The 10 Easiest Types of Succulents to Grow as Houseplants

These trendy varieties are tough and beautiful, so they won't mind if you forget to water them for a while.

Succulents have become super popular over the last few years, and for good reason. There are hundreds of unique varieties to choose from, and just about anyone can grow them—beginners included. Their special water-storing tissue allows 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 a few of the best indoor succulents to buy as you start your collection.

Burro’s tail plant wood stand
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 shelf or plant stand so it can drape over the sides. Each stem can reach up to 3 feet in length and is packed with gray-green leaves about the size and shape of a plump grain of rice. The leaves have a pale sheen to them that wipes off when you touch them, so they will show fingerprints. Keep in mind, the leaves on burro's tail are fragile and fall off easily, so it's best to avoid handling this plant as much as possible. Native to Mexico, burro's tail prefers bright light for best performance. You can let the soil dry out between waterings, especially in winter when growth isn't as active.

'Madame Butterfly' Christmas cactus
Kritsada Panichgul

2. Christmas Cactus

Unlike other cacti, the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) doesn't have sharp spines. Its flat, fleshy, segmented stems can reach a couple of feet in length, often draping over a vessel's edge 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 is dry. Keep this cactus in bright light near a window and it should reward you by blooming in winter with showy pink blooms. If it blooms a little earlier than you expect and the stem segments are spiky instead of scalloped, you might actually have a Thanksgiving cactus (they're closely related to Christmas cacti), but don't worry—the care instructions are similar for both.

hens-and-chicks potted succulents
Marty Baldwin

3. Hens-and-Chicks

Two succulent plants actually share the common name of hens-and-chicks, and 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 forms flat, flowerlike rosettes with rounded edges and grows arching, bell-shaped blooms every year. Sempervivum tectorum also forms rosettes, but each leaf tends to be flatter and more pointed. It has tiny, star-shaped flowers. Both of these succulents come in all sorts of varieties that offer interesting colors, so they're especially fun to collect.

Echeveria and Sempervivum have similar needs when grown as houseplants. Both should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings, as constant moisture can cause 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 placing them in their own container. Just make sure to use a sandy potting mix labeled for cacti and succulents so your plants will have the drainage they need.

Jade plant table centerpiece
Marty Baldwin

4. Jade Plant

The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is a classic favorite for a reason: It's a cinch to grow! This sturdy South African native grows stocky, branched stems with thick, glossy green leaves that are sometimes tinged with red around the edges when grown in full sun. Some varieties have different-looking leaves, such as the variety 'Gollum,' which has leaves that resemble green monster fingers. Over time, jade plants can grow to be several feet tall; however, 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 out completely between waterings. Some gardeners only water jade when the leaves start to pucker or lose their shine, but these are actually signs that the plant is already stressed; if you wait that long, it may start to drop leaves.

Aloe plants near window
Marty Baldwin

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. 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 it 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 and does best in bright light, though if you suddenly move it into a hot, sunny window, its leaves can get burned.

Panda plant
Marty Baldwin

6. Panda Plant

There are dozens of kinds of Kalanchoe plants, but the panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is quite distinctive. A native of Madagascar, panda plants have fuzzy, gray-green leaves covered with soft, silvery hairs and tipped with brown or rust-colored spots. They can reach about 2 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 water on the leaves or they may rot.

Ponytail palm plant on stool
Marty Baldwin

7. Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata) aren't really palm trees, but they do look a bit like them thanks to a long, woody trunk and a tuft of leathery leaves at the top. They grow slowly but can reach tree-like proportions of 12 to 20 feet, though indoors they top out around 4 feet. Although the ponytail palm doesn't look much like a succulent, the swollen, bulbous base of the trunk (called a caudex) 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 the winter when it isn't actively growing.

Snake plant black speckled pot
Marty Baldwin

8. Snake Plant

This classic succulent houseplant has a reputation for being (nearly) indestructible. Snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) can survive weeks without light and water without losing their good looks. Their thick pointed leaves grow straight up, reaching about 3 feet tall, and often have patterned markings reminiscent of a snake. Over time, they 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.

African milk tree growing in pot outdoors with succulents
Bob Stefko

9. African Milk Tree

While African milk tree (Euphorbia trigona) is capable of towering up to 9 feet tall, it isn't actually a tree. As a houseplant, this succulent reaches up to 3 feet tall, producing upright branched stems lined with short but sharp thorns. The tips of the green stems also have small leaves with a reddish tinge. The African milk tree is related to the poinsettia, meaning it also 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 this plant healthy.

Haworthia potted plant
Marty Baldwin

10. Zebra Haworthia

Zebra haworthia's (Haworthia fasciata) striking stripes and spiky foliage might make it look like a rare, exotic plant, but it's often available at garden centers and is very easy-going when it comes to its care. 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 for growing alongside other succulents because it will stay small, maxing out at about 5 inches tall.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to water succulents?

    Succulents are best watered with a "soak and dry" method, which entails allowing the soil to dry out completely, then soaking it to saturation (and repeating the cycle as needed). When watering succulents, be sure to aim the stream of water at the base of the plant as close to the soil as possible, rather than from overhead, which can cause moisture to build up within the leaves and rot the plant.

  • How much sun do succulents need?

    Succulents love sun—and moreover, heat—and will do best in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. However, if you notice white or brown spots on the leaves of your succulents, that's a sign that they're getting too much direct sunlight and are getting burnt.

  • What should I pot my succulents in?

    The most important consideration when potting succulents is drainage. When choosing a pot, be sure to pick one with ample drainage at the base. Additionally, a terracotta or clay pot can be helpful, as the material will wick away excess moisture from the soil.

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