Starting An Indoor Cacti and Succulent Garden

BrianListonJanuary 22, 2011

I don't know much about plants and plant growing at all. I've never grown anything myself, other that helping my mom in her garden when I was a kid.

Regardless, I've decided I want to create a small collection of cacti and succulents inside my apartment. I'd like to create a small landscape with my plants, not just set them up beside each other in pots. To do this I was thinking of buying an 11" x 22" x 2 1/2" tray and repotting 5 or so pants together, to create a miniature landscape. I'm attracted to the alien appearances of some cacti and succulents, and would probably add small sculptures of my own among them.

I'm telling you all this because I think I need some help to realize my vision. I have several, very novice questions.

What plants will work best together, planted in the same enviroment? I have bought a Haworthia, a hybrid zebra plant, to start myself off, but I don't know if it will play well with others.

Do plants that need different care (sunlight, feeding) suffer when planted near each other? Could I kill a plant that needs less water when I'm watering one nearby that needs more?

Is repotting really realistic, or should I just keep the plants in their own pot, and maybe place each pot within a more decorative tray, instead of traumatizing them by placing them in such a large place.

I'd love hearing some suggestions, and experiences of your own!

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There is much to are far from the first person attempting to grow a small collection indoors.

Let me start by first letting you in on a little secret - the majority of cactus and succulents are not suitable for growing indoors. They need excellent lighting and fresh air. And probably the most difficult aspect of growing this group of plants indoors is trying to simulate a day/ night temperature differential.

Unless you are willing to make a major effort to achieve those conditions indoors (supplemental lighting, finding the right temperature range, etc.), you must accept that your choices in what will grow healthy for you are very limited.

I will let others chime in on what plants will work well indoors - Sansevieria, maybe some Bromeliads, some Euphorbias, possibly some Haworthia or Gasteria will tolerate it.

I can't really think of any terrestrial cactus that will do well indoors with year-round warmth. Some of the tropical species like Melocactus might be OK but I've never tried.

If you search through this forum you will find other discussions on this topic.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Well, I don't plan on creating anything extraordinarily huge - just five plants at most. I'm only buying succulents that are sold as indoor plants, hopefully since theyre being sold to be kept indoors they will survive being planted near one another.

Cactus seems out of the question right now, since I would be planting them along side succulents that require different levels of attention, I would would be risking over watering them, among other things.

I guess what I really want to know is what the risks of potting a few succulents, sold for indoor use, together. Would they play nicely planted near one another, how well do certain species of succulents take being repotted?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 1:46PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Unfortunately most of what is being sold as "indoor" plants is a gimmick just to make a sale.

X ~ gave you some very good pointers.

Another factor is , no one can tell you if they are going to "play" nice together until they know exactly what you have.

Cactus and succulents have a wide range of growing needs.
Dormant periods vary, and light needs, temps, and water.
It's hard to throw a handful together, and expect they will work with out some research.

JoJo .

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 12:20PM
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For some of us, growing cacti and succulents indoors is our only option, if we want to grow them at all. So my opinion is to give it a try, experiment and see what works for you. I always keep my plants in separate pots due to different watering requirements. But if you want to put 5 plants in one container, I would leave them in their separate pots inside the larger container.

IMHO there is no plant that is perfectly suited for the house, whether succulent or no, but we make do with the conditions we have available to us.

More than a few cacti, Euphorbia, Aloe and Crassula will be quite happy in a sunny south window, in my personal experience. This is my view, anyway.

Christopher From My Pictures

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 5:30PM
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How about Crassula cultivars such as 'Moonglow', 'Springtime', 'Ivory Tower', muscosa... these grow well in bright, diffuse light. Haworthia, Gasteria and hybrids such as Gasteraloe. And Sansevieria spp.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 3:48AM
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"More than a few cacti, Euphorbia, Aloe and Crassula will be quite happy in a sunny south window, in my personal experience. This is my view, anyway."

Just going to add my own thought to this, but from my personal experience, limited though it may be, Euphorbias and Aloe-type plants GENERALLY do a *lot* better for me than cacti and things in the Crassula family. Note that I am qualifying this with a "for me."

Actually in terms of succulents I think my Ledebouria has given me the easiest time indoors of any of them. Although I'm not sure how much they're actually considered true succulents. They're more like evergreen bulb plants that are still kind of succulent.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 4:52PM
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Greenthumb(Zone 5a, MN)

What source of light will these plants be receiving and from what direction will the light be coming? (i.e. North, South, East or West window?) If a north window is the only option, invest in a 4' fluorescent fixture to provide light.

The haworthias and gasterias should get along quite well together, I would guess, since they come from fairly similar growing conditions.

If growing in a window, how far from the window will this garden be? The distance and the exposure will pretty much determine what plants should be tried and whether the garden has a chance of success.

I've grown haworthias and gasterias under fluorescent lights in my basement for 30+ years without a problem. Under fluorescent lights, there is never a cloudy day and the light is coming from directly above the plants so they grow very symmetrically. Growing the plants in a window will require turning the garden occasionally to keep the plants from growing toward and leaning into the light.

If you're concerned about cultural conditions for individual plants, you could always keep the plants individually potted and sink the pots into sand or gravel to hide the pots from view. This would allow watering each plant individually and allow plants that like different watering regimes to be grown close together without affecting the neighboring plant. Individually potted plants will also allow plants that may not be doing well, or those plants that may have gone to the big greenhouse in the sky, to be be removed and replaced with a new plant fairly easily.

Good luck! I hope you'll post a photo once you get this garden put together so we can see the results of your vision and the plants you decided to grow.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 12:55PM
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