Top 7 Tips for Growing a Lovely Succulent Garden Right Inside Your Home

Gone are the days when cacti and succulents were considered to be thorny, dry, colorless plants, and umm.. rather bad-omened! As the world is now being connected via various sources, the major being the internet, people are getting acquainted with a range of these thorny babies which consists of extremely colorful and beautiful members. Especially for those who are not blessed with a large outdoor space or garden, cacti and succulents are godsends because they can grow a succulent garden right inside their homes! And guess what, these plants need minimal care. So, if you’re a forgetful or an extremely busy or lazy fellow but long for some greenery and are scared of forgetting or skipping the routine maintenance tasks like watering, fertilizing and pruning, cacti and succulents are for you! In general, most of them are forgiving to forgetfulness and negligence, and keep thriving even if you plant them and just forget about them (or remember them only sometimes)! As a bonus, all their parts, including leaves, stems, and of course flowers and fruits, are uniquely beautiful, certainly a treat to the eyes. Many of them, are cutely tiny – one more point that makes them ideal houseplants! So, let’s see what you might need to grow succulents indoors.

Succulents being extremely adaptable to not-so-perfect conditions like drought, low humidity and low light, are ideal low-maintenance indoor plants. But if you’re new to succulents, you might have to do a little research, and choose species that are perfect for beginners. This is because though all succulents prefer similar growing conditions, some of them may have certain special requirements. When you know well what the specific needs of the plant you’re bringing home are, your chances of success are high and risk of disappointment is low.

Growing Conditions Needed

While succulents easily adapt to various conditions and in general, they prefer warm, dry climates and can tolerate a little neglect, different species prefer different conditions. So, it’s advisable to check what your indoor conditions are and which species will prefer them the most. Here are some tips for you.

1. Light

It’s quite obvious that succulents mostly being desert plants, need a lot of bright sunlight. If your home is not well-lit, choose a corner for your new plant that receives maximum light. Place it near a south- or east-facing window. Or else, you can move your indoor succulents outdoors during spring and summer. Still if you’re not sure about the light, better choose a low-light tolerant plant like mother-in-law tongue. You can even choose to rotate your plant often to save it from growing lopsided. If light levels are too low, the plant may grow pale and lanky. If possible, find a brighter spot for it or provide supplemental light using a grow light. Choose full-spectrum, high-output lights. LED and fluorescent fixtures work especially well for home garden settings. You can even move your plant outdoors during the summer but place it in part-sun and protect it from the bright afternoon sun. Light levels are quite higher outdoors and such an intensity of the light can burn your plant’s leaves and stems.

bird sitting on a succulent branch

You can even choose to grow your plant in a hanging planter. In that case, a trailing variety such as string of bananas would an excellent choice. Don’t forget to read the plant labels to know the sunlight needs, size and spread of your new plant.

2. Potting Medium

A major difference between succulents and other houseplants is that in their natural habitat, succulents grow in a very well-draining soil that doesn’t hold much moisture and dries out quickly, whereas in nurseries other houseplants as well as succulents are grown in a soil that’s nutritionally too rich and holds much moisture. Hence, you’ll want to grow your succulent in a different soil from the one that comes with the nursery-bought succulent. Remove that soil and repot your succulent in a potting medium that is coarse and has good drainage and aeration. Fortunately, nurseries also sell special cactus and succulent potting mixes that you can buy easily for your new plant. To further improve the drainage and avoid compaction, you can add sand, pumice or perlite to the cactus and succulent potting mix. You can even make your own potting mix (for succulents) by mixing one part of organic material like potting soil, compost, pine bark or coir and two parts of mineral material like coarse sand, pumice, perlite or fine gravel. Before planting your plant in the potting mix, test it for drainage by wetting it and then squeezing it in your hand. If it falls apart, it’s a perfect mixture.

3. Container

Choose a container for your succulent, that has a drainage hole and is at least 2 inches larger in diameter than the nursery container. Containers come in a variety of materials such as ceramic, plastic, clay, glazed pottery, terracotta and glass. However, materials like glass and plastic don’t let roots breathe and can cause root rot over time. So, better avoid them. Clay and terracotta are the best materials for containers because they are porous and so, allow the soil to dry out more quickly than glass, plastic or glazed pottery. Once you choose the container, fill the bottom one-third with pre-moistened potting mix, then position your plant inside and backfill with more pre-moistened potting mix. Small and shallow containers are also perfect for succulents because they contain a small volume of soil that dries out quickly. Thus, trays, dishes etc. work well for succulents. Another benefit of these containers is that you can plant multiple succulents (that have similar growing needs) in the same container and they’ll do well together.

indoor succulent garden

4. Temperature

You may wonder if a succulent can grow well in your home if you live in temperate climate. However, although most succulents are native to hot areas, they don’t need above-average temperatures to grow well. Many succulents grow in areas that receive big temperature fluctuations from day to night. Also, actually, while growing indoors, succulents tolerate rather prefer cooler temperatures during nights and warmer temperatures during daytime. Generally speaking, temperature between 55- and 75-degree F is best for succulents. Many species even tolerate temperatures as low as 45-degree F and as high as 85-degree F.

Cultural Requirements

Apart from the conditions that are already present in your home, the conditions you’ll provide to your plant also are important to consider. Here they are.

5. Watering

Watering a succulent is a very crucial and often misunderstood factor while growing one. Setting up a wet-dry cycle is the best approach. It should be done by watering the plant first thoroughly making sure the entire soil is fully wet and water is running out from the drainage holes. Next allow the soil to dry out thoroughly, making sure the entire soil is dry and only then watering again. Succulents never tolerate wet feet for long periods. Avoid letting water sit for more than a few hours in trays etc.

Although succulents prefer low amounts of water, don’t make a mistake to not watering them as they need water time and again to grow and thrive. Actually, growth can be dramatically accelerated by providing regular moisture using the above-mentioned wet-dry cycle.

colorful succulent flower

6. Fertilizing

If you’re a lazy or forgetful person, the good news for you is that succulents often don’t need fertilizing to thrive. It’s enough to apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring and summer, at a rate of one-half to one-quarter the rate prescribed on the label. You can apply a water-soluble fertilizer every three or four waterings when the succulents are in their active growth or apply a slow-release fertilizer to the soil early in the growing season. But never apply a fertilizer in the winter months as most succulents are in their rest periods in the winter and are not actively growing during these months (check your particular species’ rest period).

7. Airflow

Succulents need good air circulation too. Good airflow helps dry soils, reduce humidity and thus the risk of attack of pests like spider mites, mealy bugs and fungi. Keep an appropriate space between plants. You can even consider providing a small fan to help circulate more air, if succulents are cramped.

Plant succulents with these tips and create a beautiful and colorful indoor garden!

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