How to Grow Succulents Indoors
Links in this blog post are affiliate links to Amazon or Ebay that pay us a commission for a completed purchase. We are not paid in any way by the manufacturers to feature their product. Making a purchase through our links is the best way to support our site.
Succulents have become popular in the recent years. You usually find them sold in cute small pots and their beautiful colors are quite Instagram friendly. Succulents are generally easy to take care of, however getting them to grow correctly can be difficult indoors. There are a couple common pitfalls succulent parents can fall into, hopefully this guide will give you the tools to keep your succulent plant looking great!
What are Succulents?
Succulents are not a genus of plant, but a general term to describe the physical characteristic of the bulbous petals. These petals hold lots of water in them, which is why you don’t need to water them as often as leafier tropical plants. There are many varieties of Succulents, which come in many different shapes sizes and colors. Most succulents can generally be treated the same, however there is something called a “dormancy period” which will be explained later. To take the best care of your succulent you’ll want to know what to do during this time.
How often you should water depends on your soil mixture, humidity, pot size, soil mixture, temperature, and airflow. Don’t let this overwhelm you! This is just to open your eyes up to the possibilities if you ever run into a problem. There are easy ways to gauge when is a good time to water. Remember when it comes to succulents, erring on the side of less water is always best practice.
Waterings should be occur regularly during the growing season. A period of very hot and dry days may mean every 3 days – 1 week. But during the rest of the seasons maybe its once a week-2 weeks. Water thoroughly until it runs from the bottom. Let soil fully dry before watering again. Special note: Lithops (aka living stones) should not be watered while growing new leaves.
You will want to give your succulent “Full sun”. This basically means as much sun as possible as you can give it indoors. Indoor light is 50% less than outdoors because of the reflection from the window glass. Southern facing windows are best for healthy growth. Western windows can work but its possible your succulent may start to grow tall and “etiolated”. It will basically start to look stretched out. This happens because the plant is stretching itself struggling to find more light. Eastern facing and Northern facing windows will not work. You will need to set up grow lights for your plant to grow normally.
Your soil mix should be loose and airy (lots of big soil particles/ingredients). Cacti/succulent potting mixes are widely available and will work, but I find they usually hold too much water. I highly recommend adding perlite or pumice or grit to the soil mix, or making your own mix from scratch. This will provide healthier growth, and will reduce the chance of overwatering which turns into root rot. However this will also mean you should water more often. Below is a custom soil mix recipe that I recommend:
- 1 part Turface® / sand
- 1 part compost/earthworm castings
- 1 part coco-coir
- 1 part perlite / pumice – good to sift for size, as small particles can clog the soil
Making your own soil gives you more control over the environment of the plant. For instance, if you have a very humid home, you may want to add more pumice than usually recommended.
Unglazed clay and terracotta pots are best for succulents because the are able to breath through tiny pores in the clay. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole as well so excess water can escape. If you want to use a plant without a drainage hole: Keep the plant in a pot with a drainage hole, then place it inside the other pot. The outer pot will just be decorative, and will catch the excess water. Also make sure the inside pot, does not touch the bottom of the decorative pot, or else this method will be useless. The plant will still be sitting in the excess water. So you will need to add something to the bottom of the decorative pot to raise it up.
Airflow is very important for staying pest and disease free. Keeping a small fan to circulate air around your plants is ideal. Otherwise, just try to keep new air flowing through your home.
You may notice your Succulent grows vigorously some parts of the year, and completely stops other parts of the year. When your plant isn’t growing, this means your plant is resting, and is dormant. During their dormancy, you will water less. You can even wait until you see shrinking/wrinkling on the leaves. You can mist dormant succulents if they start to look thirsty as well, which can be a good middle-ground to watering fully.
Check the dormancy period for your species with this table at succulents.us . It could be winter or summer depending on its native origin. This will change the water and fertilizer requirements. Here is a table where you can look up your succulent plant.