Caring for succulents indoors is a great way to breathe life into your living space. These plants carry bright colors and unique appearances that any homeowner will simply adore. But with all the horror stories out there of succulents suddenly dying, it can be daunting to grow these plants away from their natural biomes.
Succulents can live indoors for 3 years, even decades, as long as they’re grown under the right conditions and with proper care. It’s also possible for indoor succulents to live up to a century if they can thrive just as they would when growing naturally outdoors.
In this article, I’ll list some of the best succulents to grow as houseplants, their average lifespan, and a few tips on properly growing them indoors.
Lifespans of Common Indoor Succulents
Whether you’re in the market for succulents or have these beautiful plants at home, it’s crucial to understand how long they’ll live indoors. After all, they’re living, breathing organisms that’ll die eventually, and you might want to know if you have a hand in their eventual deaths or if it’s all part of the circle of life.
A native of arid deserts, echeveria’s sunny disposition is apparent in its lively rosettes and colorful, fleshy leaves. There are over 100 species of echeveria worldwide, and they come in a wide range of rich colors, textures, and shapes.
With the right care, this warmth-loving plant can live for at least three years. To keep your indoor echeveria in healthy condition, place it in a well-lit spot at home and water it only when the soil completely dries out.
There’s more to the aloe vera than just its unique prickly leaves. The sap in those leaves has been a staple in treating different skin conditions, from burns to psoriasis.
Aloe vera can survive for around 12 years, as long as it receives bright sunlight every day and water every two to three weeks.
Commonly referred to as the mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plants are succulents that come with sword-like leaves. They’re also famous for their hardiness, which is why they’re some of the most commonly grown plants indoors.
These low-maintenance plants love indirect sunlight and hate overwatering, so it’s best to water them only when the soil feels dry. Give them the right care, and they’ll provide you with clean indoor air for over five years.
With thick stems and leaves, jade plants resemble little trees that are incredibly resilient—so much so that they can last from 70 years up to several generations! In some regions worldwide, people believe these plants have energies that invite luck, earning the names money tree and lucky plant.
Like most succulents, jade plants thrive in most indoor environments. Keeping them root-bound and dry will even allow clusters of white and pink flowers to bloom.
From translucent, plain, and zebra-like to bristly and thick, the appearances of haworthias vary greatly, and like echeveria, there are many beautiful haworthia species to choose from. Aside from their rare beauty, their easy-to-grow nature makes them some of the most preferred plants to grow indoors.
As haworthias hail from the southernmost part of Africa, they’re used to a warm and dry climate. Indirect sunlight and biweekly watering will help these mini succulents live indoors for five years or more.
How To Extend the Life of Your Indoor Succulents
No plant parent would want to have their houseplants die right away. If you want your indoor succulent arrangement to look livelier than the day you repotted them, here are the general rules to prolong your plants’ life.
Give Them Sufficient Sunlight and Warmth
What makes succulents the perfect plants to grow indoors is that they can be protected from tough outdoor conditions, namely, frost and harsh sunlight. While most succulents are desert natives, some succulent types need to be protected from the scorching sun.
As a general rule of thumb, succulents with green foliage only need indirect sunlight, while those with brightly-colored leaves prefer plenty of it. Whatever kind of succulent you have, it’s best to provide it with at least four hours of bright light each day.
The most common mistake that beginner indoor gardeners make is overwatering their plants. Succulents retain water in their thick, fleshy leaves, and most survive drought in their natural arid habitats. As most gardening experts say, it’s best to give less water to plants, especially succulents, than to give them too much water.
Since succulents are prone to root rot, make sure to let their soil dry completely before watering them. If their leaves become too mushy and discolored, chances are they might be receiving too much water, whereas if they look brown and shriveled up, they have to get some H2O.
Protect Them From Humidity
Succulents are dry-climate-loving plants. In other words, they aren’t used to too much humidity. Moist conditions can make them more susceptible to pests, fungal growth, and mildew.
If you live in a humid area, place your indoor succulents near a closed window. Doing so can help them get their much-needed sunshine while keeping them protected from the moist outdoor air.
Create the Perfect Growing Mix
Your potting mix can make or break your succulent growing experience. Succulents prefer well-draining soil, which can prevent water from causing root rot.
According to extension floriculture specialist Dr. Bodie Pennisi, the ideal soil mix for succulents is equal parts loam, sand, peat, and a bit of perlite or crushed charcoal. She also recommends adding small amounts of dolomite, bone meal, and superphosphate to the growing medium.
Choose the Right Pot
Apart from soil mix, another factor that can encourage drainage and thus extend the life of your indoor succulents is their containers.
When choosing pots for your succulents, you have to get those with a proper drainage system. Pots with holes at the bottom can help prevent your succulents’ roots from sitting in too much water and protect them from root rot.
While other gardeners say that it’s okay to grow succulents in hole-free planters (as long as you put rocky layers in the bottom), it’s easier to prolong the lifespan of your succulents by choosing pots with drainage.
Feed the Succulents Enough Fertilizer
Like watering, giving plants too much fertilizer is an all-too-common problem. And like watering, it’s better to under-fertilize than to over-fertilize your indoor succulents.
Award-winning author and horticulturist Debra Lee Baldwin suggests that the perfect times to feed succulents are during the day in spring and before the autumn rains come. According to her, the best way to add compost tea or other fertilizers to these plants is to water them first. That way, the nutrition is more evenly distributed, and you can protect your succulents from burning.
Others recommend feeding indoor succulents once a year only, around their growing season. Because these plants are naturally tough and slow-growing, they don’t need nutrition as much as your other houseplants do.
The average lifespan of indoor succulents differs from one genus to another. But the bottom line is that as long as they’re grown in optimal conditions, they can live beyond their widely known lifespan. Most even live for a lifetime, meaning you can enjoy their beauty for as long as you live.
Growing succulents indoors—and keeping them alive for many years to come—is undoubtedly a fulfilling experience. Their year-round tough nature makes them easy to care for, and the TLC you give them will reward you with healthy growth that you can easily propagate.