Unique Succulents and How to Use Them In Your Home

A How-To Guide on How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Succulents

a row of succulents against a window


Caroline Keefe


Jan 21, 2021

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Known for their aesthetic features and easy-to-care for repute, succulents have become a staple in many homes and businesses. Since many indoor-friendly succulents have shallow roots, they can be placed into a variety of decorative pots and tie a room together. Let’s dive into the basic care for succulents, the most common indoor species, unique low maintenance succulents, uses around the home, and lastly, if you’re thinking about buying a home in Ohio, a list of suitable species for Ohio weather.

Basics of Growing and Caring for succulents

A Basic Guide to Caring for Indoor and Outdoor Species

Although known for their “hard to kill” reputation, they need a bit more care than placing just anywhere and watering whenever.

The basic universal rules for succulent care:

  • Less is more when it comes to water
  • Use a porous or drainage pot to allow excess water to escape
  • Not all species require the same care: with a great variety of succulents comes a great variety of caring techniques

The biggest killer of succulents? Root rot! Root rot is mostly caused by over watering. This is why succulents generally need a porous soil/easily drainable pot. Since the roots perform the majority of “breathing” for the rest of the plant, they need access to oxygen. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, plants do not only need carbon dioxide. That’s where the leaves of the plant come into play. The roots, however, need oxygen since they don’t have access to sunlight. So as to not drown the roots, make sure to pick the soil and pots that allow for drainage.

While some succulents need watered every week, there are others that only need watered every few weeks, and even more sparingly in the winter months. Due to inadequate sunlight, succulents tend to go dormant in the winter. This explains why they need less water.

A General rule of thumb for many succulents is to keep them in a location with bright, indirect sunlight, but that’s not the case for all species. It can vary between needing 8 hours of direct sunlight with partial shade to only needing a few hours of indirect sunlight. Succulents need shade also, as they can be burnt by too much sun.

The best advice? Do your research! Not all succulents are the same. While most are low maintenance, they need different levels of all of the above mentioned.

In this article, we’ll mention a few different species with basic care needs, but loads more information is online that couldn’t fit in just one article!

Common Indoor Succulents

The Most Common Indoor Succulents

Succulents are a widely popular house plant and gardening hobby, here’s a few favorites. Consider incorporating them into your home to add texture, make your home feel cozy this winter, or just because! We'll walk you through some common indoor succulent species, including:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Jade Plants
  • Pincushion Cacti
Aloe vera plants sit on a display at a home and garden store
Aloe vera is an excellent indoor succulent for experienced succulent owners and first-timers alike.

Aloe Vera

A Useful and Easy-to-Care-For Succulent

Aloe vera, widely known by its scientific name, is a wildly popular succulent. Known for its medicinal and health benefits, Aloe vera should be in every home! It’s relatively easy to care for. The main tips for this succulent are using a pot with at least one drainage hole, keeping it in bright, indirect sunlight, and water sparingly. Those with latex allergies should handle Aloe carefully, as its skin is chemically similar to latex.

A beautiful jade succulent with rounded leaves in the sunlight
A Jade Plant is an easy succuelent to care for and a beautiful addition to any home's decor.

Jade Plant

An Indoor Succulent Perfect for Beginners

The Jade plant (Crassula ovata) is a perfect beginner’s succulent. It thrives at indoor temperatures, making it a great year round plant. They require some direct sunlight and partial shade, so it’s best to keep them in a location that will get a few hours of morning/afternoon sun. As with most succulent species, they need an easy draining soil/drainage pot. Since this species can be toxic for children and poisonous to cats and dogs, a hard to reach spot is recommended.

Pincushion Cacti

A Decorative Flowering Succulent

The Pincushion cactus,  (Mammillaria crinita) is a beautiful succulent. It has the characteristic spikes of a cactus and has yellow/white flowers. It grows up to 3.2 inches, so it will fit nicely in a decorative, well-drained pot. It needs direct sunlight, with some indirect sunlight, so a south facing window is a great area to keep it. Be sure not to over water by waiting until the soil feels dry to water.

And Many More!

These are some common indoor succulent species, but this list is by no means exhaustive.There are plenty of other popular succulents out there. Since many homes include small children and pets, you might want to consider searching specifically for pet-friendly species when searching for succeulents to add to your home.

Exotic Succulents to Grow Indoors

Exotic Succulents are Found All Over the World, but You Can Grow Them Too

Unique succulents may appear to be difficult to care for, but there’s quite a few options for indoor growing! Exotic succulents come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Following the care instructions for each should keep them in your home for years. More experienced gardeners or those with a true green thumb might want to consider adding a more exotic species to their succeulent collection, such as:

  • Parodia magnifica
  • Zebra Cacti
A group of parody magnifica cacti in the wild

Parodia Magnifica

An Exotic Flowering Succulent

From Southern Brazil: Parodia magnifica. As the succulents name might suggest, this is a magnificent addition to any home. Reaching 6 inches in diameter and blooming a 2 inch, butter yellow flower, this is perfect for a windowsill or coffee table. Following the basic guidelines of succulent care, this plant will only grow more beautiful over the years.

A potted zebra cactus on a wooden table
Zebra Cacti add visual interest to any room.

Zebra Cacti

Fun, Striped Indoor Succulents

From South Africa: the Zebra cactus (Haworthia fasciata). Between 4-8 inches tall and non-toxic to kids and pets, the Zebra cactus is a unique addition to your collection. True to its namesake, the Zebra cactus has similar markings to that of a zebra. They look similar to aloe, but are slightly darker with white, horizontal strips. This fun, innate design would bring a monochromatic room to life.

The Many Uses of Succulents Around the Home

A Medicinal and Aesthetic Guide

Succulents such as aloe have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine, while the flowering/colorful species have recently become a decorative household favorite.

As mentioned above, Aloe vera is a useful household plant. Needing bright, indirect sunlight, Aloe vera is perfect for a kitchen windowsill. Another reason aloe is great for the kitchen is it’s amazing ability to soothe minor burns and scrapes, and it even heals faster than typical over the counter treatments!

The “flaming katy” (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana), native to madagascar, makes the perfect accent plant. It needs 8-10 hours of sunlight a day, which will produce the most buds and flowers. The flowers range from red to gold and white, mainly blooming in the fall to early winter months. Its beautiful flowers make it perfect for an accent piece on the patio in the summer, a table/desk plant for the winter. The flaming katy is best suited for temperatures 60° to 85°, allowing it to be an outdoor/indoor plant based on season.

Flaming Katy succulents are beautiful and medicinally valuable plants to keep in your home.

We previously mentioned the Pincushion cactus, which has a cactus look with white/yellow flowers. This succulent spices up the room with its exotic look. Being relatively easy to care for, it makes a nice looking, low maintenance succulent.

These are just a few examples, there are many other species that are pleasant to look at and other medicinally valuable succulents.

Ohio Weather-Friendly Species

Choosing Outdoor Succulents Suited for Colder Weather

a map of USDA plant hardiness zones showing that the northern US experiences cold
Ohio is in the USDA’s hardiness zone 6a-b, meaning they can survive some pretty severe weather changes.

The USDA hardiness zones can be summarized by the lowest average temperature reached, by region, which can be used to classify plants by their lowest possible temperature of survival. Garden literature typically includes the hardiness zones for the featured plant. In Ohio, the hardiness zone is 6, meaning there are plants that can survive all the way down to the temperature of -10° Fahrenheit. Though it’s recommended to bring your succulents indoors during the winter, these species can survive extreme temperatures.

“Dragon’s Blood” (Sedum spurium) is hardy throughout zones 4-9. This is a great garden plant, year round. Since it requires mostly full, direct sunlight, outdoor spaces are a good choice. Best grown in groups, Dragon’s Blood would look chic surrounding a bird bath or even in its own secluded section. As for the benefits during fall and winter, this species is rabbit and deer resistant. It’s possible for the plant to go dormant in the winter, but it will bloom again come early spring.

Sempervivum “Jade Rose” can withstand temperatures as low as -30° Fahrenheit. This species is relatively small, so standard potting procedures can be used. While it can stay outside in the winter, you’ll need to repot during the warm season. This includes new soil and knocking off dead/rotted roots. Due to its small size, it can also be brought inside during the winter.

A beautiful and hardy jade rose succulent
Jade rose succulents are a beautiful addition to any garden, and they can withstand Ohio's colder winter temperatures as well.

Once again, this is by no means an exhaustive list of your succulent options! These suggestions are just the beginning. If you're looking for more interesting and aesthetically pleasing plants to add to your garden, consider these honorable mentions on our list:

A final note on outdoor succulents: Do keep in mind that Ohio’s weather can be wet in the winter, make sure to look more into proper care for hardy winter species!

There are a variety of household succulents that can serve different purposes, such as medicinal, decorative, and a garden accent. You can typically pick these up at a gardening center, grocery store, or home improvement store. Regardless of which succulent(s) you decide on, make sure to do proper research to ensure a happy, long-lived plant!

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July 24, 2019
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