Everything You Need to Know About Air Plants

We have a confession to make—air plants aren’t actually succulents. But we really want to share them with you anyway! They’re super easy to grow and maintain just like succulents. They don’t even require soil, so they’re the perfect no-mess houseplants!

Air plants look great in arrangements with succulents and are some of the cutest little plants around. They have thin, ribbonlike leaves that grow in clusters, so we think they look a lot like pom poms!

We know that succulents are your main squeeze, but we hope you have a little room left in your heart for air plants. If you want to know more about these wispy little wonders, keep reading! (We thought it’d be good to switch it up a bit from succulents from time to time).

But if you still want to read about succulents check out this amazing article we just published about why succulents are so popular.

What are Air Plants?

So if air plants aren’t succulents, what are they? And why are they similar to succulents anyways?

Air plants, which are also called Tillandsia, are epiphytes. Epiphytes are a group of plants that grow on trees and other plants not necessarily soil. Some epiphytes you’re already familiar with are orchids, ferns, and mosses like Spanish moss.

Epiphytes aren’t parasitic, so they don’t have any kind of negative effect on the trees they grow on. Since air plants are epiphytes, they don’t steal nutrients from their host plants—they derive those from the air, water, dead leaves and debris.

Most air plants absorb nutrients through their leaves since the main purpose of their roots is to anchor them to other plants. How crazy is that?

Air plants have special structures called trichomes that allow them to absorb nutrients. Trichomes are those white, fuzzy, hairlike structures on the leaves of air plants. (Almost as fuzzy as this shaggy blanket). They kind of look like mold at first glance!

Don’t be fooled though!

Trichomes are made up of a bunch of dead and living cells that swell up whenever they come into contact with water. As they swell, they stretch out and cover the whole leaf, which traps the water inside the plant. From there, the water gets absorbed into other cells and is utilized.

You may be wondering… how is this even possible? A plant that doesn’t need soil to survive and lives off the air? That’s crazy talk.

When we first heard about air plants, we were skeptical too! But the more we learned about them, the more we realized that the way they grow makes sense given their environment. Most air plants are native to tropical rainforests that have lots of competition for sunlight and water. There’s a dense, thick canopy of trees in these rainforests that prevents sunlight and water from reaching the ground.

Tillandsia adapted to grow on trees so that they didn’t have to compete with all the plants on the ground for sunlight and nutrients. They grow high up so that they’re closer to sunlight, rain, and nutrients from the dead leaves that fall from the canopy. Pretty genius, huh?

How Do You Plant Air Plants?

Most people don’t have huge trees growing in their houses, so they plant their air plants in glass terrariums, hanging metal planters, and even in sea urchin shells.

You can also grow Tillandsia on a piece of driftwood, but they may have a little trouble sticking on their own. You can use a small dab of glue to mount your plant to the wood without hurting it.

The most important thing to remember is that your air plants should not be planted in soil. If you do, your plants might rot!
You can layer sand, rocks, and moss in their terrarium or planter instead.

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Everything you need to know about air plants
@ary_plants

Types of Air Plants

There are around 650 species of Tillandsia, so there are a lot of plants to choose from! To help you narrow your search for the perfect air plant, we’re going to talk a little bit about the two different types of Tillandsia—mesic and xeric.

Xeric Tillandsia are a lot like succulents—they’re really good at soaking up water because they’re native to hot, dry climates like the desert. Since they have lots of trichomes that can soak up water effectively like a scotch brite sponge, xeric types don’t need to be watered as often as mesic plants.

Mesic Tillandsia, on the other hand, are native to humid, tropical rainforests. Since water is more readily available there than in the desert, they didn’t develop as many trichomes as xeric plants. Since your home isn’t a hot, steamy rainforest with lots of water vapor for your mesic plants to soak up, you’ll need to water them more often! We’ll give you some watering tips for both types of air plants in just a sec.

Since the water needs of these two plants are different, knowing which type you have is important. You can tell if a plant is mesic or xeric by looking at its leaves.

If it’s covered with a bunch of white, fuzzy hairs, then it’s probably a xeric Tillandsia. If it has smooth leaves without a lot of fuzzy tricohomes, then it’s probably a mesic plant.

Watering Air Plants

Now is a great time to talk about watering Tillandsia!

There are a few different ways to water air plants that you should know about. The first way you can water them is by giving them a bath! You can place them face down in a garden tub or sink full of water and they’ll absorb all the moisture they need.

Your Tillandsia can stay in there for up to two hours depending on how much time you have and how much water they need. If their leaves are dry, brown, or crispy, they’re going to need that long, two hour soak. If they’re looking healthy but they’re mesic types, then you should also give them a bath that’s on the longer side once per week. But if you have xeric plants, putting them in the bath for half an hour or less once a week should be enough.

Everything you need to know about air plants or tillandsias
@ary_plants

If giving your plant babies a bath just like real babies sounds a little too extra for you, you can dunk them in water instead. Grab a bowl and fill it up with some water, and then dip the top of your plants in the water for a minute or two. You can even rinse them under the tap for a minute or two if you prefer.

Depending on the type of plant you have, you should dip it between one and four times a week. Mesic Tillandsia will need to be dipped three or four times a week, while xeric Tillandsia will get by on just one or two waterings.

After soaking or dipping your plants, you should put them in an area with good air circulation so that they dry out quickly. Plants that don’t dry out within four hours are likely to rot, so put them near a fan, in front of an open window, or somewhere else with good airflow. Make sure that you don’t put your plant back in its terrarium or hanging planter until it’s completely dry!

If you have a laundry drying rack laying around, be sure to use this. It’s perfectly set up so that your air plants get the air circulation it needs in order to dry completely.

If your plant looks a little parched in between soakings, you can mist it a bit with any spray bottle, which is the final watering method we’re going to talk about.

You can use a spray bottle to mist and moisten the leaves of your plant. If they’re planted in a metal hanging planter like this one from Mkono or on a piece of driftwood, you won’t need to move them or remove them from their container to mist them, so  it’s a pretty convenient way to water your plants.

If misting is your primary watering method, though, you’ll need to do it at least three times a week to make sure your Tillandsia get enough water. Mesic types may even need to be misted every single day! So even though misting seems like a convenient way to water your plants, it can actually turn into a real hassle if it’s the only way you water them!

Misting isn’t the absolute best way to water your air plants—soaking them in water will actually keep them healthier. So we recommend that you don’t rely too heavily on misting and mix things up. You should soak your plants at least twice a month to ensure that they’re getting the kind of deep watering they need to stay healthy.

Do Air Plants Need Sunlight?

Air plants definitely need sunlight, but not quite as much as succulents. If you put them in direct sunlight for a few hours, their moisture supply will get depleted, so put them someplace where they’ll get bright but indirect sunlight.

We like to keep our air plants a few feet away from a bright window using a cute window sill planter like this. If you keep yours outside, make sure to put them somewhere with plenty of shade like a covered patio or porch.

As for temperature requirements, air plants do best in warm temps between fifty and ninety degrees. Luckily your home is right in that temperature range, so your air plants will do great indoors!

Tillandsia do not do well in freezing temperatures, so keep that in mind if you’re growing them outside.

Fertilizing Tillandsia

Just like succulents, Tillandsia don’t need a lot of fertilizer. You can fertilize them up to once a month, but you don’t have to. Using a fertilizer designed for air plants or bromeliads on them a few times a year is more than enough.

If you can’t get your hands on bromeliad fertilizer, then pick up some regular houseplant fertilizer at your local garden center and dilute it to one quarter strength before you apply it to your Tillandsia.

Propagating Air Plants

Air plants flower, but right after they do, they die! Sad, right?

Don’t despair, though! Tillandsia have a lifespan of several years and can be propagated before they die. So you’ll have lots of baby plants around to comfort you when it’s time to say goodbye to your mature plant!

Before they bloom, Tillandsia produce offsets, which are baby plants that pop up around the base of the main plant. Offsets stay connected to the main plant until you divide and remove them.

When the offsets are small, it’s best to keep them connected to the main plant, but once they get bigger, you can separate and replant them. We like to wait until our baby Tillandsia are about a third of the size of the main plant before dividing them.

All we do to divide our plants is grab them by the base with our hands and gently pull them apart. Avoid grabbing the top of the plant because you may accidentally rip some of its leaves off! Once the plants are separated, you can mount them or plant them wherever you like.


There you have it! That’s everything we think you need to know about air plants.

What do you think of these cute little plants? Have they made it onto your wishlist? Let us know in the comments below or in our exclusive Succulent Plant Lounge community. Many succulent lovers share their experiences and questions in there.

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complementary guide. 

Happy planting!



How to Grow Hens and Chicks Succulents

Growing hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) plants in your garden is quite simple, especially if you want a lot of them. Their offsets keep coming!

Hens and chicks have beautiful rosettes that come in colors like red, green, blue, and copper. They grow like nobody’s business and produce tons of baby plants cutely called chicks, so it’s likely that you’ll never have to buy more than one Hen.

Hens and chicks are easy to care for and can thrive indoors or outdoors, so they’re the perfect plant for pretty much everyone!

If you want to keep your Sempervivum tectorum looking like spring chickens, then you’re going to need our advice! Find out how to grow hens and chicks in your own garden.

How to Grow Hens and Chicks Succulents
Growing hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) plants is quite simple, especially if you want a lot of them. Their offsets keep coming! @joske.anoebis.goa

Hens and chicks

I bet you’re probably wondering why this plant has such a weird name! It’s called hens and chicks or hens and chickens because it produces a lot of offsets, which are also known as chicks.

In case you didn’t know, offsets are baby succulents that sprout from mature plants, in this case, called Hen. The mother plant “hatches” baby chicks just like a hen does, so that’s how it got its quirky name hens and chicks!

Binomial nomenclatureSempervivum tectorum
Other namesHens and chicks, hen and chickens, hen-and-chicks, hens-and-chickens, houseleek, roof houseleek, hen-widdies
SizeThey can grow up to be up to 4 inches tall
pH6.6 to 7.5
SunFull Sun to Part Sun
ClimateCold Hardy, Winter Vegetables
Growing LocationsThroughout the US
GroundSandy, Excellent Drainage
WaterLow, Drought Tolerant

Sempervivum tectorum

Hens and chicks are also called Sempervivum tectorum. Serpevivum means “always living” in Latin. Sempervivum plants got this name because they sprout many offsets that live on after the mother plant dies.

Sempervivums are also called houseleeks because they used to be planted on thatched roofs to keep them from catching on fire during lightning storms. They store a lot of water in their leaves, so it makes sense that they would prevent fires from spreading.

How to care

Hens and chicks are native to the mountains of Europe, so they’ve adapted to cold weather and are considered a winter vegetable. Even though they’re tough and can withstand less than ideal conditions, there are still a few things you need to know to keep them healthy. Here are some of our best caretaking tips for hens and chicks.

The best soil

If you’ve read our other plant guides, you already know that you need to put your plants in well-draining soil. We talk about drainage so often because it’s super important!

If your hens and chicks get waterlogged, it may get mushy leaves, start to attract pests, or die from root rot. Nobody wants that!

Planting your succulent in cactus or succulent soil will prevent your plant from sitting in water and meeting an untimely end. Commercial succulent soil is a good choice because it contains porous materials like perlite and pumice that improve drainage and keep your plant nice and dry.

We highly recommend this soil mix by Bonsai Jack. It is one of the best soil mixes on the market. It doesn’t need to be mixed with any other soil, it helps fight root rot, perfectly pH Balanced & is pathogen-free (ie: won’t kill your plants). This soil is the go-to for our office plants. Go ahead and get the 7 Gallon Bag for your garden if you are plant nerd like us :). Pick up some of our favorite soil you may need by clicking here: Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil.

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Last update on 2020-03-19 / Amazon

How to water

Watering your hens and chicks plants every two weeks is usually enough, but watch out for signs of under watering like dry, wrinkly leaves.

Fill up a watering can and douse the soil until water runs out of the pot’s drainage hole. In between these deep waterings, let the plant’s ground dry out completely.

Doing this encourages your hens and chicks to develop a healthy root system because its roots will grow deeper as it searches the soil for more water. Letting the soil dry out also prevents root rot.

Light requirements

Hens and chicks can handle anything from partial shade to full sun. Their fleshy leaves are a bit delicate and can burn during the hottest months of the year, so if you keep your succulent outdoors, watch out for signs of sunburn like brown, faded, or crispy leaves.

It’s a good idea to invest in some shade cloth to keep your outdoor succulents cool on hot days. You should also water your plants more frequently during hot weather to cool down the soil.

Temperature and climate

Hens and chicks are cold hardy plants, which means they can survive in below-freezing temperatures. Even if the temperature drops to negative 40 degrees, your plant baby will still be ok. Sempervivum tectorum can thrive in winters thanks to their cold-hardy attributes.

A lot of plants can’t handle temps like that—the water they store in their leaves freezes from the cold and make the leaves brown and mushy. Their ability to survive in cold weather is just one of the many things that make Hens and Chicks remarkable!

Even though this succulent is cold-hardy, it grows best in mild temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. So growing hens and chicks indoors is not only possible, but also good for them as long as they get enough light.

Keep them near a bright window like the south or east-facing window for the best results.

Fertilizing

Hens and chicks can survive in nutritionally poor ground, so you don’t absolutely need to fertilize them. You probably want your plant to grow more quickly and look more vibrant, though, so you should fertilize it once every month or two during the spring and summer.

The best fertilizer for hens and chicks is a low-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Low-balanced fertilizers are milder and have less of a chance of burning the leaves of your plant. When you’re buying a fertilizer, look for one that has three small, identical numbers on the package, like 8-8-8.

Even though you’re using a mild fertilizer, you should still dilute it to half strength. Hens and chicks don’t need as much fertilizer as other plants, so you don’t want to give yours as much as the package calls for. Standard fertilizers generally call for 1 tablespoon of fertilizer per gallon of water, but you should only use ½ tablespoon.

Do Hens and Chicks Bloom?

Some succulents use up all of their resources in order to produce flowers and seeds, which leaves nothing for the rest of the plant. Succulents that die after they flower are called monocarpic succulents.

Hens and chicks flower and die after about three or four years. Your plant may flower earlier if it’s under stress from not getting enough water or sunlight. It flowers early to try and spread its seed in the hopes that the new plants will grow somewhere with better conditions. Even if you take care of your plant perfectly, though, it will eventually flower and die.

When this happens to your hens and chicks, try not to be upset! You can save the seeds from the flowers and plant them to grow brand new babies.

Plus, your main plant probably produced a lot of chicks before it died that will grow and take its place.

Growing and Propagating

Hens and Chicks have no trouble growing and propagating on their own, but if you want even more plants, you can grow them from seed. You can harvest seeds from your mature plant after it flowers or purchase them online like the one and only Amazon.

Mother plant

If you’d rather not go to the trouble of growing succulents yourself (we don’t blame you), your hens and chicks plant will do the work for you. It produces lots of offsets that you can divide from the mother plant and put in their own pots.

Growing from Seeds

Grab a pot or planting tray and fill it up with some succulent or cactus soil.

With clean hands, take the seeds of hens and chicks and place them on top of the soil. Since the seeds are so tiny, it can be hard to see where you’re putting them, so just do your best to space them out a little.

After they’re in the soil, make sure you remember to mist them with some water. Keep them moist over the next few weeks until they germinate. Give them access to plenty of sunlight and keep them in a warm room that’s between 70 and 75 degrees if you can.

It’s unlikely that all of your seeds will germinate, so keep that in mind. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time… keep trying!

Dividing Offsets

Hens and chicks seeds don’t always produce new plants that look like the mature plant they came from. If you want your chicks to retain the characteristics of your hen, the best way to do that is by dividing offsets.

Most hens and chicks varieties grow offsets from a stem that’s attached to the mother plant. That stem is called a stolon. It’s best to wait until the stolon withers to replant these offsets. By the time the stolon withers, the offsets will have developed root systems of their own and have the best chance of surviving.

To separate this kind of offset, break or cut the stolon and carefully loosen the soil around the chick. Lift it up out of the soil and transplant it to a pot filled with succulent soil or a new spot in your garden. Wait a few days to water them so that they get a chance to adjust to their new environment.

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There you have it! Those are all the things you need to know to become an expert hens and chicks gardener.

If you’d like this guide you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Even if you think you have a black thumb, don’t chicken out! Go buy yourself one. We know you’ll do a great job taking care of it. Happy planting!

How to Grow Aloe Vera (Beginner’s Guide)

Ever wondered if there is a plant version of beauty and brains? Or probably beauty and purpose? A plant that adds glamour to your living room or office while still possessing a horde of benefits and uses? Good news – there is!

Here at succulent city, we’re always pulling out all the stops to keep your window sill or garden looking aesthetically appealing and keeping it that way. So much so, to bring you the good old Aloe vera, a succulent that brightens up your living room and can be used as a medicine.

This ubiquitous succulent is a popular household companion due to its low maintenance requirement. Aloe vera can survive the negligence and abuse of wannabe gardeners. Not only is Aloe vera grown commercially as a houseplant, but also for its use as medicine, cosmetics and food. Yeah, food!

Aloe Vera— Aloe Babardensis Miller

Aloe Vera is an almost stemless, perennial succulent that grows to 1 meter in height while spreading offsets. This mid-sized, herbaceous plant grows in a rosette form with leaves surrounding each other in layers.

Often green or grey-green in color, the leaves are fleshy and thick, emanating from the center of the plant. Aloe’s leaves are lanceolate with pointed ends and may be adorned with white flecks in some varieties. The edges of the leaves are serrated and have teeny baby spines.

Aloe Vera is a quick grower when grown outdoors but generally slow growing as a houseplant. These plants are a bit hard on flowering, but when they do, they produce showy inflorescence containing pendulous flowers, bright yellow, red or orange in color. The blooms, quite conspicuous, appear in summer and are usually attached to a spike that may be up to 35 inches tall.

With proper care, Aloe Vera has an incredibly long life span and can live up to 100 years. Aloe vera contains approximately 200 nutrients and a bunch of healing qualities. This explains why lots of products in health stores and pharmacies contains extracts of this succulent.

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Scientific Classification

Closely related to the lilies, Aloe Vera is botanically classified under the genus Aloe and the Asphodelaceae (liliaceae) family. Although the official scientific name of Aloe is Aloe Babardensis Miller, other names such as Aloe Vera, Aloe Indica and Aloe vulagris are also used to refer to the same plant.

So broad is the aloe family such that there are about 250 different species of aloe in botany. They differ a huge deal in color and dimension.

Though not popular, some of the common names for aloe include; Healing plant, first-aid plant, African aloe, true Aloe and miracle plant.

Origin

This dainty succulent has been proved to originate from the Arabian Peninsula although there’s evidence that some of the species are native to Northern Africa. Additionally, 130 species are exclusive to South Africa – the land of awesome succulents.

The popularity of Aloe has grown in leaps and bounds, finding its way to households all over the world.

Aloe Vera Fun Facts

  • The word, Aloe, is an Arabic derivative of “Alloeh” which means shining bitter substance.
  • The suffix, Vera, is actually Latin and means true or real.
  • ONLY 4 out of 300+ species of Aloe can be used as a medicine.
  • Aloe Vera was used as deodorant by African hunters.
  • Aloe Vera was regarded as a universal Panacea by Greek scientists 2000 years ago.
  • Egyptians referred the succulent as the plant of immortality.
  • Aloe was considered a source of beauty by Egyptian Queens while Pharaohs carried Aloe vera for use in their afterlife. (I’m just as shocked).

How to Take Care of Aloe Vera

Growing and taking care of an Aloe plant is quite a breeze. This is among those succulents that thrive on neglect. You’ve probably heard ‘em say that, if you can’t sustain an Aloe, then just buy plastic plants.”

No, seriously, it’s that easy to grow and keep your Aloe succulent alive.

Still don’t believe us? For the sake of thoroughness, however, the following conditions favor robust growth for Aloe vera.

Ideal Climate Conditions

Cold temperatures don’t go well with Aloe vera (just like other succulents) as it’s not cold hardy. If you live in zones that experience temperatures below 44°F or 6.7°C, you’ll do well to plant Aloe vera in a pot so that you can bring it in during freezing winter.

It cherishes room temperatures and will do just fine even where there’s a lot of warmth. Aloe vera, just like other succulents do not care about humidity or lack of it. Aloe vera can thrive even in the driest of air.

Light Requirements for Aloe Vera

This sun lover will grow healthy if exposed to bright sunlight a few hours every day. Aloe vera also does well in shades while receiving bits of indirect sunlight. If growing it indoors, place it near a south or west-facing window to ensure Aloe vera receives adequate sunlight. Rotate your plant every six months to ensure that all its parts are getting sunlight.

Outdoor aloes can do just fine with two or three hours of sunlight every day. Insufficient light will lead to droopy leaves and a pale green color on the leaves, essentially etiolating or stretching. Conversely, if you subject your Aloe to lots of direct sunlight especially during summer, it will get stressed. This might be evidenced by a scraggly appearance on the plant.

Watering Conditions for Aloe Vera

See those thick, elongated, plump leaves? They contain water and gel.  Even the roots store water too. Therefore, it’s no brainer that overwatering this plant will send it to an early grave. Depending on the climate of your area, you want to water Aloe vera once in 2-4 weeks.

Drench your Aloe vera thoroughly ensuring that the water drains out completely. This can easily be accomplished by drain holes on your container. If they are missing, simply tilt the pot and drain out the excess water.

Water again only when the soil dries out. You’ll need to water frequently if you have a smaller pot or if you live in a hot or dry area. As is the norm with most succulents, water sparingly during winter.

With Aloe Vera, you’d rather underwater it than water it more often. This is because root rot is real and once your aloe starts producing a strange smell, rotting has just begun. If you also notice dark transparent spots on the leaves, then cut back on watering your plant.

Read our article on watering succulents if you want to be well equipped for watering your Aloe Vera plant.

How to Propagate Aloe Vera

Propagating an Aloe vera can’t get any easier. They are propagated by division or offsets produced by the mother plant. It is much more difficult to carry out the propagation of Aloes via stem cuttings.

To propagate using offsets (learn what offsets are here), simply identify and remove the offsets from the parent plant. These offsets, or pups normally grow at the base of the plant. Aloe vera will occasionally grow offsets when given enough light so be sure to treat your plants with enough lighting. Propagating via offsets is only recommended if the pups are mature. This can be determined by checking if they have grown their own roots.

Carefully remove the mother plant from its pot for an easier time in separating the offsets. Shake off as much dirt as possible from the roots. Be careful not to injure the delicate offset roots, do it gently. Cut the pups from the parent plant using a sharp knife or scissors. Carefully untangle the offset roots from the mother plant.

Once you’ve fully separated the offsets from their mother, slide the parent plant back to its pot. You can fill it up with fresh potting mix for a revamp in the nutrients.

As for the junior aloes, plant them in their own pots using well-draining soil. While planting the offsets, keep the soil slightly moist and do not water for several weeks. Once the plants start showing signs of growth, then you can start watering them albeit infrequently.

Repotting Your Aloe Vera Succulent

This succulent can grow heavy and leggy and so it might be necessary to repot it once it outgrows its current pot. This can be done any time of the year but please avoid winter if you can.

An aloe produces more pups when it’s pot bound so avoid extra-large pots. A good indication that your plant needs repotting is when it becomes top-heavy or when roots start peeping out of the drainage hole. Otherwise, repotting Aloe vera every 2-4 years will just be fine.

Pests & Problems

Pests

This tenacious succulent isn’t susceptible to many pests apart from mealy bugs and houseplant scale. You can easily hose these off using a jet of water. Alternatively, you can opt for neem oil or 70% isopropyl alcohol which works wonders on these bad boys.

Mushy stem

If you notice that your aloe has a mushy stem, chances are that it’s overwatered. If you catch it early, cut off the part just above the rotted section and propagate the plant. This is the only way to save the plant before the rot spreads any further.

Brown, red or yellow leaves

This is none other than environmental stress. Mostly due to a lot of sunlight leading to sunburn, very little water or extremely low temperatures. This commonly affects outdoor aloes.

Typical Uses of Aloe Vera

  • Relieving sun burn.
  • Used to create Aloe Vera juice that can lower blood sugar.
  • Combatting heartburn.
  • Aloe Vera’s late substance on its peel can be used to treat constipation.
  • The gel of Aloe Vera can be used to treat acne.

Where can I buy aloe vera?

Let’s be honest, almost everybody and their mom has an Aloe Vera on their windowsill or just above the sink. Ok, probably you don’t have one but you sure do know tons of friends who can give you one for free.

If buying is the only option, you can get them just about anywhere. Every plant nursery or local garden center stocks some aloe. You can still find them online on Succulents Box, Etsy or Mountain crest garden. Read our where to buy succulents guide if you want to find a laundry list of places to buy.


Enjoyed learning about Aloe Vera? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Now that we’ve exhausted all information about how amazing the Aloe Vera succulent plant is, what do you think? Do you think you can take care of this baby and use its gel for lotion? Let us know! (Share with your succulent friend too).

Everything You Need to Know About the Snake Plant

Many succulents are short and squat because they’ve adapted to grow in arid climates, but not the snake plant! It’s a tropical plant that’s known for its beautiful tall leaves and color variations. Some varieties have leaves with thick, buttery yellow edges, while others have striking dark green stripes. Interior designers love this plant, and so do we―it compliments pretty much any style of decor and looks great in arrangements!

Succulents are known for being hardy, and snake plants are no exception. They’re one of the easiest types of succulents to care for, so we love to recommend them to new gardeners and people with black thumbs.

Even if you forget to water your snake plant for a month, you probably won’t kill it, so don’t let your lack of gardening prowess stop you from owning this wonderful plant!

Even though snake plants are tough, you’re still going to need our advice to keep your plant looking its best. In this article, we’ll give you lots of helpful care taking tips with some fun snake plant facts thrown in for good measure, so keep reading!

Sansevieria Trifasciata— the Snake Plant

History and Origin

Snake plants are native to tropical West Africa and are an important part of African culture. Nigerians believe that the plant provides spiritual protection. They use it in a ritual to remove the evil eye, a malevolent stare that casts a curse on its victims. This succulent is also associated with several African gods, including the god of war.

The Chinese also think that this plant brings good luck like the jade plant. They believe that the gods will bestow the eight virtues, which include long life and prosperity, onto its caretakers. Even if this succulent didn’t bring us good luck, we’d still keep it around because it’s so pretty!

Sansevieria Trifasciata

Snake plants are a type of Sansevieria, which is a genus made up of seventy different flowering plants. These plants are grouped together because they all have shared characteristics like narrow, upright leaves and short, thick roots.

Because the snake plant belongs to the genus Sansevieria, its full scientific name is Sansevieria Trifasciata. The second word in its name, Trifasciata, comes from Latin. It means “marked with three bands.” Several snake plant varieties are variegated, which is just a fancy way of saying that their leaves have different colored streaks. These colorful markings are why snake plants got the name Trifasciata.

In addition to its scientific name, the snake plant has a few nicknames. It’s often called mother-in-law’s tongue because of its sharp, pointed leaves. If you ever buy this succulent for your mother-in-law, don’t tell her what it’s called!

Snake plants are also known as viper’s bowstring hemp because they have strong fibers that were once used to make bowstrings.

How to Care for Snake Plants

Best Soil for Snake Plants

Snake plants are sensitive to water and prone to root rot, so it’s important to plant them in soil that drains well. Commercial succulent or cactus soil is great for them because it has added sand that helps with drainage. Read our best soil article to understand what the best soil mix is for your succulents.

You can also make your own succulent soil from scratch. You’ll save some money and get to control exactly what goes into it, so try it out if you can. There are lots of homemade soil recipes floating around on the Internet, but we like to use three parts of potting soil, two parts of coarse sand like builder’s sand, and one part of pumice.

We won’t lie, though―as much as we love a good DIY, we usually use commercial succulent soil because it’s more convenient.

We highly recommend this soil mix by Bonsai Jack. It is one of the best soil mixes on the market. It doesn’t need to be mixed with any other soil, it helps fight root rot, perfectly pH Balanced & is pathogen-free (ie: won’t kill your plants). This soil is the go-to for our office plants. Go ahead and get the 7 Gallon Bag if you are plant nerd like us :). Pick up some of our favorite soil by clicking here: Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil.

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Last update on 2020-03-19 / Amazon

Repotting Snake Plants

Unlike other succulents, snake plants prefer to be a little squished in their pots. You don’t have to repot these guys until they’re busting out. Wait until you see obvious signs of overgrowth, like excessive top heaviness that makes your plant topple over or roots that stick out of the drainage hole. You can expect to repot your snake plants every three to six years.

Here’s some nifty geometric planters in case you want to get fancy.

Repotting a snake plant is pretty easy, but there are still a few things you need to know. Snake plants like to be root bound, so each time you repot yours, choose a pot that’s only a few inches larger than the old one. The pot you pick should definitely have a drainage hole because snake plants can rot if they sit in any water.

When you’re ready to repot, get your succulent soil and fill the new pot about a third of the way full. Support your succulent by placing your hand on top of the soil and gently turn the pot over. Your plant should pop right out, but if it doesn’t, try tapping on the sides of the pot a little. If it just doesn’t want to come out no matter what you do (we’ve all been there), try watering it. Soaking the soil will loosen the roots and make it easier for you to get your plant out. 

Now, place your plant in the new pot and see where it sits. If your plant sits one to two inches below the pot’s rim, you’re good to go! If not, add or remove soil until it’s positioned properly. Allow your succulent some time to adjust to its new pot before you water it―a few days is usually enough.

Hold off on fertilizing it for a few weeks, too, so that you don’t damage its unestablished roots.

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How Much Water Does a Snake Plant Need?

Succulents need a lot less water than other kinds of plants, and they also need a different watering schedule. Succulents do best when you let their soil dry out completely between waterings, which usually takes about a week.

Snake plants require a bit less water than other succulents, so you may want to water yours every week and a half to two weeks instead of every week.

How to Water a Snake Plant

To water your snake plant, fill up a watering can and pour water onto the soil until it starts to run out of the drainage hole of the pot. Make sure that your succulent doesn’t sit in any water―if you keep your pot on a saucer, lift up the pot once or twice a day and drain any excess water. Make sure that the soil is dry to the touch before you water your succulent again.

Considering that succulents need less water than other plants, it sounds a little strange to flood your snake plant with water every other week. But trust us―this watering schedule works!

If you’re still unsure how much water you’ll need, read our complete watering guide for succulents here. (It’s helped over 2000 succulent lovers to date!)

Snake Plant Light Requirements

Snake plants love indirect sunlight, but they’re pretty adaptable and can survive in full sun and low light conditions. Because they only need indirect sunlight to thrive, they make great houseplants like these.

To keep your snake plant healthy and happy, try placing it near an east facing window. These windows provide a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning and indirect sunlight for the rest of the day, which is perfect for this plant. If you want to keep it close to a brighter south or west facing window, just make sure that you shield it from the sun’s rays by closing the blinds a little. Too much direct sunlight will burn the leaves of your snake plant.

Outside, the best place to put your snake plants is in the shade. While they can be planted in areas that get full sun, we don’t really recommend it. In full sun they’re much more likely to develop symptoms of sun damage, like dark brown spots on their leaves. You’ll also have to water them more often because the heat from the sun causes the soil to dry out faster. If you’re not always great at remembering to water your plants, keep them in the shade!

If you’re dying to plant this gorgeous succulent in a sunny spot in your garden, we get it! We think it would look fab out there too. Just make sure you keep a close eye on it and have shade cloth on hand in case it starts to burn.

Snake Plant Temperature Requirements

Just like real snakes, snake plants don’t like the cold! They can’t tolerate temperatures below 40°F. If you leave them outside in freezing temperatures, the water inside their cells can freeze, expand, and burst their cell walls.

This will cause tissue damage and make the leaves look brown and mushy in certain spots. Your plant can even die if it’s left outside in the cold for too long! If temperatures in your area drop to forty degrees, make sure you bring your outdoor snake plant inside or put some frost cloth over it to keep it as warm as possible.

If you keep your plant inside, that’s ideal. Snake plants do best in temperatures between seventy and ninety degrees, so indoor environments are perfect for them. They’ll reward you for keeping them indoors by purifying the air you breathe. They remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air and release lots of oxygen, improving the air circulation in your home.

Best Fertilizer for Snake Plants

Fertilizer can encourage your snake plants to flower and help them grow faster. You can fertilize them as often as once per month during the spring and summer months.

To get the best results, use a balanced fertilizer. You can tell that a fertilizer is balanced if it has three identical numbers on the package, like 8-8-8. These numbers indicate that the fertilizer contains equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the three main nutrients in fertilizer. We recommend that you pick up an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 formula and dilute it to half strength before applying it to your succulent.

Pests

Succulents can sometimes get infested with pests like mealybugs. Plants that are kept outdoors and ones that are overwatered are more susceptible to infestations, but any plant can become infected.

The two main pests you need to watch out for are mealybugs and spider mites. They stymie your plant’s growth and suck the sap from its leaves, wounding them in the process. If they’re left on your plant long enough, they can even kill it. That’s why it’s so important to get rid of these nasty little critters as soon as you spot them!

Mealybugs are often mistaken for mold because they’re white and fuzzy. If you see lots of white, fuzzy spots on your plant, grab some isopropyl alcohol and put it in a spray bottle or on a q-tip. Spray or wipe the affected areas with the alcohol. Do this as many times as it takes to get rid of all the mealybugs.

Because they’re so small, you probably won’t be able to see the spider mites on your plant, but you will be able to see the damage. Spider mite damage appears as small yellow and brown spots on your plant’s leaves. These mites are related to spiders, so they’ll also leave webbing on your plant that looks similar to a spider web. If you see any of these warning signs, start spraying your succulent’s leaves, especially the undersides, with water and insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Propagating Snake Plants

One of the reasons why we love succulents is because you can get baby plants from them for free through a process called propagation.

Division is one of the most popular ways to propagate snake plants because it preserves the variegation patterns of the mother plant. If you want your new snake plant’s leaves to have the same thick yellow borders as your old plant, then don’t propagate it with leaf cuttings or rhizomes―divide your plant instead.

Propagating Leaf Cuttings

To take a leaf cutting, grab a sharp knife or a pair of shears and cut a leaf off of your plant. You want to make the cut pretty close to the bottom of the plant.

Now, take that leaf and cut it up again into a few different sections. As you’re cutting, make sure that you note which end of each section is the bottom. The “bottom” of each cutting is the side that was closest to the roots of the main plant when it was still attached.

If you plant the top sides of the cuttings in soil, they won’t root, so that’s why this step is so important. We like to take a non-toxic sharpie or pen and mark which sides we need to plant so that we don’t get confused.

Leave these cuttings to dry out for a few days. Then, fill a planting tray or pot with succulent soil and plant the cuttings bottom side down in the soil. You should keep them in bright, indirect sunlight and mist them with a spray bottle once a day to keep them moist.

Propagating succulents from leaves isn’t an exact science, and not every leaf will take, but you should see some roots and buds after a few weeks. Once your baby succulent grows a bit larger, you can water it the same way you water your mature snake plants.

Propagating Rhizome Cuttings

Propagating rhizome cuttings is pretty much the same process as propagating leaves. If you’re not familiar with rhizomes, they’re kind of like roots, except they grow horizontally. Plants that have them use them to store nutrients. Rhizomes sometimes sprout up through the soil near your main plant and grow new leaves. They can be cut and used to grow new succulents.

It’s important to wait until a rhizome sprouts a leaf before you cut it. Once that happens, take a sharp garden knife and cut the rhizome as close to the bottom as you can. Allow the cutting to dry out for a few days, and then plant it in soil, cut side down. Water this cutting the same way you watered the leaves.

Dividing Snake Plants

You can also cut your snake plant in half with a sharp knife to gain a brand new plant. Like we mentioned earlier, division is the best way to ensure that your new plant will have the same variegation as your main plant.

Cut your plant and its root structure in half right down the middle. Plant each half in its own pot with some succulent soil. Allow these plants to take root for a few days before you water them, and then water them as normal.


By now you’re probably dying to run to your local garden center and pick up one of these plants. We don’t blame you! Snake plants are beautiful, low maintenance houseplants that anyone can grow and enjoy regardless of their gardening skill level.

We love their gorgeous tall leaves, color variations, and greenish white flowers. We hope that this guide has helped you figure out how to take care of a snake plant once you get it home from the nursery, whether or not you have a green thumb!

Last update on 2020-03-19 / Amazon

Leave a comment below about what you enjoyed learning about in this article, we’re curious! And if you have a new snake plant after this, let us know the progress of your succulent baby, happy planting!

Enjoyed learning about Snake Plants? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about The Right Way to Propagating Succulents Successfully. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Everything about the Crown of Thorns Succulent

This is probably the umpteenth time you’re telling yourself that you won’t buy another succulent. In fact, your friends have heard you say it ad nauseam. But then, you take a look at your succulent corner or window sill, and there’s an irresistible urge to add just one more of these green pretties. I know. We do it all the time. Succulent obsession? You bet!

With succulents, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose from the wide variety. They come in quirky and bizarre colors, shapes and sizes. Oh, and names too!

From the mother-in-law’s tongue known as Sansevieria Trifasciata to the pig’s ear known as the Cotyledon Orbiculata. What about the burro’s tail? (Who thought of these names?) Without a doubt, deciding on your next succulent gets more interesting by the day.

Crown of Thorns— Euphorbia Milii

A great deal of plants are usually referred to as ever blooming, yet, when you take them home, the hard truth hits you. You expectantly watch the plant daily but you get disappointed. Some don’t bloom for weeks and others even for months!

If you’re anything like me, you like your office or living room teaming with color punctuated with a feel of nature. Look no further – the crown of thorns got you covered. This tenacious, award-winning succulent is an all-time bloomer producing conspicuous red bracts with little yellow flowers centrally located. It’s a hard to kill plant that can be passed on as a gift for years while maintaining its blooms all through as it grow.

Scientific Classification

The botanical name for the crown of thorns is Euphorbia milii. It traces its scientific genealogy from the spurge (Euphorbiaceae) family. Its species name milii, is used in honor of Baron Milius, who introduced it into cultivation in France in 1821 and was once a Governor of Bourbon Island.

Euphorbia milii’s common names include, crown of thorns, Christ thorn and Christ plant. Latin Americans call it corona de Cristo.

Origin

This sprawling succulent is native to Madagascar and does well in the tropics. The crown of thorns is a popular indoor ornamental grown all over the world due to its all-year blooms. It’s an easy care plant – a close fit both for the neglectful plant lovers and the brown thumbs.

Due to its outstanding characteristics, Euphorbia milii received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Description

Euphorbia milii is a slow growing, evergreen succulent mainly characterized by its large, sharp inch-long thorns that randomly cover the stem. The thick stems have water-storage capacity making the plant drought-resistant. This woody shrub consists of sparsely arranged, fleshy leaves which are thick and bright-green in color. Euphorbia milii, a salt tolerant succulent, only brings forth leaves on newer stems or the youngest parts of the plant.

The narrow, obovate, smooth-edged leaves that are spirally arranged on the stem naturally drop off as the plant gets older. This gives a scrawny appearance in older plants – an awesome vintage aesthetic for your living room or office.

Euphorbia milii is recognized for its eye-catching blooms, which are not real flowers in the real sense, but spathaceous red bracts conveniently situated at the shoot tips. These conspicuous, saucer-shaped bracts surround the real yellow flowers.

Blooming mostly occurs between spring and late summer. However, when conditions are conducive, the crown of thorns plant can produce flowers tirelessly throughout the year.

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7 Reasons to have a Crown of Thorn

  1. It stands out as a rich ornamental in living rooms due to its showy, brilliant red bracts, thus adding charm and color to your home.
  2. The crown of Thorns is a pretty forgiving plant. It will not yell at you for forgetting to water it once in a while.
  3. It can be grown indoors and even outdoors if the area has frost-free winters.
  4. In good conditions, Euphorbia milii will bloom throughout the year.
  5. A very easy maintenance plant due to its slow growing nature.
  6. The crown of thorns plant is not soil picky. It can grow on the poorest soils as long as it’s well draining.
  7. Simple to propagate by cuttings.

How to take care of Euphorbia Milii Succulents

Euphorbia milii is a tough plant that will tolerate the most extreme climatic conditions and still look very good. This makes it pretty easy to grow and even the most inexperienced gardener can have a pleasant time cultivating it.

What is the ideal temperature to grow in for Crown of Thorns?

This desert plant will thrive in warm conditions as it’s well adapted for that. Temperatures above 18°C are optimal for the crown of thorns plant though it will also tolerate temperatures as low as 10°C.

Very cold temperatures will cause the plant to slow down its growth and be dormant. Euphorbia milii can thrive in any humidity level.

It’s absolutely allergic to frosts, cold drafts or freezing conditions especially while it’s young. You’ll want to avoid these as plague, unless you want to kill your Euphorbia.

How much Light does a Euphorbia Milii need?

This sun lover loves to bask in bright and direct sunlight for at least four hours a day. The better the sun exposure it gets, the more it blooms.  Euphorbia milii can also tolerate shade, however, its blooms while growing under a shade will not impress you.

If growing it outdoors, aim at placing it in a spot where it will receive full sun. For you houseplant champions, place your crown of thorns in a west or south-facing window and ensure it receives maximum sunlight.

Read more about how much sunlight your succulent needs in order to grow healthy and vibrant.

Soil & Fertilizing Requirements

Euphorbia milii will do well in a well-drained, grainy potting substrate. This is paramount to ensure that the plant doesn’t sit on damp soil for long.

You can use about a third of pumice or perlite and mix it with two thirds of regular soil to make an ideal potting mix for the crown of thorns plant. Read the best soil mixes here.

As for fertilizers, the Euphorbia milii will do just fine and remain robust even without fertilizers, a bit of liquid fertilizer sprinkled occasionally will go a long way in helping it to bloom. Use a dilute solution of balanced fertilizer during spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing the dry substrate as this will burn the roots.

The crown of thorns is a slow growing plant, so be careful not to over fertilize it as this will lead to fewer flowers and thin, stretched-looking shoots.

Euphorbia milii is very sensitive to micronutrients and especially Boron, so be careful when using fertilizers that are loaded with large amounts of micronutrients.

Watering Crown of Thorns— Euphorbia Milii

The crown of thorns plant is reserved and less demanding when it comes to water. Its thick, spiny stems store water which keeps it hydrated for many days.

Give it a thorough watering once a week and let the surface soil (about one inch deep) to dry out before watering it again. Flood your Euphorbia milii but drain off the excess water. If the root ball sits in moist soil for an extended period of time, a dangerous fungal disease known as root rot will plague the plant.

Water your crown of thorns with less water than usual during cold seasons or when the temperature drops below 10°C.

Pests with Euphorbia Milii

The crown of thorns is rarely invaded by pests. When it happens, mealy bugs, scales, spider mites and thrips are the usual culprits. You can take care of these buddies by dipping a cotton swab in soapy water and using it to rub them off.

Euphorbia milii will only be susceptible to diseases as a result of too much water either in the substrate or on the foliage. To prevent this, avoid overwatering your plant.

Is the Euphorbia Milii Succulent Poisonous?

Typical of other Euphorbias, the crown of thorn’s sticky, white latex is toxic and can cause dermatitis and even partial blindness if a lot of it finds its way to the eyes. All parts are poisonous when ingested. Therefore, keep it away from pets and toddlers. Also watch out for the sharp thorns.

How to Propagate Crown of Thorns Succulent

Propagating crown of thorns is easy and the success rate high. This exercise is carried out through stem cuttings.

Simply snip off a younger branch using a sharp and sterilized blade or knife at the intersection where the trunk and the branch meet. After the cut, some white latex will start dripping from the cuts. You can curb this “bleeding” by dipping the cuts in warm water to prevent the sap from running excessively.

Place your cuttings in a dry area, preferably on a newspaper or a paper towel to allow them to dry and callus the cuts. This should take two to three days.

Get a small pot and fill it with well drained potting mix. An ideal option is the cacti commercial mix. Make it slightly moist. If the substrate is too dry the cuttings won’t develop roots and if it’s overly wet, then they’ll rot. You want to avoid both extremes.

If you want quicker rooting, you can dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone though they’ll do just fine even without the catalyst.

Stick your cutting in the moist potting mix and place them in a warm place with loads of bright, indirect sunlight. Do not water it at all for several weeks.

Now wait.

After a couple of weeks, the cuttings will start developing roots. You can know this by gently tugging the plants and checking for some resistance.

In about a month’s time, the plant will be fully established and it will show signs of growth. You can now start watering your plant albeit lightly.

Repotting the Crown of Thorns Succulents

Repot immediately after purchase since most commercial plants are sold with conventional flowering soil that may be injurious to Euphorbia milii. Repot it to a well-draining substrate fortified with a little composted manure as a nutrient source.

After this, only repot once the plant outgrows its current container. Make sure the new pot is only slightly larger than the previous one. If the pot is too big, the plant will focus on growing new roots rather flowering.

Terra cotta pots are great for the crown of thorns. But be sure to use a pot that is correct in size for optimal growth.

Where can I buy a Euphorbia Milii Succulent?

Euphorbia milii is widely available in green houses and local garden centers, especially during spring. In case you fail to find it there, check out online stores such as Etsy and Amazon. Read more on where you can buy other succulents here.


Was that enough Crown of Thorns information? We’d hope so! If you found any value in this article please be sure to comment what you liked best about it and how it helped you. (We love feedback).

If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

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