General gardening topics

Caring for succulents indoors

Last updated on March 27th, 2022

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Succulents refer to a category of thousands of plants and they make great household plants because they adapt easily to the conditions of your home and in many cases help purify the air you breathe. Succulents do well indoors as long as you give them the proper growing conditions, which usually means plenty of light and free-draining compost.

Choosing the right plant

Succulents are native to areas that are not just known for their heat but for their rain. It’s important that you provide similar conditions to what they are accustomed to and that includes conditions similar in terms of light and temperature. Because there are so many different types of succulents you need to figure out which one you already have or figure out the conditions you have and from there which one would grow best.

If you choose plants that will do well with the lighting in the temperature you have in your home you will have a much better success rate. Again, because there are thousands of different succulents out there, chances are you can find something no matter what your light, temperature, or air conditions might be. Some grow well with indirect light on a windowsill whereas others do well in direct light, but most prefer plenty of light

Choosing the right succulents

Caring for succulents indoors

Positioning for light and watering

Care for your succulent starts by providing them with the right growing conditions. Most succulents need as much light as possible. Indoors it’s imperative that you place them near windows or in rooms that are well-lit so that they get access to ample sunlight, especially during the winter. You should take it upon yourself to water your succulents thoroughly, but not frequently.

Succulents by nature will hold water in their leaves which is how they survive drought conditions in their natural surroundings. This means that when you water you want to do it thoroughly so that the leaves are able to absorb all the water. But you also want to avoid watering too often otherwise you can drown the plants and they will start to rot. It is best to wait until the potting soil is dry for the first few centimetres before you water again.

Check our guide on how to overwinter succulents successfully.

Haworthia is a succulent commonly mistaken for Aloe but it's perfect for beginners because it tolerates low light.

Selecting the right potting soil designed for succulents

On that note, the potting soil you use is important. When you grow your succulents indoors you want to give them a well-draining potting mixture that is designed for succulents specifically, and you will find it often sold as a cacti compost. It might be good for you to use a combination of 50% potting soil and 50% perlite if you choose to make your own, but free-draining soil is essential. This will help add the buoyancy to the soil that your succulent desires.

Position in bright or indirect light at normal room temperature

Succulents are naturally green and are able to photosynthesize indoor light to help them maintain their brightness. But beyond that succulents need indirect or bright light, with temperatures between 10°C and 27°C. They prefer relatively low humidity that hovers between 10% and 30%.

Where to position them to get the right amount of light

As mentioned succulents tend not to like being in the full sun all day and they do well if some of the light is blocked by a window. There are succulents that tolerate low light conditions just as there are varieties that can get burned if exposed to too much light. In order to achieve the right balance, you should put them near a window that doesn’t get direct sunlight or is somehow protected by a curtain or blinds, or place them on a table near a window so that they get access to enough light.

Sansevieria is a species that is incredibly unique and its appearance, and it's actually a common house plant you have probably seen many times before. It goes by the name of snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue, or bowstring hemp.
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Below is a list of popular succulents that need indirect or otherwise filtered sunlight:

  • Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
  • Zebra Plant (Haworthia attenuata)
  • Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera buckleyi)
  • Gasteria

Below is a list of popular succulents that need bright sunlight:

  • Aloe vera and other aloes
  • Agaves
  • Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
  • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
  • Mammillarias
  • Tiger jaws (Faucaria tigrina)

If you’re just getting into growing succulents check out our article on the best succulents for beginners


Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Most succulents prefer a moderate temperature that doesn’t drop below 10°C, which makes them perfect for homes. The most common succulents used indoors as houseplants can tolerate slightly warmer temperatures. If the temperatures extend beyond their comfort zone many of the succulents will go into dormancy.

You need to be mindful of the air circulation and humidity in your home. Succulents tend to do better inside because the air is dry with relatively low humidity. It encourages the soil to dry out quickly and it helps the plant store more water. If you allow the potting soil to remain too moist because there’s an adequate circulation or humidity levels are off it can lead to rot. So keep your eyes peeled for any signs of drought or signs of changes to the humidity in your home.

Avoid overwatering, they are best if kept a little drier than wet

Don’t overwater. As mentioned you should water them thoroughly when you do water, but make sure the actual waterings take place infrequently. Your best way to determine when it’s time to water is to just simply check the potting soil. Finally, succulents don’t need a lot of food. In fact, you can get away with fertilising them with a succulent or cacti feed once a year, maybe twice, and they will do just fine.

Follow these rules and your indoor succulent will thrive.

If you want to learn more about growing succulents then our beginner’s guide on growing succulents is well worth reading.

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