Succulents were once thought of as the house plants for people who can’t grow house plants, because they are so hardy and tolerant of neglect.
Today, succulents have become incredibly popular houseplants in their own right, prized for their beauty, ease of care, and huge variety.
These plants add so much to home décor, with their charm and color, and there is a variety for every taste and indoor environment.
Here are some of the best indoor succulents, and a guide on how to keep them thriving:
Best Indoor Succulents for Color and Interest
If you are looking for indoor succulents that are visually striking plants, with unusual foliage and gorgeous blooms, here are some of the best choices:
Sedum Donkey’s Tail
Donkey’s tail is a fascinating, cascading succulent that forms clusters of bright, delicate flowers in late summer.
Donkey’s tail is incredibly easy to propagate, and will withstand some neglect Donkey’s tail prefers full sun, but can tolerate slightly less light, and prefer temperatures between 65-70 degrees.
String of Pearls
String of pearls is a beautiful succulent with delicate, cascading foliage that looks great alone or in group plantings. When kept in optimal conditions, it will bloom with tiny white flowers that smell like cinnamon. It is fast-growing and easy to care for indoors, if it has bright indirect light. It should be kept near a west- or south-facing window, but out of direct sunbeams. It prefers summer temperatures of 70-80 degrees, and winter temperatures of 50-60 degrees, which promote spring flowers.
The jade plant is a classic indoor succulent, and is also a symbol of good luck. It will live in indirect light, but become leggy and not grow well, so full sun is best.
Kalanchoe have vivid, pretty, long-lasting blooms, and they are easy to care for and do well indoors. In warm, sunny climates they can be grown both indoors and out. It needs bright light all day in order to have thick, healthy foliage and bright blooms, and prefers warmer temperatures year-round.
Believe it or not, this slow-growing palm tree is actually a member of the succulent family, and thrives on neglect. In fact, it really doesn’t need watering in the winter. All it needs is bright light and moderate-to-warm temperatures.
Best Indoor Succulents for Low Light
If you don’t have the bright light that most succulents prefer, here are some great succulents that will grow in indoor and lower-light conditions:
Christmas cactus produces gorgeous flowers in winter, when most other plants are out of the blooming phase, which makes them a welcome sight in a holiday home.
It is easy to plant, easy to care for, and easy to propagate.
It can live in low-light conditions, but blooms better in moderate light, with moderate to high humidity, and indoor temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees.
You can also mist your plants but you may need to do this somewhat regularly as misting tends to provide only temporary relief.
Placing your plants in the most humid areas of your house, such as your bathroom, your laundry room, or near your kitchen sink can help as well.
Rhipsalis is another gorgeous cascading succulent with a distinctive look. It will live in low light conditions, but does best with morning light, so it’s a great choice for an east-facing window.
Rhipsalis needs cooler winter temperatures and long dark nights in order to bloom, and a resting period of cooler temperatures and reduced water after it is done blooming.
Rhipsalis does particularly well if it is kept outdoors in filtered light or medium shade in the summer, then brought indoors for fall and winter.
Snake plants are famous for their ability to clean and purify indoor air, but these fascinating plants are also easy to care for.
They prefer medium to low light, and cannot tolerate direct sunlight, which makes them a great choice for the center of a room, away from windows.
They tolerate all kinds of temperatures and humidity levels, and are even pest-resistant.
How to Care for Indoor Succulents
While there are some variations in the care of individual species of succulents, and it’s always a good idea to refer to the care recommendations for your specific plant, succulents collectively have extremely similar requirements. Here is how to take care of a succulent:
Get the Right Soil
Succulents do not grow well in ordinary potting soil. Succulents naturally grow in loose, sandy soil, and need breathability at their roots.
Most plant potting soils are designed to hold and retain moisture, but good soil for succulents has large, loose material that gives plenty of room for air to circulate and water to drain away.
Look for a specialized succulent soil mixture, like this one from The Next Gardener.
Get the Right Pot
Most succulents have shallow roots, so they do well in shallow pots. Make sure the pot is the right size for your plant, so that the leaves of trailing succulents aren’t resting on the soil.
Look for a pot with excellent drainage, that is made of a porous material, like terra cotta, unglazed ceramic, or unglazed cement.
Avoid pots made of glazed ceramic or porcelain, glass, or plastic, unless you have good soil and are confident that you won’t over-water your succulent.
Most succulents should not be fed in the winter months, and only moderately during the rest of the year.
A light monthly feeding with a general-purpose formula like this one should keep them happy.
How to Water Succulents
The fastest way to kill a succulent is to over-water it or water it incorrectly. Watering succulents isn’t hard, but they do have very different watering needs from other houseplants. Succulents need to be watered deeply, so that water drains out the bottom of the container, but then the soil needs to be allowed to dry completely between watering.
Very few succulents can tolerate moist soil, and they all need plenty of air circulation around their roots.
It can be difficult to correctly water a succulent on a set schedule, because their watering needs are so affected by heat, humidity, and the needs of the specific plant. Most succulents do best if watered every 2-3 weeks during most of the year, and every 3-6 weeks during the winter.
Most succulents are extremely easy to propagate from leaves and cuttings. Not every species of succulent can be propagated from leaves, but most can, and it doesn’t hurt the plant to try.
To propagate a succulent from a leaf, here’s what you do:
Gently Twist a Leaf from the Stem of the Plant
You need the entire leaf including the base, with the tissue that connects to the stem, so cuttings won’t work. Choose a healthy, smooth, green leaf that you can see clearly, all the way to the base, and use a gentle pulling/twisting motion to remove it. If, in the course of watering or regular maintenance, a leaf falls off, you can usually use it to propagate a new plant.
Take a Cutting
Using a pair of clean, sharp scissors, clip a 2-3 inch piece off the end of a growing stem of your succulent. Choose a stem that looks healthy and vigorous.
Let it Rest
The leaf or cutting needs a day or two to heal over, so let it sit out in a dry place with indirect light for two to three days.
Place it on Some Succulent Soil
Place the leaf with the cut end down, or the stem end of the cutting, in some succulent-friendly soil. You don’t need to press it far down into the soil, just make sure the stem end is in contact with the soil.
Mist it Moist
While full-grown succulents do not need much water, water is needed for propagation. Keep a mister near the leaf or cutting, and mist the soil gently when the top of the soil dries out.
Watch it Grow
Depending on the species, it may take as long as 1-2 weeks for the leaf to develop roots and begin to grow a new plant.
Once you have a single happy succulent in your home, chances are good that you can add as many as you like under the same lighting and watering conditions.
Succulents are fantastic plants to share pots and make attractive groupings, because their requirements are so similar and their root systems are shallow.
Try placing a spiky, upright succulent like an aloe or haworthia in the same container as a delicate trailing succulent like string of hearts or Othonna capensis for a dramatic pairing. Or keep a small pot of hens and chicks on your desk for company at work.
Succulents are dramatic, fascinating, and remarkably easy to care for, so they are the perfect indoor plant for beginners or to give as gifts.