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How to Keep Succulents Happy Indoors

Tips to help your succulents thrive inside

If you love succulents but have no way to grow them outdoors, good news: Numerous varieties thrive indoors. Below are cultivation tips and a photo gallery of 40+ indoor succulents that are readily available.

>> Jump down to the photo gallery

Place your succulents near a window

Most succulents are from arid regions with lots of sunlight, so they're not going to be happy in low light. A succulent starved for sun will etiolate, meaning it'll flatten and elongate to expose more of its surface area. It also will lean in the direction of greatest sun. Maximum sun exposure is on the south and west sides of your house. The farther north you live in North America, east will provide bright light, but not enough for crassulas, echeverias and aloes to maintain their red hues.

 

Give good air circulation

Succulents need fresh air and breezes that keep pests from settling in. Without good air circulation, succulents in cramped conditions are at risk of mealy bugs, spider mites and other pests. At the first sign of infestation, spray with 70% Isopropyl alcohol. Isolate infested plants so pests don't spread, and thoroughly clean the surrounding area.

 

They Like it Dry

Aim to keep soil about as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Succulents do best in low humidity. A moist environment can cause problems with fungus and rot. But don't set succulents near heaters or furnace vents. This can cause the soil to dry out completely, causing roots to desiccate and growth to cease.

DB windowsill plants2

Install Grow Lights

Situate indoor succulents beneath lights that stay on six hours daily. Fluorescent is fine and economical. Experts in growing succulents in gray-sky climates recommend T-5 grow lights. If your plants stretch toward light (or flatten their rosettes to expose more of their surface area), add more lights or move the plants closer to the ones you have.

Agrobrite FLT44 T5 Fluorescent Grow Light System, 4 Feet, 4 Tubes, about $120 on Amazon.

No room? Go vertical with a "light island."

Install shelving units designed for indoor plants. Each shelf has a waterproof tray, and each unit is lit by two T5 bulbs. The lights, on timers, stay on from 7 am to 7 pm daily.

This is arguably the ultimate indoor plant-shelf unit. Made of lightweight, powder-coated aluminum, it has adjustable lights with energy-efficient, full-spectrum bulbs; plastic drip trays; and wheels for easy positioning. Three shelves provide 18 square feet of growing space.

From Gardener's Supply Co.; about $600. 

Get a Timer

A timer can automatically turn the lights on at, say, 7 a.m. and off eight hours later. I like this one because it has multiple outlets.

Titan Apollo 14, about $26. 

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Watch the temperature

If it falls below freezing (32 degrees F) many succulents may show long-term damage or die. This indoor thermometer is digital and also has a humidity gauge. But what I love about it is that it keeps a record of daily high and low temps for 24 hours.

AcuRite 00613 Humidity Monitor with Indoor Thermometer, Digital Hygrometer and Humidity Gauge Indicator, about $12 on Amazon.

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