When you need houseplants that can thrive with little water, look no further than these succulents to add to your collection.

By BH&G Garden Editors
Updated May 14, 2020
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Succulents have become super popular over the last few  years, and for good reason. There are hundreds of unique varieties and just about anyone can grow them, beginners included. Their special water-storing tissues allow them to survive in environments that are too dry for most other plants, so they'll hang in there even if you forget to water them for a while. Succulents also thrive in dry air and warm temperatures, which most homes already have, so you don't have to change a thing to grow one in your living room. If you're a new plant parent, here are eight of the best indoor succulents to buy as you start your collection. They adapt well to life on the inside and are easy to find at garden centers and nurseries.

Credit: Marty Baldwin

1. Burro's Tail

Burro's tail or donkey's tail (Sedum morganianum) is a trailing succulent that looks best in a hanging basket or container sitting on a ledge or shelf so it can drape over. Each stem can reach up to three feet long and is packed with gray-green leaves about the size and shape of a plump grain of rice. Although burro's tail rarely blooms, you might see pink or red flowers at the end of the stems in summer. Native to Mexico, it prefers bright light for best performance. You can let the soil dry out between waterings, especially in winter when it isn't growing as actively.

Credit: Courtesy of Peter Coxhead/Wikimedia Commons

2. Christmas Cactus

Unlike other cacti, the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) doesn't have sharp spines. Its flat, fleshy, segmented stems can reach about a foot in length, often draping over in a way that earned it the nickname, crab claw cactus. It also prefers a bit more moisture than its spiky kin, so water whenever the top inch of soil in its container is dry. But if you forget to water for a while, it will bounce back easily from a little drying out. Keep it in bright light near a window, and this plant will likely reward you by blooming in winter. And if it blooms a little earlier than you expect and the flowers have yellow pollen, you might actually have a Thanksgiving cactus (they're closely related to Christmas cacti), but the care instructions are similar for both.

Credit: Marty Baldwin

3. Hens-and-Chicks

Two succulent plants share the common name of hens-and-chicks. They're closely related but look a little different. Both produce "chicks"—small, identical plants that are slightly offset from the mother (the hen). Echeveria elegans ('Mexican Snowball' variety, $3.99, Mountain Crest Gardens) forms flat, flowerlike rosettes with rounded edges and grows arching, bell-shape blooms every year. Sempervivum tectorum (Green Wheel Sempervivum Hens-and-Chicks Quart Pot, $6.99, Walmart) also forms rosettes, but each leaf tends to be flatter and more pointed. It has tiny, star-shape flowers. Both of these succulents come in all sorts of varieties that offer interesting shapes and colors, so they are especially fun to collect.

Echeveria and Sempervivum have similar needs when they're grown as houseplants. Both should be allowed to dry slightly between waterings because constant moisture often causes their stems and roots to rot. They'll do best in bright light near a window. You can easily propagate these succulents by removing the chicks and moving them to their own container, but make sure to use a sandy potting mix that drains well.

Credit: Jay Wilde

4. Jade Plant

The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is an old-fashioned favorite for a reason: It's a cinch to grow! This long-lived South African native grows stocky, branched stems with thick, glossy green leaves sometimes tinged with red around the edges when grown in full sun. Over time, they can get several feet tall, but when grown as a houseplant, they usually stay about a foot tall. They can get a bit top-heavy, so it's a good idea to plant them in a heavier container like terra-cotta. The key to keeping a jade plant happy is to let the soil dry completely between waterings. Some gardeners only water jade when the leaves start to pucker or lose their shine, but these are signs that the plant is already stressed; if you wait that long, it might start to drop leaves.

Credit: Peter Krumhardt

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera grows as a cluster of long, slender leaves on a short stem. Over time, it produces more clusters of leaves called offsets that can form a colony large enough to fill the whole container. It's easy to divide them and move to other pots when things get too crowded. And while aloe vera might be most well-known for its healing sap used for centuries to treat wounds and sunburn, it does have sharp "teeth" along its leaf edges that can cut an unsuspecting passerby, so handle with care. Aloe vera is a forgiving, easy-to-grow houseplant that's tough to kill. Like other succulents, it prefers being kept on the drier side rather than having constantly damp soil. And while it does best in bright light, if you were to suddenly move it into a hot, sunny window, its leaves can get burned.

Credit: Marty Baldwin

6. Panda Plant

There are dozens of kinds of Kalanchoe plants, but the panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is one of the most common. A native of Madagascar, panda plants have fuzzy, gray-green leaves covered with soft, silvery hairs and tipped with brown or rust-color spots. They can reach about two feet tall as a houseplant, but they grow very slowly. Give it bright light by a window, and let the soil dry between waterings. When you water the plant, make sure not to get any on the leaves or they may rot.

Credit: Jacob Fox

7. Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata) aren't really palm trees, but they do look a bit like them thanks to their long, woody-looking trunk and tuft of leathery leaves at the top. They grow slowly but can reach tree-like proportions of 12-20 feet, though indoors they top out around four feet. Although ponytail palm doesn't look much like a succulent, the swollen, bulbous base of the trunk stores water and gives the plant its other common name: Elephant foot. Whatever you call it, it's very adaptable to life as a houseplant, but does best with bright light, warmer temperatures, and low humidity. It's the perfect houseplant for a neglectful gardener because it doesn't need much water, especially in winter when it isn't actively growing.

Credit: Jacob Fox

8. Snake Plant

This succulent seems nearly indestructible. Snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) can survive weeks without light and water without losing their good looks. Their thick, stiff, pointed leaves grow straight up, reaching about three feet long, and often have patterned markings reminiscent of a snake. Over time, it will multiply into a thick clump that fills the whole pot, but it's easy to divide and repot as needed. While snake plants tolerate low light they look best in medium to bright light. They also appreciate a little water whenever the soil feels dry.

Credit: Bob Stefko

9. African Milk Tree

While African milk tree (Euphorbia trigona) is capable of towering to nine feet tall, it isn't actually a tree. As a houseplant, this succulent reaches up to three feet tall, producing upright, triangular, branched stems lined with short but sharp thorns. The tips of the green stems also have small leaves with a reddish tinge. African milk tree is related to the poinsettia, so it produces a milky, sticky sap that can irritate your skin if you don't wash it off. Plenty of light and evenly moist soil is the key to keeping it healthy.

Credit: Dean Schoeppner

10. Zebra Haworthia

Zebra haworthia’s (Haworthia fasciata) striking stripes and spiky foliage might make it look like a rare and exotic plant, but it's often available at garden centers and is very easy-going when it comes to growing it. Set this succulent near a window where it’ll get a few hours of bright, indirect light every day, and let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Zebra haworthia is also a good choice for terrariums or growing alongside other succulents because it will stay small, maxing out at about five inches tall.

Comments (3)

August 27, 2018
Thank you for all your information!
June 8, 2018
Would definitely try some of these and add it on my succulent mini garden. Please check my mini garden too @ https://www.gardenloka.com/mini-succulent-garden/ :)
April 22, 2018
I keep seeing Miracle Gro and other brands, selling something called "succulent food." Is this the same as fertilizer? Does it replace water?