She was lamenting the status of her succulents.
All dead. She killed every single one.
And she was venting her valid frustrations~ how did succulents ever earn the reputation of being “easy” plants to grow?
Well. Some are easy. Some are not.
String of pearls? One of the most intriguing succulents on planet earth, but not suitable to Buffalo, NY weather. They hate it here!
Today I’m laying it out as it is. As if we were having a face to face conversation about which indoor succulents that I personally own have been huge hits for me.
And like you all, I’m busy. I have 3 kids under the age of 8. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Laundry, Homework. Music lessons. Sports. School. Church. Repeat. The cycle never ceases.
Yet these 5 succulents survive and thrive!
A quick word on succulents before we get started….
Succulents don’t like helicopter parents. Neither do they like lawnmower parents. And they simply can’t abide by the meddling grandma who’s constantly fussing over them.
”Let me be” they scream!
Yes. Bright, indirect light. Yes. A little water here and there. But never too much. Just a mist at the roots here and there.
And if you forget to water altogether? It’s almost better that way.
I’ve killed far more succulents by overwatering them then underwatering them. Misting them? At their base only. Never the leaves which dislike getting wet.
Try not to touch them either unless you are transplanting, dividing or propagating them.
Succulents don’t want to get manhandled.
And if you’re thinking to yourself…”who does that”? Guilty is charged. Especially the fuzzy ones! Can’t keep my hands off.
1. Crassula ovata – Jade plants
I refuse to out my mother on this blog as a succulent slayer. Refuse. But there you have it, that succulent plant is still alive and well.
And I bet if you’re still reading this post….you have at least one jade plant.
Crassula plants, including jade plants are popular succulents with lots of diversity. Jade plants are the quintessential no-fuss plant.
It’s your middle child. The one that doesn’t whine and complain.
This is why jade plants are the #1 choice for succulent beginners. If you’ve never tried your hand at succulents, by all means, start with a jade plant for guaranteed success.
Jade plants grow well indoors and require little water.
And who doesn’t love the name Gollum jade alone? Equally compelling is the ‘Hummel’s Sunset’ jade plant boasting tips of red, orange and yellow.
Fleshy jade plant leaves come in lots of shapes including paddles, pagodas, straws and propellers.
Indirect sun found in most rooms indoors will suit the jade plant just fine.
Water when the soil is fully dry, then drench thoroughly. I water mine about twice a month and that works for all my jade plants.
Don’t overwater because like most succulents jade plants will rot in standing water.
Personally, I also think jade plants are the easiest to propagate. New offsets appear out of nowhere.
You can also cut off the top 2 inches of stem, remove the lower leaves, let it callus for 3-5 days and plant.
Fingers crossed, you will get more jade plants in about 8-10 weeks. It always works like a charm for me!
2. Haworthia fasciata or ‘zebra plant’
My haworthia plant is my longest living succulent to date.
No doubt, it’s one of the best succulent houseplants to own. Partly because it can survive on less light than most other succulents by a longshot.
Haworthia are ideal for beginners.
Maybe this is why you see haworthia plants at all your favorite Mexican restaurants, both indoors and out depending on where you live. It’s that hardy!
The restaurant is far too busy serving up food to worry about watering plants.
It’s also why you see these stiff-leaved plants used as tiny potted fridge magnets.
Although they prefer filtered to bright light, they’ll settle for low light and even shady conditions if still close to a window.
The store doesn’t want you bringing in a dead plant next week for a refund!
Haworthia succulents have an exotic appearance that will enliven your desk at work, kitchen countertop, windowsill or mini garden.
Aptly named, those green spikes boast raised white “pearls” on its tapered incurved leaves. These pearls connect to form bands that give the impression of zebra stripes.
To me, haworthia look much like aloe plants with their unique spiked foliage. But their leaves are a little more tapered and slender than most aloes.
No wonder the striking resemblence since haworthia and aloe come from the same plant family.
Haworthias diminutive stature make them the perfect container plant. In fact, most are under 6′ inches in height and diameter even when full grown.
The small stature of haworthia succulents makes them the perfect indoor plant as they never take up too much room.
Although haworthia are hardy, they are not frost hardy. Don’t leave them out all winter.
Over a very long time new, small offsets will grow from the base of a mature zebra plant. But you will have to be quite patient.
Because in my experience, haworthia are extremely slow glowing!
Gently use your fingers to pull these offsets from the base of the plant. Let the offset create a callus which takes anywhere from a day to a week to form and then replant.
I also like to dip my offsets in a rooting compound first. It helps spur growth!
And to level with you, I’ve only gotten one offset in the three years I’ve owned a haworthia. That’s how slow growing this plant is. And is it any bigger? Nope.
You’re welcome to try propagation through cuttings and division but in my experience it doesn’t work out all too well.
The cuttings dried up and died, never produced roots despite multiple attempts and lots of rooting compound.
Oh, and make sure the pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, great way to kill your Haworthia.
Porous soil with excellent drainage is a must! If you choose not to use soil specifically formatted for succulents, add some perlite at the base of the pot to increase drainage.
If I water my haworthia once a month, it’s lucky! This is why it makes such a great companion on your work desk. If your co-workers don’t water it when you’re on vacay, who cares?
Let it dry out between waterings. I’m telling you…the only way to kill this plant is by overwatering it! Don’t do it! You will rot the roots.
But be better than me and water your haworthia every two weeks. Surely not more!
3. Key lime pie AKA crinkle-leaf plant
This frosty blue-green crinkle-leaf plant just looked so fragile and delicate. And I have this bad habit of killing succulents with plump, fuzzy leaves.
No doubt, those crinkly, wedge-shaped leaves would dry up and die in no time.
Good to be wrong!
My ever fussing plant self would squeeze those thick, fleshy and fuzzy leaves with wavy edges seeking death signs (What was I thinking?)
Still, the plant thrived. And it’s a striking plant. Those plump felt-like leaves swirl in a circle to form a rosette with the tip of each being crinkly.
Just when you least expect it, during its growing season in summer, long shoots will emerge from the center of the plant to form tiny, delicate flowers that cascade all along the stem.
Mine only flowers once a year. I’ll take it! When it’s done flowering, I cut the stems back to allow the strength to go back into the plant.
When the plant is well established, it asks so little of you. Bright, indirect sun is best for the crinkle-leaf plant. Be especially careful if growing outside in a super hot and sunny climate (Florida, Southern California).
Then consider afternoon shade for the crinkle-leaf succulent plant. Too much sun will burn those fleshy, plump leaves.
It’s downfall is water.
I go nuts with the hose spraying everything and anything in my path.
Even with the increased sun exposure summer provides, my crinkle-leaf plant clearly communicated it was getting too much water.
So I backed off. Especially now in the midst of winter. I will tell you from the hose disaster that those plump, fleshy and fuzzy leaves do not like to get wet. Big no-no!
So misting those “aerial” roots just at the base of the plant is best. And to say I wait to water until the plant is bone dry is the understatement of the year.
More water in summer in its growing season and water much less in winter when it’s dormant.
Regardless. What does my crinkle-leaf plant do? Continue to love me. Continue to produce more leaves so I can propagate it.
Within weeks, you’ll have your roots forming. But it will take 4-6 weeks to see any significant growth. Mist the soil when dry.
My advice is to keep the leaf flat until you start to see some substantial roots forming. Only then do you want to attempt planting upright into soil. Water sparingly or your new plant will just rot.
Experience tells me that crinkle-leaf plants like smaller pots, so don’t go too big!
Perlite or pumice at the base of the pot is a huge plus for adding that grit factor. Drainage holes are great!
Last tip: Using soil formulated specially for succulents or cactus is always the best way to go for the crinkle-leaf plant. Crinkle-leaf plant love a sunny window =)
The truth is…..drum roll please….I have three very different aloe plants. Plants as different as my three kids and haven’t managed to kill a single one (including kids).
Actually, now I have four aloe plants as Mountain Crest Gardens sent me an aloe aristata – lace aloe to explore and learn about. It’s wonderful!
This new lace aloe in particular looks very similar to the haworthia zebra plant. And aloe or haworthia ~ both have extremely stiff leaves!
Never water until the soil is completely dry. Only the roots. The thick aloe leaves do not like getting wet!
But unlike the white stripes on the zebra plant, the lace aloe boasts adorable white dots. The thick, firm leaves have tiny spikes protruding on each side with a vibrant pink spike at the end. Stunning!
I’m especially hyped that the lace aloe apparently is a fast grower! My plan is to give it space in its own pot and hopefully it will produce some offsets/pups. I’ll keep you posted on its progress!
As much as I enjoy my other two aloe plants, the blizzard and the delta dawn, they grow at the pace of a sloth.
Although my blizzard aloe produced three offsets this year and my delta dawn one offset. I’ll take it!
Aloe spikes inspire me.
The dwarf delta dawn has super thick, mostly coral leaves tinged with green forming in a rosette shape. But in winter, my plant is almost all green as it is the summer sun that seems to bring out the pinky/red hues.
Aptly described, aloe blizzard looks like it got pummeled with snowballs with those extremely chunky leaves forming a rosette shape.
Both the delta dawn and aloe blizzard are so small they make the perfect container succulent.
This makes aloe vera a great starter succulent. Cheap and easy to find!
Of course, the goal is not to kill it, but if you do you can buy another one cheaply. Or before you kill it, there’s a good chance it already produced a few pups.
Besides, aloe vera is awesome for burns, both from the oven and from sunburn.
I’m not nagging here, I’m just giving a friendly reminder not to overwater your aloe.
5. Kalanchoe Flapjack plant aka Red Pancakes, Desert Cabbage, Paddle Plants
Some describe pests and rot issues with the Kalanchoe luciae while others complain of its slow growth.
In the two years I’ve been the proud owner of a flapjack plant I’ve experienced none of these issues. Okay, it does produce this white powder but no biggie.
In a general sense, succulents grow at the rate of a sloth. Don’t get me wrong, most are stunning to behold, but you’re looking at years to see any actual growth on these plants.
My Kalanchoe flapjack plant is always showing noticeable growth.
Every few weeks I see lots of new bunches of leaves forming, even in winter! I don’t even add fertilizer to it although I should about once a year.
Stay tuned! I’ll show you when it’s time to divide and transplant.
With the colder Western New York Weather, the flapjacks kalanchoe luciae is an indoor plant all winter. I do take it outside in May after the danger of frost has past though.
It sits on a little table where it receives strong, but indirect dappled light all day happy as a lark.
In my experience, it is the light that brings out the reddish/orange hues on the tips of the leaves.
My paddle plant is most definitely more “colorful” in summer. In the midst of winter, the plant still has the red tips, but to a much lesser extent.
So the one drawback of taking flapjacks indoors during winter is light. It must have a steady stream of indirect light to thrive.
When the plant gets super dry you’ll see the lower leaves get brown and shriveled. You might even start accusing yourself of killing your kalanchoe flapjack.
Unlikely. It’s a succulent, after all, and it will take lack of water any day over too much water.
My other observation in regards to light is that it seems to impact the color of the leaves. Flapjacks luciae has a lovely orange/reddish tinge to it’s leaf tips when it’s getting the light it wants.
For a few months, I tried using my Flapjacks as a dining room centerpiece. All the leaves starting to curl and wilt and the plant leaves were turning brown.
Good thing I suppressed the urge realizing that it was light not water my plant was craving. Watering the paddle plant at this critical point would have sealed its fate. Death for sure!
So I moved the plant to my kitchen windowsill where it receives a steady stream of strong, but indirect light most of the day.
Then I watered it.
It’s all about balance. Light and water work hand in hand, but you must strike the right balance.
Revival. In just two weeks the plant was restored to its former glory.