If you love succulents, but they can’t survive in your cold climate, grow them as houseplants all year long or overwinter them as houseplants.
Succulents, plants with thick fleshy leaves that store water for periods of drought, are native to the low-rainfall tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas and South Africa. Although highly adaptable plants, few can survive a long, winter freeze, but growing them as houseplants solve the problem. Success with growing succulents in the house depends on duplicating the native habitat as closely as possible.
Succulents require a warm room with low humidity and direct sunlight. Plants lacking sufficient light grow thin and elongated, therefore, plant them in a well-drained potting soil that includes sand or perlite. Gardening centers sell soil mix specifically for succulents and cacti, or you can combine your own. Let the plants dry out between waterings and reduce watering in the winter to once or twice a month. Increase watering in the spring and summer when succulents resume growing.
A table displaying succulents next to a window creates a dramatic focal point, but make sure the plants do not lean against a cold window in the winter. Avoid placing the display in a window that receives frequent drafts; such as the air from a heater or in the path of a door that sends gusts of cold air when opened.
Although thousands of succulents exist, some do exceptionally well indoors. According to Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor at the University of Vermont, “Three common examples that make ideal houseplants are aloe, pony-tail palm, and the jade plant”.
Aloe thrives in average to hot temperatures. It’s commonly called medicine plant, burn plant or aloe. The ingredient Aloe is often used in skin and hair care products, and some sunburn products are almost 100 percent Aloe. The sap from the plant soothes burns and insect bites.
Plant Aloe vera in a well-drained clay pot with proper drainage holes. Aloe requires bright light to keep it from getting leggy. A sunny kitchen window is an ideal place to display Aloe, so it’s on hand when someone burns themselves on a hot stove. Allow it to dry out between waterings, then soak it thoroughly. Feed Aloe three times in the summer with a foliage formula fertilizer.
Pony-tail palm goes by the common names of bottle palm and elephant’s foot. Although not a palm, the stems of pony-tail palm are palm-like. The expanded flaring base or foot resembles a large bulb and stores water. It prefers bright light with some direct sunlight. It can tolerate medium or low light, but bright light keeps it in optimal condition.
Susceptible to root rot, pony-tail palm needs dry conditions. Water the soil thoroughly and let it dry out before watering again. It may need once a month watering only. Pony-tail palm requires temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during its growth phase in spring and summer. When dormant in winter, 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit with low humidity is best for pony-tail palm.
Jade plant dons glossy dark-green leaves with occasional red margins and can reach one to two feet in height. It produces star-shaped flowers in colors of white to pale pink. Jade plant thrives in high light and all temperatures but prefers low humidity.
Plant jade in a clay pot. The heaviness of the clay pot keeps it from toppling over if it becomes top heavy. After letting the plant dry out thoroughly, give it a good soaking and let it dry out between waterings. When watering jade plant, be careful not to allow the water to splash on the leaves. Water spots are permanent on this succulent. Feed jade plant three times in the summer.
Succulents store water in their thick fleshy leaves for periods of drought. They are native to the subtropical areas of the Americas and South Africa. They cannot survive in cold-winter regions but thrive as houseplants under the right conditions. Three easy-to-grow succulents for the house are aloe, jade plant and pony-tail plant