How Succulents Became My Favorite Houseplant
What are succulent plants?
Succulent plants or just simply succulents are a family of plants which have the ability to store water in their thick fleshy leaves.
Why Succulents are my new favorite plant
This past week I returned home from a 9-day trip. Like most business trips there was very little notice which prompted frantic last-minute booking of airfare and all the joys of throwing what I thought I might need into a suitcase. The last thing on my mind was my houseplants. Let me at this point mention that my regular houseplant care day is Saturday and upon completion of my care is when I received the call so everything was freshly cared for.
Casually I returned home after my trip, walked in the house, and as the moisture was instantly sucked from my skin, I remembered my houseplants. Being mid-winter in our area the heat has been running non-stop and the air in my home was arid (think Sahara desert). I ran around the house looking at all the plants and breathed a sigh of relief that nothing seemed to be in a critical state, but the signs of borderline dehydration were prevalent. I then ran to my office where I keep my succulents next to the south-facing window. This is the hottest and driest place in the entire house. Imagine my surprise when there were no signs of stress, and many of the plants that I struggle with during the winter months actually looked to be in better shape than when I left. Succulents actually thrive on neglect.
It occurred to me that succulents are possibly the best plant for beginners. They could be the key to introducing children to the joys of houseplants. While there are other plants that stand up to children's ownership like cactus, their thorns inevitably lead to tears, band-aids, and gauze. Ask any parent of a young child how that one plays out. Truth is Cacti are technically succulents but are usually referred to as their own group because succulents tend not to be thorny like cactus plants. If you are new to plants and concerned if you should give your succulent a drink, you probably shouldn't. How much easier does it get?
Here's the Math...
Succulent Plants + No Water + Hot Sun + Dry Air = Success2
There are succulent plants for the outdoor landscape but for this blog, I’m going to focus on the indoor types. Succulents are indigenous to dry arid regions where rainfall is scarce. Succulents draw up moisture from the smallest amount of rain and store it in their thick, fleshy leaves. They thrive in full sun and during the winter months when sunlight levels are lower they tend to turn green or dull. When light levels are high in the spring and summer months succulents “blush”. This simply means that the true colors of the plant explode into vibrant shows of color. Some are pink, red, yellowish and my personal favorite is the greenish-blue color. Flowers can sometimes be coaxed out of your plants when conditions are right.
The easiest thing you can get you happy plants to do is to reproduce. Succulent plants produce “pups” which you can separate from the mother plant and either expand your collection or plant in a pot and give to a friend or relative and start them on their journey into the world of succulent gardening. Succulents can also be grown from simply breaking off a leaf, letting the broken part callus over for a day or two and stick the calloused end in a pot of soil and watch a new plant form from the leaf. You could literally grow a plant for every one of your friends from a small collection of succulents.
Tips for growing succulents
Succulents do not like to have water poured directly on the leaves as this will in some cases cause rot. The easiest way to water succulent plants is to do so from underneath. Simply fill a saucer with water and put the pot into it and allow the soil to absorb the water. Don’t leave the plant in a saucer of water as the roots will want to dry out and by keeping the soil soaking wet you could potentially rot the roots.
Succulents prefer a constant temperature and big swings in temps over a short time can cause the plants to become dull. Typical home temps between 60 and 80 degrees are perfect but many can drop down into the ’40s with no damage. High temps are no problem as they tend to thrive in hot conditions.
Full sun is preferred but during the winter months they will survive indirect light but they sometimes tend to stretch a bit.
During the winter months, succulent plants tend to enter a semi-dormant state where they will use far less water and will rarely need to be watered. You may only need to water the plants once a month in some cases.
6 best and most rewarding choices for beginners
There are many different succulents available. Here is a list of easy succulents anyone can grow.
1. Echeveria Apus:Echeveria
Apus produces blue-green leaves that are edged in pink. It also produces bright yellow flowers.
2. Echeveria Mensah:
Echeveria Mensah produces grey-green foliage that is flushed with lavender tones and white creamy edges. Pink flowers are an added bonus with this plant.
3. Echeveria Jade Point:
Jade Point produces glossy green leaves that are tipped with red.
4. Pacyveria corvus:
Pacyveria corvus is one of my favorites, it produces thick light green leaves that have purple tips. Flower buds are red and then open to bright yellow flowers.
5. Sedum lucidum:
This little guy produces fat green leaves edged in bright red that almost look like little jelly beans. White flowers are borne on long stems in winter.
6. Kalanchoe millotii:
Kalanchoe millotii has scalloped gray-green leaves which look like they are covered in felt. Clusters of small greenish-yellow flowers are produced on long stems in the summer. Very interesting foliage with this one.
For the record, no houseplants were harmed in the making of this story. While some did enter the beginning stages of discomfort they all bounced back and are once again thriving and cleaning the air in my home. I swear though I could almost sense my peace lily plotting revenge. It could just be me being paranoid though.
Until next time see you in the garden,