Garden centers across the US saw a spike in sales for houseplants during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the ‘2021 Houseplant Report’, the houseplant craze was driven by the emergence of biophilic design trends and new plant parents spending more time at home. Out of all the garden centers surveyed, more than 80% reported increasing their houseplant offerings in 2020, and will continue to do so throughout 2021.
In difficult times, humans often turn to the natural world to reinvigorate themselves. Houseplants, in particular, are beneficial for our mental health. The Well-Gardened Mind highlights gardening as an activity which can decrease stress and foster mental well-being in our daily lives. Author Sue Stuart-Smith discusses how recent research is pointing to green nature as having natural, antidepressant effects on humans.
One of the simplest plant types to bring inside your home is a succulent plant. Succulents have thick, fleshy, engorged plants which can retain water in dry climates or soil. They don’t need much care or space, so they’re a favorite among new gardeners. Succulents can also brighten up any workspace, bathroom, or living area. Here are three mini succulents you can easily bring home:
Living Stone (Lithops)
Living stone succulents are non-toxic, South African natives which grow in clumps and mounds. As their name suggests, each leaf of this succulent looks like a round pebble. They also come in a variety of colors that camouflage in their natural surroundings, and even produce beautiful white or yellow flowers in the fall.
Much like other succulents, living stones prefer bright light with at least four hours of direct sun during the summer. They also don’t like water, so keep the soil barely moist. As the University of Copenhagen notes, succulents are built to survive in areas with extended periods of drought; they can fold and unfold their cell walls to control water content in their leaves.
Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum)
Hens and chicks plants have perennial, clustering evergreen rosettes, and they don’t grow very tall. This petite succulent is perfect for tighter spaces because they stay under three inches in both height and diameter, even when they’ve fully matured. Although they’re most frequently found with vibrant green leaves, hens and chicks succulents may also come in an assortment of colors.
This is a great plant if you’re a little adventurous as a gardener, because they can thrive both indoors and outdoors. They can survive frost, and even an entire winter under a blanket of snow. However, it hates water; provide it with sandy, well-draining soil and full sun for best results.
Zebra Cactus (Haworthia)
The zebra cactus is distinct due to its white, bumpy stripes on evergreen leaves. Native to South Africa, zebra cacti don’t grow taller than six inches. They’re also slow growers, spending most of the summer dormant. In Houseplants for All: How to Fill Any Home with Happy Plants, author Danae Horst mentions that even people without a “green thumb” can work with plants by creating environments which help them thrive.
The zebra cactus abides by this principle. They need very little water and prefer to stay away from direct sunlight. Once winter rolls around, they can grow healthily — even if you’re an absent-minded gardener. As we recommended in our ‘30 Creative Succulent Decorating Ideas’, you can grow these mini succulents in a shallow dish, an old basin, or even in a seashell. For more succulent-care tips, check out the other articles on Succulent Alley.