5 Succulents You Can Grow Easily and Successfully as a Houseplant

In my last post, we talked about how the gorgeous and colorful rosette succulents that have been popular for so many years do not actually make stellar houseplants. They need so much light to maintain their compact form and beautiful color that providing that to them indoors without supplemental grow lights is nearly impossible.

However, there are plenty of other small succulents that can do quite well on a windowsill in our homes and that is what this post is all about!

We will discuss 5 major groups of plants that are gorgeous, display a wide range of growth habits, and can thrive as an indoor plant.

Important note: These plants still need a good amount of light. They will not do well unless they are on a windowsill or right in front of a window.

Also, there are some more colorful varieties in some of these groups and the general rule is that the more colorful they are, the more light they need.

Okay, lets dig into some amazing succulent houseplants!

Table of Contents

#1 Haworthia

Haworthias are small, succulent plants that are typically available in many shades of green while sometimes having red, orange, yellow, or white accents.

They range in appearance. Some look like mini aloes, others like rosette succulents, and still others look like a row of teeth (seriously!).

Many varieties also feature translucent tissue that is essentially built-in windows for the plants to capture light. This helps them to survive and thrive in less light than some of the other succulents.

The order of the plants listed below are displayed in the same order in photos.

Most common: Zebra Haworthia (Haworthia fasciata)

Less common: Haworthia turgida var. suberecta, Haworthia cymbiformis var. obtusa, Haworthia venosa ssp. tessellata

#2 Gasteria

Gasterias are often called Ox Tongue or Lawyer’s tongue because of their tongue-shaped leaves. They are available in a large range of greens and grays with or without stripes and spots adorning the leaves.

You can find different varieties that have an aloe-like appearance and others that grow in more in a fan or array shape.

Their super succulent little leaves store lots of water for them to survive drought and their deep greens help them to tolerate lower light levels than many succulents.

The order of the plants listed below are displayed in the same order in photos.

Most common: G. ‘Little Warty’, G. ‘Bicolor’, Gasteraloe ‘Flow’

Less common: G. glomerata, G. sakura fuji, Variegated Gasterias

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#3 Crassula

Crassulas are commonly called Jade Plants because they include the ever-popular and classic jade plant that has been in many people’s homes for hundreds of years.

While the classic jades are the most popular and readily available, sporting ovular, succulent leaves and branching stems that develop a woody appearance with age…. the Crassula group goes FAR beyond these mini, succulent trees.

There are many, many Crassula plants that look nothing like jade and much more like exotic succulents for fancy arrangements. Some of these more exotic plants are harder to care for, but many others are incredibly easy like the popular jade trees.

The order of the plants listed below are displayed in the same order in photos.

Most common: Classic Jade

Less common: String of Buttons, Crassula ovata ‘Gollum,’ Variegated Crassula ovata

#4 Portulacaria

Portulacaria afra is a common succulent that is often called mini or dwarf jade because of its similarity in appearance to Crassula ovata, the classic jade.

It is also called Elephant Bush because Elephants eat this plant in Southern Africa as part of their herbivorous diet.

I’ve read that this particular plant is more forgiving of various light, temperature, and water levels… and perhaps that is so for many people.

I will admit that I’ve actually had an easier time growing Crassula ovata (the classic jade) than I have Portulacaria, but that likely has to do with the fact that classic jade has chunkier, more succulent leaves and stems that are well-equipped for drought and sometimes I’m a neglectful waterer.

Regardless, Portulacaria is still a wonderful succulent to grow as a houseplant and can be grown as a trailing plant (P. afra ‘Decumbent’), a bonsai tree, or a bush/shrub.

They are also faster growers than the previously mentioned plants, making them particularly rewarding for beginners.

The order of the plants listed below are displayed in the same order in photos.

Most common: Classic Elephant Bush or Dwarf Jade

Less common: Variegated P. afra (‘Rainbow Bush’), P. afra ‘Decumbent’ (a trailing version)

#5 Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes are in the same family as Crassulas (Jade Plants). They are available in a huge range of growth habits and structures and include some well-known succulent “weeds” like Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions.

Both of these “Mother of … ” plants are famous for developing lots of babies that then drop and root into surrounding areas. This is a quality that some people love and some people hate because they do have a way of popping up in lots of pots and places that owners didn’t intend.

However, Kalanchoes reach far beyond just the prolific plants described above.

There are fuzzy, shrubby plants, bronze and silver leafed plants, plants with ornate patterns and colors, and more.

The order of the plants listed below are displayed in the same order in photos.

Most common: The Panda Plant (K. tomentosa)

Less common: Copper spoons, Silver spoons, Pink Butterflies

How to care for these easy succulent plants

Interestingly, all 5 of these plants are native to Southern Africa.

Haworthia and Gasteria are solely native to Southern Africa, Portulacaria extends into the middle of the African continent, and Crassula & Kalanchoe can be found across the entirety of the African continent and into other countries around the world as well. Though, Kalanchoe is mainly native to Madagascar and Southern Africa.

I mention this because it is no surprise that the care requirements for these plants below are often very similar given that they have adapted to similar environments…

And that those environments happen to align better with our indoor environments than some of the other succulents which need a lot more specific care, especially in terms of light intensity.

Common characteristics of these plants: they are all able to grow in less light than their more colorful, succulent cousins and are more forgiving of imperfect watering and potting mixes.

I’m going to insert some photos below of all 5 growing in their natural environments. Take note of the poor soil and dry environment they are growing in. It is no wonder these plants are not used to ample water!

Light requirements:

All of these succulents want lots of light, but do not need all day full sun like their colorful rosette cousins. They do need to be on a windowsill, directly in front of a window still.

If your plant is darker green in color, it could do well in an East-facing & West-facing window.

If your plant is lighter green, displays variegation, or has other showy colors (like Kalanchoe orgyais – Copper Spoons), it will need to be in a West-facing or South-facing window where it will receive more intense amounts of direct sun.

Pot/Planter Requirements:

These succulents will do well in pots with ample drainage holes so that excess water can be run out of the pot easily.

It is also important to not plant your succulent in too large of a pot. Extra space allows areas for wet soil to sit and negatively affect the plant.

Potting mix Requirements:

Succulents do not like to stay wet for long. Some of them live in rock crevices. Others live in sandy, nutrient-poor soils. None of them live in a compost-rich environment where they have access to water for many days.

Because of this, we want to ensure our succulents dry quickly and easily.

I would recommend starting with a mix of 50% cacti or succulent soil you can find in a greenhouse and adding 50% perlite or pumice.

If you would prefer to buy a pre-mixed option, a highly-recommended option is Bonsai Jack’s Gritty Mix (linked to Amazon via the Affiliate program), designed specifically for succulents and cacti.

It is more expensive than those mixes you’ll find at most local greenhouses, but you are getting an awesome blend of ingredients and skipping the part where you have to buy individual ingredients and mix them yourself.

Here’s the description from Bonsai Jack’s website for those who want more info:

Succulent and Cactus Soil . Ultra fast draining design helps prevent root rot and over watering. Contains no heavy potting soil ingredients such as sphagnum or peat moss. Provide your prized plant with a potting soil that mimics its natural dry environment. Proven number one seller.

Great for echeveria, crassula, lithops, jade, aloe, haworthia, and more.

Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil – Jacks Gritty Mix #111, BonsaiJack.com, Source

Watering Requirements:

All of these plants want to be allowed to dry out completely before receiving more water. They can happily remain dry for a few days also.

I’ve heard multiple professional succulent growers refer to the “soak and dry” method, where you:

  1. Saturate the pot that the succulent is planted in until water drains from the drainage holes
  2. Do not water again until the potting mix is completely dry
  3. Then you soak the potting mix again.

Doing this will keep your succulents plump and beautiful while ensuring you do not water too frequently (which can cause rot).

These plants are a little more forgiving than the colorful rosettes, in terms of being able to tolerate a little bit of excess moisture and a little bit of drought.

You don’t want them to remain dry for extended periods of time, as severe drought will cause the root hairs to begin to die back.

You also don’t want them to remain wet for extended periods of time, as long-term moisture will invite root rot.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many succulents are very sensitive to water sitting on their leaves for an extended period of time. Sitting water can invite fungal issues that can damage or cause leaf loss or result in the entire plant collapsing.

To avoid this, many people will use a q-tip or small cloth to dry up any water on the leaves, others will water around the plant rather than over the top, and some use small squeeze bottles to apply water under the leaves (which is particularly helpful when trying to manage arrangements or tiny pots).

I use all three methods depending on what I am caring for and so on.

Here’s an example of a succulent squeeze bottle from Amazon, linked via the affiliate program:

Fertilizer Requirements:

Use an organic succulent fertilizer that is diluted to 50% or less of the recommended dosage. Apply the fertilizer a few times throughout active growth.

Be careful not to choose a fertilizer with a high nitrogen value (the first number on packages) as succulents do not need or want an excessive amount of nitrogen and can actually be damaged as a result of receiving too much.

Temperature Requirements:

All of these plants do well in normal household temperatures. They do not tolerate cold, especially frost.

Humidity Requirements:

All of these plants do well in normal household humidity.

If you would like to buy some of these succulents online, here are 2 fantastic sellers to check out:

#1 Planet Desert

Planet Desert has a huge selection of succulent plants. Their plants always arrive very healthy, very quickly, and well-packed.

Most of their plants ship in 3.5 inch pots and arrive in a wonderful soil mix with top dressing!

I have been lucky enough to join their affiliate program, which means that I can earn a small amount if you choose to purchase from them using my link below.

Here’s an affiliate link to Planet Desert’s website

#2 Mountain Crest Gardens

Mountain Crest Gardens also has an enormous selection of succulents that arrive happy and healthy every time and are packed with care.

Most of their plants ship in 2 inch pots, which makes them a bit cheaper and a smaller size for those of us with limited windowsill space.

I do not have an affiliate link or discount code for this particular company, but they are worth checking out!

Here’s a link to Mountain Crest Garden’s website

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