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Succulent Varieties, greenhouse

Creating an Indoor Succulent Container

Julia Reed, Merrifield Plant Specialist

I love houseplants. So much so that my entire dining room doubles as a greenhouse. One of my favorite houseplants is the succulent. They’re easy to care for, beautiful to look at, and bring instant life to your home or office. You can easily add a succulent display to your space by following these easy steps.

Select your supplies

To begin, determine the colors and textures you’d like to see in your space. I recommend choosing an assortment of varieties to pull your eye through to the different areas of the container. You can’t go wrong in picking those your eye is naturally drawn to. Here are some of my favorites.

Next, select your container and potting medium. You’ll want to choose a shallow, open air pot as succulents don’t have a deep root system and like to be open to the air. A closed terrarium structure will not make for happy succulents! The pot should also have a hole at the bottom to assist with drainage.

Succulents do best in fast draining soil. When potting succulents, I like to use a small layer of gravel with Cactus Mix or Pro-mix soil. If you’re using Pro-Mix, you’ll also want to pull aside some sand to help with drainage. Finally, you can also increase the drainage by using decorative sand or gravel on the surface.

Assemble your container

Step 1: Place a piece of typar or grower’s cloth on the bottom of your pot, over the drainage hole.

Step 2: Lay down a layer of gravel, between a half inch and an inch. This will help with your container’s drainage.

Step 3: Fill your pot with Cactus Mix or Pro-mix. We started by filling our pot half-way with soil (you can always add more, if needed). If you are using Pro-mix, I recommend mixing one part sand to two parts Pro-mix to help with drainage.

Step 4: Arrange the plants the way you want depending on your style. You don’t need to break up the roots. If the roots are covering the edges of their pot then you can lightly tease them.

Step 5: Fill in and around the plants with more soil to cover the roots.

Step 6: If you want, add gravel or sand as a decorative finish.

Finish off your container with fresh water. Move your container over to your sink and water directly into the soil until the water runs out the bottom.

Caring for your succulents

Succulents will take as much light as they can get. They prefer at least four hours of bright, direct light. You can find direct light in sunny areas of your home within one to two feet of an unobstructed south or west facing window. In these spaces, the sun should directly touch the plant. If they are not in good light, they will start reaching for the light, which will make them stringy. A compact succulent is a pretty succulent. Generally, you won’t have to worry about your succulents getting sunburned when they’re indoors.

Succulents store water in their leaves. You can always tell when it’s time to water by feeling the lower leaves of your succulents. If they feel flat and deflated, then they are thirsty. When it comes to watering, it’s safer to let them run dry than moist. We recommend checking them for water every few days. Keep note of the day you planted them and the day they feel dry to establish a general number of days between waterings. At my house, I’ve found that my succulents tend to need water about every two weeks. When watering in a regular container, water directly into the soil until you see water coming out the bottom.

To keep your succulents well-fed and long lasting, you can fertilize from March to September. We recommend Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food. Keep in mind that feeding them will cause them to grow faster!

Even though it might be tempting, try not to baby your succulents. As long as they’re in a sunny spot with regular waterings, they’ll be happy!

Our Top 10 Picks for Low-Maintenance Houseplants

Paul Knight, Merrifield Plant Specialist

Many people think that growing plants indoors requires a lot of time and attention. After all, most houseplants in our area are tropical plants that naturally thrive outdoors in warmer climates. How in the world are you supposed to take care of them inside your home?

Well, it’s easier than you think! Low-maintenance options can provide all the beauty and benefits of indoor plants without the fuss. Here are our top picks for low-maintenance houseplants, by light requirements (see our blog on understanding indoor plant light levels to get started).

Bright, Indirect Light

(Three to five hours of early morning or late afternoon sun)

Hoya

Also known as Wax Plant, this is an easy to grow vine with waxy leaves and fragrant clusters of blooms. The foliage comes in a few different colors: solid green, variegated green and white, and a tricolor of red, green and white. There is another foliage form, Hindu Rope Plant, which is green and white and very crinkly. Regardless of which variety you choose, Hoya is great for hanging baskets inside the home.

Tillandsia

This exotic “air plant” is one that you can enjoy individually or in colorful combination displays. Air plants come in many shapes and sizes with blooms that are pink, yellow or purple. They are so low maintenance, they don’t even grow in soil! They just need to be sprayed with water 2 to 3 times a week.

Moderate to Low Light Levels

(Three to five hours of indirect sun to light that is not bright enough to cast a shadow or read)

Aglaonema

Also known as Chinese evergreen, this lovely plant has varied leaf patterns and shapes. Aglaonema has an upright growth habit with bushy leaves and can produce creamy white flowers that nestle within the leaf clusters. It’s very drought tolerant and doesn’t require frequent watering, making it exceptionally low maintenance.

Dracaena

This popular plant has rosettes of leaves on graceful upright stems. You can choose from plants with all green leaves or stripes with green, pink or burgundy. It’s great for the office or any areas that need a vertical element. There is also a variety called corn mass cane, which is said to bring good luck.

Neanthe Bella

This is an excellent dwarf palm with full, graceful green foliage that can reach 4 to 5 feet tall. And unlike some houseplants, this one is cat friendly for those nibblers you might have in the house. Also called Parlor Palm, this plant is one of the best at purifying the air in your home.

Philodendron

With rich green, red, neon green, yellow or even orange leaves that grow on vigorous vining, upright, or trailing plants, philodendron is very versatile with a wide range of uses in the home or office. Depending on your needs, it can be grown as a tabletop, hanging basket or floor plant.

Pothos

These graceful vines come in green, white, gold or neon green with leaves are a pointed heart shape. Pothos grows happily without pampering, and is beautiful in hanging baskets or cascading over a tabletop pot.

Sansevieria

Also known as snake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue, this enduring plant comes in shades of light to dark green. Sometimes you can find ones that are variegated with white or yellow, depending on the variety. Sansevieria thrives on neglect, making it the perfect low maintenance indoor plant. It comes with upright foliage as a floor plant, to rosette shapes for tabletops.

Spathiphyllum

This plant has dark green foliage with graceful, curving white flowers. It tolerates low light levels and will bloom just with fluorescent light, making it great for your home. It is also known as Peace Lily.

Zamioculcus zamiifolia

Since it’s botanical name, Zamiouculcus zamiifolia, is quite a mouthful, it’s easier to refer to this plant by its common name, the “ZZ” plant. It has a curiously dramatic shape, with glossy, waxy coating, dark green leaves and bulging tuberous roots. It’s very drought tolerant, making it super easy to care for.

We hope you’ll try some of these easy to grow houseplants in your home or office, and see how fun growing indoor plants can be.