Succulents are a cute way to decorate your home inside and out, and they're relatively low-maintenance to care for compared to other houseplants. This makes them great for first-time plant parents.
That said, you can't just throw a plant in a pot and place it in your window. Succulents still need proper care despite their capabilities to thrive in harsh conditions.
Succulents are plants traditionally found in desert, semi-desert and steppe ecosystems. Because they are built to retain water, succulents are thicker and fleshy in place of traditional leaves, which gives them their waxy, eye-catching appearance and separates them from other plants. There are nine families of succulents found throughout the Americas, Africa, and Australia. Though all of them have the characteristic rubber-like exterior, succulents come in a variety of shapes and colors.
Because succulents originate sunny environments, they flourish in bright, direct sun. You can keep them outside in warm climates, place them on a windowsill inside (ideally a south-facing window for maximum sun exposure) or even keep them under an LED grow light.
Though plenty of sun exposure is a general rule, each succulent handles sunlight differently. The plant will communicate if it is receiving too much or too little sunlight. If it is being overexposed, the plant will become scorched and burn. If the plant is starving for sun, it will become skinny and stretch up toward the light. Adjust the plant's placement until you find its happy medium.
Despite their origins in dry climates, it is important to remember that succulents are not cacti. Though they can survive longer periods without it, they need to be watered in order to grow. But there is risk of over-watering your succulent, which can kill the succulent.
A safe way to avoid over-watering while still making sure your plant is healthy is to check the soil. If the soil is completely dry, add water. It is also important to water the soil and not pour directly onto the plant, as remaining drops of water can make the succulent rot. Don't soak your plant with water, only give it a little sip so the soil is damp. Typically, succulents need to be watered only once or twice each week.
Succulents prefer soil that drains well and is not particularly rich. Try using fast-draining cactus soil first, and if the soil is drying out too quickly mix it with potting soil or use potting soil mixed with sand.
What many people love about succulents is their ability to grow in any container -- traditional flower pots, buckets, basins, troughs, dishes, vases, any container you can imagine. Though containers with drainage holes are preferred, it isn't a requirement; you just have to be more mindful to not over water your succulent. Adding sand to the potting soil or lining the bottom of the container with pebbles will also help with any drainage issues that might arise.
Succulents don't do well in cold, or even cool, climates. They grow in areas with high temperatures and low precipitation, so most can only handle a minimum temperature of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. In the fall, it is important to bring your succulents inside until spring because they will perish in a winter climate