How to Care for Succulents Indoors

Succulents make great indoor plants even though they are used to living in very different environments: deserts! The best thing about these exotic plants is that they are easy to maintain at homes.

Caring for succulents is so easy, these plants are perfect even for the beginners. There are basically two things they require from you. They need to be placed somewhere they can get enough sunlight and to be watered when the soil is completely dry.

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Succulents are able to stay alive with minimal care. Actually, they would like a little bit neglection. A lot of bright light and watering once in a while will keep your plants healthy. Yet, for the best results, you need to know more than that.

Healthy growing succulents require an appropriate environment first of all. Once the setting is done, there are a few tricks to make your succulents thrive all year. By the way, you need to be aware of pests and illness threatening an indoor succulent.

Learning only these tips and tricks, you can have the best looking succulents right inside your house. Let’s get into the details.

Choosing the Best Succulents for Indoors

There are a wide variety of succulent plants, and not all of them make good indoor plants, especially if your home is not getting enough sunlight.

The reason why succulents have bright colors is that they are stressed when they get direct sunlight. Colors are the result of pigments produced by plants to protect themselves from the radiation. Since it is difficult to replicate this effect at home, you need to choose the right type of succulents that could adapt indoors.

Luckily there are many beautiful succulents which would look great at your homes with very little maintenance.

Here are some of them:


Echeveria is my favorite genus of succulents. They are beautiful, easy to care, and they can be propagated from leaves, cuttings, or offsets.

Even though you mess up with the care of your echeverias (which is highly unlikely), all you need to do is to pluck off some leaves and set them on the soil. Ta-da, you got your new plants! I wrote an in-depth propagation guide if you are interested in.

Echeveria Purpusorum

Echeveria succulents are able to tolerate poor lighting and low temperatures. However, try to keep them near the window where they can get sunlight and stay warm. So that your Echeverias would look their best!

Here is a photo of my other Echeveria: Echeveria Agavoides

Echeveria Agavoides

Haworthia Fasciata (aka Zebra Plant)

Minimalist homes with stylish pots are where Haworthia usually lives! These African succulents have stripes like a zebra. They make great decor on a coffee table or an office desk because a Zebra Plant can grow in a small pot thanks to its shallow roots.

They also require frequent watering. Even though you forget about watering your Zebra Plant for weeks, and they will still be alive. However, they are not as easy to propagate as an Echeveria. You are going to wait a while for the babies.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa (aka Panda Plant or Chocalate Soldier)

When I picked this little plant up from a local flower shop on my way to home, I didn’t know anything about it! It looked different from the succulents I used to see with its hairy leaves. Colors at the edge of its leaves immediately convinced me to bring the plant at home.

After a quick online search, I was very glad to learn that it was a great indoor plant. It requires partial light and thrives with room temperature. Giving the Panda Plant (or, KALANCHOE TOMENTOSA) a couple hours of direct sunlight everyday will make them the happiest.

Aloe Vera

This plant is not only popular for its aesthetics but also for its medical uses. People make use of Aloe Vera to heal skin damages for centuries. Lately, i became one of the most popular indoor plants.

They are in love with bright daylight! That’s why you need to place them near the window. I like to keep mine on a windowsill at the office space. By this way, I can watch it when I am tired of looking at my computer screen.

Senecio Crassissimus (aka Vertical Leaf Senecio)

Senecio makes great indoor plants. They are highly drought resistant, that means no problem when you forgot to water them so long. You need to be careful with this one when it comes to fertilizing. If you fertilize them too much, you’ll have leggy succulents.

Setting the Proper Environment

I have been telling this over and over again, but I’ll repeat once again: Succulents live in the desert! If these desert plants are moved to urban interiors, we should help their adaptation by setting proper environment.

Every aspect of your succulent care should match their habitat. Temperature and humidity of the room, sun exposure of the plant, type of the soil and the pot it is placed, and the watering schedule should mimic the desert conditions.

Temperature and Humidity

These desert plants will thrive in moderately warm temperatures. The succulents are in the best condition at average room temperature and humidity. They require a temperature range approximately between 18 – 24 degrees Celcius.

While succulents can survive extremely hot temperatures, many of them do not withstand cold weather. If you are keeping your plants nearby a cold window, move them in a warmer place where they could still get bright light anyways.

The ideal humidity for many them is around %40-50, which is the same level as a human’s needs.

Choosing the Right Soil for Succulents

They live on a sandy, rocky, hot soil type that does not hold water. That’s why they evolved to absorb as much water as possible when it rains. If they can’t, water will be drained in minutes if not seconds, and they’ll be dead!

If you use humid soil like turf, it will hold water. Roots of succulents hate to stay in wet soil for a long time, and they rot quickly. You must use a special soil for succulents that is similar to desert soil. A grainy and loose soil blend will have good drainage around the roots and keep them dry.

You can either buy premixed succulent soil from Amazon or Home Depot, or prepare it at home. The formula I use when blending my soil contains potting soil (60%), perlite (15%), and coarse sand (25%).

Choosing the Best Pot for Succulents

To achieve good drainage around the roots of your succulent plant, you need to use a pot with a drainage hole. This is a very important point because if you don’t have a hole at the bottom of the pot, water will stay in the soil and will cause your succulent die.

There are plenty of options that have the bottom holes; pots in every shape and color, hanging baskets or succulent wall planters. But if you insist on using a pot that does not have any drainage holes, you can either drill the holes by yourself or use a secondary nursery pot to fit inside it.

Believe me, sufficiently working drainage holes help you to avoid overwatering and make the whole process of watering so much easier for you.

I generally prefer the ones made from clay or ceramic, because it is a natural material that breathes air. There are also a lot of crazy planter designs nowadays; made by using wood, concrete, glass or plastic. They are all wonderful, but just be careful if you choose a glass pot. Under the direct sun, a glass container causes the roots to get burned.

Caring for Indoor Succulents

Even though the succulents are easy to keep alive and difficult to kill, they still need the same things as the other conventional houseplants; light and water. Here is how you should water them and how to expose them to sunlight.

Watering Indoor Succulents

If you want to kill your succulents, keep their soil wet. It is a sure way to getting rid of your succulents by rotting them. However, if you want your succulents to live long years, stay healthy, and look awesome, you need to water your plants right.

You need to water your succulents only when their soil is completely dry. If the soil stays wet, your plant will start rotting starting from the roots to stem. What I like to do before watering my succulents is to stick a toothpick into the soil. If the toothpick is not wet, it is the right time for watering.

When you water the succulents, you need to make sure that you are watering thoroughly. Give enough water to see it come from the drainage hole. Then, wait a couple of minutes until soil completely dries out, and give the second round.

I don’t like spraying the grown-up succulents because when water does not find its way to deep in the soil, roots will stay shallow. This is not an ideal situation since we need a long and healthy root system. That’s why you want to make sure you watered enough to see the water coming from the drainage holes.

Lighting Indoor Succulents

Succulents love sunlight. With a lot of bright sunlight through the year, succulents produce food for themselves by photosynthesis just like every other plant.

Many species of succulent plants develop various colors like pink, brown, red, purple… And the sun is the reason they have such beautiful colors. Lacking the sunlight will cause the leaves to look pale and withered.

Also if they can not get a couple hours of direct sunlight daily, they elongate to get closer to the light source. Stretched succulents look unpleasing by growing a long stem containing very few leaves. With sufficient sun exposure, your succulents will stay compact with dense foliage.

Here is an example of elongated succulent. – Photo credit

Most succulents need direct sunlight for a couple of hours in a day, and indirect light for the rest of the day. That’s why the best place to put your succulents is nearby windows, if possible.

If your succulent is a large one, rotate your plant from time to time. That way every side is exposed to light evenly and any leaning is corrected.

Fertilizing Succulents

Even though the succulents do not need extra nutrition to grow, you can fertilize them once or twice a year if you want. Most succulents grow in spring and summer. This is the time you want to fertilize your plants. Better you identify what type of a succulent you have and find out the active growing season for yours.

Make sure that you do not use a high concentration of fertilizers so you won’t burn the plant. Half and half diluted regular houseplant fertilizer will do the job. Choose a slow release type to lower the risk of burning.

Some people also fertilize their succulents at fall to provide nutrients for winter. This is optional but may help your plants to stay healthy during winter.

Repotting Succulents

Generally, indoor succulents are slow-growing type of plants. Nevertheless, in some time the roots of your plant can be overgrown for its pot or the body can start to give offsets and enlarge. So, the beginning of the spring is the most appropriate time for repotting succulents.

A change of the soil is also good for better drainage and air flow because you can use a grainy and airy new soil instead of the compacted soil. By this time, you can also get rid of any molds or pests may have occurred.

Succulent Troubleshooting

Leaves are drying too fast – You are not watering enough.

Leaves are wrinkled – You are not watering enough

Stem got purple and thinned – You are watering too much.

Leaves are spongy – You are watering too much.

My succulent streched (elongated) – There is not enough sunlight.

There are dark spots on leaves – Your plant is exposed to direct sunlight too long.

Things to do to Care Succulents Indoors

  • Keep them in a bright room, preferably near window.
  • Use containers with drainage hole.
  • Use special soil for succulent and cacti.
  • Do not water frequently. Only water when soil is completely dry.
  • Give your succulents good soaking while watering.
  • Fertilize your plant before summer

Things NOT to do to Care Succulents Indoors

  • Do not water frequently
  • Do not give concentrated fertilizer
  • Do not expose to direct sunlight for long periods of time
  • Do not use spray bottle to water

Succulents are beautiful and they deserve a good care. Hope this guide helps you to take good care of your plants!

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