Succulents are a cool and trendy plant species. Their texture gives them a fun and unique character. Available in a wide variety of intriguing shapes, sizes and colors, they make for interesting houseplants. A single succulent plant looks great in a container, and a clustered grouping of several succulents is appealing, too. With just a little bit of creativity, gardeners can group different types of succulents into what resembles a tiny forest or desert scene.
Peculiar looks aside, they’re tough plants. Succulents have the amazing ability to store water in the tissues of their leaves for much longer time frames than other plants. This makes them very self sufficient plants that are easy to grow and maintain. Succulents propagate easily too, so it’s difficult to run out of succulents once you start them.
Succulents originated in warm, tropical climates across the globe. Their hardy adaptability allows them to endure dry, daytime desert heat and crashing nighttime temperatures. Some well-known succulents include cacti and aloe plants.
How to Grow and Care for Succulents
Succulents are happy indoors where they don’t have to brave climate extremes. As houseplants, succulents’ demands are few. You can almost completely ignore them. But they’re so fascinating you won’t be able to forget them.
Succulents love arid soil. A sandy, pebbly soil mix works well for drainage. Look for soil for cacti and succulents. Or use your own mix of potting soil with sand. Just make sure your soil drains easily.
Your succulent will want plenty of sunshine. A windowsill will provide plenty of the bright direct light. A countertop or a shelf near a bright window will provide sufficient light, too. If you notice your plant reaching out toward light, it’s telling you it needs more. Prune back the portion of the plant that became misshapen, and move it nearer to its light source.
Succulents need to be watered regularly. Wait until the soil has dried in between watering, and give them a good drink. The soil shouldn’t be saturated or soaked, but a thorough and regular amount of water is important for succulents in containers.
Succulents go dormant for a season. Some are summer dormant, so back off on watering during the summer months for summer dormant types. Others will be dormant in the winter, so give them a longer stretch between watering during the winter months. Study which type of succulent you have adopted so you know its seasons.
Succulents propagate happily. Many produce offsets called pups from their roots. Other pups develop and stack on top of the mother plant. Either way, pups can easily be removed and set into new containers of soil. They will take off and mature with the same care you took with the parent plant.
Containers for Succulents
Since succulents don’t have deep reaching root systems, a shallow, wide container will compliment your succulents nicely. Dishes make simple containers for growing succulents. Containers in natural desert colors accent the pebbly, sandy soil that succulents love. Bright and colorful pots work well with succulents, too. Picture a pretty a ‘Sunburst’ aeonium with its rare pink tipped yellow and green leaves placed in a cobalt blue glazed pot. Very eye-catching!
Succulent Pests, Diseases, and Problems
In general, an indoor succulent’s worst enemy is too much water. Humidity and the problems that accompany moisture are antagonistic to succulents, too. Really, the best care for succulents is little care.
Spider mites love the thick leaves of succulents that are indoors. Treat a spider mite infestation with insecticidal soap. Separate an infected plant from neighboring plants, and spray the top portions of the plant as well as the underside of the plant. Keep a close eye on all indoor plants for these little bugs to control them before they get out of hand.
‘Perle Von Nurnberg’ Echeveria (Echeveria ‘Perle Von Nurnberg’) is a rosette shaped succulent that is perfectly sized for a container at 4 inches in diameter. This tender, delicate succulent is a good indoor selection to enjoy simply for its simple beauty. Its elegance is often sought after for bouquets and arrangements.
‘Opalina’ Graptoveria (Graptoveria ‘Opalina’) has symmetrical rosette form and thick leaves. It gives an opalescent shine off its pale pastel colored leaves. ‘Opalina’ will thrive and be the most beautiful when kept in a mild, steady climate such as a typical indoor climate.
Succulent Dish Garden Ideas
There are hundreds of beautiful ways to enjoy succulents as houseplants. To give you an idea, check out the video below. Try mixing several different sized, shaped, and textured succulents. Or, try planting a simple succulent in just a teacup. You can adapt old dishes for a vintage feel to your succulent dish gardens.
Want to learn more about how to grow succulents?
Check out these helpful resources:
Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties by Debra Lee Baldwin (Amazon affiliate link)
Succulents from Colorado State University Extension
Summer Succulent Care from Master Gardener Association of San Diego County
Please note that links to Amazon from Gardening Channel are affiliate links.
How well do these plants do outdoors in the winter
very informative article, i am new to this hobby. Thanks a lot !
Donna Goetz says
When. My succulent plant gets “leggie” do I cut the big part off and replant it? If so do I let it scab over before I try to replant it