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Tuesday, November 17, 2015 Cacti and Succulents

Success with Succulents

It's easy to fall in love with succulent houseplants. These low-water plants are billed as a cinch to grow -- and are everywhere (social media, such as Pinterest; magazines and blogs; and even in high-end retail store displays). Plus, they look great, offering intriguing tones of silvery blue, gray, and purple in addition to the more traditional greens found in other houseplants. 

Succulent Care: Light
These low-water indoor plants do best in a spot with lots of light -- lots and lots of light. If you've heard before that you should protect your houseplants from direct sun, you can forget that with succulent houseplants. They thrive in direct sun, just like they do outdoors. If you don't have a bright, sunny window, don't worry: These easy-care indoor plants also thrive under artificial light. Happily, that doesn't mean you need special lights or expensive set ups; regular old florescent and LED lights will do just fine. (Avoid incandescent light bulbs, however, because they get too hot to get close enough to your succulents to provide enough light.) A regular old shop light can provide succulent houseplants with enough light in the winter; just hang the lights about 6 inches above your plants. 

Succulent Care: Water
Too little light is actually the most common problem folks run into when growing succulents indoors. The second most frequent issue is too much water. In most situations, you want to water succulents once every 10 to 14 days -- but it really depends on factors such as the size of the plant, the size of the pot, the type of potting mix used, the amount of light your plant gets, and temperature. One succulent grower I met gave me a great tip: Stick a dry toothpick in the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If it comes out clean, water your plant. If it has little bits of potting mix stuck to it, then there's enough moisture in the pot for now. And speaking of drainage holes, be sure that the plant doesn't sit in any excess water that comes out of the pot. Succulents should never be in standing water for more than 20 or 30 minutes. 

Succulent Care: Temperature
One other thing to watch out for with succulent houseplants if you live in a cold-winter climate is to be sure your plants don't get too cold. Avoid chilly window sills, especially if you're growing warm-weather species such as Echeveria and Kalanchoe. Remember, a window sill (especially a drafty one) can be significantly cooler than the rest of the room. 

Use these three easy tips and you're sure to enjoy success with beautiful low-water indoor succulent plants.

Get more now with our free guide to growing and decorating with easy-care succulents. We have tips for indoors and out. 

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