You’ve been drooling over those adorable little succulent arrangements for sale at the garden center and grocery store. You’ve eyed them with envy when you’ve visited your green-thumbed friends. But can you, a novice, keep these little gems alive in your home?
I’m here to tell you that you can do it. We can do it together. Honestly, it’s not that hard. You CAN successfully plant indoor succulents.
But I get it, it’s scary. Watching a succulent whither or melt away is sad. If it’s happened to you before, you probably don’t want to try again.
Try. Seriously. Before you know it, your little succulent will be big and happy and have offsets of its own. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to plant indoor succulents.
How to Plant Indoor Succulents?
Even if you’ve never grown succulents before, you can grow them successfully indoors. Provide well-draining soil, pots with good drainage and airflow, and the correct amount of bright, indirect light for your species, using either window light or grow lights. Water only when the soil is dry, but water until it drains out the bottom of the pot.
Get ready to forget your worries about succulent growing. I’ve packed this article with decision trees, helpful pictures, and straightforward information to equip you to grow a gorgeous indoor succulent garden.
When you’re done with this article, get your hands dirty making an indoor succulent garden. I’ll give you all the tips and inspiration you need to make a little work of art that will thrive and impress your friends for years to come.
Here’s a deep dive into everything you need to know about indoor succulent gardening, perfect to dig into after you’re done with this beginner’s guide.
- Growing indoor succulents is achievable for beginners with the right care.
- Choose beginner-friendly succulents like Zebra Haworthia, Jade Plant, Aloe Vera, Panda Plant, Snake Plant, Hens-and-Chicks, or String of Pearls.
- Provide bright, indirect light for most succulents, but some can tolerate low light conditions.
- Use well-draining soil with a mix of inorganic and organic materials.
- Use pots with sufficient drainage holes to prevent water accumulation.
- Check if your succulent is happy with its soil by examining the plumpness and color of its leaves and the soil’s drainage.
- Water succulents deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
- Adjust watering practices if leaves are mushy or translucent (overwatering) or shriveled (underwatering).
- Consider using grow lights for additional light if natural light is insufficient.
- Fertilize once a month during the growing season using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, or rely on enriched potting mix if using compost.
- Observe the plant’s growth, leaf color, and overall health to adjust care practices as needed.
Step one: Choose your succulent!
There are lots of awesome succulents that do well indoors, but since you’re just getting started, you may want to start here. These are the indoor succulents I recommend for beginners:
Zebra Haworthia (Haworthia fasciata)
The Zebra Haworthia is a delightful succulent with distinctive white stripes that resemble zebra stripes on its dark green leaves. This succulent is a great choice for beginners due to its compact size and easy care requirements.
It prefers bright, indirect light and can tolerate some shade as well. Zebra Haworthia has a unique ability to adapt to various indoor environments, making it a versatile choice for any space.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
Known for its vibrant green, fleshy leaves, the Jade Plant is a classic choice. It’s incredibly resilient and can adapt to various light conditions, although it prefers bright, indirect light. Jade Plants are forgiving when it comes to watering, as they store water in their leaves and prefer drier soil.
Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)
Aloe Vera is not only a beautiful succulent, but it also offers soothing properties for minor burns and skin irritations. Multiple studies have documented its clinical uses in healing burns, moisturizing skin, and much more. It thrives in bright, indirect light and requires well-draining soil. Aloe Vera prefers to dry out between waterings, so it’s perfect for those who tend to be a little forgetful.
Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)
This is one of my favorites. The fuzzy, silver-green leaves of the Panda Plant are simply adorable! I have to keep myself from petting it.
This succulent prefers bright, indirect light and only needs watering when the soil has dried out completely. Its compact size makes it an excellent choice for small spaces.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
The Snake Plant, also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, is a hardy succulent with long, upright leaves that come in various shades of green and even some with yellow edges.
It’s an excellent choice for beginners due to its ability to tolerate low light conditions and infrequent watering. It can even survive with artificial light alone. Snake Plants also help purify the air by removing toxins, according to NASA’s Clean Air Study, making them a fantastic addition to any indoor space.
This is one of the best succulents for your bedroom, entertainment room, or other darker area.
One of my favorite things about succulents is how easy they are to propagate, but this one takes it to the next level. Hens-and-Chicks are charming succulents that form rosette-shaped clusters and produce small “chicks” around the main “hen” plant.
They come in a variety of colors and are extremely low maintenance. Hens-and-Chicks thrive in bright light, but they can tolerate some shade as well. These succulents are drought-tolerant and only require occasional watering, making them ideal for busy beginners or forgetful plant parents.
String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
If you’re looking for a unique trailing succulent, the String of Pearls is an excellent choice. Its delicate, bead-like leaves cascade down from hanging baskets or containers, creating a stunning visual display.
String of Pearls prefers bright, indirect light and requires well-draining soil. This succulent adds a touch of whimsy to any indoor space. It will create vines as long as you let it, making it a stunning hanging plant in front of windows.
Considerations in Choosing an Indoor Succulent
Consider the amount of light your indoor space receives. Some succulents, like Echeveria and Haworthia, prefer bright, indirect light, while others, like Snake Plant and Aloe Vera, can tolerate low light conditions.
Also, think about the eventual size of the plant and the size of the pot it will be planted in. Some succulents, like Jade Plant, can grow quite large and may need to be repotted or have their roots trimmed every few years.
Choosing the right succulent for your indoor space is all about finding a plant that will thrive in the conditions you can provide.
Most succulents need bright, indirect sunlight to grow properly. At least four to six hours of sunlight every day is the rule of thumb.
With too little light indoors, succulents may simply mature more slowly, or they may become leggy and eventually die. The good news is that as long as other conditions are met, you’ll have some time to observe your succulent and provide more light if necessary.
If you live in a cooler planting zone, your plants will need more sun. Therefore, you should place them in a window that receives the most sun. If you live in a warmer planting zone, the sun is stronger, and you should place your succulents in a spot that gets bright, indirect sunlight.
It is important to note that too much sun can be harmful to your indoor succulents. If they are exposed to direct sunlight through a window for too long, their leaves may become scorched. Therefore, it is best to provide them with bright, indirect sunlight rather than full sun.
How to Know if Your Indoor Succulent is Getting Too Much or Too Little Light?
- Does the succulent have pale or yellowing leaves?
- Yes: Go to question 2.
- No: Go to question 3.
- Are the leaves stretching or becoming elongated?
- Yes: The succulent may be getting insufficient light. Move to a brighter location or provide artificial light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves.
- No: The succulent may be getting too much light. Move to a slightly shadier spot or provide filtered light by using a sheer curtain or placing it away from direct light sources.
- Are the leaves turning brown, crispy, or scorched?
- Yes: The succulent may be getting too much light. Move it to a shadier location or provide filtered light.
- No: Go to question 4.
- Are the leaves wilting, thin, or losing their color?
- Yes: The succulent may be getting insufficient light. Move it to a brighter location or provide artificial light.
- No: The succulent is likely receiving the right amount of light.
How to Use Grow Lights for Succulents Indoors
Too little light is a common problem for indoor succulent enthusiasts. Luckily, there’s a simple solution in grow lights. They’re definitely the best light for light-loving succulents and cactus. Don’t like the look of grow lights? You can run them when you’re not home to give your succulents a shot of extra light without ruining their aesthetics. Here’s how to use grow lights:
- Choose the right type of artificial light: Succulents thrive under specific light conditions, and for indoor growing, you can use either fluorescent or LED lights. Look for “full-spectrum” lights or those labeled as “grow lights” to ensure your succulents receive the necessary wavelengths for photosynthesis.
- Determine the light intensity and duration: Depending on how much light they’re getting from windows and the power of your grow light, your succulents may need anywhere from a few hours to all day of supplemental light. Start with a few hours a day with lights spaced about a foot from the succulents and go from there depending on how your succulents respond.
- Create a consistent lighting schedule: Succulents thrive on consistency, so set up a regular lighting schedule for them. Using a timer can be incredibly helpful in automating the process. Aim for providing light during the day and allowing the plants to rest in darkness at night, just as they would in their natural environment.
- Monitor the distance and temperature: As succulents grow, you may need to adjust the distance between the light source and the plants. If you notice signs of stretching or the leaves becoming too elongated, move the light closer. Additionally, be mindful of the temperature around the lights to prevent overheating and potential damage to the plants.
- Observe and adjust as needed: Keep a close eye on your succulents as they adapt to the artificial light. Look for signs of healthy growth, such as vibrant leaf color and compact, sturdy stems. If you notice any issues like pale or elongated growth, it may indicate insufficient light intensity, and you may need to increase the light exposure.
Soil and Drainage
Soil and drainage are the most crucial factors that can affect the plant’s growth and health. For a full summary of how to choose and/or mix succulent soil, check out this article. However, in general, follow these recommendations, and your succulent will be just fine.
A good soil mix for succulents should have good drainage and aeration. It should be light, porous, and well-draining. A mix of two parts inorganic material like coarse sand or crushed lava rock with one part organic material like compost is typically ideal.
One way to achieve this is by adding perlite or pumice to the soil mix. Perlite is a lightweight volcanic glass that helps improve soil drainage and aeration. Pumice, on the other hand, is a lightweight volcanic rock that is also excellent for improving soil drainage and aeration.
Proper drainage is essential to prevent water from accumulating in the soil and causing root rot. When planting indoor succulents, it is important to use pots with sufficient drainage holes. The drainage holes allow excess water to drain out of the pot, preventing water from accumulating.
Terra-cotta pots are a great option for planting indoor succulents. These pots are porous and allow water to evaporate from the sides, preventing water accumulation in the soil. Ceramic works too, but not as well, since it doesn’t allow for airflow.
Worried About the Quality of Your Succulent Soil?
Here’s How to Tell if Your Succulent is Happy With their Soil
- Are the leaves of your succulent plump, firm, and vibrant in color?
- Yes: Proceed to question 2.
- No: The succulent may not be happy with its soil. Proceed to question 4.
- Does the soil drain well and dry out within a reasonable time after watering?
- Yes: The succulent is likely happy with its soil. It is providing adequate drainage and allowing the roots to breathe.
- No: Proceed to question 3.
- Is the soil consistently waterlogged or excessively wet for long periods?
- Yes: The succulent may not be happy with its soil. It is likely experiencing poor drainage, which can lead to root rot. Consider repotting the succulent into well-draining soil or amending the current soil mix with materials like perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage.
- Are you noticing signs of overwatering or underwatering, such as wilting, yellowing, or shriveled leaves?
- Yes: The succulent may not be happy with its soil. Proceed to question 5.
- No: The soil may not be the primary issue. Consider other factors, such as light, temperature, or fertilizer, that could affect the plant’s overall health.
- Are you following an appropriate watering schedule and allowing the soil to dry out between waterings?
- Yes: The soil may not be the main issue. Evaluate other care aspects, such as light, temperature, or fertilizer, that could contribute to the succulent’s symptoms.
- No: The succulent may not be happy with its soil. Adjust your watering practices to ensure you are providing appropriate moisture levels, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent overwatering.
It’s worth taking time to decide whether you have the right soil for succulents. Overwatering is a death sentence for succulents, and it also leads to gnats, mold, and other unpleasant things that can really derail your succulent-themed bedroom.
Want some teeny tiny succulent pots like these? Here’s my roundup of the best itty bitty succulent pots.
When it comes to watering your indoor succulents, it’s important to remember that these plants are adapted to survive in arid environments. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other problems, so it’s best to err on the side of underwatering. Here are some tips for watering your indoor succulents:
- Use a watering can with a narrow spout to direct water to the base of the plant, avoiding the leaves.
- Water your succulents deeply but infrequently. Wait until the soil has completely dried out before watering again.
- Water until it begins to drain out the bottom. Discard any excess water that collects in the saucer, or water elsewhere and return to the saucer when it’s done dripping.
I like to keep succulents in my bathroom and kitchen and near the front porch, where I can easily water them in a sink or with the hose and let them dry before returning them to their trays.
Could You be Over or Underwatering your Succulents?
- Are the leaves of your succulent mushy, translucent, or rotting?
- Yes: The succulent may be getting too much water. Proceed to question 2.
- No: Proceed to question 3.
- Is the soil consistently wet or waterlogged?
- Yes: The succulent is likely being overwatered. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again, and ensure proper drainage in the pot. Adjust your watering frequency and amount accordingly.
- No: Proceed to question 3.
- Do the leaves of your succulent appear wrinkled, shriveled, or dry?
- Yes: The succulent may be getting too little water. Proceed to question 4.
- No: Proceed to question 5.
- Is the soil bone dry or extremely parched?
- Yes: The succulent is likely experiencing drought stress. Water the plant thoroughly, ensuring the water reaches the root zone. Adjust your watering frequency, ensuring the soil is slightly moist before the next watering.
- No: Proceed to question 5.
- Are the leaves of your succulent firm and plump?
- Yes: The succulent is likely receiving the right amount of water.
- No: Observe other care aspects such as light, temperature, and air circulation, as they can also affect the plant’s overall health and hydration.
Succulents don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but a small amount can help them grow and thrive. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Be sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully, as over-fertilization can damage your plants.
If you use compost or another enriched organic material in your potting mix, you may need little or no fertilizer, depending on the succulent and how quickly you want it to grow.
Should You be Fertilizing Your Succulents More?
- Is your succulent showing signs of slow or stunted growth?
- Yes: Proceed to question 2.
- No: Proceed to question 4.
- Are the leaves of your succulent pale or yellowing?
- Yes: The succulent may be receiving too little fertilizer. Proceed to question 3.
- No: The slow growth may be due to other factors, such as light or water. Evaluate those aspects before considering fertilizer.
- Has it been more than three months since the last time you fertilized your succulent?
- Yes: Your succulent may benefit from a light application of balanced fertilizer according to the package instructions. Remember to dilute the fertilizer and avoid over-fertilizing.
- No: Your succulent may require other care adjustments, such as improving light or water conditions, before considering fertilizer.
- Are the leaves of your succulent showing signs of burning, discoloration, or unusual growth?
- Yes: The succulent may be receiving too much fertilizer. Proceed to question 5.
- No: The slow growth may be due to factors other than fertilizer. Focus on evaluating other care aspects before considering fertilizer.
- Have you been applying fertilizer more frequently or at a higher concentration than recommended?
- Yes: The succulent is likely experiencing fertilizer burn. Flush the soil with water to remove excess salts and discontinue fertilizing for a while. Adjust your fertilizer application to the recommended frequency and concentration.
- No: Consider other potential causes for the burning or discoloration, such as sunlight intensity or pests, before concluding that fertilizer is the issue.
Succulents are easy to propagate, making them a great choice for beginner gardeners. Here are a few methods you can use to propagate your indoor succulents:
- Leaf cuttings: Gently remove a leaf from the plant and allow it to dry for a few days. Plant the leaf in well-draining soil and water sparingly. Roots and a new plant will eventually grow from the leaf.
- Stem cuttings: Cut a stem from the plant and allow it to dry for a few days. Plant the stem in well-draining soil and water sparingly.
- Offsets: Some succulents produce small offsets or “pups” that can be removed and planted in their own pots. Wait until the offset is at least one-third the size of the parent plant before removing it. Plant the offset in well-draining soil and water sparingly.
Have Fun Planting Indoor Succulents!
Succulents are, in many ways, the perfect indoor plant. Their colors, geometric shapes, and compact growth works well with most decor. They don’t mind if you forget to water them. And they’re happy to reward you with plenty of new baby succulents for pretty basic care.
Now that you know the basics in indoor succulent care, why not make a succulent garden designed for display indoors? I’ve got some ideas for indoor planters that I know you’re going to love.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about planting indoor succulents:
Q: How often should I water my succulent?
A: Succulents store water in their leaves, so they don’t need to be watered as often as other plants. It’s important to let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Depending on the humidity and temperature of your home, you may only need to water your succulent once every two weeks or even less frequently. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can be fatal for your plant.
Q: Do succulents need direct sunlight?
A: While succulents do need plenty of light to thrive, direct sunlight can actually be harmful to them. Too much sun can cause the leaves to scorch or turn brown. Instead, place your succulent near a sheer curtain or in a bright, indirect light source. If you notice your succulent stretching or leaning towards the light, it may need more light.
Q: How can I tell if my succulent is healthy?
A: A healthy succulent should have plump, firm leaves and a sturdy stem. The leaves should be a vibrant green color (or whatever color is typical for your particular succulent). If the leaves are yellowing or shriveling, it may be a sign that your plant is not getting enough water or light. If you notice any pests or signs of disease, take action immediately to prevent the problem from spreading.
Q: What should I do if my succulent is not growing?
A: It’s normal for succulents to grow slowly, especially if they are in a low-light environment. However, if your succulent is not growing at all, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Check to make sure the soil is not too wet or too dry, and make sure your plant is getting enough light. You can also try fertilizing your succulent with a balanced fertilizer designed for cacti and succulents.
Q: How can I propagate my succulent?
A: Propagating succulents is a fun and easy way to grow your collection. To propagate your succulent, gently remove a healthy leaf from the plant and let it dry out for a day or two. Then, place the leaf on top of some well-draining soil and mist it with water. Over time, the leaf should sprout roots and a new plant will begin to grow.