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Growing succulents indoors

How to Create Your Indoor Succulent or Cacti Garden

Growing plants indoors makes a wonderful difference to your home – they improve air quality, de-stress and of course look beautiful. Succulents are one of the best kind of plants to grow as they’re some of the most tolerant and easy-to-care-for varieties out there. They come in a huge range of sizes and eye catching forms to suit any space or design you have in your home. Growing succulents indoors is hugely rewarding and, as you’ll see, very straightforward.

What are succulents?

Succulents are plants which store moisture in thick fleshy leaves or stems. Cacti are one type of succulent, but they come in many forms, from trees to tiny spikes. Succulents originate from all over the world: Africa, South Africa, the Alps, Central America and South America. So they can thrive in many different conditions, particularly indoors where the temperate and humidity is close to their native habitat.

Planting succulents indoors

Pots

Succulents suit containers as they have shallow roots. This also makes them great for grouping multiple plants in one pot, if that is the look you want to go for (plus it makes them easier to water). Just aim for similar sized plants that have common watering and light requirements – do your research! Drainage is crucial when choosing your container as succulents don’t like to sit in moist soil. Use drainage holes where possible, or add small stones to the bottom if not. You can also plant in terrariums but drainage is often an issue. Terracotta is the best material as it absorbs some of the moisture.

indoor succulent garden

Soil

The key for succulent soil is to make sure it’s well draining. You can buy specialist cactus or succulent compost, or make it yourself. A good mix is 1 part well draining potting compost, 2 parts coarse sand and 1 part perlite. This should ensure water runs through the soil easily.

Watering

With succulents it’s best to err on the side of caution and under- rather than over-water. Watering once every two weeks is usually enough, even less in winter. Give it enough water to soak the soil, but ensure it can thoroughly drain before the next watering. If using a container with poor drainage, like a terrarium, only give a little water to dampen the soil. If the roots sit in water they will rot and kill the plant. With little water the plants can draw on moisture stored in the leaves and grow less, which is fine for small containers.

Placement

Succulents like sun, usually full or partial – check the requirements for the species you have. If the leaves go brown from sunburn, move the plant out of direct light. In some climates you can move them outdoors in summer, but in the UK they will need to stay inside year round.

succulent placement

Pest control

Good air circulation is crucial for avoiding pests, so think about this when you’re potting and placing your succulents. Terrariums in particular can limit air flow. Succulents are generally good against pests, but watch out for gnats, mealybugs and spider mites on the leaves – often these can be wiped off or sprayed with non-toxic pesticide.

Things to watch out for

Naturally the lower leaves will die back and be replaced by new leaves at the top of the plant, so don’t worry unless the top leaves are dying. Most succulents go dormant during winter, so avoid adding fertiliser then as they will not naturally be growing.

The best succulents to try

Most succulents are easy to grow at home and won’t require a lot of effort. But some extra tolerant and attractive ones to try include sansevieria, jade, aloe vera, echeveria, zebra plant, pincushion cacti, string of pearls and crown of thorns.

zebra plant

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Gardening, Gardening Year, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, Guest Posts, How To, Planting

I keep hearing what a harsh winter we’re going to have this year. It’s even been dubbed Freezageddon by some commentators, which is a little dramatic if you ask me. None-the-less, whether it is going to be the coldest winter in 50 years, or indeed just ….cold, having a greenhouse or polytunnel in which to grow over winter is very handy indeed.

For a start, even when there’s thick snow on the ground all around, you’ll still be able to dig out (and pick) some of your vegetables from inside. For a badly behaved gardener like me who loves gardening and doesn’t like having to wait till spring to get active again, I couldn’t imagine doing without.

Cleaning the Polytunnel
Be sure to keep your polytunnel clean over winter

Growing inside enables you to naughtily extend the growing season, carrying on that bit longer and starting earlier in the year. It boosts results from harder-to-grow, warmer climate craving produce no matter where you live and what the seasons throw at us.

Plus on a rainy day (and let’s face it we’ve had a fair few of those recently) you can still happily garden away protected from the elements.

Even the smallest, unheated polytunnel or greenhouse can make all the difference. While extra tricks such as using ground cover to warm the soil, using a cold frame for extra protection and an inside heating system will expand your opportunities even further…

Here are just a few of best things about growing inside:

Earlier planting

Peppers, aubergines and chillies in particular need a longer growing season and the professional growers I know all start them in January/February for a bumper crop.

Tomatoes and cucumbers also benefit from being inside, even the hardier varieties and especially here in West Wales.

Everything in fact can be germinated and planted out just that bit earlier…

Growing more exotic varieties

There is much more room for experimentation and growing a wide range of exotic and rather exciting plants that you might otherwise not have tried. Melons, sweet potatoes and okra are worth trying and more sensitive, heat-loving fruit trees such as cherry, lemon and lime and peach really benefit from being kept inside in pots over winter. Although the citruses will need extra protection if the thermostat does indeed plummet as predicted.

Later planting

If you’ve been a bit slack with some of your planting and maybe missed your usual planting dates, it doesn’t matter when you grow inside because seedlings will have that bit extra time to catch up. As long as it’s not too late and the plant has established itself (before the shortest days) it will remain intact (and fresh) for a lot longer than during the summer months. Some of the best for lazier, later planting include spinach, rainbow chard, winter salad leaves and cress which all shoot up quickly given half the chance.

So don’t fear the weather doom-mongers. Yes, they could be right but come rain, hail, snow… whatever climatic conditions are thrown at us; with just a little outside protection you can ensure that you and your produce are warm enough inside, which is where it counts.

Kim StoddartKim Stoddart is a gardening writer for the Guardian and blogs at www.getbadlybehaved.com.

Bulbs, Flowers, Gardening, Gardening Year, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, Guest Posts, Herbs, How To, Planters, Planting, Plants

Often once it gets cold outside we stop gardening because it’s difficult to grow plants outside when the temperatures are low and the ground has frozen. Luckily you don’t need to just throw away gardening because you cannot do it outside, you can start an indoor garden and continue to get your gardening fix even in the dead of winter.

How to Grow Plants Indoors
Indoor gardening by definition is growing plants inside, whether it be in your house, some other building, a greenhouse, your basement or any other sheltered structure. This method of gardening usually is used to not only start plants earlier in the spring or extend their growth in the autumn, but also to grow your plants during the winter too. But any old indoor garden won’t do if you want to grow big, healthy plants, so that’s why I will give you some tips how to more successfully create and use an indoor garden.

1. Decide on the best place for your indoor garden

When you are thinking about setting up an indoor garden first you really need to think about where your garden will be. If you plan on creating the garden in your basement or in your garage you might want to think about some additional lighting for your garden. However if you situate your indoor garden in a room where there are big windows and plenty of light, or even set-up the garden on your windowsill, then you can get away with just the light that comes through the windows. Also when you’re choosing a place, think about how warm the room will be once the temperatures drop and how humid it will be in your planned indoor garden grow room, as too cold or too humid an environment will only stunt the growth of your plants.

2. Think about the growing medium of your indoor garden

Another important thing to think about once you have decided on where you will place your garden is in what growing medium you will plant your plants. You shouldn’t use soil found outside as it often is filled with different pests and weeds and doesn’t contain enough minerals to sustain the plants once they are indoors. That is why I recommend to either buy some kind of special potting soil or give your plants plenty of additional minerals, if you decide on using soil from outdoors.

3. Don’t forget to check on the plants regularly

When you are gardening outdoors often the plants get the minerals, the light and water they need from nature, but indoor gardening is a whole new ball game. You cannot forget to regularly check on your plants and see if they need more water, light or food (fertiliser). Often plants in different growing stages and in different conditions require different care so make sure that you keep up with what your plants need.

Quick tip: If you don’t want any pests to settle on your plants, rinse them under flowing water at least once a week, so the plant foliage is clean and you don’t have to use any pest control products to treat the plants.

4. Chose the right plants for your indoor garden

It is true that you can grow indoors virtually any plant as long as these plants don’t get too tall, as indoors you don’t have unlimited height. But there are certain plants that will grow better indoors. Plants that will thrive indoors are the ones that like warm environments and can grow even if there isn’t constant sunlight shining on them. For example tomatoes, beans, peas, any herbs like rosemary or peppermint, fruits like strawberries and grapes, and most flowers will be perfect for indoor growth. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot grow other plants in your indoor garden too. Just try it and if it doesn’t work out move on to next type of plant, because the beauty of gardening is trial and error and doing everything you possibly can to help your plants grow.

Benjamin ThortonBen Thorton is the owner and main editor of a website called www.t5fixtures.com. He is an avid gardening enthusiast and has many years of experience gardening indoors.

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