05 June, 2019

Keeping Succulents Indoors - A How-to Guide

Choosing Plants:
Opt for succulents that can tolerate low light conditions. Green coloured succulents tend to be low-light tolerant, and are more successfully grown indoors. Succulents with bold, bright colours tend to require more light than an indoor position can offer. These succulents are better suited to outdoor applications in a full sun/part shade aspect.

Haworthia and Gasteria species make fabulous indoor succulents, and then there’s the old classic Mother-in-Law's Tongue, or Sansevieria (pictured), that is an almost indestructible indoor plant.

Choose trailing succulents for indoor hanging baskets or macram̩ hangers РSucculents like String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), String of Beans (Senecio herreanus) and Rhipsalis species are the perfect choice for indoor hangers.

Browse for low-light tolerant plants in our online store - Fickle Prickles.

Potting Mix:

Always plant succulents into a good quality, cacti and succulent potting mix. Simply put, cacti and succulent potting mix is more ‘free draining’ than regular potting mix, and this helps to keep your succulent’s roots from rotting.

To further improve the drainage of your mix, you can add perlite at a ratio of 1 part perlite to 4 parts succulent mix.


Pots with drainage holes are best. If they have saucers, that is perfectly fine, just be sure to empty them after each watering. Succulents don’t like having wet feet for extended periods of time.
If you have containers without drainage, including glassware, there are two potting methods you can try:

1. Expanded clay

Expanded clay is available at some nurseries and most hydroponic retailers. To use it, simply rinse to clean and fill up your desired container. Put a small piece of charcoal in the bottom to filter the water. Rinse your plants of any soil and plant into the expanded clay. Read more about Potting Succulents into Glassware using Expanded Clay on Succulent ART's website.

2. The Charcoal Method

This method works for both terrariums as well as any container in general that lacks drainage. It involves layering a container firstly with charcoal, then sphagnum moss, and then cacti and succulent potting mix. The moss prevents the potting mix falling into the charcoal layer, and the charcoal layer helps keep the water clean. Read more about Potting Succulents into Containers without Drainage on Succulent ART's website.

There’s also the ‘pot cover’ technique, where you keep your succulent planted in its plastic pot, and you then place that inside a decorative pot cover that has no holes. This allows you to take the plant out of its cover every time it needs watering. Very handy.


Certain plants require more light than others. Some need to be near a window with a significant amount of light, some need to be near a window but will require less light, and some (such as Sansevieria) can tolerate being in the centre of a room with a little amount of light.

The general rule of thumb for succulents is 6 hours of indirect sunlight per day. Remember the sun sits higher in the sky during summer, and lower in the sky during winter, so what may work perfectly in one season, may not in the next. Play around with positions until you find what works best for your succulent.


1. For containers with drainage holes – Firstly, be sure to water them thoroughly; that is, until the water falls freely out of the bottom. After this, allow time for the water to drain and then put your plant back into place. Try to avoid having water sitting in a saucer by emptying them regularly.

Secondly, allow the mix to almost dry out before the next watering. I’d love to give you a specific schedule, but it is really dependant on the plant and its position. Once a week is a good starting point. More often in Summer, less often in Winter. Remember the rule –Water more, less frequently.

2. For containers without drainage holes - If you are using the expanded clay method mentioned above, keep the water level to no more than one third the way up the container. For the charcoal method, keep the water level to below the moss layer. This will still allow the roots (though capillary action) to receive water without them actually sitting in any water.


Use a control release fertiliser once a year, preferably in spring, just before their main growing season. You can also use liquid fertilisers, but dilute the solution to approx half strength.

Learn to listen to your plants:

  • If they are losing their colour and turning dark green, they may need more light.
  • If they are shrivelling and wrinkling, they may need more water.
  • If they are softening and going squishy, they may need less water.
  • If they are growing elongated, they may be reaching for the light. Prune them and place in a brighter spot.
  • Dropping leaves – All succulents lose leaves during their growth cycle. Dead leaves don’t necessarily mean a sickly plant. A healthy succulent will tend to drop its lower leaves, and grow new leaves from the top/centre.

Have fun and experiment!

The great thing about succulents is their ability to ‘hang in there’ until you have time to care for them. You can, in most cases, bring a succulent back to health that is looking worse for wear, giving you the perfect chance to experiment and learn what works and what doesn’t in your particular situation.

Don’t let them get you down if they don’t make it! Temporary plant displays are just as fantastic as long term ones, and will probably cost you less to setup that most cut flower arrangements.
So get to it! Plant up your living room, kitchen, or office and increase your plant/life balance!

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