Jun 262016
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

How to keep them thriving indoors in Melbourne!

Succulents can be great plants to grow indoors, in the right spot they are hardy and low maintenance plants that come in a vast array of colours and forms. Being such a diverse grouping of plants there are some that naturally do better than others indoors.

Choosing the right succulent for indoors

Not all succulents are created equal, some are much easier to grow indoors than others. Unless you are experienced, try starting off by picking from our selection below:

Aloe spp
Crassula argentea ‘Gollum’ and many other Crassulas
Faurcaria tigrine
Haworthia spp
Kalanchoe tomentosa
Rhipsalis spp
Sansevieria spp
Senecio rowleyanus

Soil / Potting mix and pot choice

Must be a very free draining potting mix.

If you choose a pot without good drainage holes you are making life very difficult for yourself. Good drainage is essential or they will rot. If you are in love with a container without sufficient drainage, grab a drill, a suitable drill bit, and add holes. If putting your pot inside a decorative slip pot, I recommend putting small wedges at the bottom to keep the base of the plant pot above any water that leaks out after watering.

Watering

In the warmer months, water after the top half of the potting mix has dried out. In the cooler months, or in cool airconditioned environment, water only after potting mix has dried out completely. Water until water runs out of the base, then make sure all water has drained away and the pot is not sitting in water. Over watering will make it rot. Always water the potting mix only, keep the water off the leaves to avoid fungal spotting. Rainwater is best, but you can use tap water, ideally let it sit 30 mins to allow the chlorine to escape.

Succulents with thin leaves require more frequent watering than those with water storing thick leaves.

Light

A minimum of 6 hours of bright sunlight a day. A north facing window is ideal, but make sure they do not burn in the warmer months, may need to move them back a bit from the glare. Rotate the pot one quarter turn regularly to keep growth even.

Temperature and humidity

Ideally keep between 10C and 30C. Can generally cope with higher temperatures, but make sure not in direct light during this time as the intensified glare can scorch. Indoor temperatures mean succulents may not go into their dormant period and may continue to grow year-round.

Fertilising

Fertilise twice yearly with a slow release indoor plant fertiliser.

Maintenance

A healthy succulent has firm plump ‘leaves’. These do not last forever, as the succulent grows, older leaves will die off, just pull them away from the stem.

Repotting

No need to repot until the plant is virtually bursting out of the old pot. Ideally repot in spring, but any time is OK. Let settle in for 24 hours after repotting to allow any root damage to heal over, then water in. Level of potting mix may lower as it settles down, top up if needed.

You can cut a single leaf off at the base and use it as propagation material. Allow to heal off for 48 hours, then stick into cacti and succulent potting mix and water in. Keep only very lightly moist.

Problems

Most problems are due top over watering, but other problems arise from time to time:

Pale and stretched looking

Not enough sun

Fungal gnats

These generally come if you have been overwatering. If problem is serious, repot your succulent, discarding the existing potting mix as it will have eggs in it.

Mealy bugs

Spray with natrasoap. If problem remains then repot, discarding old potting mix.

Dark spots on leaves

If you are sure your watering regime is good, then these are possibly sunburn if getting intense direct light.