For more than eleven years I have been growing succulents. Yes, even before they were on the cover of every household magazine in the supermarket! Growing succulents indoors is one area that is particularly challenging, but also oh-so-gratifying.
The folks at SucculentMarket.com sent me a box of succulents specifically for indoors. I truly think plant selection is one of the keys to growing succulents indoors successfully.
Look through any gardening website, decorating magazine or go crazy on Pinterest to see the designs and uses for this group of plants. From containers to wreaths to temporary installations, succulents have compelling shapes and colors that make them ideal for a wide range of displays. This article will provide concepts for basic care and design uses that can easily be incorporated into your home and will flourish in low light levels.
Care for Succulents Indoors
Not surprisingly, succulents will require less frequent watering than most interior plants. Plants that are continually overwatered will be prone to rot, disease and a general decrease in plant vigor. I like to maintain succulents by monitoring the turgidity, or the stiffness of the leaves. Turgidity is the plant having ample water to keep the leaves full or turgid, resulting in the swollen and dense feeling of a healthy plant. When succulents first experience water stress the leaves will be slightly soft, indicating that the plant needs water. So go ahead and give those leaves a little squeeze! It will help you determine when you should water– by the plant’s needs and not a calendar.
Soil for Succulents
To keep plants dry, good drainage is key for long-lived succulents. I do not recommend special cactus or succulent mixes as necessary if watering can be closely monitored. A high quality, lightweight potting soil does well if plants are to be permanently installed. In my experience, adding generous amounts of Turface, or calcined clay mix, will help to maintain a very light soil well also increasing drainage. For some reason, the pervasive habit is to add sand to soil, resulting is a very heavy and dense mix that is detrimental to succulent health. Additionally, the very fibrous, small root systems of succulents makes them ideal for dropping the pot into existing container displays.
The variety of jewel-toned succulents that are available can be mesmerizing. From oranges and chartreuse to deep purples and reds, there is a variety of succulent for almost color of the rainbow. Almost all of these will succeed given high level light conditions and low humidity. But what if you have less than ideal conditions? Low light levels can be challenging, and under these conditions it is hard to maintain the deep oranges and yellows of many of these plants. So it may be worthwhile to consider some of the other very architectural succulents that can tolerate low light.
Succulents that tolerate low light levels include Haworthia, Gasteria, Sedum, Aloes and even Kalanchoes. The folks at SucculentMarket.com have even put together an assortment perfect for your dark apartment. These varieties will thrive in darker areas, making them ideal for inside the home. These plants will maintain their growth and serve as long term plants.
Take time to consider adding a top dressing to your plants. Whether in containers or in larger plantings, this will help to keep the plants clean and also set off designs. Are you looking for a more contemporary look? Polished pebbles keep the clean lines you are looking to achieve. Tumbled glass, stone, and seashells are a few options to complete your look with a very professional appearance.
Given the popularity of succulents, succeeding with these plants is a trend that you can achieve.