Many people think succulents are tiny and fragile houseplants that are displayed unobtrusively on top of tables. But if you look more succulents, you will see that these low maintenance plants can become the focal point of any room.
1. Jade Plant
The Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) is the quintessential indoor succulent, primarily because of its popularity. Known by names like Lucky Plant, Money Plant, and Money Tree, the succulent is often given as a housewarming gift. Due to its longevity, some specimens are passed down from one generation to another.
The plant can grow as high as six feet. However, many Jade Plant owners prune their plants to keep the height at around three feet.
Your Jade Plant requires five to six hours of indirect sunlight. It thrives in daytime temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius, and nighttime temperatures between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius.
Like other succulents, the Jade Plant is not a heavy feeder. You can fertilize it every six months using a water-soluble fertilizer.
2. Christmas kalanchoe
The Christmas Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is native to Madagascar and goes by other names like Florist Kalanchoe and Flaming Katy. Like the Poinsettia, this succulent is often sold during the Holidays and thrown away once its flowers have died. However, the Christmas Kalanchoe can be kept for the whole year. With proper care, it can be coaxed to blossom the following year.
Like the Poinsettia, the Christmas Kalanchoe is photoperiodic. This means that if you want it to produce flowers, you should give it enough time to spend in complete darkness. Around September, the plant should receive 10 hours of sunlight and 12 to 14 hours of total darkness. After two to three months, the plant will produce buds.
Like most succulents, this plant requires well-draining soil. It prefers indirect sunlight but can tolerate the full sun. It also needs to be fertilized monthly.
3. Snake Plant
Along with the Jade Plant, the Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is probably one of the most popular succulents. The plant is a perennial favorite among new and old succulent collectors because of its seeming indestructibility. If you are close to giving up on keeping a plant, do not give up until you have owned this plant.
Originating from tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the Snake Plant has over 70 species. Among the most popular of these are the Cylindrical Snake Plant, the Golden Hahnii, and the White Snake Plant.
A mature specimen can grow anywhere between half a foot to 12 foot.
Although this succulent can survive in low light conditions, it prefers a few hours of direct sunlight. For this plant’s potting mix, use a sandy soil. Water it only when its soil is dry.
4. Crown of Thorns
The Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is another succulent that originates from Madagascar. According to a legend, the plant was used as a crown by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Capable of reaching a height of three feet, the Crown of Thorns has brown thorns all over its branches and shoots. Yellow, pink, or red flowers grow from the plant’s tips.
The succulent is often recommended for beginners because it is easy to care for. It thrives best under direct sun. The more hours it spends under direct light, the more colorful its flowers will be.
But be warned: this succulent is not ideal for homes with small children and pets. Apart from being poisonous, the plant contains latex which irritates the skin and mucous membrane.
5. Aloe Vera
Many homeowners keep the Aloe Vera, not only to spruce up their living spaces. More importantly, the plant is esteemed for its medicinal properties. Specifically, the clear gel from the plant is used for aiding in the healing of small cuts and minor burns. The gel can also be used for treating acne, redness, and mild psoriasis.
Some people use the plant’s juice for cosmetic purposes like removing makeup and hair conditioning. But be aware that there is no conclusive evidence that supports the efficacy of the plant for cosmetic uses.
You can extract the juice from the Aloe Vera by making a lengthwise incision from the plant’s spikes.
The plant is fairly easy to keep. It thrives best if you plant it in a terracotta pot filled with well-draining soil. This succulent prefers sunny locations and should be watered every two weeks or when its soil is completely dry.
6. Christmas Cactus
The Christmas Cactus is actually not a cactus. In reality, it is a succulent that has been produced by breeding two different plants that grow in the rainforests of Brazil. The plant is called by its common name because it blooms red, white, yellow, pink, or purple flowers near the Holidays.
The green segmented branches of the Christmas Cactus can grow as long as three feet. The flowers grow from the tips of these branches.
To encourage this cactus to bloom, you need to plant it in a well-draining potting mix. Compared to other succulents, the Christmas Cactus is a heavy feeder. As such, it needs to be fertilized every other week until it is ready to produce flowers.
Water the plant deeply but infrequently. It prefers indirect light. Do not put it under the full sun because its leaves can become sunburned.
7. Panda Plant
Also known as the Chocolate Soldier, the Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is a succulent that originates from Madagascar.
The plant can grow up to two feet tall and is characterized by its interesting looking leaves. The thick and fleshy leaves are fuzzy and can grow up to three inches long. The edges and tips of these leaves have brown markings. From afar, the leaves look like the ears of a panda or rabbit.
Outdoors, the plant is typically used either as a groundcover or as an accent plant. Indoors, it can be kept in a small pot or hung in a basket.
This succulent can tolerate full to partial shade. Because of its thick leaves, the plant can store a sizable amount of water. As such, it does not need frequent watering.
8. Sticks on Fire
Also known as the Pencil Cactus, African Milkbush, and Finger Tree, the Sticks on Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) is a shrub or tree-like succulent that is known for its colorful vertical stems. The thin, pencil-like stems have a golden red color which fades into yellow during the summer.
The plant grows up to eight feet tall and is a favorite among landscape artists because of its resilience against diseases, pests, and even small mammals.
This easy to care for plant prefers the full sun and rocky soil. Typically, you will find it used in garden beds and borders.
Be careful in handling the plant. Its milky sap is a skin and eye irritant.
Currently, numerous studies are focusing on the diverse use of this succulent. For example, medical experts are looking into how the plant can be used to treat cancer. Other studies are looking into the possibility of using the plant as an oil source.
9. Ponytail Palm
Despite its name, the Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is not a palm. It is actually a member of the Agave family. Although the succulent can grow over 20 feet in height, it is a notoriously slow-grower. As such, many keep the plant as a bonsai specimen.
The Ponytail Palm is close to what may be considered as the perfect indoor plant. For starters, it is a very forgiving plant. It can survive weeks without being watered. And although it requires bright light to thrive, it can be kept in low light conditions for several months, as long as you put it under bright lights for half of the year.
Like most succulents, the plant does not require constant watering. It does need dry, well-draining soil. Additionally, it is not a heavy feeder. You can fertilize it one to two times a year.
Pros and cons of keeping succulents indoors
Keeping succulents indoors has a few advantages. For one, these plants can instantly add beauty to your living or office space. Plus, succulents require minimal care, making them ideal for busy people.
An indoor environment can also protect succulents pests and the elements. When you keep your succulents inside your home, you do not have to worry about changes in the temperature or weather, especially if you live in an area where the climate may not be particularly suitable for the succulents that you have chosen to keep.
Finally, keeping a succulent indoors lessens the chance of it succumbing to pests and some diseases.
But despite these benefits, you also have to be aware of the disadvantages of keeping succulents indoors. One of the greatest challenges that you will need to overcome is providing your plants with enough sunlight.
Although there are a few succulents that can thrive under low light conditions, many prefer six to eight hours of sunlight. And more often than not, placing your succulents near the windows may not be enough. In such a case, you can invest in grow lights.
Soil takes a bit longer to dry inside an indoor environment. This can be attributed to both lower indoor temperature and the lower level of airflow. This is why it is critical to choose the right potting mix for your succulents and to water them infrequently.
Before buying a succulent, be sure to check its care requirements. For beginners, it is a good idea to stick with green succulents which are easier to care for compared to succulents with exotic colors.
Tips for keeping succulents indoors
Part of the charm of keeping succulents is that these plants do not need much to thrive, whether indoors or outdoors. That, however, does not mean that you should not make an effort to provide for their needs. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your plants happy and healthy.
1. Use well-draining soil
Succulents can withstand drought. Living in arid environments, these plants evolved to adapt to what would otherwise be an inhospitable environment. However, succulents do not like getting their roots soaked. As such, it is imperative to use well-draining soil, whether you plant them on the ground or in a container. For most succulents, a potting mix specially formulated for cacti and succulents will do.
2. Choose the right container
Whether you choose a container made out of glass, plastic, or terra cotta, be sure that it has enough drainage holes to wick away moisture from the potting mix.
3. Pick the right spot
Most succulents require at least six hours of sunlight. Some need more, others less. Indoors, many succulents can thrive in south or east-facing windows. But do check your plants from time to time. If you notice that your succulents are stretching, it means that they need more sunlight.
4. Water deeply but infrequently
Succulents do not need to be watered daily or regularly. Overwatering makes these plants vulnerable to root rot, which in turn, makes them likely to die. Water your succulents until you see the fluids drain out from their containers. After that, wait until the soil in the containers is completely dry before watering again.
If you are unsure if you need to water your succulents again, err on the side of underwatering. Wait a few days before watering your plants.
5. Fertilize annually
Succulents are not heavy feeders. In fact, most originate from locations where the soil offers little to no nutrients. However, that does not mean that you should deprive your succulents of the nutrients they need. Most succulents will benefit from fertilizers during their growth phase. Avoid applying fertilizers when your plants are dormant.
The perfect indoor companion
If you are new to keeping plants indoors, there can be no better choice than a succulent. They are easy to care for and yet they can be rewarding to keep.