How to Grow Succulents

Succulents may be hot in terms of popularity, but you certainly don't have to live in a hot climate to grow them. Different kinds of succulents can be grown almost anywhere, indoors and out. The important thing to remember when growing succulents is that even though they may look different, they're still just plants. They're simply called succulents because their leaves are full of water.

Here's how to grow succulents, no matter where you live.

Selecting Types of Succulents for Indoors and Out

Regardless of where you live, you can grow succulents outdoors. There are many cold-hardy sedum and sempervivum varieties that grow in as cold as zone 3. Gardeners living in humid climates need to choose succulent varieties that can tolerate those conditions, such as types of kalanchoe. Many sedum plants will also weather the humidity. Your local garden center should have varieties suited for your region in the outdoor section.

Succulents are popular indoor plants, too. Varieties that grow well indoors include crassula (jade plant), string-of-pearls, kalanchoe, senecio, echeveria, graptoveria, golden sedum, haworthia, and many species and hybrids of aloe. Indoor succulent varieties can be found in the houseplant section of the garden center.

When to Plant Succulents

n most areas, the best time to plant outdoor succulents is in the spring and summer, when plants are actively growing. If you live in a frost-free area, you can plant outdoors any time of the year. Indoor succulents can be planted any time as well.

Where to Plant Succulents

A common misconception is that all succulents like it hot. Some do, but others need a bit of protection from afternoon sun. Do your research about the varieties you're growing to make sure you plant them in the right place. In general, purple, red, and orange-leafed varieties grow best and most colorfully in full sun.

All succulents grow best in well-drained soils. In hot, humid areas (including the Southeast), it is sometimes easier to grow outdoor succulents in containers to ensure good drainage. As long as the plants are cold-hardy in your growing zone, they can stay outside during the winter. 

When growing succulents indoors, be sure to provide plants with as much light as possible, and rotate them so that they grow evenly.

How to Prepare the Soil to Grow Succulents Outdoors

All succulents need lightweight, well-draining soil. Improve the planting area by mixing one part Miracle-Gro® Cactus, Palm & Succulent Potting Mix 0.07-0.03-0.05 8.8 L with one part native soil. This will improve the soil density and add nutrition to give succulent plants a boost.

Potting Succulents

Some succulent varieties can be slow growers, while others (like sedum groundcovers) grow and spread more quickly. Check the plant tag for spacing requirements when planting. Plant each succulent so the top of the root ball is level with the existing soil. Water lightly after plotting succulents so that the soil is about as damp as a wrung out sponge. (Looking for potting ideas? Check out Upcycled Container Ideas for Succulents.) Follow the same steps when replanting succulents because they've outgrown their containers.


How to Grow Succulents in Containers

Containers are not only for growing succulents indoors. Outdoors, containers can make growing succulents easier, especially if you have extremely dense soil or your area receives a lot of rain. Whether you're growing indoor or outdoor succulents, start by selecting a shallow, unglazed clay container, which will dry out more quickly than deeper, glazed pots. The best potting soil for succulents is one developed specifically for low water plants. For impressive results, fill the container with Miracle-Gro® Cactus, Palm & Succulent Potting Mix 0.07-0.03-0.05 8.8 L and plant your plants, following the directions above. To keep soil from splashing on the plants, and to give containers a finished look, spread a ½-inch layer of tumbled glass or pebbles on the soil as a mulch layer. 

During the winter, bring containers of tender outdoor succulents into a cool, frost-free area like a garage. Cut watering back to once a month, and hold off on feeding until warmer weather returns.

How to Water Succulents

When it comes to how often to water succulents, you need to pay attention to the soil. It's best to water succulents whenever the top 2 inches of soil are dry. While most succulents will survive without water for longer than other types of plants, they'll grow more when watered somewhat regularly. If your area hasn't had rain for 3-4 weeks, give outdoor plants a thorough soaking. Let the soil dry out before watering again.

How to Feed Succulents

After a month, your plants will benefit from extra nutrition. Begin feeding succulents with Miracle-Gro® Succulent Plant Food with water at half strength (1/2 teaspoon per gallon) and apply to the root area (not the leaves) every two weeks during the growing season.