How To Care For Succulents and Cacti

Succulents and cacti are very easy to care for. Learn all you need to know here!

They make great plants for beginner gardeners and forgetful houseplant owners.

Succulents and cacti thrive in warm, arid environments like your home. They have adapted to areas with minimal rainfall, so if you forget to water them, they’ll be OK until you remember.

To be a successful succulent and cacti parent, you’ll want to learn about their basic lighting, watering, pots and soil requirements, and the most common problems that you’ll want to try to avoid.

So, let’s get started with our tips for succulent care! You’ll learn all about how to care for succulents and cacti here.

Tip 1: Start Out Easy

Haworthia succulent close up in white pot on desk

We recommend that you start out with easy-to-care-for succulents. We love Haworthia varieties, like Zebra plants.

Other varieties include the following. They are all good choices for ease of care. Versatile, drought-tolerant, and thriving indoors are combinations for success!

  • Jade plants
  • Gasterias
  • Vicks plants

Tip 2: Gimme Me Some Sun!

succulents need plenty of sunshine
Succulents in Sunshine

The key to a healthy succulent is to give them lots of sunshine or an alternative sun source.

  • Succulents are a pretty resilient part of the plant family.
  • Succulents need at least 6 hours of sun every day. A bright windowsill works well.
  • There are some species that do well with only a few hours of sun a day. Most will do best with 6 or more hours under a direct light source.
  • Healthy succulents will naturally grow towards the light source and extend their leaves and stems. You will want to turn them periodically.

Grow Lights for Indoor Plants

  • I have most of my succulents in a succulent garden under 45W LED grow lights. They love it there!

Timers for Indoor Grow Lights

  • They are set up to a few timers so I don’t have to turn the lights on and off. I set one of the timers to a 12-hour cycle and another is set on a 6-hour cycle. We recommend this timer. It’s heavy-duty and easy to just set it up and go.
  • Note: I separate my succulents by their individual light needs to ensure they have the proper light source to be healthy. 

Tip 3: Water With Care!

succulents with watering can
Succulents and Cacti

  • Succulents don’t need water often if you ensure you are watering enough.
  • Most succulents will want their soil entirely wet but not soaking.
  • Once watered enough, you will want to wait until the soil is completely dry 2 inches down before watering again. 
  • Stay away from misting your succulents unless the species specifically calls for it.
  • Use a watering tool that will deliver water directly to the soil.

Tip 4: Brrr Not Too Cold!

three succulents on white and gray marble
Succulents on Marble

Watch out for colder temperatures.

  • If you are in an area where winter has a drastic change in temperature, keep an eye on the growth of your succulents. Some species go into a type of hibernation and do not grow quickly.
  • Because of that, you will want to ensure that you are not overwatering your succulents. If you keep the soil too moist when they are in this stage, you can negatively affect their health by overwatering. 
  • In my area, I have some succulents that are great outdoors during the hot summer weather.
  • When the weather changes to cold and wet during the winter times, however, I am not able to keep them outside and have to bring them indoors to keep them from dying.
  • Succulents do love the indoor lights above and will thrive while inside during the winter months!

Tip 5: Make It Just Right!

succulents in terracotta pot
Succulent in Terracotta

What’s just right when you care for succulents and cacti?? The Right Soil and Pot Combo!

The right soil and right pot with drainage is key to a healthy succulent.

  • Most succulents will do well in a potting mix with a pot that has the appropriate amount of drainage.
  • You want to ensure that the pot allows water to pass. If a succulent sits in soil that is too moist, the roots tend to rot. 
  • Keep an eye on some of your succulent needs.
  • If a succulent needs a dryer soil type, try mixing your potting mix with sand. I tend to use 60% potting mix and 40% sand.
  • If you want to skip a step, check out this pre-packaged blend for succulents.
  • I love terracotta pots for succulents and tend to use them often. The terra cotta material breathes and allows the soil and plant to breathe. The plant will grow as it wishes. Partner terracotta with a good soil source to keep your succulent healthy. 

Terracotta Pots

Here are some terracotta pots for succulents from Amazon.

Tip 6: Succulents Love Terrariums Too

I have been falling in love with succulents in terrariums.

  • I have quite a few and will soon post on “how to make terrariums” guide.
  • Please make sure that the succulents you use in these terrarium setups can live off misting for a water source.
  • And note: these setups are a pain to water by hand, so I would recommend avoiding needy succulents when you set up your terrarium.

If you’re ready to plant your succulent terrarium, we recommend these items from Amazon.

Terrarium Container

This terrarium container is available at Amazon.

Terrarium Kit For Succulents

And, here is a terrarium succulent/cactus kit that includes everything you need to plant your terrarium.

Tip 7: Stop, You’re Killing Me!

I find that a lot of succulents are killed with kindness. They are receiving too much love!

  • Leave your succulents alone.
  • Water only once every few weeks. The plant roots will rot if you water them too much.
  • Use a potting soil that is fast-draining. If the plant sits in moist soil, the roots will rot.
  • Make sure there is enough light.

Tip 8: Problems To Look For When Caring for Succulents

When you are caring for succulents, there are several problems you want to watch out for and try to avoid.

  • Mushy leaves = overwatering.
  • Rotting stems = soil is too dense.
  • Shriveled leaves = not getting enough water.
  • Color fade = not getting enough light.
  • Mold = too much water
  • Leggy or stretching out = not enough sunlight.
  • Sunburning = white spots = too much sun.

Tip 9: KISS Your Succulent (Keep It Simple)

I have inherited healthy succulents and succulents that were on the brink of death. I have learned that they will tell you what they need so you can relax when caring for succulents and cacti!

  • When a succulents soil is dry, be sure to water it.
  • With the right soil and pot combo, you do not typically need anything else for your succulents.
  • If you want to use fertilizers, please do so during your succulent’s growing cycle, usually in the summer seasons.
  • Leave them alone in the winter season. If your succulents don’t show signs of growth, that’s ok! They’ll come back around when it gets warmer.

Wrapping Up: How To Care for Succulents and Cacti

succulents three in pots on wooden shelf
Succulents in Pots

You’ve learned that succulents and cacti are very easy to care for. They make great plants for beginner gardeners and forgetful houseplant owners.

You’ve learned all about their basic lighting, watering, pots and soil requirements.

And you’ve learned about the most common problems that you’ll want to try to avoid.

Relax! You’ll be a successful succulent and cacti parent! So, what are you waiting for? Go out and get some new succulents and cacti to plant and nurture in your own home. You’ll be glad you did!

If you want to learn more about how often you should water your indoor plants, here’s a post we wrote.

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