Succulent Care Guide + Tips for Happy Plants

person holding a potted succulent

From drought-resistant landscapes to beautiful bridal bouquets, succulents are en vogue and trending.

Succulents are great houseplants for beginners and experts alike. From low-light succulents that can thrive in apartments to desert dwellers that love to soak up sunshine all day, keep reading for a succulent care guide to find plants that can fit any home and care needs.

One reason succulents are so popular is that caring for them is a breeze. Succulents need very little care and are some of the most durable houseplants, thriving in many different conditions. Additionally, succulents come in many different shapes and varieties making it easy to find plants that perfectly fit your style. From the most common succulent varieties to a troubleshooting guide for your plants, here’s everything you need to know about how to care for succulents. 

How to Care for Succulents

Although succulents are generally seen as an easy houseplant to have, it’s still important to learn about their care needs to ensure your succulent thrives in its new space.

1. Make Sure Succulents Have Enough Light

Since most succulents are native to hot, desert climates, they generally have higher sun requirements than many other houseplants. Many succulents require between three to six hours of sunlight per day, which means that placement in a south- or east-facing window sill is ideal for your succulents.

Can You Have Low Light Succulents?

Although succulents generally need lots of light, some varieties can survive in low-light conditions as well. If a space has minimal natural daylight, it’s still possible to find succulents, such as aloe, that will tolerate low or indirect light. 

2. Don’t Overwater

Because succulents are native to the desert, they typically don’t need as much water as typical houseplants. Generally, you should let the soil completely dry out between waterings. A great way to test if the soil is dry enough to water is by sticking your finger into the soil around two inches deep. If your finger comes out without much soil on it, the soil is likely dry enough to warrant another watering.

How Many Times a Week Do You Need to Water Succulents?

As a ballpark number, you should aim to water your succulent around every two to three weeks. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and some succulents may need watering more or less often — it’s most important to listen to your succulent and watch for signs that it needs watering, such as wilting leaves.

How Do You Take Care of an Overwatered Succulent?

If your succulent isn’t able to fully dry out between waterings, it could lead to root rot, ultimately killing your plant. To avoid root rot, make sure your succulent has adequate drainage holes in its pot and ensure the succulent is never sitting in leftover water. 

If your succulent has been overwatered, remove the plant from the wet soil and allow it to dry out somewhere bright, but without direct sunlight, for up to a week. After this, replant the succulent with a new succulent potting mix (don’t reuse the old soil) and give the plant at least a week to adjust to the new soil before watering again. 

3. Best Temperature for Succulents

Because succulents are accustomed to desert climates, they can withstand temperatures from around 40 to 95º F (4 to 35º C). However, you should try to keep your succulent within a more reasonable temperature range, such as one that occurs naturally indoors. More sensitive succulent varieties may not bode well to drastic changes in temperature.

4. Succulent Pests 

Certain varieties of pests can be found on succulents, such as spider mites, fungus gnats and scale bugs. To control the bug problem, use a mix of water and soap, alcohol or an insecticide to spray the plant and remove pests. You should also move infected succulents away from others to minimize the chance of pests spreading to your other houseplants. 

succulent troubleshooting guide

Propagating and Repotting Succulents

If you want to grow your succulent collection, you can easily do so without purchasing more. Here’s how you can propagate and repot them to create new plants. 

How to Propagate Succulents?

Propagating succulents is an easy way to use pieces of your existing succulents to grow new ones. If your plant is looking healthy and growing well, you might want to consider propagating a piece to nurse into a new baby plant. 

  1. Take a cutting of the succulent using sharp scissors. Be sure to cut just above a leaf so you can get enough plant that it will adequately be able to grow on its own. 
  2. Allow time for the cutting to dry out. Give the cutting around three days (or up to a week) to scab over the cut.
  3. Set your succulent cuttings on top of (not in) soil and lightly water it, just enough to get the top of the soil wet. 
  4. Once the succulent begins to grow roots, you can replant your cutting in fresh soil. This process can take around two to three weeks on average. 

How to Repot Succulents?

Before repotting your succulents, you should check to make sure the plant is ready for a larger pot. If your succulent has tight or squished roots, slow drainage, or is overtaking the sides of the pot, it may be time to repot your succulent. 

  1. Remove the plant from the old pot and clean and dry the roots. 
  2. If the roots were squished in the old pot, untangle the roots before repotting so they have enough room to stretch and grow. 
  3. Place the succulent in a new pot and allow a few days before watering. This gives it time to adjust to the new location. 

Are Succulents Toxic to Pets?

Many succulents are non-toxic to pets, making them a popular houseplant choice for pet owners. However, some succulent varieties, like cacti, have prickly skin that could injure a curious animal. Although succulents are non-toxic, you should use your best judgment on whether to bring succulents into your home based on your specific animal, but pet-safe plants are the best bet just to play it safe. Non-toxic succulents include:

  • Hens-and-chicks
  • Zebra plant
  • Plush plant
  • Cactus
  • Burro’s tail

Common Succulents

Succulents are among the most popular types of houseplants due to their easy care and wide variety in shape, color, and style. These plants are incredibly durable and are widely known as drought-resistant since many are native to deserts. Keep reading to learn about the different varieties of succulents and their specific care needs.

Cacti Succulents (Cactaceae)

small cactus succulents in multicolor pots on a white table

Cacti succulents are one of the most popular types of succulents, known for their distinctive prickly skins. Cacti usually live in desert conditions and are excellent choices for low-care outdoor plants. 

  • Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria crinita): This cactus got its name from the plant’s spiky exterior. It is a mini cactus that can grow indoors but also tolerates outdoor placement.
  • Ball Cactus (Parodia magnifica): The ball cactus is a uniquely-shaped round succulent that grows between one and two feet tall. Compared to other cacti, the ball cactus doesn’t prefer direct light and may have higher water needs than average. 

Sedum Succulents

person kneeling while holding sedum succulent in a pot

The sedum succulent is a taller variety that grows up to three feet tall and comes in various colors. This stonecrop succulent likes full or partial sun and grows well on a windowsill. 

  • Burro’s tail (Sedum morganianum): The burro’s tail is an extremely popular houseplant that grows in a long shape resembling a tail. This succulent grows well indoors and is particularly adept for hanging planters because it trails from the edge of the pot. 
  • Roseum (Sedum spurium): Roseum succulents are a smaller variety that grows up to six inches tall. The succulent develops small flower clusters during the growing season and thrives in various conditions ranging from partial shade to full sun.

Haworthia Succulents

Four haworthia succulents lined up on a table against a white background

Haworthia succulents are a small plant that is native to Southern Africa. Haworthia is relatively easy to grow and thrives in bright sunlight, needing moisture in growing seasons and drier weather in dormant seasons.

  • Zebra Plant (Haworthia fasciata): The Zebra plant is an easy houseplant choice that grows up to six inches in height and width. It is ideal for smaller pots since the roots are more compact than other succulents. 
  • Fairy Washboard (Haworthia limifolia): The fairy washboard is a small succulent that grows up to 4 centimeters in diameter. It comes in a circular rosette shape and is recognizable due to its pointy edges and distinct ridges. 

Echeveria Succulents

Multiple echeveria succulents in a large blue pot

The echeveria succulent is native to the deserts of Western America and thrives in dry, warm conditions. The circular flower shape of these succulents makes them a beautiful addition to a yard or garden, but the echeveria can also be planted in pots as long as they are given adequate sun and water. 

  • Plush Plant (Echeveria pulvinata): The plush plant is a flower-shaped succulent covered in fine hair that looks almost fur-like. This plant prefers partial shade and grows well both in the ground and indoors.
  • Dudleya (Echeveria spp.): The dudleya is a succulent that thrives in warmer climates and can live up to a century. This succulent should be given as much sun as possible and doesn’t need much watering — often, none at all over summer.

Sempervivum Succulents

persons hands potting a sempervivum succulent on a table

Sempervivum is one of the most popular varieties of succulents, easily identified by their round rosette shape. They are known as easier plants to grow and can thrive in many kinds of lighting conditions, from low light to direct sun.

  • Hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum tectorum): This succulent is an excellent choice for people who don’t have a natural green thumb. Although the hens-and-chicks only live for around three years, it’s easy to keep this plant going by propagating pieces from it each year. 
  • Mountain houseleek (Sempervivum montanum): The mountain houseleek is a small, easy-to-grow succulent that produces rosettes from its stalks. It grows up to eight inches in height and is a great choice for indoor growing.

Succulents come in a wide variety of sizes and styles and make for beautiful additions to your home. Green thumb or not, you can get creative with your collection and build a beautiful succulent garden. If you want to get your succulent garden started, check out our succulent and air plant varieties to get started.