Succulents are plants with fleshy, thickened leaves and/or swollen stems that store water. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice or sap. Succulents are able to survive on limited water resources, such as dew and mist, making them tolerant of drought. There are many different species and cultivars of
succulents spanning several plant families, and most people associate succulents with Cactaceae, the cactus family. (Keep in mind, however, that while all cacti are
succulents, not all succulents are cacti.)
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.
As cute as they are, succulents don't always make the best indoor house plants.
Simply follow our top tips to ensure they stay healthy for as long as possible...
Be wise about watering
Do not over water your succulent. If you think your succulent needs water, wait a few more days.
Always check the soil for moisture before you water.
If the soil is moist, do not water. It is normal to wait weeks between waterings. Leave the succulent in its usual spot after watering. Do not try moving it into more or less sun. To water your succulent - put your succulent, along with the decorative pot, in a sink. Remove the succulent from the decorative pot and fill up the decorative pot with water. Place the succulent back in the decorative pot. Water will spill out but now the succulent is submerged in water. Leave the succulent there for the majority of the day. Before you place the succulent back in its usual spot, remove the succulent again and dump the excess water from its decorative pot.
Tips & Tricks
Don't water indoor succulents daily. That's the quickest way to kill them. Also know that succulents have a dormant period when don't need as much water then. Generally this is in the cooler months of the year. Since they aren't actively growing, they don't use up as much water.
Consider the lighting
Succulents prefer direct light and require lots of it. Succulents naturally survive in the desert with direct sun. Some varieties are more light sensitive than others. The amount of light the succulent can handle is also dependent on temperature. If it is too hot, the succulent is more likely to get sun damage.
Succulents will show you whether they are receiving too little light or too much light.
Succulents that don’t receive enough light will “stretch”. Succulents that are receiving too much light will begin to show burning with brown or “burnt” leaves. If your succulents are stretching, move your succulents to a spot with more light and/or try rotating (just turning the pot) your succulents periodically so it experiences even light. If your succulents are burning, try moving your succulent away from the light. Be careful not to put your succulent in too dark of a place. Remember! Once you have moved your succulent your water schedule will probably need to change. Succulents receiving more light will require more water and succulents receiving less light will require less water.
Tips & Tricks
Most succulents prefer at least 6 hours of sun per day, so try to place them near a south- or east-facing window. You may notice your succulents becoming spindly or stretching toward the light if they don’t get enough sun.
Find the right environment
Succulents can tolerate extreme temperatures better than most plants.
They prefer an arid climate – meaning high temperature and low humidity.
The climate tolerance varies between succulent varieties and, as a general rule of thumb, the “softer” the succulent is, the more sensitive it is. Avoid extreme temperatures when choosing a spot for your succulent. It is best to keep your succulent between 55 and 85 degrees. When a succulent gets cold damage or freezes, it will appear be melting. The leaves will turn mushy and discolor white and brown. Unfortunately, once a succulent has frozen, there is little you can do. You can try pruning all the dead leaves and if there are some healthy leaves left – leave those and see if your succulent makes a recovery!
Tips & Tricks
If the temperatures are mainly above 50 F you can put succulents also outside. Most types are even winterhardy but they do not like too much rain, as the roots will rot then. We recommend always choosing a warm and protected spot for your succulent.
Surviving without plant food
Succulents are hardy plants and do not grow too quickly.
We advise against fertilizing your succulents as the risk of harming your plant is greater than helping it.
If you do wish to fertilizer your succulents, try using osmocote or another slow release fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the package carefully. If you wish to use an organic fertilizer, there are many recipes you can find online.
Tips & Tricks
The plants benefit most from fertilizer in the spring (when the days get longer and new growth begins), and again in late summer. There is no need to fertilize succulents in winter when they’re semi-dormant., They don’t need the nutrient boost because they are not actively growing.
Pick your pot carefully
You do not have to re-pot your succulent but if you would like to make sure you select a pot that is a little bigger than the one you currently have.
It should only be a few inches wider in diameter and a few inches taller.
Repeat this process every few months or every year. If you re-pot your succulent in too large of a pot, there will be too much extra soil and it will not dry properly. When selecting a soil, use a succulent substrate mix with lots of drainage.
Tips & Tricks
Avoid Glass Containers (or anything that doesn't drain) Glass containers generally aren't a great long term potting solution for succulents. They do not like to be sitting in soggy soil, so a glass jar or terrarium, which does not have anywhere for water to drain out, is not going to make your succulent happy.
Identifing the pests
Succulents do not get pests or diseases easily. Pests and diseases are difficult to control without the use of harmful chemicals.
We recommend treating for pest and diseases in very simple ways.
If you begin to see scale, aphids, mealy bug, or other types of pests on your succulents, trying washing your succulent with alcohol based wipes. If you begin to see symptoms of a disease on your succulents, such as browning spots, try watering your succulent less and remove any infected leaves.
Tips & Tricks
Like many plants, the lowest leaves on the stem (closest to the potting mix) will eventually shrivel up and drop. This is normal and nothing to worry about. If the topmost leaves are dying, it could indicate overwatering, pests, or disease.