How to Grow and Care for Indoor Succulents

For many plant aficionados and amateur home gardeners, plant care may be more work than it seems.

As such, people often turn to low-maintenance plants such as cacti and succulents in order to decorate their homes while simultaneously tending to their gardening needs.

However, succulent plants also require a degree of care and attention which often goes overlooked by home gardeners.

Newsweek spoke to experts to find out how to best care for and grow your succulents indoors, to ensure they remain healthy and thriving.

Place Your Succulent in a Bright Spot

Most succulents originate from warm and arid regions and are accustomed to exposure to direct sunlight.

Succulent plants need roughly six hours of sun per day, though it depends on each individual type of succulent. Richard Cheshire, Plant Doctor at Patch Plants, told Newsweek that they tend to thrive in warm, well-lit areas of the home.

“For the most part, these plants enjoy being left to their own devices. To keep your succulent alive indoors, try to replicate their desert-like origins by placing the plant in a bright, warm and dry spot.

A bed of varied succulent plants. It is recommended to keep succulent plants in a well-lit and bright spot, as they can need up to six hours of daily sunlight to grown in a healthy way.
kynny/Getty Images

These plants work best when placed in a bright spot with sunlight through the day, which makes them perfect for windowsills. Succulents need lots of sunlight to provide them with the energy they need to synthesize all of the water they hold in their thick leaves,” Cheshire said.

Experts also recommend that succulents get rotated often, to ensure that sun exposure is distributed evenly, which in turn helps them stand straight.

However, newly planted succulents may receive damage from direct sunlight, which may scorch their leaves. It’s recommended to gradually introduce them to full full sun exposure or provide slight protection with a thin curtain.

Water Succulents Appropriately

Due to their arid nature, succulents do not require watering as frequently as common house or garden plants, and tend to prefer drier soil.

Succulents’ need for water also changes with the seasons, Jamie Taylor-Ferreira of Aycorn Garden Design & Lifestyle told Newsweek.

“During the cooler months, succulents will go into their dormant phase so they don’t really need as much water as during the warmer summer months. Having small shrivelling or wilting of the lower leaves is normal and doesn’t mean your succulent is dying , just like any other plant the succulent will eventually kill some of its old leaves to make new ones.”

Nevertheless, they should still be watered sparingly, Cheshire advised, as overwatering can kill the plant.

“Succulents enjoy their soil on the drier side so a weekly watering is far too much for these plants. It’s always best to feel the soil of your plant to gauge whether it needs watering or not.

“In the spring and summer, it would be worth checking your plant every other week, but in the winter your succulent may take a month or even longer to drink all of its water.”

Cheshire also warned against misting succulent plants, as they originate from warm climates and have adapted to dry conditions.

“Wetting the foliage and topsoil too often can lead to soft and mushy leaves,” he added.

Use Pots With Drainage

In order to ensure your succulent is not being overwatered it is best to keep your plant in a pot with a draining hole. This prevents the soil from retaining excess water and damaging the plant.

Taylor-Ferreira highlighted that people often overlook this problem.

“The most common mistake [when] growing succulents indoors is placing your succulent in a glass jar or terrarium that don’t have any drainage. They hate sitting in soggy soil with no drainage.”

It’s recommended to avoid using glass containers to house your succulents as they often lack proper drainage. Additionally, glass containers don’t provide for good air circulation, and succulents need a breathable pot to maintain healthy roots.

If you don’t own a pot with a drainage hole, ensure that you have enough soil in the pot that it will properly absorb the water and not collect it at the bottom of the pot.

Repotting succulent plant
A home gardener repots a succulent plant. Experts recommend using succulent and cactus specific soil to protect the root system from overwatering issues like root rot.
Iryna Imago/Getty Images

Plant Succulents in the Right Soil

Cheshire also told Newsweek about the importance of using appropriate soil.

“Make sure you use a succulent and cactus specific soil to protect the root system from overwatering issues like root rot. In the summer you can apply a succulent fertilizer once a month to boost the nutrients in the soil and enhance growth”.

Adding a layer of mulch on top of the soil also stops the damp from coming into contact with leaves and roots, which could lead to rot. You can use horticultural grit, shells or another dry material

“Warm and bright conditions usually deter mold growth but you could also sprinkle some cinnamon around the topsoil as an added measure to keep fungus at bay,” Cheshire added.

Which Are the Best Indoor Succulents?

Most types of succulents will fare well indoors, and will prosper if treated and cared for using the above advice.

However, there are some species that are better suited to indoor living or limited direct sunlight, Taylor-Ferreira explained.

“Choosing the right succulents to grow indoors is important. Succulents with bright color leaves like red, purple and orange generally don’t do very well indoors. Succulents with a natural green color are your best bet, and varieties like Gasteria and Haworthia will do best inside your home.”

Cheshire pointed out that certain species can also feel at home in darker parts of the house.

“If you are looking for an alternative for the shadier corners of your home, snake plants are the perfect choice as they can tolerate in low light conditions.”

Little cacti in pot
Many different cacti and succulents growing together in a pot. Succulents do not need watering as regularly as other garden or house plants as they prefer drier soil.
ae0816146146/Getty Images

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