The new year typically brings with it the desire for some change in our lives, including an upgrade to your home's interior. Plants are a quick, inexpensive, and easy way to add something pretty and alive to your space. An indoor succulent garden fits the bill for all these things.
Succulents go for a couple dollars a pop at your local nursery or home improvement store, and they are built to survive in the harshest of conditions -- perfect for those who tend to forget the watering chore or who don't have a green thumb.
In order to choose the best combination of succulents, it’s important to keep variety in mind. Choose plants of different sizes, heights, shapes, and colors. The largest variance for your succulent garden should be in the height, size, and shape of the plants. It’s best to choose around three different colors for the succulents and not many more than that, as too many colors can be overwhelming to the eye.
Sticking to just a few colors creates consistency in your garden, yet provides flexibility in the choice of height, size, and types of plants you choose. Some gardening stores will have a variety of succulents planted in one large pot already, but be aware that these plants tend to be planted too close together to stay alive in that same pot long-term.
Because they have shallow roots, succulents can grow in just about anything you have around the house, from vintage canisters to decorative pots. Try coffee mugs, pots, jars, canisters, buckets, kettles, tin cans, glassware, or any other container that might add to your current space and style. Multiple plants can be placed in the same container in order to create the look of a garden—but be careful not to crowd the plants, as they will grow and need to be replanted in a larger container. If you don't want to see the soil in the area surrounding the plant, place some decorative stones on top.
Fill the bottom of the container you choose with several inches of gravel, which allows the water to drain from the roots of the succulent plant after watering; succulent roots must be able to drain, otherwise the plant will die if the roots are moist all the time. On top of the gravel, fill the pot with cactus soil, or an equal mixture of sand and soil. Regular potting soil is too rich and holds too much moisture for succulents, so be sure to use a sandy soil, so that the water can drain properly. A proper mix should be available at your local nursery or home improvement store.
Heat and Light
Succulents and cacti plants like to be warm and dry, and they love the light. If you live someplace dark and gloomy most of the winter, ensure that you have some lights on for these plants, even if they are near a window. Be careful, however, not to place them near windows that get too much sun, such as south-facing windows. While succulents can handle cold weather and lack of sun for periods of time, the light and warmth make them happiest.
Water and Routine Care
Succulents do not need a ton of water to survive, but they must be watered properly. They have shallow roots that should dry between each watering -- they will absorb the water they need and the rest can drain out of the bottom, if there’s a hole in the container, or pass through the gravel at the bottom. Because of this, put emphasis on watering them thoroughly as opposed to frequently. Note that if you do over-water them, they will plump up and look healthy before turning sickly.
All succulents will grow to larger sizes and will need to be re-potted from time to time. Be sure not to crowd the plants in pots.
Photos courtesy of FarOutFlora, AquaOwl, Sean A. O'Hara, Rena Tom, and Ninniane.