How to care for succulents: top tips on looking after the trendiest house plants

Follow our advice and learn how to care for succulents – it really isn't difficult once you know how...

how to care for succulents
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We've got some good news for plant lovers: learning how to care for succulents is very, very easy. Succulents are among that rarest and most covetable type of plants – genuinely low maintenance. In fact, the less you do to them, the more they tend to thrive, and most problems with succulents are due to people caring for them overzealously. 

Without much further ado, keep reading for our (very simple) guide to caring for your succulents, plus if you're starting from scratch you'll find more tips on how to grow succulents indoors and out in our dedicated guide. 

Caring for succulents: the basics


(Image credit: Unsplash)

The basic requirement for growing all types of succulents is giving them adequate natural light. A bright windowsill or a sunny spot in the garden are optimal. They don't need hours of bright sunshine, however, so you don't necessarily need a south-facing position – just somewhere that has bright light for most of the day. Avoid positioning your succulents away from windows or behind curtains, as they won't get enough light. 

The other thing succulents require is an open, well draining soil; they are best planted in cactus potting mix or compost that's been mixed with plenty of vermiculite. 

Why is my succulent plant dying?

Sempervivum 'Mixed'

(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)

Overwatering is the most common reason why succulents die: if they succumb to root rot, nothing much can be done to rescue them. So, water them no more than every couple of weeks, and always water them from below, by standing the plants in a saucer of water. Avoid watering from above or spritzing with water.

Once you think of succulents as desert plants, their needs make a lot more sense. They will do very well in a dry, bright conservatory that experiences fluctuations in temperature between night and day – that's what these plants are used to. They won't do as well in humid bathrooms or kitchens – save those rooms for your tropical plants.

Find the best indoor plants for your space in our buying guide, then check out our indoor plant ideas for stylish ways to display your house plants. 

Can succulents live outdoors?

Yes! In fact, some succulents species will thrive outdoors – namely, sedums, which are native and are hardy. Exotic succulents from South America, on the other hand, aren't hardy and will not like prolonged wet weather spells, so keep them indoors. If you're not sure, if you got your succulent in the indoor section of your garden centre, then keep them indoors, apart from spells of dry, hot weather during the summer, when they'll like it out on your patio.

Love the idea of an exotic garden? Check out our tropical garden ideas for more inspiration. 

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Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.