Succulents are low-maintenance plants that both experienced gardeners and beginners can grow inside their homes. Some prefer shade, some thrive sitting on windowsills, and many are safe to grow around pets.
Add more life to your living space without the mess and maintenance of other indoor plants. Use this helpful guide to the different types of succulents to grow in your home and start enjoying a variety of these appealing plants.
Low-light varieties of succulents can grow in partial, indirect light, but low-light is a bit of a misnomer since most succulents still require hours of sunlight. As long as you have space near a window, they’re perfect for adding a bit of color to your bedroom, office, or living room. Popular varieties include sansevieria, aloe, and black prince.
You can consider adding the following beautiful, hardy, low-light succulents to your home.
There are dozens of different aloe plants for beginner, intermediate, and experienced succulent growers, and one of the most popular varieties is the lance aloe, or aloe aristata.
This succulent develops crisp triangular leaves with white speckles and a white border. The leaves grow outward in a starburst cluster. As it matures, it can grow to be 8 inches tall and bloom with orange and red flowers in the summer.
Lance aloe needs several hours of full or partial sunlight every day to thrive, and it grows best in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7 to 10, but it can also grow in warm home interiors across America. As long as the soil is a well-draining cactus or succulent mix, it can grow in acidic, alkaline, or neutral soil.
You can grow this plant on your desk, bedside table, or a windowsill. We recommend placing it near south-facing windows to maximize sunlight exposure. However, if you live in a colder climate, move the plant away from any windows that have a draft. In this case, you’ll need to strike the right balance between warmth and sunlight exposure.
Almost all succulents are vulnerable to root decay from overwatering, so let the soil dry out between watering cycles.
Echeveria Black Prince
When you think of succulents, the classic look of echeverias might spring to mind. These succulents have pointy, fleshy leaves that grow outward and upward in a tight cluster. Echeveria black prince is a trendy variety of echeveria recognizable due to its abrupt color gradients. Coloration can vary from simply green to purple and green to a vivid array of hues. In many cases, the leaves dramatically change from a bright green in the center to a dark, coppery purple at the tips.
You might also see this succulent called black hens and chicks or just black echeveria.
Black echeverias only grow 4 inches in diameter, so these pocket-size plants are the perfect addition to tiny spots on a desk or windowsill. While the plants are low maintenance, they can be temperamental. They die when exposed to chilly temperatures, and their dramatic color will fade if they’re exposed to too much sunlight. To keep these plants healthy, place them near a south-facing or west-facing window where there’s plenty of indirect sunlight.
Jade plants are hardy succulents that tolerate a wide range of shade conditions. With diligent plant care and attention, they can grow up to 6 feet tall, yet they only grow 2 inches per year.
These plants get their name from the deep, jewel-green coloring of their thick, oval leaves. The thick leaves hold the plant’s water, so the roots only need infrequent but deep watering.
Like most succulents, jade trees prefer full sunlight, but they can grow in most conditions aside from heavy shade. Try to give them a couple of hours of bright, indirect shade every day if you grow your succulents indoors.
Jade plants can live up to 70 years, so you may have a new plant companion for decades if you give it proper sunlight and attention.
Ox tongue succulents have long, narrow leaves that end in a curve and grow out sideways from the plant’s central cluster.
As long as the plant has well-draining soil and occasional deep drinks of water, it can survive in partial shade. However, it may only grow to its full size and produce flowers when it gets enough bright, indirect sunlight. Ideally, it should always be within 3 feet of a window. If it starts dropping its leaves, it’s not getting enough sunlight.
Sansevieria, or snake plant, is an incredibly popular choice for indoor plants. Beginner plant owners love snake plants because they can grow extremely well in low-light conditions and be forgotten for weeks between watering cycles.
Snake plants come in multiple varieties, but each features clusters of straight, vertical leaves that grow stiffly upright. Some leaves may curl and twist while growing upward, and new leaves will emerge from the center of each cluster over time.
Depending on your preferred variety of snake plant, you might see thin, stiff, dark green leaves with a yellow border, chunky upright leaves with white and green stripes, or deep green “monster finger” leaves.
Whichever species you choose, most are comfortable living in a dark corner with intermittent sun exposure, and they can wait six weeks between drinks of water before starting to droop.
Like snake plants, ZZ plants are very tough, so it’s unlikely that you’ll accidentally kill one. These plants can survive even longer than snake plants without sunlight or water.
ZZ plants have vibrant green leaves, and they prefer plenty of sunlight. Given enough time, these plants can grow to be 4 feet tall. A ZZ plant will stop growing when placed in the shade, yet this lack of direct sunlight won’t damage the plant. As long as it isn’t fully dark in the room, ZZ plants can stay healthy and start growing again when exposed to sunlight.
These plants tolerate excessive drought because they store water in their rhizomes, which are horizontal underground stems that grow continuously. These rhizomes also allow ZZ plants to spread over time. So, if you let your ZZ plant flourish in bright sunlight, you can propagate and build your own collection of succulents.
Because they’re so resilient, you can place pots of ZZ plants virtually anywhere in your home—your office, your bedroom, or even a powder room with a window.
Succulents are beautiful and hardy plants, but one thing could prevent them from being the perfect houseplant: Many varieties are toxic for cats and dogs, so you must be careful about where you grow them and only place them where your pets can’t reach them.
If you want to grow succulents in spaces you share with a cat or dog, consider these pet-safe varieties.
Burro’s tail, or sedum morganianum, is a unique succulent that will catch your eye. Rather than grow stiff or upright leaves, it develops long trailing vines covered with tightly packed leaves. From a distance, the tendrils look braided or woven.
You can plant burro’s tail in a decorative pot and allow the tendrils to sprawl over the side, or you can grow it in a hanging basket and let the tendrils hang in the air as they grow. Burro’s tail isn’t toxic to pets, so it’s safe to let the growth spill over outside the pot.
Burro’s tail succulents prefer long hours of bright, indirect sunlight. Ideally, they should be turned every week to let the light access all sides of the plant equally. Hanging them in pots near windows gives them plenty of light and lets you enjoy their unique appearance.
If you live in zone 9 or 10, along the warm southern edge of the United States, then you can even plant your burro’s tails outside. When they live outdoors, they’re more likely to flower with dramatic pink, pale yellow, or white flowers.
Despite what may spring to mind when you read “cactus,” Easter cactus succulents don’t have sharp needles or thorns. Instead, these plants have fleshy, oval leaves that stack on top of each other. They’re nontoxic and pet-safe, much like their Christmas cactus relatives.
When Easter cacti receive plenty of sunlight, they grow bright red, pink, and orange flowers at the end of their segmented leaves. You can also keep them in indirect sunlight to minimize the risk of blanched or burnt leaves.
Easter cactus succulents are hardy, durable, and drought-resistant. While they only need a little water throughout the summer, they need even less water when they go dormant in the winter.
If you love lance aloe but worry about how toxic aloe vera can be to pets in large quantities, haworthia fasciata is a beautiful alternative. Its white-speckled green leaves look very similar to lance aloe, just without the crisp white border.
Haworthia succulents are drought-resistant and can thrive in plenty of indirect light. With enough light, they’ll bloom during the summer months. When haworthias bloom, they develop a long, thin stem in the center of the leaf cluster, and delicate flowers grow from the top.
Beginner succulent growers can plant their haworthias in small individual pots, but more adventurous growers can create small container gardens with several different specimens sharing a pot.
Succulents can have very distinct appearances, and that is certainly the case with lithops. These bulbous succulents grow into thick, cylindrical plants, and the top develops a texture like stones. The top also splits into two slightly mushrooming sections, giving each growth a unique look. Some describe lithops as looking like living stones, and to others, they look like brains.
Lithops are nontoxic for pets, but they can be challenging to cultivate. The plants are incredibly slow-growing, to the point where most lithops in stores come from seeds rather than cuttings. If you can give them enough time and attention, however, they turn into a colorful collection of pebble-like plants.
Even at full maturity, lithops grow only 1 inch tall and have two leaves. They need lots of sunlight to retain their color, markings, and distinctive shape, so place them in southern-facing windows. During the summer, water them only every two weeks, and don’t water them at all during the winter.
Beaucarnea recurvata is commonly called ponytail palm because of its distinctive shape. Tendrils of bright green leaves emerge from the top of its woody trunk, and it looks like curly hair in a messy ponytail. The curly leaves grow a bit upright before arching and falling loosely around the bulbous middle trunk.
These succulents are pet-safe, and while they won’t like being chewed on, they’re tough enough to withstand a little damage. Ponytail palms can grow up to 6 feet tall indoors, so you can grow them in a small tabletop pot before it’s big enough to go on the ground.
If you’re in zones 9 to 11, you can plant your ponytail palm outdoors, where it can grow more than 30 feet tall.
If you’re just starting to grow succulents, we recommend fast-growing ones. Not only are they more fulfilling to care for, but you can more easily measure their progress and health. Below are some of the most popular fast-growing succulents.
Ghost plants are fast-growing, perennial succulents. At the start of their growth cycle, they look almost like echeverias. As they develop, a stem grows under them, elevating that initial cluster of leaves higher and higher.
The rosettes are a pale blue or gray in partial shade and a blend of pink and yellow if they get full sunlight. They grow relatively slowly in partial sun or indirect light but can grow 2 or more inches per year with plenty of sunlight. For rosettes that are around 4 inches across, this is an impressive speed for beginning growers. The stems themselves sprawl out quickly, and your plant may start to have dangling tendrils that hang outside the confines of the part.
Hens and Chicks (Echeverias)
In just a couple of months, with bright light, your hens and chicks succulent can grow to 4 inches tall and form additional rosettes that cover a foot-long space. Unlike other succulents that might grow a bigger rosette or sprawl across a larger area, a hens and chicks plant forms a mat of rosettes. The “hen” is the parent rosette, and it’s surrounded by smaller rosette-shaped “chicks.”
These succulents grow well in rock gardens and containers because they prefer thin, sandy, or rocky soil that drains quickly. Outdoor hens and chicks can tolerate full sun, partial sun, and even part shade. Indoor hens and chicks need plenty of indirect sunlight to continue growing.
Beginner growers will love cultivating hens and chicks because they develop new rosettes fast and can grow rather quickly. You can easily grow a succulent garden with this single variety. Keep in mind that fast growth doesn’t mean they need a lot of resources, so be careful of overwatering or overfertilizing this plant.
Jelly Bean Plant
Jelly bean plants get their name from the chubby, jelly-bean-shaped leaves that grow along each stem of the plant. Not only is it an extremely tolerant plant, but the jelly bean plant also grows very quickly. As it grows, the stems become longer and can spill over the edges of its container.
Jelly bean plants are a light, pale green, and their leaves will develop a pale pink tip. With enough sunlight, they also grow small yellow flowers in the spring blooming season. You can grow them in small pots on desks and shelves near windows or suspend them in small hanging pots.
We recommend jelly bean plants for new succulent cultivators. They grow very fast, and their quick color changes can help guide you as you figure out the best care routine for them. They also propagate easily from stem cuttings and leaves.
Mother of Thousands
Kalanchoes are fast, dynamic growers. The mother of thousands variety—also called Kalanchoe daigremontiana or devil’s backbone—is a popular succulent from Madagascar. It grows upright, quickly reaching its full size of 3 feet with enough sunlight. It’s a bright, vibrant green, and the plantlets are a darker, dusty green.
Along with a rapid growth cycle, mother of thousands plants propagate quickly. They grow tiny plantlets along the edges of their leaves. As those plantlets drop to the soil, they turn into their own kalanchoes and start to grow.
These succulents grow with relatively little maintenance and attention. When kept as a houseplant, it’s best to keep your potted mother of thousands in a south-facing window for maximum growth.
This is also a good succulent for beginners because it will let you know if it isn’t getting enough sunlight. The stems will become leggy or spindly as they try to search out additional light.
String of Pearls
There are many “string” succulents that grow quickly and easily: String of buttons, string of rubies, and string of pearls are just a few succulent varieties. String of pearls is particularly popular because it can grow between 5 and 15 inches every year with sufficient sunlight.
A string of pearls succulent is an elegant vining plant. Each vine has dozens of pea-shaped leaves running up and down the length of the plant. We recommend planting your string of pearls in a hanging pot so the tendrils can grow and spill beautifully over the side.
You can also hang these plants in south-facing windows so they receive as much sunlight as they need to grow at their maximum pace.
While string of pearls plants are drought-tolerant and forgiving, they do need to be propagated through stem cuttings. Without frequent propagation, they can die.
Soil Mix for Succulents
All succulents need well-draining soil that can dry out. If the soil holds onto too much moisture, the roots can rot, damaging or killing the succulents. We recommend purchasing a potting mixture made for cacti for a quick and easy solution. This soil is thin, coarse, and doesn’t retain moisture.
If you want to make your own potting mix, combine porous potting soil, sand, and perlite in a 3:2:1 ratio. Don’t add vermiculite to the soil mix. You can also mix small rocks into the soil, cover the soil with decorative rocks after potting your plant, or even plant succulents in a rock garden.
For very water-intolerant succulents, we recommend adding a little extra perlite to a cactus and succulent potting mix. Perlite improves soil drainage and reduces soil compaction.
Part of the fun of owning succulents is that you can propagate them and grow a bigger collection or give them to friends and family. Most succulents are easy to propagate, and some even require it. Depending on the plant you can propagate it through cuttings, leaves, or offsets.
- Cuttings: Sprawling succulents or succulents with long stems propagate through cuttings. Cut a length of stem below a bud. Then let the cut end dry and develop a callus. Remove any leaves on the bottom 2 inches of the stem and pot the cutting in fresh, well-draining soil.
- Leaves: Many succulents, such as jelly bean plants and mother of thousands, can propagate from their leaves. Simply allow the leaf end to callous, dip it in rooting hormone, and plant it in or on the soil.
- Offsets: Offsets, also called offshoots or pups, are easy to propagate. They may already have their own root systems, in which case you can carefully detangle the offshoot’s roots from the main plant and repot it. If the pup doesn’t have roots, treat it like a cutting.
For most succulents, the biggest danger is overwatering. The soil should be fully dried before you consider watering a succulent, and this can take around two weeks. If you overwater the plant, the soil will constantly be moist, and root rot will set in.
Rotting succulent roots look black or dark brown. Try to catch root rot before it spreads and turns your succulent stems or leaves yellow. To treat root rot, try these solutions:
- Unpot the plant and allow the roots to dry out in the air on a flat surface. This can take a couple of days.
- For large plants, trim off the rotten roots roughly half an inch above the visible damage. You can do this with smaller plants, but you may have to cut the entire root system. Allow the cut ends to callous over before replanting.
If your plant is suffering from root rot but you haven’t overwatered it, consider adding powdered sulfur to the soil and dusting your plant’s roots with it. A light amount of sulfur can kill fungal and bacterial microbes.Sometimes, succulents can receive too much direct sunlight and get a sunburn, especially if they’re planted outside. If the leaves look burnt or blanched, move the plants to partial sunlight or consider growing them indoors.
Choosing the right succulents to grow can make the process more fun and successful, as well as keep your household pets safe. We recommend identifying your Hardiness Zone if you want to plant your succulents outdoors. Then choose the succulents that fit your style and level of gardening experience.
For beginners, we recommend starting with low-maintenance varieties such as fast-growing or low-light echeveria, hardy snake plants, and even hardier ZZ plants. You can also try jelly bean plants and string of pearl succulents, which need a bit more attention but grow quickly.
Types of Succulents to Grow FAQ
What are the most common indoor succulents?
The most common indoor succulents include aloe plants, snake plants, and string of pearls plants. These succulents are popular because they’re low maintenance and easy to grow.
How do I know if my succulent is healthy or stressed?
You can tell if your succulent is healthy or stressed based on its coloring and growth. Succulents that aren’t getting the right amount of sunlight will fade or burn. Stems will also become leggy if there isn’t enough sunlight. If your succulent is yellowing, it’s likely getting too much water, and its roots might be rotting.
What temperature do succulents prefer?
Succulent plants prefer temperatures between 40℉ and 80℉. Outdoor plants in hot climates need partial shade, and most succulents are vulnerable to cold temperatures or frost.
How much sunlight do indoor succulents need?
Most indoor succulents need at least six hours of bright, indirect sunlight. Try to place your succulents within 3 feet of south-facing or west-facing windows.
What soil should I use for succulents?
Use a well-draining soil for succulents. Ideal soil mixes have a combination of coarse, grainy soil, gravel, and perlite. You can purchase a cactus potting mixture or make your own succulent potting soil.