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Succulents vs Houseplants: Are They The Same?

Succulents vs Houseplants: Are They The Same?
Succulents vs Houseplants: Are They The Same?

Houseplants vs. Succulents

Succulents have an interesting origin story, they are known as the “camels of the plant world.” Like a camel holds water in its hump, succulents hold moisture in their roots, stems, or leaves. This is why in some succ species, under watered plants will have shriveled leaves and once they get a good drench the leaves plump up and become full. Succulents and cacti show their true colors through their ability to survive in harsh conditions. With some being native to the desert, they are apt to growing in sand and without much water. 

When we say houseplant, we mean those leafy babes like Pothos, Fiddle Leaf Figs, Begonias, Snake Plants, etc – you know the ones! Varieties of houseplants require extremely different care methods, some like soil that is always moist and others thrive when soil gets dry in between waterings. Some want bright direct sunlight and others need shade. Houseplants can be much harder to care for due to the very different care methods between varieties. It is important to find plants that like you when shopping! What distinguishes them from succulents is their inability to store water in their leaves for extended periods of time.

Want to add houseplants to your fam? Hey Nice Plants has a quiz that matches you to nice plants that will thrive in the conditions of your home.

Caring for Succulents 

The main difference between succs and houseplants are the soil and watering requirements. Succulents will usually prefer soil to completely dry out in between waterings, while many houseplants enjoy a moist soil.

Keeping desert conditions in mind when caring for your succs will set you up for success! In the desert, plants go through long periods of time without getting any water and then get lots of water all at once during a downpour. The Drench + Dry Watering Method mimics this and promotes healthy root growth. Drench + Dry is easy and is done exactly as the name suggests, drench your succ with water until water drips out of the drainage hole and then let the soil completely dry before watering again. The Drench + Dry method may work for some varieties of houseplants, while others prefer more frequent waterings with less water. Houseplants can also do with bottom watering, a technique where you place your plant and pot in a saucer or container filled with water. When using the bottom watering method, the plant will absorb the water through the drainage hole at the bottom! Note that we do not recommend bottom watering for succs. 

Soil Differences

Not only is care different, but the actual soil you pot your bbs in will typically differ! Different types of soil have unique attributes that are beneficial to some plants, but not all. All succulents require cactus soil, a chunky lightweight mixture that easily allows water to run through. Houseplants, however, thrive in all sorts of different potting mixes depending on the nutrients they need, how often they need water, and what their natural environment looks like. African Violets, for example, take a specific African Violet potting soil to truly thrive.

Standard Potting Soil

Potting soil is typically dense and has a dark rich color. It is best used for houseplants, flowers, and veggies! This type of soil naturally holds onto moisture, allowing roots to soak it up gradually. There are usually fertilizers added to potting soil that can be harmful to succs, often causing root burning and growth deformities. 

Cactus Soil

Our succ babes love cactus soil! It’s a lightweight mixture that is best used for succulents, cacti, and citrus plants. This soil mixture allows water to run through and drain out of the pot almost immediately. Succulents have very fragile roots and it would be very difficult for them to grow through a more dense potting mix, and since they store water in their leaves, they don’t need a soil that retains moisture.



Already bought the potting soil? Don’t worry, cactus soil is super easy to make at home! It only requires three ingredients: potting mix (with very low fertilizer numbers), perlite, and sand. 

Don’t stop beleafin when starting your plant fam. Find what works best for you and makes you the happiest plant parent! Succulents and houseplants make the perfect combo to bring greenery into your home. Get growing, we beleaf in you!