Many succulents, including cacti, make great indoor plants as well as great starter plants for people with brown thumbs or those new to gardening.
They’re shallow-rooted plants so if you’re already growing them outside, it’s easy to scoop them up, set them in greenhouse flats or some other shallow containers, winter them over on something like a windowsill and then put them out again in spring, said Debra Lee Baldwin, author of “Designing With Succulents” (Timber Press 2007).
Succulents do well in windowsills, but like many houseplants, may tend to “reach out” toward life-giving light. Simply rotate the plants’ pots a half-turn every few days or so to ensure even growth.
“Another thing about growing them indoors is that they don’t need a lot of water,” Baldwin said. “You want them to go dry between waterings. Succulents naturally go dormant during winter like most plants although there are some exceptions.”
Succulents and cacti vary in their needs, so it’s smart to know what they require before choosing their growing areas, said Ray Rogers, editor of “Crazy About Cacti and Succulents” (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2006).
“Some can get too much heat but most adapt to heat or dry. I have some I don’t water for six months.”
They’re also fairly insect-resistant, he said, although a few may attract mealy bugs. In that case, simply shake off the bugs, wipe the plants down with a wet rag or use a basic natural spray made up of non-detergent soap augmented with vegetable oil and liquefied onion or garlic additives. There are many synthetic commercial alternatives, as well.
“Jade plants, Hens and Chickens and Bunny Ear cacti are all pretty easy to grow, making them good starter plants,” Rogers said. “Go for the more difficult things and that’s when you get hooked. That’s when it becomes attractive.”