It’s so enjoyable to hang outside with our fleshy friends that we sometimes forget indoor “succulenting” is totally a thing too. And has been for ages. (For a brief, glorious moment, we thought we had coined that juicy gerund, but no.)
Growing succulents in a living room or kitchen, or even in a not-too-cave-y man cave, isn’t really harder or easier than outside; the challenges and considerations, from placement to watering, are just different. Presumably, houseplants will be treated to an environment with smaller temperature swings and less to virtually no direct sun. Windowsills can be an exception there. Limited airflow can also be an issue for various species.
Some might think pests should be less of a headache — how often do you see mealybugs marching through an open slider? — but this piece on houseplant bugs explains why not so.
Having a temperate space blessed with bright light opens the door to more options. In that case, one just might successfully bring into their home certain echeverias or other light cravers. We are going to play it safe, however, with our five picks. Before we do, now’s a fine time to plug our post about etiolation.
OK, our true stripes revealed: We’ve had a hankering to highlight haworthias, which is a must-do when the topic is indoor gardening. The spiky South African character of H. fasciata is an upright, slender rosette with tapering, incurved, dark-green foliage. Silvery white “pearls” on the leaves connect to form bands, giving the impression of zebra stripes. The green haworthias, as well as the variegated forms, prefer filtered light. They are winter growers and are dormant in the hottest summer months.
Gasteria bicolor (lawyer’s tongue)
Gasterias are generally small plants that thrive in shady corners other succulents would not be able to stomach. Gasteria bicolor is no different. The plant gets its common name from the foliage — rough, pointed, tongue-like leaves that reach 8 inches long and up to 1 inch wide. So if you were to snatch up several, you could say you were lawyering up. The flowers are reddish-pink and green and resemble, um, stomachs. It wants more water during warmer months.
Sansevieria cylindrica (cylindrical snake plant)
Quite the striking specimen (yuk, yuk), this green succulent, also known as African spear plant, should be a houseplant gimme — it tolerates certain abuse as well as neglect and can grow accustomed to deep shade. Do try to avoid watering the center of the rosette, though, and water sparingly during winter. The spears can be banded or solid-colored, and favor a fan-shaped growth habit, climbing 2 to 4 feet high.
This South African native gets its common name from the banana-shaped, emerald-green leaves, which have fascinating, translucent “windows.” These windows allow light to enter for photosynthesis. The blooms are like pom-poms of many tiny white flowers and are fragrant. Its lush growth habit is ideal for hanging baskets and it should thrive in a bright room. Water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch, cutting back during winter months.
From the high-altitude forests of Peru and Ecuador, this plant boasts glowing, wine-red stems with extremely succulent leaves that are wine red except on the upper side, where there is a v-shaped, transparent window to enable photosynthesis. The plant excels when provided excellent airflow and soil that allows water to run quickly away from the roots.
Water thoroughly when dry, but allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings. The red coloring makes Peperomia graveolens a fine candidate for décor contrast.