Probably all of us had a grandmother with African violets on the windowsill or a philodendron plant vining around the kitchen. Houseplants have made a comeback, but these days, succulents top the list. Visit any plant store and you will see a huge array of succulents, from small hens and chick rosettes to larger paddle plant kalanchoe and much more.
Succulents have thick, fleshy leaves that retain water. They can survive well in dry conditions, in fact, they can almost take care of themselves. Watering once a month should suffice for most of them during the winter months, but there are many factors that affect water needs — the type of plant, the home’s temperature (the warmer it is, the more water a plant typically needs), plus the size of the container. Test soil to see if it is dry. When watering, soak the soil, and let the water exit at the base, discarding any excess water.
When choosing a container, it must have a drainage hole. Piling up pebbles in the bottom is not aiding in drainage. Succulent containers can be shallow because plants typically don’t have a deep root system. They need a very well-drained soil. Pre-mixed cactus/succulent potting soils are available, or you can mix coarse sand or perlite into regular potting soil to aid in drainage. You will often find that the top of the container has been topped with small stones or sand. These are used to help dry the surface of the container and keep the foliage dry to prevent decay.
Grow one succulent in a container or grow a mix of succulents. Some interesting plants to try:
|Aloes||Large, thick, fleshy leaves.||More than just the medicinal plant we know, there are 300 species.|
|Crassula||Larger, shrubby jade plants. There are numerous smaller varieties as well.||Native to South Africa, they are easy to grow.|
|Echeveria||Rosette of foliage.||Multiple colors to choose from.|
|Kalanchoe||Large, paddle-shaped foliage. Comes in varieties like flapjack, copper spoons and mother of thousands.||Depending on variety, foliage can be grayish green, red, pink or cinnamon-colored.|
|Haworthia||Rigid with bumpy foliage.||One of the easiest to start with. Tolerates a wide variety of conditions. Slow growing.|
Just like any other houseplants, succulents need light. Some prefer bright light, while Haworthia and Crassula can tolerate the lowest light. Grow succulents in a sunny location indoors or use artificial light.
Succulents can make your living space inviting. They fill a void left behind after the holiday decorations are gone, and they are extremely easy to care for.