Succulents are a widely diverse group of flowering plants. Most succulents live in warm climates and have smooth-textured, thickened, juicy leaves and stems where they store water. Houseplant enthusiasts often grow succulents for their interesting foliage. There are so many varieties that you can easily start a large collection of these fascinating plants.
As houseplants, succulents are very easy to grow and low-maintenance. They just need a warm location, plenty of bright light, well-drained soil, and occasional watering. If you provide these conditions, you can grow succulents with minimal effort. Easily enjoy these plants for the leaves alone, and they will grow for many years without ever producing a flower.
Not only do succulents have attractive foliage, but all succulents can produce flowers. Unfortunately, many people growing succulents as houseplants never see their plants bloom. Even though yours seems to be well, you might not be providing exactly what your plant needs to produce flowers. To induce flowering, provide your plant with its own species-specific ideal growing conditions.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the lives of succulents and look at some tips to better understand your plants and help them bloom.
The Short Answer
Succulents are flowering plants but typically flower only in ideal growing conditions. Read about and research your specific succulent variety to learn exactly what conditions it prefers. First, provide basic care for your plants. Then, if you can, provide the best possible combination of light, soil, temperature, and water needed by the species you are growing. With a bit of research, appropriate care, and a dash of luck, you will soon have a beautiful flowering plant!
Creating the perfect environment for your succulents encourages them to bloom.
Can you force your succulent bloom? No, not really. But you can create the ideal growing conditions for your plants, and this ideal environment coaxes your plant into a flowering phase.
It’s sometimes difficult to create ideal growing conditions for any houseplant, including succulents. Most succulents sold as houseplants have been raised in highly controlled greenhouses with very favorable light, humidity, temperature, and moisture conditions. When you purchase them from a retailer, they look great, and you naturally expect them to retain their vigor.
When you place them in your home, however, they grow well enough but never reach their full potential. Their colors may fade, and they may never flower. Maybe you don’t have sunny enough windows. The temperature may be too warm or too cold for your plant, or your watering regime may not be ideal.
Since succulents are so incredibly diverse, look into the specific requirements for the species of plants you have. The following list addresses some of the most common reasons your succulent isn’t flowering and what you can do about it.
Even if you do everything right, there’s no guarantee your succulent will produce flowers, and that’s okay, too. Keep your plants in good health and enjoy them as they are.
Not Enough Light
To ensure your succulent thrives, know its specific light requirements.
The most likely reason your succulent isn’t flowering is insufficient sunlight. Any succulent (or any other plant, for that matter) needs adequate bright sunlight in order to trigger it to bloom. Exactly how much sunlight is required depends on the species of each plant.
Light requirements involve both the intensity of light and the number of hours of light each day. If your plant waits for long summer days to bloom, it won’t ever get that signal if it’s in a shaded indoor location. South and west-facing windows are typically best for succulents. North-facing windows receive the least amount of light, which is okay for some plants but not enough for most succulents to bloom.
One clue that your plant needs more light is that it may start to grow long and leggy. The stem space between each leaf increases, and your plant stretches toward the light. Other varieties of succulents allow their leaves to flatten and spread out, trying to gather as much sunlight as possible. Some succulents with more colorful leaves lose some of their color and revert to solid green when grown in lower light conditions.
Tip: Read up on how many hours of light your specific succulent needs per day and place it in a location that provides that amount of light. If you don’t have any bright windows in your home, you’ll have better luck growing your succulents with a grow light or choosing low-light varieties. Then, you manually control their lighting and more easily give them the correct number of hours of light each day.
Too Much Light
Bright light enhances succulent colors, but excessive exposure harms them.
While it’s more common that your succulent isn’t getting enough light, your succulent may be getting too much light. Bright light brings out the best colors in your succulents, but sensitive plants growing with long hours of direct, intense sunlight can develop scorched leaves. Leaf scorch easily occurs if you suddenly move a plant from a dim location to a full-sun location without allowing it time to adjust to the more intense lighting.
Tip: If the leaves are turning brown and crispy, move your plant to a location with just a little less light or filter the sunlight coming through the window with a sheer curtain. You may just need a very minor lighting adjustment to avoid leaf scorch.
Plants Too Young
Those derived from different propagation methods have varying timelines for flowering.
If you recently purchased a small succulent or recently propagated a succulent using leaf or stem cuttings, your plant may be too young to produce flowers. Young plants and recent cuttings need time to develop a robust root system before reaching flowering maturity. This process takes several years.
Plants grown from seed require the most time before their first bloom. Plants grown from leaf cuttings require a slightly lesser amount of time, and larger stem cuttings have the best chance of blooming soonest. Regardless of the method of propagation, however, your succulent needs anywhere from a few years to more than five years to produce its first flowers.
Tip: There isn’t really anything you can do to coax a young plant to bloom sooner. The best you can do is provide it with excellent growing conditions and patiently wait while you enjoy its beautiful foliage. While you’re waiting, pay attention to its basic growing needs so it remains healthy and vibrant as it reaches maturity.
Pot Too Large
A spacious pot encourages root and leaf growth rather than flowering.
Something many people don’t realize is that succulents like to be cozy in their pots before they bloom. If your plant is growing in a spacious pot and the roots haven’t yet started to get a little crowded, it’s probably focusing all its energy on developing a larger root system and growing more leaves.
Tip: If you have a little succulent that seems undersized in a large pot, transplant it into a smaller pot. Don’t transplant your succulent into a larger pot until it becomes thoroughly root-bound or unless it needs a larger pot to help stay balanced. For example, repot if your plant becomes top-heavy in a small pot and starts to tip over.
Lack of Nutrients
Consider repotting your succulent in fresh soil or using fertilizer.
Succulents are relatively light feeders, but they require some nutrients to thrive. They gather some nutrients from their soil, but after a while, those nutrients get depleted. Succulents are slow-growing plants to begin with, but if you see that your plants slow or even stop growing, they may need more nutrition. You may also notice the leaves turning pale or yellow.
Tip: If your succulent grows in the same soil for a long time, it’s probably ready for a boost. Either repot your succulents in fresh soil with fresh nutrients or give them some fertilizer. Fertilizing succulents is part of their routine, long-term maintenance, and it’s fairly simple. Offer your indoor succulents a low dose of fertilizer, typically only once per year, so they continue to get the nutrition they need.
Don’t expect year-round blooms or blooms outside your plant’s natural season.
Each succulent species is programmed to bloom during a certain season when it’s triggered by a specific combination of temperature and light conditions. Some succulents bloom in the summer with long days and warm temperatures. Other succulent varieties bloom in the winter months when temperatures drop and the days get shorter.
You can’t expect your succulent to bloom all year round, and it’s unrealistic to expect it to bloom in any other season than when it would naturally bloom in its native environment.
Tip: You probably won’t have much luck coaxing a winter-blooming succulent to bloom in the summer and vice-versa. Find out in which season your species typically blooms. If it doesn’t bloom one year, continue providing excellent quality care and try again the following year.
Mimicking the natural climate pattern aids in maintaining a yearly blooming cycle.
In their natural environment, many (but not all) succulents live in desert conditions. They experience temperature fluctuations between summer and winter, as well as between daytime and nighttime. In their home environments, they bloom annually because they are triggered by specific temperature fluctuations.
Tip: When growing succulents at home, mimic a natural climate pattern. Put your succulent in a location where it’s cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. If your plants are kept at a uniform temperature year-round, they might never get the proper temperature triggers to prepare them for blooming.
To care for succulents, ensure the soil completely dries before watering.
Succulents are very sensitive to overwatering. The general rule of thumb for watering succulents is to allow the soil to dry completely between each watering and then offer enough water to thoroughly re-moisten the soil. Succulents that are stressed by overwatering will not flower. The worst case scenario is that your plant develops fungal root rot, and left untreated, this leads to the death of the entire plant.
Tip: Be absolutely sure you wait until the soil is dry before watering your succulents. If they show any signs of root rot, take immediate action to preserve your plant. Look out for wet soil, followed by mushy stems and leaves. You may need to take a healthy upper stem cutting and replant it to keep your plant alive if the roots and crown have already started to rot.
If you’re looking for a few succulent houseplants that are ideal candidates for flowering, try one of these easy-care varieties:
Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus – Christmas cactus is widely available around the winter holidays when it is frequently sold in full bloom. If you take good care of one and offer it enough sunlight throughout the year, there’s an excellent chance it will bloom again around the same time each year.
Kalanchoe – These leafy succulents are commonly available and easy to grow. Be warned, however, that kalanchoe plants are poisonous to house pets and should not be grown where your pets have access to them. Kalanchoe plants are most likely to bloom in late winter or early spring.
Echeverias – These interesting succulents come in many different varieties, and many bloom when grown as houseplants. These plants send up a flower stalk, typically in spring or summer, but only on mature plants that are several years old. Even if they don’t bloom, echeverias still have unique and attractive foliage and make great houseplants.
After blooming, you can safely remove the spent flower and flowering stalks. There’s no need to remove them prematurely. Just allow them to finish flowering naturally. When the flowers are wilted and browned and no longer interesting to look at, remove them and put them in your compost bin. Cut flowering stalks close to the base but don’t cut into any neighboring leaves and stems. The rest of the stem will wither and detach naturally within a few weeks.
Many succulents are long-lived and can bloom many times in their lifespan. There are a few, however, that die after flowering, and these are known as monocarpic succulents. The good news for monocarpic succulent owners is these plants typically produce offsets, or pups, around their bases so that after the mother plant flowers and dies, the pups live on and mature into healthy individuals.
Succulents make excellent houseplants. They are fun and easy to grow. It’s even more satisfying when they flower. If you provide excellent growing conditions, you will be rewarded with a dazzling floral display. Some succulents bloom reliably each year, while for others, it’s a one-time show. To keep your plants healthy and robust, pay particular attention to the lighting conditions. But don’t neglect a good watering regime, high-quality soil, nutrients, and warm temperatures. When your succulent finally blooms, it will be well worth the wait!