Where to grow succulents?

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A lot of people want to grow succulents from seed, but there are a few things to know before you start. We’ll let you in on a little secret: we don’t sell our succulent seeds. In fact, we don’t use seeds at all!

This article explains why growing succulents from seed is less than ideal. It also shares our methods for propagating new succulents without a single seed.

Spoiler alert: it’s so easy, you’ll be multiplying your own succulent collection in no time.

Sempervivum ‘Emerald Spring’ with new offsets or “chicks”

Unknown Results

Growing succulents from seed can be unreliable. Most popular varieties are “cultivated varieties” (i.e. cultivars) or genetic sports. Cultivars and sports are bred and/or perpetuated by humans. They do not grow true from seed in nature.

This means that a seedling might be similar in appearance and vigor to its parent plant, but it could be completely different. The same is true for naturally occurring species. If the parent plant was cross-pollinated with a different species, the resulting plants will not be identical to their parents.

Misleading ad for succulent seeds

For this reason it’s important to source quality seed. Too often, the image accompanying seeds for sale is photoshopped and not representative of the the actual outcome.

The casual grower may have to test many batches of seed before germinating a healthy, good-looking plant. But if you’re willing to dedicate a lot of time to hybridization, you just might come up with the next greatest cultivar!

Seed saving with a Sempervivum bloom

Slow Process

In addition to unpredictable outcomes, growing succulents from seed takes a long time. Some succulents, like Sempervivum, can take years to bloom and produce seeds. Even after the seeds are collected and sown, they can take anywhere from three weeks to a year to germinate, let alone grow into full-sized succulents.

Young Sempervivum chicks

Challenging to Grow

Succulents are known for being resilient, easy growers. Succulent seeds, however, are finicky and sensitive to small fluctuations in environmental conditions. They can be tiny and dust-like, requiring very diligent care. Most varieties like the indirect sunlight found outdoors, but also need moderate temperature and humidity, which is easier to control indoors.

You may love succulent plants because they can tolerate weeks of neglect, but even a day without gentle watering can be enough to kill a small seedling.

Fine seed dust from Sempervivum heuffelii

Easy Succulent Propagation

If succulents are so difficult to grow from seed, how is it that we have any left? In the wild, most successful propagation happens not from seeds but from vegetative offsets. Many types can send out new offspring from a mother plant (think Hens & Chicks). Other can re-grow from a fallen leaf or a broken section of stem.

Our nursery mimics nature and uses both of these techniques to skip seed germination. In this way we can quickly grow new plants that are genetically identical to their parent plant. This is how we can confidently predict how our plants will look and grow.

Succulent Leaf Propagation

Want to try it yourself? Growing your own succulents is extremely simple and rewarding. We offer both stem cuttings and unrooted rosettes so that you can take part in the growing process.

We’ve also compiled our nursery knowledge into this Visual Cuttings Guide so that you too can turn a leaf or a bit of stem into a full-grown, rooted plant. Watch out though! Growing succulents this way is addictively fun and easy.

The other great option for getting affordable, high quality succulents is to buy them wholesale. You do not need a special retail account to get wholesale discounts at Mountain Crest Gardens. Our trays and sets are the best way to fill out your collection with high-quality, rooted plants.


Some leaves will pop right off with a gentle tug, while others may require a sharp knife. Using clean hands or a sterile knife, remove a healthy leaf from the base of the plant, ensuring that an entire, undamaged leaf is removed.

Once removed, let the leaf heal in a warm area with bright light for about four days to allow the “wound” to callous over. After the leaf has calloused, prepare a new planter with soil, wet it, and place the leaf on top of the soil for propagation.

Use a spray bottle to mist your leaves when the soil is dry. Be sure to keep them in a warm place with plenty of bright light, but not direct sun. They need to be kept moist and warm.

Within three weeks or so, little roots and leaves will begin to sprout! It could take a few months before a succulent gets big enough for repotting (photos above are after about 8 weeks). You’ll know it’s time when the leaf eventually turns brown and falls off. This means the succulent has taken all of the nutrients from the leaf and no longer needs it.

Propagating Succulents with Offsets or by Division:

Propagating succulents with offsets is a great way to grow your collection because the parent plant has already done the majority of the work for you. Offsets, AKA “pups,” are the little succulents that sprout up around the base of the parent plant. These pups occur when roots bearing leaf clusters, shoot out from the mature plant and develop into a new succulent. Pups can also occur on the leaves of some succulents, like the Pink Butterfly Kalanchoe. You can use the offsets from either location to grow a new, individual plant.

To divide offsets from the base of the parent plant, brush away the top soil until roots are visible, and gently pull them apart while preserving as many roots as possible. More mature offsets will have already developed their own root systems, but if the offsets are still connected to the parent plant by a stem, simply use a clean, sharp knife to cut them apart. Brush old soil from the offsets’ roots, and let them dry out for a couple of days in a warm place with plenty of indirect light to prevent rot and disease when repotted. Once they’ve calloused over and healed, prepare new planters with cactus/succulent soil, wet it, place the succulent in a shallow hole, and fill in the hole to stabilize the plant.

Separating offsets from leaves of the parent plant can be achieved by simply pulling them off or using a sharp knife. Be sure your knife or hands are clean, so bacteria is not transferred to the plant or offset. If using a knife, make a clean cut where the offset meets the mature plant. Without a knife, gently tug on the offset, wiggling it from side to side until it pops off cleanly. Once removed, let these offsets dry out for a couple of days, so they can callous over. When they’re healed, fill a planter with soil, wet it, and place the pups on top of the soil. Within a few weeks, they will begin forming roots!

Propagating Succulents with Stem Cuttings:

Propagating with stem cuttings works best with plants that have “branches” or rosette-shaped succulents that have stretched out on a long stem. This process is most successful if done when the succulent is about to begin its active growth period, either at the end of a dormant period (usually winter months), or at the beginning of a growth period (usually spring months) to give the succulent the best chance for survival.

To take a proper cutting from a succulent that has branches, you’ll need a sharp, sterilized knife or razor blade. Choose a stem that is relatively short to ensure it is active and growing, hold the stem as close to the base as possible, then use your knife or razor blade to cut it cleanly from the parent plant. If the stem is damaged at all during this process, you’ll likely need a new cutting. The branch will need to heal for about four days before it is repotted. Once repotted, give the plant plenty of bright light and barely water, and it will root itself in its new planter in about four weeks.

Rosette-shaped succulents can also be propagated with stem cuttings when they begin to grow a long stem from maturity or lack of sunlight. The rosette can be cut off with a sharp, sterile knife, leaving a short stem to enable repotting. Allow the cut rosette to callous for about four days to prevent rotting and disease when it’s repotted. The long stem from which the rosette was removed will continue to form new leaves, so leave it potted or planted as it was, and barely water until new growth appears from the stem.

Propagating Succulents with Seeds:

Propagating succulents with seeds is typically the slowest way to grow new plants, but if you have the time and patience, give it a try! Seeds of mature plants are located in the swollen base of the flower (AKA the “fruit”), and they can be collected when the succulent is done flowering. In some instances, the seed will be an orange-colored dust, which can be slightly more difficult to propagate with. Whether collecting seeds from a mature plant or buying seeds to use, always use fresh, dry seeds in the beginning of spring to give them a long growing period before winter dormancy.

First, prepare a planter with cactus/succulent soil, water it thoroughly, then soak your seeds in warm water for about 30 minutes to loosen up the seed coat. Once soaked and softened, spread the seeds on top of the prepared soil, keeping spaces between them to allow growth. Next, cover the seeds with just enough “top dressing,” like sand or sifted cactus/succulent soil, without burying them. Use a spray bottle to water the seeds daily with a fine mist, only allowing the top surface to dry out between waterings.

Keep the planter in a warm environment, anywhere from 75-80ºF. A fun trick is to cover the planter with clear plastic of some kind (ziplock bag, plastic bucket) to create a greenhouse effect. This will keep the seeds moist and warm, and it’s a great option for those in cool or dry climates. The seeds will begin to germinate in about two weeks, and after about six weeks, you should be able to water about every other day.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the different methods of propagation, you can experiment! Be patient if you’re just learning to propagate succulents, as there is always a bit of a learning curve. While we aim to provide you with the best information possible to be successful, every individual will have different experiences when propagating. The more you practice, the more likely you’ll be successful!

I haven’t met a gardener yet that doesn’t love succulents. With their chunky leaves and water superpowers, succulents have become an urban gardening icon. However, these fun plants often meet an early end due to improper care.

In this article, we’ll go over how to keep succulents alive, indoors and out. The goal is to understand what your plant needs to live as long as possible. We don’t want to lose any more plants!

Products To Help Your Succulents Thrive:

  • Hoffman Organic Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix
  • Sun Gro Black Gold Cactus Mix

What’s The Average Succulent Lifespan?

How long do succulents live? It varies from plant to plant. Source: M.P.N.texan

Succulents are so diverse that it’s difficult to find a one-fits-all answer to this question. There are thousands of different varieties with their own needs and habits. But how long do succulents live? As a gardener, you should get to know your plants. Read up on their life span, how fast they grow, and what they need in terms of sun, water, pots, soil and the like.

You can sometimes find average succulent lifespans online or at a garden center. However, there are many plants with unknown ages, simply because they haven’t been observed in nature long enough. Here are a few succulents with known life spans:

Jade Plant 70-100 years
Hens and Chicks 3+ years
Aloe Vera 5-25 years
Barrel Cactus Centuries!
Living Stones 40-50 years
Christmas Cactus 30+ years

Some succulent plants have factors at play that drastically affect how long they live. For example, many hybrids, such as Echeveria Perle von Nurnberg, have short lifespans.

Some succulents don’t live long but grow offsets to replace themselves. A great example is Chicks and Hens. The main plant only lives around 3-4 years but sends out lots of offsets during its life. You may not even notice the main plant’s death because of how many offsets take its place.

Monocarpic plants, like aeonium kiwi, die after flowering. Depending on how fast the succulent matures, it may live for many years before it blooms. If your succulent begins to flower and you don’t want to lose it, the best thing you can do is take some cuttings for propagation. Think of it as one generation fading out while another takes its place.

Understanding Succulent Growth

A beautiful selection of succulent plants. Source: douneika

Succulents are typically slow growers. That doesn’t mean their growth is all the same, though. The majority of succulents cycle between dormancy and a growing season each year.

Plant dormancy is very similar to hibernation in animals. During a certain season, succulents go into survival mode to make it through extreme weather conditions. They slow or stop their growth in order to conserve energy. Because of this, succulents usually don’t need as much water or sun while dormant.

If your succulent is an indoor plant, it may not go dormant if the temperature doesn’t change. Your plants are fine, but not in sync with their natural habits. Most succulents won’t flower unless they’re allowed to go dormant.

The growing season is when succulents get to work. This is when they’ll form new leaves, send out offsets, and flower. Succulents typically appreciate extra water, sunlight, and even fertilizer during this time.

Succulents native to the Northern Hemisphere usually go dormant during the winter and grow in the spring and summer. On the other hand, native southern plants typically shut down when it’s hot outdoors in the summer.

Keeping Succulents Alive

The right potting mix will help your succulents to thrive. Source: douneika

Now that you know how long your succulent can live, we can focus on helping it get there. The key is to keep your succulent’s conditions as close as possible to its natural habitat. That care usually follows these general guidelines:

Water your succulent whenever the soil is completely dry. Give your succulent a deep drink until water runs out of the drainage hole. This is called the “soak and dry” technique. Succulents can usually bounce back from underwatering, but overwatering is a death sentence. Before you water again, be sure the soil in your pots has dried!

Give your succulent plenty of sunlight. However, most species cannot tolerate direct sun. Indirect or bright, filtered light is usually the best. If it doesn’t receive enough sunlight, your plant may begin to stretch out, or etiolate.

The soil should be very well-draining. There are many specialty succulent and cactus mixes that are perfect. You can also make your own mix by mixing one part potting soil with one part perlite. If the mix retains too much water, the roots will begin to rot.

Fertilizer depends on the variety of succulent you have. Some appreciate multiple doses a year while others don’t need it at all. Plants that do need fertilizing usually prefer one that’s balanced or low nitrogen.

Keep pests and diseases well away from your plants. Know the signs for common succulent pests such as mealybugs, aphids, and scale insects. Diseases are usually rare in succulents, but nearly all are prone to root rot. Prevent this by watering properly and keeping the stem and leaves dry.

Remember that these care tips are general and vary from plant to plant. For the best instructions, look into your succulent’s specific needs.

Helping Your Succulents Live Longer

Avoid overwatering your succulent plants as it can shorten their lifespan. Source: cold_penguin1952

Proper care will definitely benefit your succulent. To really extend their life span though, do the following:

  • Keep a consistent watering schedule
  • Use good quality soil, repotting into new pots as needed
  • Let your succulent acclimate when moving it to a new location
  • Take good care of the roots
  • Propagate so your plant can live on through its descendants

Remember that you’re in charge of your plant’s longevity. When you get a new succulent, taking the time to read a 5-minute article about its care can make a huge difference. So learn about your plants, track its progress, and take notes! Your succulent is depending on you.

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Rachel Garcia
Succulent Fanatic
Kevin Espiritu
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener Did this article help you? × How can we improve it? × Thanks for your feedback!

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9. So what is a Christmas cactus? And how is it different?

A Christmas cactus is a popular Christmas plant during the festive season. The Brazilian coastal plant known as an epiphyte, grows on top of other plants, trees or rocks, and there are two species: Schlumbergera truncata and S. × buckleyi. A Christmas cactus flowers for around two months from late November to late January, with lots of little flower buds – in red, white, yellow, pink and purple – appearing throughout the Christmas period. Find more Christmas cactus care and growing tips here.

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6 Bloom & Wild plants that are better than flowers

Sunkissed Succulents, £29

This trio of succulents bedded in moss can be enjoyed for months with the right care. Perfect for livening up a coffee table, desk or windowsill, the succulents come in a stylish rose gold geometric tray.

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

Summer Herbs, £32

This herb planter is perfect for anyone throwing a BBQ – thanks to the rosemary, oregano and thyme, which is perfect for foodies. It comes with high-quality Japanese floristry scissors.


Hearts-on-a-String, £30

These heart-shaped leaves, trailing ceropegia, are super chic and cute. It comes in a rose gold-coloured hanging planter, so can be enjoyed right away.


Elephant Planters, £30

From a nursery to a living room, these cute elephant planters will fit right in. The two planters, 7cm and 12cm tall, are potted with a blue star fern and parlour palm.


Windowsill Planter, £35

This lush green jungle thrives in natural light – and sits perfectly on a windowsill. The gift includes an assortment of ferns and foliage with a flat-packed painted wooden planter.


Cacti Crowd, £28

This trio of colourful cacti, wrapped in hessian jackets and finished with colourful ‘hats’, is inspired by the bright colours and sun-drenched sands of Mexico. It’s perfect for those who want a low maintenance plant.


The House Beautiful team From the team at House Beautiful

The cactus, known by its family name of cactaceae, is a very unique and popular plant. It’s known for its wide variety of species, each very distinct in appearance. They thrive in dry, hot climates. Unlike most plants, cactus need very minimal amounts of water, thriving in well-drained areas. They store what water they do get, allowing them to survive droughts.

Cacti and succulents are terms that are often used interchangeably, however they are not always the same. All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. Cacti have structures called areolas, small cushioned shapes that grow spines, branches or hair, that define their family. Many succulents don’t have areolas and so are classified in a different plant family.

While Cacti are commonly thought of as desert plants, they can thrive in a home environment too. We’ve divided the species up by indoor and outdoor cacti. To help you decide on which plant is the best fit, take a look at each one’s appearance, water intake and sunlight needs.

Indoor Cacti Varieties

Although cacti are known for their love of sunlight, many thrive as indoor plants. Add one to your windowsill or living space for some unique decor. Indoor cacti tend to need less light and are smaller in size, making them the perfect houseplant.

Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys)

Originally from Mexico, the bunny ears cactus is named after its appearance. It has two pads that are bunny ear shaped. They are covered with glochids or brown prickles and should be handled with care. The bunny ears cactus grows to two or three feet, making it the perfect house plant. It produces white flowers and purple fruits in the summer if exposed to enough light.

Chin Cactus (Gymnocalycium)

Popularly known as the chin cactus, the gymnocalycium is a South American species of cactus. It’s name means “naked kalyx” in Greek which refers to the lack of hair or spines on the flower buds. Depending on the variety, some chin cacti seek shade while others thrive in sunlight.

Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)

The Saguaro cactus can grow to forty feet, but it grows slowly. This means it can be used as an indoor plant for years before you need to move it outdoors. It has a barrel-shaped body, giving it the classic cactus appearance. Native to the Sonoran Desert, this plant requires a lot of light. If kept as an indoor plant, be sure to place it in direct sunlight.

Old Lady Cactus (Mammillaria hahniana)

The old lady cactus is a type of pincushion cactus in the mammillaria family, which has 250 species. It has hairs and spines and is known for its halo of tiny pink or purple flowers that bloom in spring. The old lady cactus should be planted in a sandy potting mix and watered every other week.

Star Cactus (Astrophytum asteria)

Also known as sea urchin cactus or sand dollar cactus, the star cactus is identified by its round body that’s sectioned into eight slices. It is covered with white hairs and tiny white dots. In the spring it blooms a yellow flower. The star cactus only grows two to six inches in diameter, making it an ideal house plant.

Easter Cactus (Hatiora gaertneri)

Native to Brazil, the easter cactus blooms in late winter and early spring. Its flowers vary from whites to oranges to lavenders. The plant’s spines are stacked on top of each other, giving it a unique shape.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)

Often confused with the Thanksgiving cactus, the Christmas cactus blooms in late winter. It has vibrant red flowers and is a common holiday gift. The Christmas cactus does well indoors, in moderate home conditions. Avoid watering too much because this will cause the roots to rot. This plant can adapt to low light environments, but blooms excel with more light.

Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii)

Also known as chin cactus, the moon cactus varies in size, shape and color. A popular variety is the hibotan cactus. It originated in South America and comes in bright reds, pinks, yellows and oranges. These small plants thrive on window sills that get partial light.

Outdoor Cacti Varieties

When you picture a cactus, you probably imagine a huge structure in the dessert. Although many varieties thrive in the wild, some do well in the comfort of your backyard. Depending on what climate you live in, an outdoor cactus could be the perfect addition to your yard.

Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus)

The barrel cactus is named after its barrel or circular shape. Ribs line the sides of the plant and spiky spines grow from them. Some popular varieties include the golden barrel, california barrel, fishhook cactus, blue barrel and colviller’s barrel. Flowers bloom in May and June, showing off red or yellow colors.

Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)

Also known as the crab cactus, the Thanksgiving cactus blooms around the time of the holiday. It continues to bloom into the winter months, needing cooler temperatures to flourish. This outdoor plant does well in cooler climates, but must be in a region that does not have frost.

Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Also known as dutchman’s pipe cactus, queen of the night is an epiphyllum cactus that grows on trees. It’s native to Brazil and produces large white blooms. This cactus is named after its tendency to be a night-blooming plant. Using slightly acidic soil will encourage the queen of the night to bloom more frequently.

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)

The prickly pear cactus is a genus that is very popular in drought-prone areas. Some common variations are the beavertail prickly pear and the Indian fig prickly pear. The prickly pear does well in backyards, but sheds its spines, so may not be for everyone. This cactus produces yellow, red or purple flowers.

Cholla Cactus (Cylindropuntia fulgida)

Native to the American Southwest, the cholla cactus has a round stem with sharp spines. There are more than 20 species in the plant family that come in a variety of sizes. They produce green or orange blooms. The cholla cactus doesn’t need much water, but requires ample light.

Totem Pole Cactus (Pachycereus schottii monstrosus)

The totem pole cactus gets its name from its tall stature, growing to be ten to twelve feet high. The totem pole cactus is textured with wrinkles. Although it thrives in light, the noon sun can burn the plant.

Cacti are a unique addition to any home or garden. Whether you decide to plant an outdoor cactus in your backyard or add a cactus and succulent arrangement to your windowsill, they are low maintenance plants that are easy to care for.


Gardenerdy | The Spruce | Gardening Know How | aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu | lithops.info

All of these are real cacti … with but there isn’t a real cactus flower among them. Source: http://www.eastsidepatch.com

Every year, many houseplant enthusiasts, especially beginners, are taken in by a long-standing horticultural rip-off: cacti bearing fake flowers. This has been going on for at least 40 years, as I can remember seeing them when I was a kid. Cactus growers stick fake flowers on their plants simply to boost sales. And it works! I spoke (actually, I complained to) a local garden center owner and he said he keeps offering cacti with fake flowers them because they sell much better than healthy cacti.

The fake flowers are actually real, at least in a sense. They are the dried inflorescences of strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum, syn. Bracteantha bracteatum and Helichrysum bracteatum), a garden annual. They’re used because they last for several years and are very easy to dye in a wide range of colors. But they’re not cactus flowers and that’s the rub.

Curiously, the fake flowers actually open and close. It’s in the nature of strawflowers, even dead strawflowers, to react to atmospheric humidity. Thus, the flower opens wide when the air is dry and closes when the air is humid, giving the impression that the flower is alive.

This cactus has revealed its true color: yellow! The fake red flowers were glued on. If you look carefully, you can even see wounds where two fake flowers came loose leaving spineless scars on the plant. Source: gray cat, http://www.koiphen.com

In addition to having been tricked, the novice cactophile now has to deal with a plant that may have been damaged by the hot glue used to attach the flower and whose future growth is compromised by the flower permanently blocking sunlight from reaching vital cells on the plant’s stem.

How to Recognize a Fake Flower?

The easiest way of handling cactus with fake flowers is to avoid buying them. And for that, you’ll need to examine the flowers.

Cacti simply don’t grow with a flower dead center on the tip of the stem, proving all these flowers are fake. Source: imgur.com

First, look where the flower is placed. Often, the grower sticks the flower directly on the growing point, that is, right the center of the stem. Real cacti never bloom that way. Their flowers always grow from more mature parts of the plant, sometimes squarely from the side of the plant, sometimes closer to the center, but never smack dab in the middle. If the flower is perfectly centered, it’s therefore not a real one.

The flower color can be an indication. Cactus with fake flowers usually arrive in trays and are so displayed in nurseries. If you see purple, violet or blue flowers in a group of what appears to be flowering cacti, they’re fake. Those just aren’t cactus flower colors. The same goes for bright green flowers. There are a few cacti with lime-green flowers, but never bright green.

And don’t be afraid to touch the flower. Real cactus flowers are soft as silk and don’t resist when you push on them. Strawflowers have a papery texture and are likely to crack if you try to bend them too much.

Real cactus flowers (left) are borne on the tip of a stem (in fact, a receptacle). Fake cactus flowers (right) are simply glued on. Sources: Mario Morais, Wikimedia Commons and reddituploads.com

Or look at what connects the flower to the plant. Real cactus flowers are borne on a tubular stem (receptacle) that can be short or long depending on the species and is often spiny. On some smaller-flowering cacti, such as pincushion cacti (Mammillaria spp.), the stem is very short, but you can still see it has one if you look closely. Fake flowers, on the other hand, were attached to the plant using hot glue. If you gently lift the “petals” (actually, ray flowers), you’ll be able to see the glob of whitish glue underneath the flower.

Of course, you could always delay the purchase for a week or so: real cactus flowers are ephemeral, rarely remaining in good condition for more than 10 days. Indeed, some only last 24 hours! Strawflowers, though, are forever … well, almost: they can persist for two years or more. So if the same plant is still there two weeks later and apparently blooming just as heavily, its blooms are artificial.

Of course, if the blooming cactus that interests you has been in the store for a while, it may have dusty flowers … that is, it will if they’re fakes. Real cactus flowers aren’t around long enough to collect dust.

Grafted Cacti: Not Flowers Either

These colorful globes aren’t flowers, they’re actually grafted cacti. Source: JHistory, Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes novice gardeners mistake the growths on top of grafted cacti, including the famous red cactus ball (Gymnocalycium mihanovicii friedrichii ‘Rubra’, also Hibotan), for flowers, but they’re actually a colorful cactus grafted onto a green cactus. So, the colored part is not a flower, but a plant. For more information on this phenomenon, read Red ball on a Green Cactus.

Removing Fake Flowers

Applying hot glue to a cactus stem damages it permanently, killing nearby cells. So, ideally you simply wouldn’t buy cacti with fake flowers. If it’s too late, you can remove them if you’re careful. This will, of course, leave a scar (there’s already a wound, after all!), but not always one that will be very visible.

If you gently wiggle the fake flower back and forth, the glue will eventually come loose and you can remove it. Source: cactusmain

First, don’t simply try to yank the flower off: they’re not bandaids, after all! You risk tearing off a piece of skin or an areole (cottony growth from which spines emerge) and possibly some cactus flesh too, leaving a wound worse than the hot glue caused. Instead, try to gently pry the flower loose. Move it forward and backward, to the left and the right, then repeat. Eventually, you’ll feel the glue coming loose. Try doing this in hot weather: the glue will be softer and easier to remove. Some people recommend heating the glue first with a hot hair dryer, but that can damage nearby plant cells.

Sometimes the flowers are stuck more directly onto cactus needles rather than to the plant’s stem and if the needles are dense and intermingled, a few globs of glue may remain on the needles even after you’ve worked the flower free. If so, try carefully scraping the glue-covered needles with a sharp knife, moving from the base of the needle towards the tip. If you work on the plant carefully, you can sometimes remove all the glue.

Or just wait! Your cacti are not stones: they’re living plants and will continue to grow. As they do so and the shape of the stem changes, the glue may let go and if so, the flower will sometimes off fall all on its own.

That said, the best thing remains being aware of the rip-off and simply leaving cactus with fake flowers in the nursery. Caveat emptor!

Tips for Planting Succulents in Containers

When there is space between the plants it’s easier to water the succulents properly. There is also better air flow so the soil will dry out more quickly. We know that quick drying soil makes for happy succulents!

Keep in mind that you don’t want the succulents too far apart or in a pot that is significantly larger than they are.

Too much space will cause the succulents to focus on producing roots rather than getting larger. I would say that 1/2″ to 1″ is a good space between plants.

Let succulents hang over the edge of your pot

This is a design tip rather than an absolute necessity for healthy succulents. But, since we talked about making sure your succulents are above the rim of the pot, I thought it would be good to mention it.

To make your arrangement a little more interesting, place some succulents so they hang over the edge of your pot. You can use trailing succulents (such as “String of Pearls“) that actually hang over the side of the pot, or just let the leaves of your rosette cover the edge of the pot. Here are examples of arrangements done both ways.

Add some height

While we are talking design… another great way to make your arrangement interesting is to add a tall succulent or “thriller”. Add some shorter succulents around it, “filler”, and then the trailing succulents mentioned before, “spiller.” I have found this concept of thriller, filler, spiller to be a great “recipe” for creating an arrangement.

This isn’t a hard fast rule, but if you’re looking for a great way to make a statement, this is a good place to start. In this arrangement, I’ve used Kalanchoe tomentosa for my thriller, Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’ and Graptopetalum paraguayense for my fillers, with Sedum ‘burrito’ and Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls) for my spillers.

Use a top dressing and pot feet

I know I’ve mentioned these in other posts, but they are something that most people skip over so here they are again! Be sure to finish off your arrangement by using a top dressing. Your design will look more professional. As always, be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole and if your arrangement is outside, use pot feet to give your plants better airflow.

The Benefits of Large vs. Small Arrangements

Not sure if you’re going to plant your succulents inside in a small arrangement, or outdoors in a larger one? This video shows you the pros and cons of both!

Do you feel better equipped to create an amazing succulent arrangement? My goal is to make your life easier and help you perfect the art of planting and growing succulents.

These tips should help you grow healthy succulents as well as guide you toward creating a stunning arrangement.

Succulents Pot Size

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Planter

Choosing the perfect sized pot for your succulent plant can be challenging.

Lots of sources claim you should give them lots of room to grow.

But is this really necessary with succulents?

I say no, they can grow in barely a teaspoon of soil, which suits them perfectly.

Find out how to perfectly size the pot for a healthy, happy succulent.

Many succulents have two kinds of roots – a tap root, which is fleshy and stores excess moisture, and also delves deep into the earth to seek out water from lower levels, and smaller fine hair roots which stay close to the surface to access rain showers or dew.

See more about the root systems of plants here.

Too big of a pot is probably the number one issue that people have when growing succulents.

Not only does it take a ton of soil, but it also holds way too much water.

A succulent plant stranded in the middle of a large pot will not be happy, they may survive, but there’s no incentive to grow much.

Large pots with huge amounts of root room don’t allow the plant to fill the pot with roots.

It’s kind of a rebound effect; the roots hit the sides and bottom of a smaller pot, which then encourages the plant to send up top growth. See the diagram above for more on this.

As an added advantage for plants that don’t like too much water, the smaller amount of soil won’t hold excess moisture.

Planting Succulents;

or; How it Should Look if You Could See Inside the Pot;

Planting Succulents – typical

Planting Succulents – Ideal

The ideal size of a pot for most succulents is that it’s about five to ten percent bigger than the size of the plant at the surface.

For rosette type succulents, this would mean that an Echeveria of around 3″ across would fit into something that is around 3.5 to 4″ across, or just a little bigger than the rosette..

Echeveria and many other succulents don’t have much in the way of tap roots, so they can be planted successfully into a shallow bowl shape of a planter. Other plants like Jovibarba heuffelii need more depth with their extensive tap root system.

Whichever type of planter you use, make sure it’s got adequate drainage – ie; a drain hole.

Old time gardeners had it right with their reliance on terracotta clay pots.

Not only do they have a good sized drainage hole, but the clay sides are porous and allow air exchange – just what succulents like.

In addition, there is much less risk of a large succulent plant toppling over if the pot is heavier clay or hypertufa.

Also, the rough surface of this type of clay or concrete encourages the roots to split and grow more vigorously, unlike something smooth like a glazed pot, or plastic.

There are lots of blog posts out there recommending the use of terrariums, tea cups and other types of hole-less containers, but cute as they are, these should only be used for short term display.

Want your succulents to survive the winter? Learn how to bring them indoors and be happy and healthy with this free e-course; Fill in your name and email address on the form below to enroll!

How Fast do Succulents Grow?

How fast a succulent or cactus grows will depend on the variety of the species, its growing conditions and, of course, what you consider fast or slow. Succulents come in large and diverse varieties, and while some are considered slow-growing, there are also many succulents that can grow relatively quickly. In some succulents, you may see growth advances in a matter of weeks, while others may grow for decades. Some varieties within a species will grow faster than other variations within the same species.

What conditions increase the growth rate of succulents and cacti?
Two conditions will affect the growth rate of a succulent.

Growth period: A succulent will grow faster during its growing season than it will during its dormant season. Some succulents do not grow at all in their dormant season, and some others will grow but much slower.

Environment: How fast a succulent grows will also depend on environmental conditions. Sunlight, temperature, soil, and humidity can affect the growth rate of a succulent. If the plant has its ideal amount of light, heat, and moisture, and is grown in the right soil, it will grow at an optimal rate.

Succulent and fast-growing cacti

Some examples of succulents and fast-growing cacti are as follows:

Echeveria can grow very fast during the Spring and Summer months, as this is their growing phase. They will likely bloom around this time. A cool tip to instigate plant growth is to cut the bloom off. The energy it would have taken to push out the bloom will be used to grow the plant. Most Echeverias overgrow. When you see new leaves forming in the center of the plant, then it means that it likes its surroundings and grows as fast as it can. One 2 inch plant can widen up to 6-8 inches in optimal conditions in a year.

Graptoveria is a close relative of the Echeveria species as they are a hybrid of Echeveria and Graptopetalum. These will likely have a bloom as well. You can cut the bloom off to instigate growth of the Graptoveria in its growing season, which typically is Spring and Summer. A 2 inch plant can easily get up to 5-7 inches within a year.

Extremely fast growers. These go from small seeds or cuttings to rooted plants in weeks. Some Kalanchoe proliferates and in some cases can be considered invasive. Among the fastest growing are Kalanchoe diagremontana, Kalanchoe tubiflora, Kalanchoe pinnata, Kalanchoe tormentosa and Kalanchoe marmorata. These are very fast growers and can easily grow new plants with little-to-no effort on your part. One 2 inch plant can make a dozen new plants (maybe more) and grow fairly rapidly within a year.

Aloe includes many species, but some of them are relatively fast growing and quite adaptable. The most famous and fast-growing Aloes include Aloe arborescens, Aloe barbadensis, and Aloe vera. In the right conditions some can grow from 2 inch to 6 inches within a year.

There are hundreds of species of Sedum, and they hybridize with each other. Therefore, they come in great variety. Sedum can proliferate, occupying any bare spot and are quite resilient. One 2 inch plant can occupy and cover 1 foot of area in the course of a year.

A hybrid of Sedum and Graptopetalum, these are medium fast growers. Some varieties will sprawl like a sedum, others will grow wide like an Echeveria. They can go from 2 inch to 4 inch in less than a year. If they sprawl, one 2 inch plant can cover 6-9 inches around it within a year.

Crassula can be both fast and slow growers. Outdoors, these will thrive and grow rapdily. A 2 inch crassula will easily become a 5-6 inch plant within a year, almost doubling in size. Indoors, some crassula like Jade will have slow growth. Indoors you can expect these to keep their compact size and grow an inch a year.

Slow Growers

Haworthias are extreme slow growers. To go from a 2 inch size to 4 inch, it can take up to a year, sometimes longer.

Another slow grower, these can take up to a year to go from 2 inch to 3-4 inches.

8 Foolproof Ways to Keep Your Succulents Alive

Are you one of those people who hangs their head in shame whenever we tout succulents as the easiest plants to grow? You’re not alone, trust us. Succulents, plants adapted to survive in harsh environments and long periods with very little water, play by their own rule book, but they’re still pretty easy to care for. Follow these succulent-growing tips to help you keep your babies alive and thriving.

1. Give them breathing room

While there are a few succulent types that do well indoors (including aloe and kalanchoe), the vast majority of these plants hail from warm, arid climates and depend on good air circulation to breathe. So while that succulent terrarium looks adorable, forget about it. You’ll have way more luck keeping your plants outdoors, exposed to the elements.

2. Provide some shade

Despite widespread belief, most succulents do not thrive if blasted with the hottest temps and the fullest sun exposure. While they appreciate a lot of light (and very few survive in full shade), most succulents need sun protection, especially if the temperature hits the 90-degree-mark, or if they’re small. Varieties that are solid green, pale, or variegated are most in danger of sun burn. Here’s a tip: if you are planning to blast your succulents with the brightest sun possible, opt for plants that are red, gray, blue, or covered densely with spines (which help to reflect the sun’s rays).

3. Start with the right soil

Use a fast-draining cactus mix. Or, if you’re of the DIY persuasion, amend a traditional potting soil with coarse perlite, crushed lava, or pumice. A good recipe is one part amendment and four parts potting mix.

4. Low-water isn’t no-water

Perhaps you’ve killed your succulents by overwatering them (far more common than under-watering) which causes rot. But maybe you’ve already gotten the memo, are diligently dehydrating your plants, and wonder why they are dying. Well, newsflash-they need some water. Succulents like it when soil approaches dry before being watered. But what does this mean, you ask? It means you’ll likely be a-ok if, during dry times, if you water small pots about once a week and large pots about every two weeks.

5. Include drainage

Remember-succulent roots hate excess water. Be sure there’s drainage in your container. Ok, ok-you’ve caught me in a lie. We sometimes create pretty centerpieces in pots with no drainage. But listen-you’ve got to water these compositions especially lightly. And you have to follow all of the other rules.

6. Succulents need food, too

Succulents do often grow in low-nutrient environments, but fertilizer is still essential to their care. Pro-tip: for succulents, once-yearly feeding is enough. Use any well-balanced organic fertilizer, cut the dose in half, and feed at the beginning of the plant’s growing season for best results.

7. Rethink propagation

While you might be accustomed to plucking a stem of your favorite geranium, rosemary bush, or houseplant and dunking it in water to watch roots grow, that won’t work for propagating succulents. You can actually practice the exact opposite method. When you’ve got a plant you like, pluck a stem and let it dry out in the shade for at least 3 days. This process, known as healing, helps form a callus, preventing rot. Place your new stem in the soil mix mentioned above, and you should be good to go.

8. Beware of frost

While some succulents, including certain types of Sedum and Sempervivum, can withstand freezing temps, most cannot. Take care when a cold snap is in the forecast—since succulents are mostly water, their cell walls are prone to bursting, which turns the leaves to mush. When in doubt, assume that any drop below freezing will call damage or death to your plant. The easiest solution for frost protection is to keep plants in containers that are light enough to move indoors or under awnings when a cold snap is predicted. Also, unlike the rest of your garden, succulents actually have a greater chance of survival if they’re dry before a cold snap, not wet.


1. Soil

What kind of soil should I plant my succulents in?

Succulents love well draining soil. I’ve been buying a Palm & Cactus mix from Lowes for sometime now and it has been great. In the dryer summer months, I’ve found that my soil drys a little too quickly. If you feel like your soil is just not retaining water long enough, you can mix your cactus soil with a bit of regular potting soil to increase the water retention to your liking. Sometimes, I like to keep my plants in containers without drainage holes, such as tea cups, mason jars and baby food jars. In this case, I will either layer the bottom of the container with pebbles or add sand to the soil to help with drainage issues.

2. Water

How much and when should I water my succulents?

There is a common misconception that succulents don’t need much water. While it’s true that they can go longer periods of time without it, they will not “thrive” in a drought-like situation. I learned this the hard way when I first started my collection. I would go weeks without watering and my plants were not growing. They weren’t dying either. My mom on the other hand, would water her plants frequently and her plants were flourishing! I decided she was on to something and began watering my plants more often. Now, my general rule of thumb is water when the soil is dry. For me, that is about once a week during hotter months and a little less when the weather cools. When I water, I water the soil not the plant. (I’ve heard that letting water settle on the leaves can cause rot, in addition to leaving unsightly markings.) I give it a good soak so that the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. (For plants without drainage holes, I don’t soak. I give more of a “sip.”) I see a lot of people killing their succulents by overwatering. You can avoid this by making sure the soil is totally dry between waterings.

3. Sunlight

How much sunlight do succulents need?

In general, succulents do best in bright but indirect sunlight. I’ve found that different species can tolerate different amounts of light, but most of my plants tend to suffer in extended periods of direct sunlight. To avoid burning and scorching your plants, keep them in a place where they get a lot of shade but still receive adequate light. My healthiest plants are outside on window sills where they are protected from direct sunlight by small over hangs. Like I said, some plants can tolerate direct sunlight better than others. You just need to experiment with your plants to see what works best where you live. If your plants are not getting enough light they may become leggy and stretch toward the light. If your plants are stretching out or bending toward the light, you can slowly move them to a brighter spot or rotate the pot from time to time to keep them growing straight up. You might also like to propagate your leggy succulents. (See my post on Propagating Succulents for more info.)

Known for their ability to store water to survive arid conditions, succulents are commonly associated with intensely sunny desert settings. However, it’s a mistake to assume that all succulents need to be in bright sunlight all day long.

While succulents generally do need plenty of bright sunlight, many can’t handle too much sun, as it can cause them to become sunburned. And there are several types of slow-growing succulents that actually prefer lower light conditions.

Fortunately, for those who love the quirky looks and fascinating structures of this group of unique plants, succulents tend to enjoy the consistently warm and dry conditions that are typical of indoor environments. And they don’t require a lot of feeding, watering, or fussing over, so the biggest challenge is usually providing the right amount of light.

With species belonging to more than 40 different plant families, succulents are a rather diverse bunch. So, to answer to the question, “How much light do succulents need?” it’s helpful to group them according to their lighting needs.

As you’re sure to notice, several succulent plants and families listed here are included in multiple lighting groups. This reflects the adaptive nature of these tenacious survivors, which can adjust themselves to different growing conditions that are complicated by factors such as temperature and humidity.

The sections covering outdoor and indoor succulent lighting needs are followed by short discussions about recognizing when a succulent is not getting the right amount of light and artificial lighting.

Outdoor Succulents: Full-Sun Vs. Shade

Full-sun succulents are those plants that love soaking up direct sunlight for eight or more hours a day. This group includes hearty desert cacti along with other succulents that tend become brightly colored in reaction to the intense light.

Outdoor shade succulents are plants that grow well with less than eight hours of sunlight or prefer outdoor locations with dappled or indirect sunlight. Although they may thrive in lower light conditions, these succulents won’t necessarily do well as permanent indoor houseplants if they are a type of plant that needs the full spectrum of light that they can only get outside.

Most of these succulents are best grown outdoors during the warmer months and brought indoors for their wintertime dormancy when temperatures drop into the low 40s F (about 5 C).

For indoors overwintering, provide these succulents with as much direct sunlight as possible. Then, when you move your plants from lower light conditions to more intense outdoor light in the springtime, make the change gradually, increasing the time the plant is exposed to brighter light by 30 minutes every couple of days. The reason is that plants, like people, can get sunburned if they aren’t accustomed to the sun’s rays.

Full-Sun Succulents

  • Aeoniums
  • Agaves
  • Most aloes
  • Most cacti
  • Sedums
  • Hens and chicks (Echeverias, Sempervivums)
  • Blue chalkstick (Senecio serpens)
  • Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense)
  • Moonstone (Pachyphytum oviferum)
  • Paddle plant (Kalanchoe luciae)
  • Sticks on fire (Euphorbia tirucalli)

Outdoor Shade Succulents

  • Aeoniums
  • Aloe vera
  • Fairy crassula (Crassula multicava)
  • Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
  • Fox tail agave (Agave attentuata)
  • Gasteraloes
  • Gasterias
  • Haworthias
  • Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
  • Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis)
  • Night blooming cereus (Epiphyllum)
  • Rosary vine (Ceropegia woodii)
  • Sansevierias
  • Sedums
  • String of pearls (Curio rowleyanus)

Direct Sunlight Indoor Succulents

Succulents that are popular houseplants don’t need as much sunlight as the full-spectrum outdoor plants, but the plants in this group still need plenty of bright light.

You may notice that indoor succulents are usually green in color. That isn’t a coincidence, as green plants are more efficient at photosynthesis, and their color will remain vivid and healthy as they adjust to indoor lighting conditions.

These plants will be happy in a warm, sunny windowsill or other location that gets direct sunlight for at least four hours a day. Just be aware that if you are located in lower latitudes, where afternoon sunlight is very intense, the cacti will be fine but other succulents should instead be placed in a window that will bathe them in less harsh morning sunlight.

This list contains succulent families and plants commonly used as indoor houseplants that usually thrive in direct sunlight:

  • Agaves
  • Aloes
  • Mytrillocactus
  • Parodias
  • Hens and chicks (Echeverias, Sempervivums)
  • Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria)
  • Bunny ears cactus (Opuntia microdasys)
  • Burro’s tail (Sedum morganianum)
  • Crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii)
  • Golden rat tail (Cleistocactus winteri)
  • Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
  • Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
  • Spider cactus (Gymnocalycium denudatum)
  • Tiger jaws (Faucaria tigrina)

Indirect Or Filtered Sunlight Indoor Succulents

This group contains some of the most popular indoor succulents, such as the snake plant, the zebra plant, and the Christmas cactus. They are the slow growers that are easy to take care of and therefore make great houseplant selections for indoor gardening beginners.

To keep these succulents happy and healthy, place them in a window that receives bright indirect sunlight, or filter direct sunlight with sheer curtains. Or, set them in a bright location that’s a little ways away from a directly sunlit window. See below for a list of common indirect or filtered sunlight succulents.

  • Aloe vera
  • Gasteraloes
  • Gasterias
  • Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera buckleyi)
  • Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
  • Panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)
  • Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
  • Zebra plant (Haworthia attenuata)

How To Tell When A Succulent Is Not Getting The Right Amount Of Light

Knowing how much light to provide a succulent plant is not an exact science, as each location and situation is different. So the best you can do is follow the general guidelines and try a promising location out, keeping an eye on the plant and allowing it to tell you how it’s doing. Compact growth patterns, firm stems or leaves, and vibrant coloring are signs that all is good.

Browning and rough texture indicate tissue burn from lighting that’s too intense. If this occurs, prune the damaged area off the plant and move it to a lower light location.

You’ll know if your plant is not getting sufficient light if it starts to become leggy and weak as it stretches out in search of more light. If you notice this happening, you should take a stem or leaf cutting and start a new plant to be placed in a sunnier spot.

Artificial Lighting For Succulent Houseplants

If you don’t have sufficient light for your succulents in your home, consider using fluorescent grow lights. The white light they give off provides a wide spectrum of light that’s great for overwintering succulents as well as for supplementing natural lighting for your favorite indoor succulents.

Providing 14-16 hours of fluorescent grow lighting per day will ensure that your succulents are getting enough light for their needs and allow you to place them wherever you’d like in your home or office without having to worry about the quality or amount of sunlight that’s coming in through the windows.

If you’d like to read more about caring for succulents, check out my guide to caring for succulents indoors. This covers all the basics to make sure you can help your succulent plants thrive indoors.

I know, I know—that wall of succulents you saw in the latest edition of Architectural Digest is to die for. They’re all the rage for wedding florals these days, too. But somehow, despite your best efforts, your jade is dropping leaves and that sedum you’ve been lovingly watering is wizened and wrinkled.

Is that perfect hen-and-chicks, all cute and rotund, really so much to ask for? The answer, as with most plant-related questions, is ‘it depends.’

The oft-spouted proclamation that succulents are easy to grow is, in fact, fiction. Sure, it can be easy, but it requires a bit of a mental adjustment. Get into the desert mindset. Imagine unrelenting sun, monsoon-like down pours, and the boomerang temperature changes that characterize the desert’s days — and you might have a little more luck.

Here are five of the most common mistakes succulent newbies are making, and how to get those beauties to thrive.

1. Putting Them in a Poorly Lit Area

Melissa Ross/ Getty

The natural light of a plant’s native habitat is perhaps the most difficult environmental variable to emulate indoors. For common houseplants, we have an easier time. Many are native to tropical jungles and accustomed to the shifting periods of shade and sun that happen in your home. After all, that’s what naturally happens as the sun moves over a forest canopy.

But if you put a plant that’s used to experiencing a full 12 hours out in the broiling hot sun on an east-facing sill, you’re begging for failure. Your best bet: Choose the sunniest south-facing window available, and if all windows face elsewhere, pick a more forgiving succulent like aloe or throw in the towel and opt for a sturdy pothos.

2. Not Watering Them Enough

Zephyr18/ Getty

The Chihuahuan Desert gets a little over 9 inches of rain annually — a drop in the bucket compared to what the verdant landscapes most of us call home receive. In the desert, however, when it rains, it pours. To make your own desert-dweller happy, try to emulate the rainfall patterns native to its home habitat. Don’t treat your cacti with a trickle; turn on the taps and let loose a deluge.

All succulents (and all plants for that matter) benefit from a complete soaking, until water comes out of the bottom of the pot. For succulents, wait until the soil is bone dry — and then some — to water again.

3. Using a Standard Potting Soil

Tan Shiek Wei / EyeEm/ Getty

Most potted plants come in a standard soil mix that works for almost every kind of plant, from ferns to fiddle-leaf figs. The problem: Succulents are designed to withstand one of the most extreme environments on planet earth, so standard potting soil just won’t cut it.

Once you get your succulent baby home, change its soil to a desert-dweller mix, combining half potting soil with something inorganic like perlite. This super well-draining, low-nutrient soil will work for most succulents whether they’re used to thriving in the high and dry Andes or the broiling bottom lands of Death Valley.

4. Crowding Them Together

dinachi/ Getty

Succulents tend to come packed into adorable little dishes, all crammed together cheek by jowl. There aren’t many plants that like this arrangement, including succulents. Overcrowding is one of the best ways to encourage mold and insect infestations.

The second issue is that, although succulents do very well getting by on slim pickings, they still need food and water. Too much competition means they’ll probably miss out. If your succulents arrive in a crowded arrangement, pluck them out carefully and give them each their own spacious mini desert dune.

5. Growing Unrealistic Varieties

Tuanjai/ Getty

I know it’s really hard to resist growing saguaros indoors, but please DON’T. Some wild things just aren’t meant to be tamed, no matter how pretty their flowers or beguiling their form. Stick instead to the tough little cookies that will happily accept the windowsill as their home sweet home.

Crassula is a good genus to explore if you’re working with indoor conditions, as is Sansevieria (a.k.a. snake plant). The Mammillaria cacti (so called for their woolly hair, see above) is another good pick if you’re looking for a prickly plant companion.

Molly J Marquand is a gardener, small farmer, botanist and writer living in the Catskill Mountains of New York. True to her academic background, all of her writing reflects careful consideration of nature. You can find more of her work at mollyjmarquand.com.

Succulents are a trendy decorative addition to any home. This diverse group of plants offers endless color variations, as well as low maintenance options for your indoor space. Most plants need a wet environment to survive, but succulents are able to store water for longer periods of time. This ability makes succulents practical to grow in the dry and warmer conditions typically found in the home.

Succulents are perfect plants for beginners. Coming in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures, succulents have an enticing quality. Here are six succulents that are easy to grow indoors year-round.

6 Succulents to Add to Your Home

Jade Plant. Native to South Africa, the jade plant has thick stems and glossy green leaves. Keep jade in bright light and water when the soil feels dry. Be cautious, as jade is commonly killed by over watering.

Aloe Vera. This prickly plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The sap found on the inner leaves is used to heal wounds and soothe burns. Aloe Vera should be kept in full sunlight and should be watered when the leaves feel dry or brittle. Keep this medicinal plant by a bright kitchen window to enjoy its beauty every day.

Echeveria. This desert native comes in a variety of colors and does best in dry conditions. Echeveria should be watered only once it has dried out. Unglazed clay pots are the ideal growing condition for this succulent, as the clay allows water to evaporate. For optimal results, place echeveria in full sun and ensure the soil is well drained.

Zebra Plant. This striking succulent gets its name from the horizontal stripes covering its leaves. Growing about 5” tall and 6”wide, the zebra plant is tidy, contained and a perfect addition to any small space. Zebra plant requires a moderate amount of sunlight and water.

Panda Plant. This plant is characterized by little white hairs, giving it a fuzzy texture. A Madagascar native, panda plant loves the dry, winter air in heated homes. Water as necessary, but just enough to keep the leaves from shriveling.

Crown of Thorns. Add a splash of color to your room with this beautiful plant. With enough sunlight, it can bloom year-round producing red or yellow bracts surrounding its tiny flowers. Crown of Thorns has low to moderate watering needs and should be placed in direct sun for best bloom results.

Ready to start your own succulent collection? Watch this video on growing succulents!

How to Grow and Care for Succulents Indoors

Why Succulents?

These tough plants are great indoors because they’re adapted to survive dry conditions. In winter especially, homes offer dry interior air to houseplants, which is why many don’t survive. Low relative humidity isn’t a houseplant’s friend. Succulents, though, with their water-storing ways, endure dry air without ugly side effects.


Most succulents, in an indoor setting, will crave the brightest light possible, especially during winter in northern climates. Place them near a south- or east-facing window. This same setting works during the warmer parts of the year. Alternately, you can shift them outside during spring and summer. Choose a protected location where plants receive bright, indirect light. Research your specific species to ensure you’re providing ideal light.


In their native settings, succulents typically grow in sandy, well-drained soil. Duplicate that footing for potted plants by blending your own soil mix – half potting soil, half sand. To test how well the mixture drains, wet it, then squeeze it in your hand. If it falls apart, you have a mixture succulents will love.


When you purchase a succulent, slip the pot into a pretty cachepot, and you’ll have instant décor. Or you can transplant these easy-grows-it plants into ornamental containers. Most houseplant types have shallow roots, so you can tuck them into shallow bowls or squat pots. Succulents can’t stand overly moist soil. Make sure containers have drainage holes to allow excess water to exit.


The fastest way to kill a succulent is with too much TLC – and too much water. Unlike typical houseplants, these tough plants stash water in their leaves or roots, which act like a reservoir to slake the plant’s thirst. To avoid overwatering, water only enough to keep leaves from withering.

Clues that a plant needs watering include shrinking or puckering leaves or normally shiny leaves that appear dull. If you suspect it’s time to water, shove a finger into soil two knuckles deep to make sure it’s dry.

When you water, apply enough so it runs out drainage holes. Empty the drainage saucer so plants don’t sit in water overnight. About 95% of houseplants need soil to dry out almost completely before watering.


Succulents experience strongest growth during spring and summer. Growth slows in fall, and winter is a time of rest. Fertilize lightly or not at all during winter. In warmer months, feed plants 3-4 times. Use a standard houseplant fertilizer for most, but keep in mind that it is easy to over fertilize these plants. In most cases, they should be fed lightly or about half what you would feed a regular houseplant.

Planting Partners

You can combine several types in the same container to create a dish garden. The secret to success lies in plant selection. Be sure you’re mixing and matching plants with similar growth rates and care requirements.