5 Ways To Keep Succulents Alive

How to Care for Succulents: 5 Tips

Written by the MasterClass staff

While succulents may not require a lot of attention, they do need a few basics to keep them thriving:

  1. Give enough sunlight. Succulents need enough light—at least six hours of full sun per day. If you’re maintaining outdoor succulents, this can be quite easy. However, if you have an indoor succulent, you’ll need to keep it sunned in a window. A plant leaning towards the light isn’t getting enough sun, but a plant whose leaves have burn spots are getting too much direct sunlight.

  2. Water properly. The amount of water succulents require can change depending on the time of year. During their growing season, succulents should be watered every time their soil completely dries out—and avoid adding excess water—a succulent’s longevity increases when its roots have time to dry between waterings. Succulent plants become dormant in cold, winter months, so they need less water during that time. Overwatering succulent soil is one of the root causes of most growth issues, so be careful to only water your succulent as often as necessary.

  3. Use the right pot and soil mix. Whether you’re bringing your succulent home from a nursery or growing your own, the right container and potting soil can make all the difference. For an outdoor succulent, your succulent pot should have a drainage hole. Good drainage lets moisture escape, letting the roots and soil dry to prevent rot. If you have an indoor succulent, you can use well-draining soil instead, which is coarser than regular soil, allowing more air to flow through and promoting evaporation rather than needing to be drained. Perlite and pumice can be added to certain potting mixes to improve aeration.

  4. Don’t forget to fertilize. Even low maintenance desert plants benefit from the occasional fertilization. Use a diluted, water-soluble all purpose fertilizer a few times a year to give your succulents a boost. It’s not completely necessary, but if you see that your soil could use some aid, add a little fertilizer.

  5. Inspect your plants. A succulent is more prone to pest threats inside than they are outside. Examine your plants regularly to make sure they’re free of gnats or mealy bugs—these insects are an indication that your plants are overwatered or overfertilized. Mealy bugs drink the juices from its host plant and can lay hundreds of eggs, damaging your plant over time. Spraying the leaves or soil of your succulent with rubbing alcohol is an effective way of destroying mealy bugs and their eggs. If you’re bringing a succulent home from a nursery, check the leaves and soil first to make sure you don’t bring any pests home with you.