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. Alex May 7, 2017 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Id like to buy a succulent, but I’m not sure which one will be better for me to take care of!

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 10, 2017 at 10:48 am - Reply

      This free mini series would be perfect for you: succulentsandsunshine.com/successfullygrowingsucculents

      I talk about how to pick the perfect plant for you and give some suggestions based on certain growing environments. You can also take a look at this post.

  2. Christine Bishop May 7, 2017 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    I recently bought a cute succulent plant and I want to know what kind it is and how to properly care for it. Mind you I have a black thumb instead of a green thumb for plants. The plant has fuzzy leaves and stem with brown on the edges of the leaves. It is soooo fuzzy I keep “petting” it. Am I going to kill it if I keep “petting” it? I read your blog for the so far care. I’m just worried about how to care for it in the future.

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 17, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

      From the sounds of it I think it is a “Panda Plant, Kalanchoe” For more information check out this post.

  3. Vignesh May 9, 2017 at 12:04 am - Reply

    My succulent plant is dying. Almost all of its leaves are wilting.

    I keep it in my balcony and it is not exposed to direct sunlight but light will be there. i water is 2 days once.
    what should i do?

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      I suggest cutting back on watering. Water only when the soil is all the way dried.

  4. megan May 17, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    I live in central florida and i love succulents. The pot is a handmade ceramic with a hole in the bottem for drainage. I keep the plant next to my window which faces south. i water it about once every week with ice cubes since the person i bought it from said that using an ice cube will help the water the diffuse slower. my plant seems green at the top and there are some wilting on the bottem. the leaves of the plant break off with the slightest touch even though it is still green. please tell me what i need to fix cause i know i’m doing a lot of things wrong!

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      It sounds like your plant is showing the first signs of overwatering. :( Take a look at this post, it will go through how to save your plant!

  5. Emily T May 21, 2017 at 11:39 am - Reply

    My succulents seem to have a transparent white coating on them, when I run my finger of them it comes off, what is that? Should I leave it be or is it safe for it to come off

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      That comes naturally on succulents, either way is fine!

  6. Sofija May 21, 2017 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    I bought 6 cacti I bought one pot. It has a drain at the bottom but do you think they would grow healthy all together? Also, how much water do I put in the pot?

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 24, 2017 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Usually cacti will be okay planted tightly together. When watering, give the plants a good soak all around. Make sure when you water again that the soil is dried out all the way through the pot.

  7. Linn May 26, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Interested in the blip about spraying with alcohol, and pouring alcohol on he soil….won’t this harm the plant? I had a terrible time last year with gnats (fruit fly type gnats) in the late summer. Just about drove me crazy, and have to wonder if they may be coming from my houseplant soil. Would the alcohol harm any other house plants?

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      The alcohol will not harm the plant, this is because when the alcohol is exposed to air it will evaporate very quickly, killing the bugs, but also keeping the succulent safe.

  8. Rayena May 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Can you use rocks in the bottom of a glass bowl that doesn’t drain?

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 12, 2017 at 10:35 am - Reply

      I would suggest not to add rocks at the bottom of the pot. Use well draining soil, and this will keep your plant healthy. Take a look at this post for information on how to water with out a drainage hole.

  9. Mira May 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Hello! About drainage, if I layer my terrarium with rocks, moss and soil for cacti and succulents do you think they will be ok? Thanks for all the info here! Very excited to start learning and nurturing these beautiful little plants.

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 12, 2017 at 10:31 am - Reply

      I usually don’t recommend adding rocks at the bottom to add drainage, it will most likely lead to the roots rotting and further problems. Try to look for well draining soil, this way you won’t have to worry about that.

  10. Pei Xian June 2, 2017 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Hello! I have recently bought a succulent but I’m not sure on how to care for it(this is my first succulent). I live in Singapore ,is summer all year round(except for a month or two where it rains almost everyday) and the weather here is usually hot and humid and it rains quite often as well.The succulent is in my room that get plenty of sunlight.Do i water it once a week or wait for a longer time before watering ?
    Thank you :D

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 13, 2017 at 1:15 pm - Reply

      Watering your succulent once a week is a great schedule to start with.

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