Growing Succulents In Pots: How To Care For Potted Succulents

When growing succulents in pots, generally speaking, you will be successful with succulent care if you can provide:

  • Consistent warmth
  • Bright, indirect sunlight (not harsh, direct sunlight, especially magnified through the glass!)
  • A container with good drainage that allows ample airflow
  • Sharply draining potting mix
  • Soak and dry watering
Growing Potted SucculentsPin

Those are the basics, but some nuances can help you grow succulents indoors like a champ.

In this article, we get into the nitty-gritty of growing succulents as houseplants. Read on to learn more.

Succulents For Beginners: Tips For Growing Succulents Indoors

If you live in a warm, dry area, you can quickly grow succulents in containers outdoors year round.

In warm areas with a little more rainfall, you can protect your outdoor container succulents from excess water by placing your containers in an area that is sheltered from rain yet still receives ample sunlight. 

If you live in a freezing area, your container succulents can still enjoy being outdoors in the spring and summer, and you can bring them in in winter.

Additionally, some varieties of succulents are winter hardy, even in the coldest settings. 

Among them are wide different varieties of Sempervivum, Sedum, and Stonecrop.

Cold hardy varieties are typically ground cover types that can nestle safely beneath the snow, even in subzero temperatures.

You may find that quite a few of these sorts go by the common name “Hen & Chicks,” yet they look quite different from one another. 

All-in-all, succulents are very adaptable. In addition to keeping them easily as outdoor container plants, it is desirable to keep them as houseplants.

In addition, small succulents can make excellent desktop and windowsill plants with the right care. 

Tips For Keeping Succulents In Containers 

#1 – Water Carefully

Succulents and cacti don’t need a lot of water, but when keeping them in pots, you should know that you may need to water them a bit more than the same plants in the landscape. This is because their roots are limited in containers.

Some succulents in outdoor settings may set down long tap roots or develop intricate root systems. This development may be hampered in a pot or container. 

#2 – Use The Right Container

To prevent potential problems with overwatering, you need to make some careful choices when keeping succulents in containers.

Your first consideration is the container itself. A good container for a succulent plant should allow excellent air circulation around the roots.

For this reason, a terra cotta pot with ample drainage holes is best. 

#3 – Do Your Research

The shape of your pot will depend upon the type of succulents you choose.

Some types have shallow roots that spread and perform better in a shallow container. Some set down a single, long tap root and do better in a tall, slim container.

Be sure to research the plant you are working with when choosing your container. 

#4 – Use The Right Cactus or Succulent Soil

Succulents and cacti need sharply draining soil. This soil mixture allows water to pour through without retaining much moisture and becoming soggy. 

Look for a commercially prepared succulent and cactus mix, or make your own using about half standard potting soil, a quarter coarse sand, and a quarter organic matter such as coco coir.

This mix will allow excess water to run through while retaining just a bit of moisture to keep the roots happy without leading to root rot. 

#5 – Water Your Succulents The Right Way

Once your plant is established in its new pot with the right soil, you’ll want to establish an effective watering schedule.

Use the soak and dry watering method to be sure of providing enough water and avoiding overwatering.

To do this, give your plant a thorough watering allowing the water to run out through the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. 

Keep an eye on it. First, check the soil every couple of days for signs of moisture. Then, when it is completely dry, provide another thorough watering.

If you cannot tell by simply feeling the soil, you may wish to use a hygrometer to measure the moisture in the soil.

You can also tell how damp the soil is by picking up the container (if it is not too large). It should feel heavier when the soil is wet and lighter when it is dry. 

With succulents and cacti, it is also acceptable to simply wait until the plants’ leaves or stalks look a bit withered. This is a sign of thirst.

When this happens, provide a thorough watering. You can do this by pouring water through the substrate (preferred) or setting the pot in water for 15 or 20 minutes.

If you water from beneath, set a timer and remove your plant from the water promptly. 

TIP: Don’t use overhead watering or a mister that gets the leaves wet. This can lead to leaf and stem rot. 

#6 – Pay Attention To The Seasons

Adjust your watering schedule according to the signs and the seasons. In the summertime, you may have to water much more frequently.

When the weather cools off, pay close attention to your plants and soil to be sure you are not overwatering. 

In autumn and winter, water much less because this is a rest period for your plants.

However, when the growing season begins again in the spring, you will want to water a bit more. 

#7 – Fertilize Succulent Plants Sparingly

Another thing you should do in the spring is to fertilize.

Succulents and cacti are not heavy feeders, so providing a half dose of good quality, low nitrogen, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer in the spring should be enough.

If you repot your plants into the fresh, new potting mix in the spring, you needn’t fertilize at all. 

TIP: Compost tea is a good, natural fertilizer for succulents.

#8 – Repot Succulents As Needed

Some plants are slow growers and may be able to live happily in the same pot for years. Others will multiply like gangbusters and need repotting annually or even more often.

With this sort, you can divide them at repotting time and have lots of extras to share with your friends, relations, and gardening cohorts.

Succulents always make good trading currency at plant festivals. 

#9 – Get The Lighting Just Right

Be sure to situate your succulents in an area where they will get approximately six hours of bright sunlight daily. 

Although many sources say that succulents and cacti need direct sunlight, this is not necessarily true.

Plants in containers, especially those behind the glass (i.e., on windowsills), can easily dehydrate or scorch when exposed to direct sunlight. You can’t undo scorched leaves.

You can never go wrong with bright, indirect sunlight. Place your plants 2’ to 3’ feet away from bright windows that provide direct sunlight. Watch them.

If they lean toward the sun dramatically, it’s a sign they want more sun, and you can move them closer to the window. 

#10 – Turn Your Plant To Receive Even Lighting

Rotate your succulents and cacti every couple of days to be sure they get even sun exposure. This will help prevent them from growing lopsided. 

#11 – Clean Your Potted Succulents Occasionally

Dust can block light absorption, so occasionally, dust the leaves lightly with a soft cloth or paintbrush. 

#12 – Watch For Pests

Properly cared for succulents and cacti are not prone to pest infestation. However, if you overwater, you may have trouble with pests such as mealybug and fungus gnats.

The solution is to adjust your watering schedule and repot into fresh soil if necessary. 

To deal with a large infestation of mealybugs, you can rinse your plant thoroughly when you repot and then follow up by misting with a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water daily for a couple of weeks after that to be sure of killing off any newly hatched mealybugs. 

If you see a few mealybugs after repotting, kill them individually by wiping them off with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. 

How Do You Propagate Succulents? 

You can propagate succulents by division when you repot, and many succulents can be very easily propagated from leaves or stem cuttings. Check out this article on propagating succulent Echeverias.

Generally speaking, to propagate from leaves, you can simply lay the leaves on a shallow bed of sand or potting soil and keep them very slightly moist until the young plants grow. At this point, you can move them to their own little pots. 

Stem cuttings can usually just be poked into a small pot of succulent or cactus potting mix and treated, for the most part, like mature plants.

The one caveat is that you should leave fresh cuttings in the open air or unwatered in dry soil for 3 or 4 days before the first watering.

These cut ends need a chance to callus over, which prevents potential fungal infection. 

Brighten Your Home & Garden With Carefree Container Succulents

When collecting succulents, you can create a very diverse and eclectic garden indoors or outdoors.

These plants have various colors, textures, and forms hailing worldwide. Almost every one of these fascinating plants requires very little care to thrive.

Follow the tips presented here to create and care for your beautiful potted succulent collection. 

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