any other succulent I have ever seen. I was under the assumption that these little plants were supposed to be around 3 to 4 inches big. I am at 6 or so inches and still growing rapidly even in the cold weather.

    • Some varieties can get quite large. When indoors they tend to grow year round as it doesn’t get cool enough for them to go through a true dormancy.

  5. How fast do these grow? My daughter is getting married in May, and she would like to have these in her bouquet. It may be to late, I thought I would give it a try.

  6. I just got some succulents from my 4 year old son for Christmas and he insisted on planting them in an old candle bowl I had. They look great, but we’ve had a problem with bugs already! I am an avid gardener and love plants, but succulents are new to me. I have done the following things to help combat the problem and I am happy to have come across this website to help me along my journey with this beautiful and thoughtful gift from my big boy! First, I placed rocks in the bottom before the soil. This is always a good practice with plants as it allows for better drainage, especially in a dish that doesn’t have holes! Also, as soon as I see bugs on an indoor plant, there is a simple fix while you get your watering under control. Make a solution of water with a bit of dish soap in it and spray the soil around the plants. That will kill the bugs and they won’t return! Mine were gone in a day, and now with the info on this site, hopefully, they won’t return! Thanks so much

  7. This was very helpful. I saw a project where they planted succulents in an eggshell. I really want to do this but I am worried about drainage, do you think this would be a good idea? Any suggestions on how to properly do this with success.

    • You could poke a tiny hole in the bottom of the egg shell, but since it’s so small it will likely dry out quickly enough that it’s not a problem. Check out this post for more info about watering succulents in non-draining pots.

  8. I bought a small pot of succulents on clearance at the grocery store several months ago, and they seem to be doing rather well. They definitely look better than the scraggly bunch that I bought. They sit in a garden windo (one that pops out of the house over the sink), and I plan to keep them inside. It’s a small pot, only about 6 inches wide and maybe three inches deep, but I just counted and there are seven individual little plants! Some of them have grown rather tall (maybe 6 inches), and I’m wondering if maybe they need to be separated? Or should I just trim them to keep them fitting in their pot. I would prefer to keep them all in one pot together.

    Also, there doesn’t seem to be very much soil in there. They came with a layer of little rocks on the top, and when I looked at them tonight, I wondered if they had enough soil. Should I add some in? And if I do, should I take the rocks out?

    Thanks for the informative post! I need to change my watering habits. I just pour a little bit in every couple weeks, but I think they might need better soaking.

    • If your succulents are continually growing then I would suggest separating into different pots which can be a fun project! Another option would be beheading and trimming your succulents, and you could even repot your cuttings to grow more! I would look at this post for more information on “pruning”! Glad I could help :)

  9. This is an amazing post! I myself am starting to nurture a succulent plant, but I only have windows that face north and east! You mentioned that putting it at a window facing north is not ideal, so will there be any harm done placing it on the east facing window?

    • I’m glad it was helpful for you :) I keep mine near a east facing window and my succulents are doing pretty well! So, yes the east facing window will the best sunlight option for your plants.

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