Versatile and low-maintenance, succulents make excellent starter greens for plant parents with busy schedules.
Defined by their ability to store water for long periods of time, succulent leaves and stems are usually thick and fleshy. Around 60 different plant families contain succulents, and they’re generally native to dry, desert areas with high temperatures and low precipitation levels. Succulents' small, short roots help them extract more moisture from the air, and their hairy, spiny outer surfaces create a micro-climate that provides shade and reduces water loss.
They really are amazing plants, and in addition to being easy to care for, they've been found to purify indoor air of harmful toxins.
Succulents are available in tons of different shapes, colors, and sizes. Here are a few favorites from my team over at The Sill—a Manhattan-based plant design shop:
1. Black rose (Aeonium arboreum)
2. Zebra cactus (Haworthia fasciata)
4. Paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)
5. Hen and chicks (Sempervivum)
Caring for a succulent
In theory, succulents can live forever in the right conditions. I've met plenty of people who have houseplants that were handed down through generations of family. It's really special when you come across a story like that—just another example of how plants make people happy. Once you find a succulent you love, take care of it for years to come using these insider tips:
1. Give it sun
Place your succulent in bright, full sun to medium, filtered light.
2. Give it water (but not too much!)
In the fall and winter (think shorter days and colder temperatures), you can water your succulent once a month. In spring and summer, every other week, or twice a month, should be sufficient.
It’s better to under-water a succulent than to overwater it—allow the potting mix to dry out completely between waterings. Overwatering is the easiest way to kill a plant, and it will usually cause succulents to rot. You can always add water to soil—it’s subtracting it that’s the hard part!
3. Be wary of humidity and cold temperatures
Succulents are native to arid climates, so try to keep them in a dry space if possible. They thrive in temperatures between 65°F and 90°F (18°C - 33°C). It’s best not to let it drop below 60°F (15°C).
4. Keep on the lookout for these common problems
Succulents are generally very easygoing plants, but there can be problems with them from time to time. If your succulent's leaves start wilting or turning brown and crispy at the edges, it needs more water. If its leaves become yellow or black, it's likely rotting and has been getting too much water.