Tips for Growing Succulents Anywhere

Succulents are a very popular plant with their gorgeous shapes and colors as well as their drought tolerant qualities, but not everywhere is the ideal place for them to grow. These tips will help you keep your succulents alive no matter where you live!

This page contains affiliate links, but I love all the products I link to!

Welcome! I’m glad you’re interested in how to grow succulents outdoors!

You’re here because you love succulents, but you’re not sure if you can grow them where you live.

I totally understand!

But, I’m convinced anyone can grow succulents, wherever they live, and I’m going to give you the guidelines you need to do just that.

As this blog has grown over the past few years I’ve begun to realize how many people want to grow succulents but don’t have the perfect growing conditions for them. This shouldn’t surprise me since I belong in that group of people! I’ve answered lots of emails from you with various questions about growing succulents.

My goal with this website is to help you grow succulents no matter where you live.

For some, growing succulents is a breeze. For others, it’s a daily struggle. This post will help you make growing succulents a breeze.

If you've struggled to grow succulents, this is the post for you! These aren't tips you've heard before!
Echeveria ‘Lime and Chili’

When people say that succulents are hard to kill, I cringe a little. Like all plants, you need to know how to care for succulents in order to keep them alive. Sure, they can be very forgiving and are often easy for people to keep alive, but in parts of the world (or in parts of your home) people have to fight to keep them alive.

The tips I share with you in this post will help you figure out what you need to do to make succulents work for you, and hopefully make them easy to care for!

Experiment

If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this: don’t be afraid to experiment! So much of the information I share with you is based on research I’ve done and then backed up by my own experience. I’m always trying new things with my plants or trying out new plants. I realize that succulents can be expensive depending on where you live, but if you’re willing to be brave and experiment you’ll have much better success growing succulents.

Find out how you can be successful growing succulents no matter where you live
Agave ‘Blue Glow’

While succulents have the same basic needs, not every home or growing environment is the same. You need to adapt those guidelines based on where you live, how much natural light you have available, the pot and soil you are using. All of these factors contribute to the health of your succulent. What works for me here in Utah won’t necessarily work for someone in China. So take the basic guidelines for growing succulents and adjust them to where you live.

Pick the right plants

One thing I have learned over and over (from the tragic death of many succulents) is some succulents grow better than others in my home and on my porch. I know that most succulents won’t survive the winter outside where I live (Zone 5) and I’ve accepted that. But, not all succulents will do very well inside my apartment either. I don’t have very much natural light so a lot of plants struggle.

If you’re growing succulents outdoors you’ll want to be very aware of how much sunlight succulents need. While many succulents say “full sun” they may not tolerate 100 degree weather with direct sun all day (though some will). They will generally need to acclimate to that amount of sunlight if purchased from a nursery where they were kept in a greenhouse.

You’ll also want to be aware of their frost tolerance. For those of us with cold winters, Sempervivums and stonecrop Sedums are our go to succulents for outdoors. I’ve loved being able to create potted arrangements for my porch that will survive year round and always look great! Those of you fortunate to live in zones 8 and above, you can have your pick of succulents! Most succulents do best in a zone 9 or 10 when outdoors.

If you've found succulents difficult to grow, these 5 tips will really help you be more successful with your succulent garden
Agave victoriae-reginae

If you are growing succulents indoors and, like me, don’t have a lot of natural light in your home you’ll want to look for plants that tolerate low light. Most Haworthias and Gasterias are great in low light. Sansevierias are also becoming a new favorite of mine. They need hardly any light or water. Sadly, you’ll want to avoid Echeverias if you don’t have much light. They tend to get stretched out as they try to find more light. Also, more colorful succulents, like Sedum nussbaumerianum, need plenty of light to maintain their color. Succulents that are naturally green tend to be happier indoors. For more indoor succulent recommendations, sign up for my emails and get a free PDF with my top 10 indoor succulents!

If you tend to over water, try to find succulents that are forgiving with over watering or need more water. Since Portulacaria afra has thin leaves I’ve found it needs to be watered more often. Crassula arborescens undulatifolia and Aeonium zwartkop are two others I’ve found to need more water. On the other hand, really plump succulents like Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’, Pachyveria glauca, and Aloe brevifolia can go much longer before needing water again. You’ll also find that cacti, such as Mammillaria rhodantha and Mammillaria gracilis fragilis, are very tolerant of long periods of drought.

Portulacaria afra is a great succulent for growing indoors and out - find out how to grow this succulent and others no matter where you live
Portulacaria afra
Thick leaved succulents can go longer between watering that thinner leaved succulents
Aloe brevifolia

Are you catching on here? Plant selection can be a major factor in the success of your succulent garden. I’ve discovered a great resource for learning the growing needs of succulents (and other plants): Dave’s garden. You can search by plant name or by growing requirements. If you don’t know what kind of succulents you own, I’ll help you learn how to identify them in this post.

Tweak your soil materials

I’ve had quite a few people email me about living in a humid environment. While succulents can survive in humid areas, the soil plays a major role in preventing rot. In dry environments the right soil can help prevent succulents from drying out too quickly. Here is my basic recommendation for making your own well-draining succulent soil. You can also purchase a great mix here.

The mix mentioned above is great for growing succulents, indoors and out. If you tend to over water or if you live in a humid environment though, I highly recommend planting in just one material: pumice. This seems to be the most universally available product that retains some water but also dries out quickly. I know of several succulent growers that plant in strictly pumice. Bonsai Jack carries a great quality pumice (1/4″ particles, which is ideal) but you can get it at most nurseries.

Find out why diatomaceous earth is a great choice for succulent soil

For areas that are very hot or dry (or both), adding more organic material (like the pine bark in the DIY soil mix I recommend) will help them from drying out too quickly. While drying out very quickly isn’t the worst problem to have, no one wants to water succulents every other day, right? One of the great things about succulents is their drought tolerance, but they do still need water to survive. So, if you find your soil dries out in a day (not just the top, but all the way through), you may want to consider adding more organic material to your soil mix.

Choose a great pot

The material of your pot can also play a big role in how well your succulent survives. Terra cotta is a great choice if you’re just starting out. It is very porous, thus allowing more air flow to the roots. This means the soil will dry out more quickly.

If you live in a very hot dry environment this may not be the best choice, but most of the time it’s a really great option. Ceramics are also generally a good choice. You’ll find a great selection of pots to purchase on Mountain Crest Gardens and Etsy.

Terra cotta is such a great choice for growing succulents
Crassula perforata, Senecio mandraliscae, Haworthia fasciata, Sedum rubrotinctum, Sedum nussbaumerianum, Graptopetalum paraguayense

Plastic and metal are much less porous so succulents in these containers will take longer to dry out. It may be a good idea to compensate by using DE in your soil or something non-organic.

As always, I highly recommend you use a container with a drainage hole. Especially if you are just starting out with succulents this will make your life much easier.

As you become more confident in growing succulents try growing them in something without drainage, like a glass bowl. There are endless options of things to plant succulents in, but start with something basic to practice caring for succulents in your area before branching out to more unique containers.

Accept death and less than perfect succulents

Ultimately you need to realize that you may not have 100% success with your succulents. Instead of being disappointed take it as an experience to learn and improve. Also, generally an arrangement of succulents is about the same price as a bouquet of flowers.

But… even without caring for it it will last much longer than cut flowers! Even with great attention to detail sometimes plants are going to die. I know how sad it is to lose the beautiful plants you’ve put your time and effort into. But, if you can learn from those deaths you’ll be on your way to preventing it from happening again in the future!

Find out why your succulents may not be surviving! This post is so helpful for figuring out how to grow succulents wherever you live (design by Katie Christensen)

I hope this post has given you some ideas of how to adapt the basic care of succulents to your specific growing environment. I’m convinced that anyone can keep succulents alive no matter where they live, but in order to do so it’s important to have the right plants, soil pottery and take some risks by experimenting. I’d love to know where you are growing succulents! Feel free to leave me a note in the comments!

Get this great ebook about caring for succulents indoors and solve your succulent growing cares!

100 Responses to Tips for Growing Succulents Anywhere

  1. Thank you so much for your tip for oil-dri available at the automotive stores to use for succulents. I am most interested in getting some to try it. I am a succulent lover and have lots of babies being propagated and almost to replant into new containers. Thanks for the tips and keep them coming. Some of your ideas are review for me and some are new ideas. I would like to see more pictures and plant ID’s with name and not just types.

  2. I’ve just purchased my very first succulents! I have already learned so much from your site. I’m currently debating what soil mix to use. You said that if you choose one soil to use, you could go with Turface, but you also highly recommend the special potting mix. If I used just turface or just cacti soil, is there a big difference for how my succulents will grow and flourish? Thank you so much for your website!

    • Overall the mix is the best long term solution. I’ve used both for quite a while and I do think the succulents do best in the mix. The reason I switched to just Turface was partially laziness :) It was a lot of work to make the mix myself. Now that I can buy it pre-made from Bonsai Jack though I plan to use the succulent soil mix for everything.

      It shouldn’t make a huge difference in how well the succulents grow. You’ll find you have to water more frequently with just Turface and there are some succulents that don’t like how acidic Turface is (although I can’t think of any specifics at the moment). Overall my plants have been happy in both. I think they just flourish a little more in the mix.

  3. Hi Cassidy, I just discovered your blog on Pinterest. Very interesting! I live incape Town, South Africa in an apartment with a roof garden. After trying many types of planrs, I have finally planted succulents in pots on the terrace. They are very successful, as we have lots of sunlight all year long. The only problem is that birds, specially starlings LOVE eating my succulents. They cause a lot of damage and it is impossible to keep them off the terrace. I have even tried placing reflective mirror balls on sticks in the containers, these flash in the sunlight and are partly succesful in keeping the starlings away, although they always find a plant to nibble. Do you have any ideas to try to discourage the birds? Thanks for your very interesting blog. Sandra

    • I’ve asked this very question on some forums, but it seems there isn’t much that can be done, unfortunately. Someone recommended putting a decorative mesh covering over top of them, a cage of sorts for the succulents. But it seems birds have even figured that out too! It seems moving them out of the reach of birds is the only real solution. You could see if there are some that they don’t care to eat as much and try planting more of those, or mix other plants in that they don’t like. I wish I could be more helpful.

    • This seems like the perfect opportunity to use a decorative bird cage. If they can keep a bird in, they should definitely work to keep them out. (I use them to keep my cats away from my plants or candles at my house.) Good luck!

  4. I live in Florida, where it’s humid pretty much year round. I plan on keeping my new succulent indoors, as I have to deal with a lot of bugs. The soil that the succulent was purchased in doesn’t seem to contain any rocks or other well draining materials. I don’t have a lot of time to go out and repot the succulent, so what kind of watering schedule do you recommend for me?

  5. Hi from very sunny Perth, Western Australia! Just wanted to say I am loving these daily tips. All my succulents live outside in terra cotta pots, except one little Baby’s Necklace (sorry don’t know it’s Latin name) that likes to sit on my kitchen windowsill.

  6. I gain so much from your sharing posts. I add a lot to my Pinterest because I want to pull and re-read them in the future. Thank you for all of the helpful info. One hundred and counting weathering in my laundry room! Always looking for the next unusual succulent I can find…
    Thanks Cassidy!

  7. I love your posts but do have one suggestion to include that would certainly help me. I’m a newbe to the world of succulents. I don’t know the names of anything! HELP ME! Please put the names under your pictures in your posts. I see these gorgeous arrangements you have made and all I can think of is “What the heck is that one?” or “O dear! I have no idea where to begin because I don’t know what the names are of these I like so much.”
    Thanks for great articles.

  8. Hi Cassidy,
    I have just discovered your site after wondering why several of my succulents did great in my south facing conservatory when I bought them in summer but have now become very leggy. I’m in the UK and our Winters are dark and cold.
    I’d like to say thank you, your website is fab and I now feel so much more confident that I can resolve the problem and continue to enjoy my lovely and unusual succulents. I love a challenge too :)

  9. I live in the Caribbean and the weather is always hot. I’m a starter and I need to water my succulents more often as the weather is dry and hot. They are outdoors and I have put them in a shaded area. I have 1 question: do succulents stay small or if you plant them in bigger containers they will get bigger? Thank you for your wonderful tips

    • They will get bigger and propagate more if they have some space to grow. You don’t want to put them in a pot that’s too big, but about an inch or so of space around them is great!

Let us know what you think!

Buy beautiful colorful succulents online from Mountain Crest Gardens

Many of the posts and pages on this site contain affiliate links. From time to time I receive free product to review and share with you but all opinions are my own and I'll only share products I like! Find out more by clicking here.

Find out more about these 10 easy to grow succulents and add them to your collection!
Find out everything you need to know about watering succulents!

Don't let poor watering techniques kill your succulents! Avoid the number one cause of unhealthy succulents with the tips and techniques in this ebook!

Learn how to grow healthy succulents indoors!

Growing succulents indoors is tricky business if you don’t know the proper soil, sunlight and watering requirements. But you can make succulents work for you, you just need to know the right way to care for them! Follow my step-by-step instructions and watch your worries float away and your succulents thrive, year after year :)

The secrets to propagating succulents successfully!

Would you like to multiply your lonely collection of succulents into dozens—and even hundreds—more? Good news: succulents can be propagated like wild bunnies, as long as you follow a few simple tricks. And best of all, they won't cost you a penny!

If you're looking for simple, quick tips to help you get started with succulents, this is the guide for you! These 30 tips cover the basics from buying and planting succulents to designing beautiful arrangements with them. Easy to read and easy to implement ideas to get you off on the right foot.

You'll find an incredible selection of cold hardy succulents at Mountain Crest Gardens

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Wondering who I am?

Let me introduce myself... My name is Cassidy Tuttle and I’m a professional photographer turned succulent addict. These are my two sweet children and wonderful husband in the photo with me!

My adventure with succulents started with three small plants on the window sill of my basement apartment. Within a year I had propagated them and purchased more, totaling over 100 plants!

It’s been a fun adventure since then as I’ve drowned, burned, frozen, and starved my collection of succulents. This site is where I teach you how to avoid all those mistakes I made or help you recover from them.

While I’ve killed plenty of succulents in the last few years, I’ve also kept hundreds alive and thriving, and I know you can do the same!

Did I mention I wrote the book on succulents?

It’s true! I’m the author of Idiot’s Guides: Succulents which is designed to help those of us who love succulents (but are limited to growing on our window sills and porches) keep our succulents looking great.

You can purchase my book through my Amazon affiliate link here or pick it up at your local Barnes and Noble.

If printed books aren’t your thing, I’ve also written several ebooks about succulents on various topics including indoor growing, watering and propagating. You can check those out on this page.

My goal is to help you not just keep your succulents alive, but help them thrive no matter where you live.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff!

I’m impressed you’ve made it this far down. You should probably be rewarded for that…

How about some bite sized succulent tips delivered daily to your inbox?

I’m sure you’ll love my 30 Days of Quick Succulent Tips email series. Each day I’ll send you a 2-3 sentence tip about growing succulents along with a photo and link to learn more.

Sound good?

 

Still have a question or need help?

For help identifying your succulent click here.

Need help with an order you placed here or with one of our affiliates? Please email me (info@succulentsandsunshine.com) with your question.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.