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The Basics of Succulent Care (FAQs)

Succulents are ideal houseplants for beginners and anyone who desires low maintenance greenery in their homes. Succulent care is relatively easy but newcomers still have a lot of questions. Let’s go over indoor succulent care basics and answer your FAQs.

Note: This post was published on  8/28/2021. It was updated on 3/26/2024.

Indoor Succulent Care: Answers To FAQS

A succulent garden in a terra cotta bowl sits on a dining room table the text reads indoor succulent care basics.A succulent garden in a terra cotta bowl sits on a dining room table the text reads indoor succulent care basics.

Choosing The Right Succulents

What succulents do well indoors?

Jade Plants, Aloe Vera, Snake Plants, Ponytail Palms, Christmas Cacti, Flowering Kalanchoes, Calandivas, Haworthias, and Gasterias have proven best for me. String Of Pearls are very popular, but people have problems growing them. String Of Bananas is a similar plant that’s easier to keep alive indoors.

Which succulents are easiest to care for indoors, especially for beginners?

The majority of succulents are easy to care for. However, too much water and too little light can cause them to die. See the above answer.

What are the best succulent plants for low light conditions?

No succulents will do well in low light. I’ve found that Snake Plants, Haworthias, and Gasterias are the best bets in lower light situations. There are many different varieties of Snake Plants and Haworthias to choose from. Gasterias do great indoors, but they’re a bit harder to find.

Helpful Link: Indoor Succulent Plants: How To Choose Plants & Containers

A variety of succulents are planted in a shallow clay pot that sits atop a kitchen counter.A variety of succulents are planted in a shallow clay pot that sits atop a kitchen counter.

Light Requirements

How much sunlight do indoor succulents need?

They like lots of light. Full sun is fine as long as it’s not direct, and a sunny spot is great if it’s not in a hot window.

What are the signs that my succulent needs more light?

If a succulent isn’t getting enough light, it’ll become thinner, weaker, and eventually leggy. The foliage will be smaller and paler. It will grow towards the closest light source, giving it that “Leaning Tower of Pisa” look.

Can indoor succulents be placed near windows with different orientations (north, south, east, west)?

Bright indirect light is best. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will burn them. You want to keep your succulents out of a west—or south-facing window. I live in sunny, hot Tucson, AZ, and keep my succulents at least 2′ away from this exposure. A north—or east-facing window is fine for my succulents.

What are the effects of too much sunlight on indoor succulents?

Succulent leaves and stems will burn. Mild sunburn will be whitish in color, whereas an intense burn will be brown.

Should I rotate my indoor succulents for even growth?

Most indoor plants don’t receive light on all sides because they grow close to a wall. So yes, rotating your succulents every couple of months is a good idea. 

Helpful Link: How Much Sun Do Succulents Need?

A woman's hands are shown holding a long nozzle water bottle watering a Haworthia succulent and a white decorative pots.A woman's hands are shown holding a long nozzle water bottle watering a Haworthia succulent and a white decorative pots.

Watering Succulents

How often should I water my indoor succulents?

When it comes to succulents, less water is better than more water! I can’t give you a specific schedule because many variables come into play. The complete guide below will help you out.

How do I prevent overwatering my succulents?

Too much water will do in a succulent fast. Let the soil dry out before watering again. Make sure they’re planted in succulent mix, and the pots have drainage holes so excess water can flow out. 

What are the signs of overwatering succulents?

Succulent leaves are firm. If overwatered, they’ll turn soft and mushy. Also, they can turn translucent and pale, as well as yellow and/or brown.

Is it okay to mist my succulents between waterings?

No. Their fleshy leaves don’t need it, and it could cause the soil to stay too wet. Save the spray bottle for your tropical plants!

What are the best practices for watering succulents in winter?

It’s best to reduce watering frequency during the winter months. The days are shorter and darker, and the soil doesn’t dry out as fast.

Helpful Link: A Guide To Watering Succulents Indoors

Temperature/Humidity

What are the temperature requirements for indoor succulents?

I grew many succulents outdoors in my Santa Barbara garden. I have about ten pots of them growing in my Tucson garden. They can handle a wide range of temperatures, ideally above 40F and below 90F. They’ll do fine temperature-wise in your home.

Can succulents survive in air-conditioned environments?

My home in the Arizona desert is air conditioned for roughly four months each year. I keep the thermostat set anywhere from 77F to 80F. They’ll be fine unless you keep your home or office at cold temperatures year-round. 

What is the ideal humidity level for indoor succulents?

Most succulents are native to dry climates. I don’t know their ideal humidity, but they handle the low humidity in my home just fine.

Helpful Link: 6 Important Succulent Care Tips

Fertilizing/Feeding

Should I fertilize my indoor succulents, and how often?

Succulents aren’t needy, but they’d appreciate the nutrient boost. During the growing season is the best time to do it. 
How often you feed your succulents depends on what fertilizer you’re using and your climate. I live in a sunny climate with a long growing season. During this period, I feed my succulents monthly (seven times). Two to three times might be fine for your succulents and growing zone.

What type of fertilizers are best for succulents?

I like a water-soluble fertilizer, either liquid or granular. I don’t use a special fertilizer; I use the same ones I use for all my other houseplants.

A woman is pruning back a succulent using Fisker pruners.A woman is pruning back a succulent using Fisker pruners.

Pruning

How do I control the growth of indoor succulents?

Pruning is the best method. How you prune a succulent depends on the type and what you want to achieve.

What tools do I need for pruning indoor succulents?

I use my Felco pruners or my Fiskar micro pruners, depending on the thickness of the stem.

Can I prune all types of indoor succulents the same way?

No. Some succulents won’t need any, and some will. 

Are there specific times of the year that are best for pruning indoor succulents?

Yes, during the growing season is best. 

Helpful Link: How To Prune Succulents

Propagating Succulents

How do I propagate succulents indoors?

My two favorite ways are by stem cuttings in mix and by division.

How do I propagate succulents from leaves or cuttings?

Cuttings are a faster way. Leaf cuttings take much longer. Check the helpful link below.

What is the best time of year to propagate succulents?

Like pruning and fertilizing, spring and summer into early fall is best.

Can I propagate all types of succulents using the same methods?

Stem and leaf cuttings and division can propagate most succulents. Research the succulent you have to determine the best method.


How long does it take for propagated succulents to root and grow into new plants?

Generally, when it comes to stem cuttings, I’ve found that it can take four weeks or more for succulents to begin to root. Some take shorter; some take longer.

Are there any special care instructions for newly propagated succulents?

Yes. Put them in a bright spot with lots of light but no direct sunlight. Keep them dry for five to seven days before watering.

Helpful Post: 3 Easy Ways To Propagate Succulents  

Succulent Soil

What type of soil is best for indoor succulents?

Succulent soil needs good drainage and aeration. Using the proper mix ensures healthy roots, which contribute to a healthy plant. A mix formulated for succulents and cactus is best.

Can I use regular potting soil for succulents?

It’s best not to. Regular potting mix holds water, and succulents don’t like too much moisture. Use a well-draining succulent soil mix. 

Can I use cactus mix for all succulents?

Yes, most of them are labeled as succulent and cactus mix.

Helpful Links: Succulent Soil Mix: The Best For Succulent Plants / Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix: A DIY Recipe.

A woman is shown tying up the long trails of a string of pearls plant to be repotted in a hanging planter.A woman is shown tying up the long trails of a string of pearls plant to be repotted in a hanging planter.

Repotting

How do I know if my indoor succulent needs repotting?

Here are some reasons to repot: the soil is depleted or older than three to four years, the plant looks stressed and/or has stopped growing, the roots are growing out of the drain holes, it’s planted in the wrong type of soil, or there is white salt buildup on the surface of the soil. 

What size pot should I choose when repotting indoor succulents?

Succulents don’t mind growing tight in their pots. Generally, go up one pot size, for instance, from a 4″ pot to a 6″ pot. If you’re dealing with a heavy Jade Plant or Aloe Vera, it will need a bigger base to anchor it.

Can I reuse the same potting mix when repotting succulents? 

If the soil mix isn’t older than two years and doesn’t look depleted, yes. You might consider mixing in a bit of compost to add nutrients. 

Are there any post-repotting care tips I should follow for indoor succulents?

This is simple: I put the plant in a bright growing spot, let it settle in dry, and water it after five to seven days. Then, I resume care as usual!

Helpful link: A Guide To Repotting Succulents

Problems Growing Succulents

How do I deal with pests on indoor succulents?

Succulents grown indoors are prone to pests, especially mealybugs. They can also be prone to spider mites, scale, and aphids. If the infestation is mild, a spray with the kitchen faucet or garden hose will get rid of them. For heavier infestations, I use insecticidal soap. Click on the link for each pest for more info.

How do I prevent etiolation in succulents?

Succulents love bright light. They’ll reach toward the light source if they’re not getting enough. Move them to a spot with more light to prevent this. If need be, rotate them so they can light on all sides.

Why is my succulent stretching or becoming leggy?

First reason, see the above answer. The second is the nature of the succulent. For example, kalanchoes and echeverias tend to grow long stems over time.

How do I prevent and treat root rot in succulents?

Succulents won’t survive long in soggy soil. The biggest issue people have with growing succulents is too much water. Make sure your succulents get enough light, are planted in the proper mix, and dry out between waterings. If the soil stays too wet, it’ll be prone to fungus gnats.

Why are my succulent leaves turning yellow?

Any plant will occasionally produce yellow leaves. It’s part of its growth process. 

However, an excessive amount of yellow leaves is a sign that the succulent isn’t happy. The cause could be overwatering, underwatering, too much fertilizer, too much light or not enough light, and/or poor soil drainage. Watering too often is the most common reason. You can remove any yellow leaves to keep the plant looking good.

Helpful Link: 13 Problems You May Have Growing Succulents Indoors

Now Foster stands outside holding two kalanchoes, in pink and yellow in a turquoise top.Now Foster stands outside holding two kalanchoes, in pink and yellow in a turquoise top.
Calandivas & kalanchoes are popular blooming succulents. photo credit: Meredith Amadee

Container Selection

How do I choose the right size container for my succulents?

Most succulents like to grow tight in their pots. Make sure the pot you choose isn’t too big. Too much soil mass could lead to root rot. It’s best to have drainage holes on the bottom of the pot so the excess water can flow out. 

If you’re dealing with a larger, heavier succulent, the base will need to be bigger. The plant’s size and weight will determine the container’s size.

Can I grow succulents in terrariums?

They look great in terrariums, but no. Succulents need good airflow. I’d save the terrarium for plants that like high humidity and grow better in that environment.

Can I grow succulents in glass containers without drainage holes?

If you’re new to growing succulents, no. They need excellent drainage and to dry out between waterings.

Can I keep different types of succulents in the same pot?

Yes, you can. Most succulents require the same light requirements and are cared for similarly. Some succulents will crowd the others out as they grow, and you’ll need to remove or repot them.

Can succulents be grown in hanging baskets?

They can. The ones that trail look great in hanging baskets or on hanging shelves. Examples are String Of Pearls, Burro’s Tail, String Of Bananas, String Of Hearts, String Of Dolphins, and Christmas Cactus. Here’s a post showing you 7 Hanging Succulents.

Helpful links: 21 Indoor Succulent Planters / 19 Hanging Planters For Succulents

Two succulents are planted in terra-cotta clay face pots.Two succulents are planted in terra-cotta clay face pots.

Displaying Succulents

Can I use gravel or rocks as a top dressing for succulents?

Yes, you can. It’s a nice look. Use a thin layer and avoid mounding it up against the base of the succulent. If you pile them on too thick, the soil will dry out slowly, which could lead to root rot.

What are the best ways to display succulents indoors?

There are many ways—succulents are fun to play with! What is important is that succulents get enough light. This post on different ways to hang succulents will inspire you. If you care to make a wreath, here’s a succulent wreath DIY. They look great planted together in shallow planters.

Are there specific containers or planters that work best for succulent displays?

Succulents grow in a wide variety of containers. I think they look best in clay and terracotta pots. They’re also suited to a dish garden, low bowl, hanging pot, or hanging shelf. Just make sure the containers aren’t too big and use the proper soil mix. Here’s a post on planters for indoor succulents to give you an idea of the variety.

Are there seasonal or holiday-themed ideas for incorporating succulents into indoor decor?

Yes. Succulents work well in indoor decor because they hold up much better and longer than cut flowers and greenery. I’ve seen them used in Christmas and fall arrangements and Easter and summer decor. They’re very popular in the wedding business and look beautiful in bouquets. Here’s a DIY on making Christmas succulent arrangements in pots.

Check out our succulents category for lots more info on growing succulents indoors and outdoors.

Pet Safety

Are there any toxic succulents for pets?

Most houseplants are toxic in some way. Some succulents are, and some aren’t. This list of pet-safe succulents will help you out. Popular non-toxic succulents include Christmas Cactus, Burro’s Tail, and Haworthias.

How do I protect my succulents from pets?

You can display them on surfaces up high, hanging shelves, or hanging wall planters.

I have a large indoor succulent collection and appreciate their easy, breezy nature. I hope this helps and gets you hooked on succulents, too!

Happy gardening,

Signed by Nell FosterSigned by Nell Foster

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