Garden: Caring for Indoor Succulents

Cary, NC — Several weeks ago, when I felt the first real chill of the season, I brought my beloved succulent plants indoors to keep them warm and well for winter. I didn’t just do it for them, though. 

The Perfect Indoor Plant for Winter

Google “succulents,” and you’ll find pages and pages filled with photos of creative ways to display these striking plants. Succulents are very much “trending” right now, and for a good reason. They’re durable, they’re extememly easy to care for and they have an unusual look that makes them stand out in a crowd of other plants.

Succulents have thick, rubbery leaves.

Succulents have thick, rubbery leaves.

Identifying Succulents

For those of you who aren’t familiar with succulents, they can usually be identified by their fleshy, thick leaves. I always describe succulent leaves as feeling “rubbery.” Succulents are desert plants that store water in their leaves and stems. With this feature, they can survive with very little water – that’s what makes them so hard to kill.

The different appearance and low-maintenance qualities of succulents make them a popular decorative plant for both indoors and out. You should be able to find succulents at any garden center.

How To Care for Succulents

A lot of people keep succulents indoors year-round, although, when it’s warm, succulents can be left outside. They love to be outdoors and in the sun. Around November, however, it’s time to move your succulents inside. Plant your succulents in ordinary, fresh potting soil as you would any other plant. They should fare quite well indoors if you use these tips:

  • Make sure they get at least six hours of sunlight a day. Keep your succulents as close to a window as possible, and observe the window they’re around during different parts of the day to make sure they’re getting this amount of sunshine.
  • Water them occasionally. In the summer, I water my succulents about once a week (whenever the soil is dry), but, in the winter, I only water them every two weeks. They need some water, but not a lot.
  • Keep them in a container that drains. Contrary to what a lot of people think, succulents are not great plants for terrariums. I keep my succulents in standard flower pots with holes in the bottom to drain the excess water. Just make sure to keep a dish underneath any pots you have indoors to collect the water.

Planting Tip – Don’t worry if you see the lower leaves of your succulent plants (near the bottom of the stem, close to the soil) shrivel up and die. This is normal. You should only be concerned if the new or top leaves are dying.

Story and lead photo by Jessica Patrick. Story photo by philhearing.