Indoor Succulents

Garden Clippings for Feb 10, 2017

It’s my job to water the indoor plants at home.  I don’t mind at all, because it can be done in a jiffy, and doesn’t need to be done often.

The big Peace Lily (spathiphyllum) is the thirstiest of all, requiring water about once a week.   I will often let it go and wait for it to wilt slightly, an indication that all the plants need water.  If I see the Peace Lily wilt first thing in the morning when I am in a hurry to run off to work, I might quickly give it a litre or two of water with the intention of watering the rest of the plants after supper.

You guessed it.  After supper I will forget or will need to dash off to a meeting, and my good intentions are thrown out the window.

That doesn’t seem to bother the other plants one bit.  A week later they are just as healthy looking as ever, not showing any signs of thirst.

Even the orchids, which have a mistaken reputation for being high maintenance, don’t seem to be bothered by neglect.  I can let the orchids go for two weeks plus, without adding water.  And when I finally water the orchids, I am very, very frugal.   Because orchids hate standing water, I might check them half an hour after they receive water to drain off any excess moisture.

The tropical succulents at home are never thirsty.  I don’t keep track, but I am sure they will survive a month or more without attention.

Succulents are a group of tropical plants with fleshy leaves that store water, giving them the ability to go without water for quite some time.

Probably the most common succulent plant is Aloe vera, widely known for its healing properties.  If you ever suffer from a burn, break off an Aloe leaf and apply the liquid on the wound.  Aloe is easy to grow.  Plant Aloe in a small container and use well drained soil.  Put it in a sunny windowsill and set it free.

For a succulent, Aloe is quite fast growing.  In a few years it will need to be repotted into a larger container.  Alternatively, just break off a chunk and repot the remainder in the original pot.

Sansevieria or Snake Plant might be the easiest plant ever to grow.  Its upright slender leaves are usually an interesting mix of green and creamy white.  If a Sanseveiria is showing signs of stress, you can bet it is receiving too much water.

The Jade plant (Crassula ovata) at home is another plant that thrives on neglect.  It is growing comfortably in a west facing window where it gets plenty light.  I water it about once a month.  Jade plants grow slowly but will eventually need to be repotted, not because it is pot bound, but because the overgrown plant might fall over in a pot that is too small.  Like all succulents, repotting is tricky because its roots are so small.

To repot a succulent, tip the plant over to its side and carefully knock off the container and much of the original soil.  Use a light mix or a specially prepared cactus soil.  If your soil appears to be too light, add sharp sand to the mix.  Drench once thoroughly and go back to the plant half an hour later to remove excess water.  Allow the plant to go completely dry before adding water again.

Succulents are water misers and are perfect indoor plants for those who take winter vacations.  Do keep in mind that once the days become longer, water requirements will increase.