Succulent House Plants – Not All Are Cactus!

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Succulent House Plants – Not All Are Cactus!

 

 

Considering Succulent House Plants – Low-Maintenance Ornamentals

 

 

Succulent house plants provide us with unusual ornamental plants to feature in our homes. With the need for minimal care, they prove to be quite popular in our busy lives.

 

But what is a succulent?

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The Merriam Webster online dictionary refers to the word succulent as juicy, moist, tasty. And that accurately describes the succulent plants. In fact, the thick, fleshy parts retain water to help them survive in arid climates and dry soils. And some are even edible!

To learn more about cactus succulents, read: Cactus Houseplants

 

Popular succulent house plants

(warning some of these are toxic)

 

 *Mother of Thousands (bryophyllum daigremontianum)

Also known as the Good Luck Plant, Mexican Hat Plant, Alligator Plant, and Devil’s Backbone,  A native of Madagascar, the plant is a succulent that grows up from one stem. Its large blue-green, pointed leaves grow up to 6-inches long and 3-inches wide. The plant itself grows as tall as 18 to 35-inches unless pruned to a shorter height.

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Named for the many seeds that grow along the leaf edges, this plant often becomes a nuisance in the garden, sprouting more seedlings than room allows. As a houseplant, this allows you to share with your friends!

Plant in well-drained soil, leaving room for growth. Water only when dry. It’s important to remove the extra seedlings when they grow before they take root and crowd each other. However, this gives you a chance to propagate a few extras for your home or to give to others.

 

 

 

NOTE: The entire plant and seeds are toxic to children and pets.

 

*Aloe Plants (Aloe genus)

Most people know the Aloe plant as the very common Aloe Vera plant. This plant offers medical benefits from skin-soothing, digestive aid, and mild burn treatment. Additionally, manufacturers use it in cosmetics, creams, and gels, too. As such, farms dedicate growing space to this medicinal wonder as demand increases.

However, the Aloe genus actually contains many more varieties, some more common than others. I’ll be featuring these other varieties in another post soon. For houseplants, many of the Aloe genus perform well for decor and also air-purifying.

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Like other succulent house plants, Aloe plants need infrequent watering, well-drained soil, and sunlight. If natural sunlight is not available, a sunlamp suits its needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

Also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Saint George’s sword, and viper’s bowstring hemp, this plant offers some of the best in air-purifying for your home. Some regions call it the Good Luck Plant and it may be that for your home.

One of the easiest plants to keep, it needs infrequent watering and will tolerate varying sun exposure, while preferring about 2-6 hours a day of actual sunlight. However, it will not survive with over-watering and soggy roots.

This may prove to be the best “set and forget” type of plant for homes with little time for plant care. With several sub-varieties, it can also be a favorite decor plant.

NOTE: The Snake Plant is quite toxic to pets and children. Enjoy its beauty while keeping it at a safe distance from them.

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Non-Toxic Succulent House Plants

With so many of us enjoying a household with children, pets, and plants, we wanted to include some pet and child-friendly succulents for you to consider.

 

 

 

*Zebra Haworthia

zebra haworthia
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zebra haworthia

 

This low-maintenance succulent needs only infrequent watering and some sun, indirect is fine, to stay happy. However, its best feature might be in the attractive growth habit. In fact, many consider this to be among the most photogenic of all succulents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
succulent house plants | ponytail palm
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Is it a palm or a succulent? While the name references palms, the Ponytail Palm does indeed belong to the succulent family. Another name for this plant, Elephant’s Foot, comes from the way it stores water in the base of its trunk, rather than the leaves or stems.

While the Ponytail Palm, named for its obvious ponytail appearance, grows quite slowly, it still does best with a moderate amount of watering. It needs more direct sunlight than average to thrive, too. However, it can adapt to indirect lighting, if needed.

While in the wild these plants grow up to 15 feet tall, your houseplant will stay smaller and grow very slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Blue Echeveria
succulent house plants | Blue Echeveria
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This rosette-shaped succulent provides interesting design in an easy to care for plant. The one concern you need to watch for is crowding. The Blue Echeveria quickly fills out the size of its container so is best kept with a single plant or in a group with adaptable varieties.

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*Sempervivum “Ruby Heart”

succulent house plants | hen & chicks
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Sempervivum Ruby Heart (Hen and Chicks)

You might know Ruby Heart by its other name, Hen and Chicks. Named for the main rosette stalk, the hen, and the side rosettes it forms, the chicks, this unique succulent’s color intensifies in cooler weather.

Like the Mother of Thousands Plant, the Ruby Heart propagates very easily on its own. While not as productive, it still provides you with many baby plants to share with friends and family.

While this plant seems to call out to your kitty to nibble on its leaves, it is non-toxic so the plant bears the worst of the experience. To prevent leaf nibbles, keep it away from your cat.

 

 

*Sempervivum “Pacific Blue Ice”

Sempervivum “Pacific Blue Ice”
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Sempervivum “Pacific Blue Ice”

 

 

Similar to the variety, Ruby Heart, this variety features a unique “blue ice” coloring that highlights green succulents. Both Ruby Heart and Pacific Blue Ice varieties are cold tolerant allowing them to be kept outdoors in very mild climates.

 

 

*Burro’s Tail

 

While not the easiest plant to start, once the Burro’s Tail succulent house plants take hold, they become much easier to grow. Once started, they grow quickly into an impressive feature plant.

As a lovely trailing plant, it creates a beautiful waterfall effect in a hanging basket. Keep it in partial shade. You might utilize it into a multi-variety arrangement, too.

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Enjoy these succulent house plants

We hope you find places in your home to feature some of these incredible and easy-to-grow succulents. We’ll be featuring others in upcoming posts, too. Please sign up to receive free updates. Also, consider joining our FACEBOOK page and PINTEREST site.

 

 

 

Interesting Facts About Succulent House Plants

Did you know?

  • One popular use for succulents in an arid climate is for Xeriscaping 
  • Some succulents are used as food for people and animals.
  • Many natural medicines and treatments use succulent material.
  • Succulents grow in a rainbow of colors including green, blue, purple, pink, white, orange, red, and even black.
  • Creative gardeners sometimes plant succulents on walls, growing vertically, such as a photo frame. The slow growth rate and infrequent watering needs allow for this artistic flare.
  • Currently, we know of over 10,000 varieties of succulents around the world.
  • The Baobab Tree of Africa, the largest succulent known in the world, reaches up to 92 feet around and heights of more than 80 feet tall.
  • Blossfeldia liliputana, native to South America, measures only about one-half inch in diameter, full-grown. This makes it the smallest variety known.
  • The waxy coating on succulents acts as a natural sunscreen, preventing them from burning in desert conditions.
  • While more than half the world’s succulents claim native to South Africa, they now grow in the USA, Mexico, South America, and many areas in Africa.
  • Succulents symbolize enduring and timeless love to people of the western hemisphere.
  • In Asia, they symbolize wealth and prosperity. In fact, Jade plants are known as Money plants as they are thought to bring prosperity and wealth to the home.
  • As such, Jade plants are often given as a gift to businesses as a gesture of hope for success.

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Ann

    Wao! I was delighted looking at all the plants you had listed in this point until I reached Burro’s Tail. Wao! I really like it. I was a bit discouraged when you said it requires a lot of care at the beginning. But after considering this and seeing the end results, it’s worth the effort. Thank you very much for this suggestion.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Some people report instant success with the Burro’s Tail, but most seem to need to fuss over it at first. You might consider getting a slightly larger started plant. That should create a better chance of its survival.

      Thanks for visiting- please stop by again soon!

      Reply
  2. Hilde

    I just came over your post today while searching for succulents to plant in my Garden. I have a stoney field in the garden where I intend to plant succulents. But I need some ideas. The sempervivum looks great. Doyou know if I can plant them outside. I live in a nordic climate sodo you think they could handle frosty arctic nights? I am going to add you to my Pinterest so I can gather inspiration from you.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Sempervivum are quite frost tolerant but if you are afraid they may suffer in even colder climates, you have a couple of options. Some people create a cold box, like a miniature greenhouse, around their plants for winter survival. It doesn’t require anything more than a covering that allows light to enter. We’ll have an article on these in the upcoming months.

      Another option is to plant them in small containers so that you can bring them in when the temperatures drop. If you choose to do that, just remember that plants don’t like to be shocked by drastic temperature changes. Bring them inside when your temperatures inside are within 10-20°f of your home temperature. In Spring, when you are setting them out again, aim for the same temperature balance.

      I hope that helps! Please visit again soon. And yes, our Pinterest page will be “growing” (pun intended!) over the upcoming weeks, so please visit often!

      Reply
  3. freefromtheboss

    I love succulents! They don’t seem to love me. Just like your beautiful images, that is the idea I have every time I purchase them. Three months later…they are dead.

    A little water for the young plants, maybe once a month or less. Can you recommend a way to get them going please?

    Reply
    • Diane

      It may be a factor of the amount of light they are receiving, the soil type, or even the humidity in your home. Succulents don’t love humidity levels about 40% and tend to fade as it reaches 50% or more. Some are more tolerant of the amount of light than others, so you need to be aware of that.

      I hope that helps. If you need further help, please write me at Diane@houseplantjoy.com – with information about your type of plant and what is happening with it. I’ll try to help!

      Reply
  4. DerrAd

    I was born in a neighbourhood where aloe vera seemed to be a must-have succulent plant. Almost every house had one and I didn’t know the reason until I was ushered into its usage. I like it for its medicinal purposes but I think there’s time for a variety in my house that’s why I’ve found myself on your website. 

     Thanks for the list you’ve put together but I’m curious to ask, why would someone choose to go for a succulent house plant which is toxic? Because of kids, I wouldn’t consider that. I want something that can provide beauty and also other health benefits. 

    Reply
    • Diane

      Yes, the aloe has always been quite popular!

      Some plants that are toxic are also quite attractive and also function to keep the air in our homes clean (see the article on air-purifying plants). For people who can keep them away from their children and pets (such as in hanging baskets) they work, as long as they are aware of the potential toxicity. Some families have only older children or none and no pets, so it’s not an issue for them, unless friends with young children visit.

      But I do mention it when writing about the varieties because too often a pet or young child becomes ill from one of these plants. In homes with young children or pets, I definitely recommend the non-toxics or at least keeping the toxic ones out of reach.

      Thanks for visiting; please stop by again soon!

      Reply
  5. Karin Nauber

    I have always been fascinated by succulents and have had several of them throughout my life. When I think about succulents, my mind almost always goes to the aloe vera plant. My grandma had one and was always using a piece of it on someone in the family to help with a sunburn or an abrasion or other malady. My other grandma on my dad’s side grew I think almost all of the ones that you wrote about. 

    My favorites of hers were the Zebra Haworthia and the Burro’s Tail. I loved to touch those two plants when I was a kid. They were the only ones that I did not get yelled at for touching!

    We have some Hen and Chicks that grow in our yard which strikes me as kind of odd because we live in Minnesota. Is it usual for these to grow outside in Minnesota? We are cold here about 6 months of the year with snow.

    Thank you for the beautiful memories that you gave me of my two grandmas and their love of succulents. It filled me with nostalgia!

    Reply
    • Diane

      I enjoyed hearing of your memories of your Grandma’s plants! It seems that many of us associate plants with happy memories of our grandparents.

      Yes, some varieties can survive through winter. It sounds like yours has adapted quite well!

      Thanks for visiting. Please stop back again soon!

      Reply
  6. Cassi

    Diane,

    I am an avid plant enthusiast and thoroughly enjoyed your article!  Although not very knowledgeable about succulents, I do have a wide variety of Aloe plants for health and medicinal purposes. 

    My wake up call was that the Snake Plant is toxic to pets and children. These grow in abundance in the Caribbean and are in open spaces in gardens and parks. I will certainly pay more attention.

    The Ponytail Palm is one of my favourite succulent and this was some additional learning. I had no idea that it was a succulent!

    I am looking forward to learning more about plants and will definitely be following.

    Thank you!

    Cassandra

    Reply
    • Diane

      Yes, we also keep aloe for their medicinal help.

      You are correct that the snake plant often grows wild and animals may frequent those areas. Most animals seem to leave the plant alone but there are always concerns that our pets might become curious, so I warn of toxic varieties.

      Thanks for visiting, Cassandra! I hope you will stop back again soon!

      Reply
  7. Name * Juan

    Hi Diane, what an interesting article for me. I realize that I am unaware of much of the information you share about these types of plants. I live in Mexico and at home we have several Alohe Vera plants, which we also call Aloe Vera, and which my wife waters weekly depending on what they require, but I did not know that there were such a variety of shapes, sizes and colors that they looked so decorative and they were so photogenic. I think your encounter with plants was fortunate and that you have the gift to cultivate them, because not all people get that quick and positive response that you have had from the plants that you have cared for. It has become a passion and it is a blessing to deal with what you like and are passionate about. I will follow you on your page because I find the way you talk about each plant very enjoyableomment

    Reply
    • admin

      I am glad you found the information helpful, Juan. Yes, the Aloe is very popular, but so many other succulents can share our homes, too.

      Thank you for stopping by. Please visit often!

      Reply
  8. Jim S.

    Hi Diane, I didn’t realize some of these were toxic! That’s useful information to know. My little daughter was sitting nearby, and now she wants me to get her a “Pacific Blue Ice.” I think it’s because it reminds her of some kind of character like Elsa. We have a few plants, but they seem only to last one season. I will have to try some of the hardier succulents and see if I can keep them around for a while and beautify the house. What would you recommend to someone who has a brown thumb? Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Almost any of the succulents, including cactus, should be easier to care for. Just remember that they need less water, well-drained soil, and enough light.

      Your daughter may enjoy having a couple of plants of her own to care for, too. It does help instill a sense of responsibility when children grow up caring for their own plants, just as with pets.

      I’m glad you found the information useful. Please stop by again soon!

      Reply
  9. Stephen Tan

    It is joyful to read your succulent house plant article, which is so exciting and colorful plant to know. There are many useful details for each type of plant with some commonly seen plant have unexpected information given. Like my snake plant frequently becomes rotten, maybe you are right due to over water. Zebra Haworthia is so pretty and easy to grow can fit my liking. Ponytail Palm is quite attractive to me with a fat trunk; I am not sure I can get here. Some succulent plants not seen in Southeast Asia. Thanks for sharing this interesting information with me.

    Reply
    • Diane

      I am glad you found the information helpful! Yes, it’s easy with any of the succulents to over-water and end up with rotted roots. Let them dry between waterings and make sure the soil drains well.

      Thank you for visiting my site–please stop back again soon!

      Reply
  10. Tam

    Thank you for your post Diane.

    Those succulents are absolutely adorable! They are just so diversified with various types. Some are also rare and also valuable (One of the most expensive ones I read about was $2500 USD)

    I especially like Burro’s Tail in your post. I have never come across one in my local nurseries. They look beautiful with great length. Also, the interesting facts about succulent house plants were interesting lol. Now I learn that they could be used as food, natural medicines and treatments.It was the best thing I learnt today.

    Regards,
    Tam.

    Reply
    • Diane

      I am happy you enjoyed the post, Tam. 

      Yes, some are indeed quite valuable and hard to find. But if you do acquire one, you can learn to propagate them to share with friends! We’ll be covering propagation in future posts.

      Thanks for stopping by- please visit again soon!

      Reply

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