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Varies based on species

Succulents: Low-Maintenance, Colorful Home Decor

Succulent plants are easily spotted with their fleshy leaves and bright colors. With 1,000+ different species, they're one of the most popular low-maintenance houseplants.

Other names for this plant...

Varies based on species

About Succulents

Named for their fleshy sap-filled leaves, succulents are widely used in home decor because of their resilient nature and low-maintenance nature. With so many to choose from, you may be wondering what defines a succulent, and the answer is that botanists haven’t decisively concluded.

They come in all shapes and sizes, colors, and textures. However, not all succulents are created equal. From cacti to aloe plants and so many in between, these plants are all the rage right now due to their attractive and versatile nature.

Botanical Name

Because there are so many different types of succulents, their scientific names vary. They are found in more than 60 plant families with members of Cactaceae, Aizoceae, and Crassulaceae being mostly succulents.

Other Names

Because succulents vary so greatly, other common names vary from species to species. There is no other common name for the classification of succulents.

Plant Type

Succulents are termed xerophytes, which means that they are able to live in extremely dry climates. Hence their thick, fleshy leaves that hold moisture and prevent water loss.


Most succulents come from deserts or semi-deserts in warm places around the world. Mexico and South Africa are both large producers of succulents, though some succulents come from cooler climates.


Because there are so many varieties within the succulent family, the appearance can differ greatly. Some succulents are small, some are large. Some have pointy spike-like leaves, while others have flat medallion-shaped leaves or plump spherical leaves. Regardless of the shape, they will all be thick and fleshy.

There are succulents that are all one color, and there are variegated succulents. You’ve likely seen moon cactus plants with vibrant neon tops alongside the dreamy pastel pink rosette succulents, like the Echeveria ‘Afterglow,’ for sale in garden centers.

One commonality that many (though not all, by any means) succulents have is that their leaves typically grow in a rosette form. Other than this, the appearance of succulents varies drastically.

There are hundreds of species of succulents, including aloe, cactus, and rosette-shaped Echeveria.

Types Of Succulents

As you can see, succulents are plentiful in their varieties. However, here are some of the most popular indoor succulent varieties:

  • Burro’s tail (sedum morganianum)

  • Jade plant (crassula ovata)

  • Aloe vera

  • Panda plant (kalanchoe tomentosa)

  • Roseum (sedum spurium)

  • Snake plant (sansevieria trifasciata)

  • Zebra plant (haworthia fasciata)

  • Crown of thorns (euphorbia milii)

  • Hens and chicks (sempervivum tectorum)

  • String of bananas (senecio radicans)

  • Echeveria

  • String of pearls

Of course, there are many other types of succulents that can be grown indoors, but these are some of the most popular, and our favorites.

Succulents Styling 

Because of the unique look of each type of succulent, there are several ways to style succulents. When grown as houseplants, succulents are often kept in small pots and used to decorate desks and small tables.

Certain succulents can be planted in the same pot, so grouping succulents in a beautiful terracotta pot can make a nice addition to any room. Trailing vine succulents, such as the string of pearls, make for a lovely hanging plant or can be placed on a high shelf to allow the stems to cascade down.

While you’d think small succulents would do well in a terrarium, too much humidity can kill them. If you do choose a terrarium, make sure it has a large opening and plenty of air circulation.

You can find many DIY projects and videos online for unique ways to style your succulents.

Succulents are beautiful when grouped together or styled in terrariums.


Again, the answer to this will vary depending on the type of succulent, but for the most part, succulents like bright direct sunlight. They need at least six hours of full sun per day. However, there are some types of succulents that can survive with much less, such as the snake plant, jade plant, and aloe.

Most of the cute, small, pastel or brightly colored succulents that people think of when they hear the word succulent are the ones that need plenty of light.


Because there are so many different types of succulents, care differs from species to species. However, for the most part, succulents thrive in dryer conditions and can survive on little water. Their thick, fleshy leaves store water, which means that you definitely want to avoid over-watering them.

A general rule of thumb is to allow the soil to dry out completely in between waterings and ensure the pot has effective drainage holes. If the soil is not dry and crumbly, don’t water it. Because they come from dry climates, succulents do not require much water, and over-watering can lead to root rot.


Succulents prefer temperatures ranging from 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, though this can vary depending on the species. Some succulents can survive in temperatures as low as 40 degrees and as high as 90 degrees.


Generally, indoor succulents do not like high humidity and will do well in homes with 40-50% humidity. Too much humidity in the air can cause rot and fungal infections.


Because succulents need well-drained soil, regular potting soil won’t do. There are soil mixes made especially for cacti and succulents that are well-draining, or you can make your own potting mix by adding pumice or perlite to the soil to ensure it drains well.

If your succulent’s soil does not drain well, even sparse watering can lead to root rot.


Pruning succulents is not usually necessary unless there are dead or diseased leaves that need to be removed. For the most part, indoor succulents won’t get too large and are slow-growing.

Of course, pruning needs may vary between different species of succulents. Some species, such as echeveria or aeonium, may need to be pruned occasionally as they can become leggy.


Indoor succulents need certain nutrients that they may not be getting from the soil in their pot. Fertilizing succulents with a dedicated succulent food is recommended once a year to encourage new growth and produce brighter colors.

Height & Growth

Though you may think of succulents as cute little plants that make for great decoration, the sizes vary. In fact, the biggest succulent in the world is called the African Baobab, and it can reach up to 90 feet high in the wild.

Most indoor succulents will average between 6-12 inches, though if they are in a spot that doesn’t receive much light, they will stay on the smaller side.


Some species of succulents are pet-friendly and non-toxic, such as sempervivum, burro’s tail, Christmas cactus, and zebra haworthia. Other species can be harmful to pets, like jade plants, aloe vera, fiddle-leaf, and snake plants.


Always research the type of succulent you’re considering to see if it’s pet-friendly.

Common Problems 

  • Over-watering: Succulents thrive in dry climates. Root rot is a common occurrence if the succulent is over-watered. Mushy brown spots, a musty smell, or the plant suddenly dropping leaves are signs of over-watering.

  • Under-watering: Though they don’t require much water, succulents do need some water to survive. An under-watered succulent will present shriveled leaves that eventually turn brown and fall off.

  • Scorched leaves: Typically, this won’t occur in indoor succulents, but if you transfer your plant from indoors to outdoors, the change in sun exposure can cause the leaves to burn and turn brown.

  • Not receiving enough light: If an indoor succulent is not receiving enough light, the stem may begin to stretch out. This is your plant’s way of searching for its source of food (the sun). The plant’s growth may also be stunted if it does not receive enough sun. Place your plant in an area that receives a lot of direct sunlight for several hours a day to ensure it is getting enough light.

How To Propagate Succulents

Most succulents can be easily propagated from the leaves. Simply twist a leaf off from the stem, ensuring it’s a clean pull and nothing remains on the stem. Then, let the leaf dry out and the opening callous over (this may take a few days).

Then, you can plant the leaf in succulent potting soil, water it, and place it in a bright place with plenty of sun. This is one of the easiest ways to propagate a succulent.

Sometimes, succulents will grow new plants (called ‘offsets’) on their own, which can be cut away and transferred to a new pot.

Some succulents can be propagated through leaf cuttings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you water succulents?

Most succulents need very little water. You should always make sure the soil dries out completely between waterings. Depending on the type of soil you use, you may only need to water your succulents once every 3-4 weeks.

Do succulents need full sun or shade?

Succulents need about six hours of bright direct light per day. However, there are some succulents that can do well in shadier conditions, so if you don’t have a lot of natural light in your home, you may want to consider getting one of those (like the snake plant).

What are different types of succulents?

If we were to list all of the different types of succulents, we would be here for days. However, some very popular succulents include:

  • Snake plants

  • Zebra plants

  • Aloe vera and agave

  • Portulacaria afra

  • Lithops

  • String of pearls

  • String of tears

  • Echeveria

  • Jade plant

  • Burro’s tail

  • Many, many more

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