Growing Succulents Indoors
Let’s say you love succulents. Love them. You’ve got them in your in-ground garden and in containers on your patio, deck, and tabletops. But let’s also say that you love them so much that you want to grow them indoors, so you can always have a little succulent love close-by. Is that doable? Heck, yes!
The trick to successfully growing succulents indoors is knowing which ones to grow and how to adjust their care for those slightly different household conditions. But trust us, it’s easy and you can do it! Let’s get going.
Choose Your Succulents Wisely
Now, that being said, if you really love succulents like we know you do, then you’ll choose those succulents that have the best chance of not only surviving indoors but thriving. The truth is, not all succulents like The Great Indoors; they simply cannot put out the healthy growth and amazing color that we want. But others do.
Some of the best succulents for indoor gardening include aloe, kalanchoe, euphorbia, haworthia, and sansevieria. Others that aren’t on an indoor-recommended list may be grown by using a rotation of indoor-to-outdoor location — grow them inside for a bit, and then remove them to their preferred location outdoors for a while before rotating them once again indoors. If you have a number of potted succulents, you can do this with ease and keep everyone (including you!) happy.
In general, the succulents that have strong coloring like reds, purples, and oranges tend to prefer the natural sunlight that they can only get outdoors, so keep that in mind as you’re making your selections.
Indoor Growing Requirements for Succulents
To grow succulents indoors successfully, you need to remember what their ideal conditions are. If you’ve forgotten or need a refresher, here you go:
- Sunshine (but not strong sun)
- Air circulation
- Well-drained soil
- Adequate water (but never too much)
So, if the above growing requirements are adjusted for indoors, what would they look like? Hint: Just a few tweaks is often all it takes:
- Bright, indirect light: The next best thing to natural sunshine is bright, indirect light indoors. That means putting your succulent by a bright window, and it helps to regularly turn the container around so that all sides of your potted succulent receive adequate light. You’ll know if your succulent isn’t getting adequate light when you see long, leggy growth or the growth that leans towards the window.
- Air circulation: Air circulation indoors is a bit different than it is outdoors on account of having no breezes or wind inside. Make up for this by not crowding your succulents together, and by resisting that temptation to place your succulents in a terrarium. And if you simply can’t resist, make sure the terrarium is open (no lids, ever), and don’t overplant.
- Soil: By definition, your indoor succulents are growing in containers, so you’ll need to ensure that the soil is well-drained and the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom. The quickest way to kill a succulent is by overwatering (see next bullet point) or by waterlogging the soil. Use soil that is formulated for cacti and succulents, or a general potting soil that is labeled with “well-draining” or a similar descriptive.
- Water: Indoor plants generally require less water than outdoor plants, and with succulents, this is particularly true. Indoors, there is no warm sunshine, heat, and wind to dry the plant out, so your goal is to get really good at knowing when your indoor succulents are ready for a drink. Typically, this means watering thoroughly, allowing the water to drain out of the drainage hole, then waiting for the soil to dry out before watering the next time.
The Exceptions to the Rule
Okay, so succulents are so unique in appearance that it should come as a surprise to no one that there are a few that buck the rules. They’re rebels at heart, they are, and we love it! Most notably, you’ll find them in the low-light section of your home, defying the rule above that succulents need bright indirect light. Who are these rabble-rousers?
- Sansevieria: We often don’t think of sansevieria as succulents, but they are! Their upright growth and super low maintenance ways make them a favorite for first-time houseplants and ideal for modern interiors.
- Aloe vera: Easy care, striking, and with a side helping of medicinal qualities — what’s not to love here? Keep this plant on hand to spruce up your indoor space while treating skin irritations and burns with the leaf gel.
- Crassula: You know those garden conditions outdoors that we call “bright shade?” Find the equivalent to that in your house, and your potted crassula should do just fine. While it may not be as low light as sansevieria or aloe vera, this one is a bit of a chameleon and will adjust to being in the interior of your house.
Now, remember, “low light” doesn’t mean “no light” — and in some cases, you’ll need to experiment with the light conditions in your home to find the ideal setting for any one of your favorite succulents. But with just a few adjustments, many of the succulents you love to grow outdoors can also be happy indoors!
- Katie Elzer-Peters