Succulent Care Guide

Succulents are plants with fleshy, thickened leaves. They also may or may not have swollen stems that store water. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice or sap. While there are many different species and varieties of succulents spanning several plant families, most people associate succulents with the cactus family. However, while all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. You’ll most likely water your succulents, but they can survive on limited water resources, such as dew and mist because they are quite tolerant of drought.

Succulents have a special ability to retain water. They also tend to thrive in warm, dry climates and this is what makes them attractive to so many people: They don’t mind being a little neglected. Succulents are well-adapted to indoor growing and are ideal for people who want low-maintenance houseplants. As you become acquainted with caring for succulents, these six tips are good guides for success.

6 Tips on Succulent Care (especially #5)

Succulents have a special ability to retain water. They also tend to thrive in warm, dry climates. What makes them attractive to some people is they don’t mind a little neglect. They’re well-adapted to indoor growing and ideal for people who want low-maintenance houseplants. When you’re first getting acquainted with caring for succulents, these six tips are good guides to success.

Picking the right Succulent

Most succulents like direct sunlight, but a shaded corner will do fine. In this case, go with plants that are tolerant to low light, like mother-in-law tongue. If you want to grow in a hanging planter, a great choice is a trailing variety like string of bananas. You should always read the plant labels to determine that variety’s needs for sunlight and water. Also plan your pot size according to the size of the plant and the projected spread of trailing plants.

Best Succulent Container

When you bring your plant home, repot it using a container that has a drainage hole and is at least 1-to-2 inches larger than the nursery container. As a long-term solution for potting a succulent, avoid glass containers, such as mason jars or terrariums. They don’t allow roots to breathe and, over time, can cause root rot. Fill the bottom one-third of the container with your pre-moistened potting mix, then position your plant inside, holding it upright. Fill in the rest of the pot with more pre-moistened potting mix.

Well Draining Soil

You’ll want to repot your succulent as soon as you bring it home because nurseries always plant their succulents in soil that’s too rich and retains too much moisture. Start with a coarse potting mix with good drainage and aeration. You can find special cactus and succulent mixes at the nursery. You can even use an African violet mix. To further improve drainage and prevent compacted soil, add perlite or pumice to the cactus or African violet mix. Whatever soil you choose, the total mix should include up to 50% of whatever medium chosen to aerate the soil. The percentage will depend on your succulent’s moisture needs. Always wet the mix before using it to ensure that it’s evenly moist.

Succulents Need Light

Most succulents prefer at least six hours of sun per day, so try to place them near a south-facing or east-facing window. If your succulent doesn’t get enough sun, you’ll notice they become spindly; they’re stretching toward the light.

Succulent Watering

Overwatering is the number one mistake made with succulents. It’s best to water more, but less frequently. Saturate the potting mix thoroughly, making sure the water flows out of the drainage hole properly. Allow the mix to dry out slightly before the next watering. Your plant may eventually die if the potting mix stays consistently wet every day.

Fertilize Succulents

Your succulents benefit most from fertilizer in the spring, when the days get longer, and new growth begins. Fertilize again in late summer. Use a balanced, all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer, such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10, diluted to half the strength recommended on the package instructions. In winter, when they’re semi-dormant and not actively growing, they don’t need the fertilization that the extra nutrient boost would give them.

14 of the Best Succulents to Grow Indoors

  • Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
  • Christmas kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
  • Mother-in-law tongue or snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
  • Crown of thorns (Eurphorbia milii)
  • Medicine plant (Aloe vera)
  • Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi)
  • Zebra cactus (Haworthia fasciata)
  • Panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)
  • String of bananas (Senecio radicans)
  • String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
  • Hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum tectorum or Echeveria elegans)
  • Pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli)
  • Burro’s tail (Sedum morganianum)
  • Pebble plant or living stone (Lithops)

More Succulent Care Tips

Loose Rocky soil is better for growing succulents.

Though succulents seem to thrive in sand out in the wild, indoors they prefer loose, rocky soil and need nutrients to grow well. When you use only sand, they don’t get the drainage they need because sand tends to compact over time. That causes too much water retention in the container. You should use a medium specially formulated for cacti and succulents, or a well-draining mix of potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite with pumice.

Don’t worry, some leaves naturally fall off.

Like many plants, the lowest leaves on the stem—those closest to the potting mix will eventually shrivel and drop. It’s normal and you shouldn’t worry about it. However, if the topmost leaves are dying, it could indicate overwatering, pests, or disease.

Did you Know?

You can start succulents from seeds. Much like you can do with other plant seeds, seeds from succulent can be started indoors in light, moist soil. They germinate and grow more slowly, generally not reaching transplant size until six months to a year after germinating.

Choose the succulent that will thrive in your indoor environment—or choose more!—and one that gives you the enjoyment of growing these easy-care plants in your home.

Where to purchase Succulents?

Our store offers a wide variety of the highest quality succulents that are great for indoor growth. The species may vary by season, but check out our current collection of premium succulents.