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When the weather gets cold, the inside air can get desert-dry. That’s perfect for the succulents! They are survivors. As long as they have a warm, sunny spot, they love those dry conditions. See the top succulent plants for the home!
Succulents are not one plant family but rather a wide variety of plants from many families that can store water for long periods. You have probably already grown many of them.
Cacti, aloe vera, sedum, kalanchoe, hens and chicks, and jade plants are all considered succulents. Some have thick leaves for storing water; those with no leaves store water in their stems, while others store water underground in their roots. Native to arid regions around the globe where often the only moisture they receive is in the form of dew, mist, or fog, they have evolved to withstand periods of drought.
As houseplants, they only need a place on a warm sunny windowsill and a bit of water—never more than once a week. Some need even less water in winter if they are dormant. You can go on vacation and not worry about them dying from neglect. They won’t miss you!
Since succulents are about 90% water, they can skip a few waterings without ill effects. Soggy roots are deadly to them, so clay pots are best. Use a fast-draining potting soil like a mix specific for cacti, or make your own from equal parts potting soil, sharp sand, and perlite. Many succulents have fibrous root systems and prefer a shallow pot to a deeper one.
Some of these plants are truly bizarre looking, while others are quite beautiful. Succulents are a great starter plant for kids who appreciate their weird appearance.
Many succulents are readily available at your local greenhouse or garden center. The big box stores can’t even kill them!
More Interesting Succulent Varieties
Here are some more interesting succulents to look for:
Lithops give new meaning to the term “pet rock.” Often called “living stones,” they have two fat leaves that are fused together with a slight crack between them. In late summer, a yellow or white daisy-like flower often emerges from the crack. After blossoming, the old leaves will die off, and new ones will take their place.
Aloinopsis is another rock-like succulent with smooth, rounded leaves. Also known as “ice plants,” they are easy to grow, and their flowers appear in late winter.
Faucaria gets its common name, “tiger jaws,” from the white spines along the edges of the leaves. It needs a dry period in winter but will reward you with yellow blossoms in the summer.
Echeveria is a large genus of plants, mostly hailing from Mexico. Their rosettes of fleshy leaves resemble the hardy hens and chicks we grow outdoors. They offer various leaf colors from dusty gray to bright green, red, purple, pinkish, blue-green, and even black. They bloom in the summer.
Senecio is another large genus of plants, but not all of them are succulents. One called “blue fingers” has long, pencil-shaped silvery leaves. Another called string of beads has tiny round leaves growing on long stems—perfect for a hanging basket.
Trichodiadema grows only 6 inches tall and looks like a little bonsai tree. It has a thick above-ground root with fleshy, gray-green leaves on top. It will produce magenta flowers in the spring and summer.
If you can’t decide which one to buy, get several and group them together in a dish garden or strawberry pot.