How Long Do Succulents Live?

Succulents are every gardener’s dream because of their versatility and beautiful array of shapes and colors.

Unfortunately, they can’t last forever. There are many species of succulents, so their lifespan is bound to vary as well. That’s why part of caring for these hardy plants is knowing the answer to ‘how long do succulents live?’

Luckily, that’s exactly what we’re here to find out today. Scroll down for more.

Indoor Succulents vs. Outdoor Succulents

In general, both indoor and outdoor succulents tend to have similar lifespans. Nevertheless, each type of environment has its challenges that can affect your plant and shorten its lifespan.

Indoor Succulents

Indoor succulent collection

One of the most significant advantages of keeping your plants indoors is that you don’t have to worry about any sudden changes in the weather.

That said, there are many instances where it can be difficult to provide succulents with a controlled indoor environment.

For example, indoor succulents need repotting more often than those planted outdoors. Pruning should also be carried out periodically to prevent it from becoming root bound.

Also, don’t forget that succulents thrive in well-draining soil. They also require adequate drainage holes as well, which help prevent mold growth and root rot.

Outdoor Succulents

Outdoor succulents typically refer to growing them in planters outside the house, like on your porch or steps. It can also refer to growing them in garden beds around your yard.

They make amazing borders for your flower beds, shrubs, and other plants.

The obvious problem with keeping them outdoors is that they’re constantly exposed to the elements. So, if you live in an area that isn’t an ideal growing zone for succulents, it can seriously affect their growth rate and shorten their lifespan.

Besides the weather, being outdoors makes your plants vulnerable to herbivores, like a hungry deer passing by.

Insect infestations are another hazard. They can weaken plants and cause them to die prematurely.

Related: How to Replant Succulents

How a Plant’s Dormancy and Growing Season Affect Its Lifespan

Many succulent varieties are naturally slow growers. Each year, they typically cycle between a growing season and dormancy, with the speed and duration varying between the different species.

Here’s a quick rundown of how each stage affects your plants’ lifespan.

Plant Dormancy

Dormancy is quite similar to how some animals hibernate in the winter. During the colder months, succulents become dormant to protect themselves against the harsh cold weather.

When they go into this survival mode, the plant either slows down its growth rate or stops growing altogether. That’s why when temperatures drop, they don’t need as much water or sunlight.

Keep in mind that indoor succulents may not go into dormancy because temperatures inside the house stay fairly stable. While this isn’t likely to harm the plant, it may affect certain characteristics, like flowering for instance.

In fact, there are many types of succulent varieties that won’t bloom unless they’re allowed to undergo a period of dormancy.

Growing Season

As soon as temperatures begin to warm up once again, that’s when succulents get to work. It’s when they start forming new leaves, shooting out offsets, and producing colorful flowers.

The roots will also start to spread out to get as many nutrients and water as they can get. This ensures that the leaves are receiving the nourishment and hydration they need even when the weather is scorching hot.

It’s during this active, or growing, phase, that you should make sure your plants are getting ample sunlight, water, and even fertilizer.

Common Succulent Varieties and their Lifespans

There are thousands of different varieties of succulents, each with its own needs and preferences. As a gardener, you should get to know the type of succulents you have as well as their likes and dislikes.

To help get you started, we rounded up a few common varieties along with their average lifespans. Take a look.

Barrel Cactus
  • Aeonium Kiwi: can live for several years, then die after producing flowers
  • Aloe Vera: can live between 5 to 25 years
  • Barrel Cactus: can live up to a hundred years
  • Christmas Cactus: can live for over 30 years
  • Crassula: can live from 20 to over 100 years
  • Crown of Thorns: can live up to 25 years indoors, preferably near a sunny window
  • Echeveria: can live from 3 years to several decades
  • Hens and Chicks: can live for 3–4 years, then is replaced by its numerous offsets
  • Jade Plant: can live for 70–100 years
  • Kalanchoe: can live for 6–7 years
  • Living Stones: can live for 40–50 years

Helping Your Succulents Live Longer

It doesn’t take much to ensure your succulents are in good health for as long as possible. Yet, the major deciding factor is to provide them with an environment that’s as close to their natural habitat as possible.

This means paying close attention to the following guidelines:

Adequate Lighting

Yes, succulents thrive in bright light, but many species can’t handle harsh, direct sunlight. So, it’s better to place them in indirect or filtered light to boost their growth and keep their colors lively and vibrant.

If they don’t receive enough natural light, they’ll start to wilt, stretch out, and turn pale. If left unchecked, they’ll eventually wither away and die.

Soak and Dry

This technique is when you give your plants a dose of deep watering until the water runs through the drainage holes. Then, wait a week or two until you’re sure the soil is completely dry.

Remember that succulents can easily recover from being underwatered. However, it’s near impossible for the plant to come back from being in soggy soil. In fact, overwatering is pretty much a death sentence for the majority of succulents.

The Right Soil Type

Succulents are drought-tolerant. So, dry soil doesn’t really bother them. Truth be told, they thrive in it much better than soil that’s been overwatered.

So, make sure you choose a soil type that drains well. There are many high-quality potting mixes on the market specially made for succulents and cacti.

Keep in mind that some potting mixes work equally well for both outdoor and indoor succulents, whereas others can be used for either one or the other for the best results.

Use a Well-Balanced Fertilizer

During their growing season, succulents usually need only a couple of doses of slow-release fertilizer, once in early spring and a second time in early fall.

Although, there are some varieties that don’t need it at all. They seem to know what they’re doing right away and don’t need any help from anybody.

For these types, it won’t hurt to give them a mild, low-nitrogen fertilizer to give them a helping hand.

Keep Pests Away

Succulents, especially those planted outdoors, are susceptible to pests and diseases because of their fleshy leaves and stems.

The most common pests that affect these hardy plants are scales, aphids, and mealybugs.

The good news is that there aren’t many diseases that affect succulents. Yet, the one you have to watch out for is root rot.

The most effective way to prevent any type of infestation, whether pests or rot, is by wiping down the stems and leaves to make sure they stay dry.

Read more: 13 Gorgeous Purple Succulents to Add Color to Your Home

Give Them Room to Breathe

There’s no doubt that succulents look beautiful together in the same container. Yet, it may not be the ideal growing environment for your plants.

Keep in mind that succulents need to have a sufficient root zone to breathe and spread out. Their roots, along with their stems and leaves, are typically thick and swollen. This feature allows them to hold vast amounts of water, which boosts their growth during their active phase.

There are even some species that can grow so quickly that they fill up a 6-inch pot in just a matter of weeks.

This is why you have to be super careful about which varieties you place beside each other to avoid overcrowding the pot. Otherwise, you risk denying them the opportunity to develop, mature, and expand their root growth.

Prepare for Winter

miniature greenhouse outside

If you live somewhere that gets especially cold winters, it’s always a good idea to get your succulents bundled up before the icy temperatures attack.

One way to do this is to build a miniature greenhouse for your succulents to help reduce the risk of frost damage. Another idea is to place a layer of straw or hay over the surface of the soil to help keep them warm and cozy until spring.

A straw overlay will also help prevent soil erosion in case of heavy rain or snow. Besides insulating the plant and protecting it during winter, this layer also has the added benefit of decomposing quickly, feeding the soil, and boosting its levels of nutrients.

A Final Note

We haven’t met a gardener who isn’t crazy about their succulents. These adorable plants are resilient and chunky, and look good just about anywhere you plant them.

Because they’re so forgiving, many forget to ask the all-important question: how long do succulents last?

Yet, it’s easy to keep them healthy and happy as long as you give them some proper TLC. Hopefully, you can find all the information you need to keep your succulents alive and thriving both indoors and out right here in this handy guide.