Shade-loving Indoor Succulents for Zone 5/6?

knkruegerOctober 3, 2011

Hi all,

I'm a newbie wanting to grow succulents and I have found a bunch I love to pieces:

Haworthia cooperi var. leightonii

Jovibarba hirta 'Histoni'

Echeveria 'Blue Horizon'

Dioscorea elephantipes

and my all-time favorite Dioscorea mexicana

But here's the thing, I live on the borders of zone 5/6 and my apartment gets partial sun. I have an east facing windowsill that gets sun for only a few hours a day. Do I have a chance of growing this or other succulents indoors? All of the information I have found so far online tells either about growing inside or growing in partial sun and I have both stipulations. I would love advice about growing these or other succulents that would thrive in my lame conditions!

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amccour

I was actually stuck growing all of my succulents indoors this summer. I am planning on doing a writeup about the current results. The big thing is whether or not they manage to survive this winter.

I also wouldn't really call any of these shade *loving*. That being said, there are apparently a number of shade-loving Amaryllids that are rather succulent, and might work. Clivias are neat and apparently can take a lot of shade. Haemanthus albiflos, from what I gather, is jungle understory plant, although from my understanding there are some fairly similar looking Haemanthus which are full-sun, desert plants, so check labels.

Ledebouria socialis is in the hyacinth? subfamily? and also pretty easy.

Some general observations:

- Haworthias attenuata/fasciata (are these the same thing?) grow more or less fine on a windowsill and will even flower. A lot. Which would be great except their flower spikes are boring and huge and mostly just get tangled in other things.

NOT sure how the more fenestrated ones like cooperi or retusa would do, though. I tend to think they'd want more light.

- Jungle cacti like Zygocactus or Rhipsalis aren't too problematic. Desert cacti are pretty much a lost cause and I wouldn't even bother. I have had luck with Leuchtenbergias, so far, though I'm not sure how that'll last.

Oh, so far I've had essentially zero success with globural/barrel-shaped cacti, if that's worth anything.

Pereskias and Pereskiopsises will probably do fine but those are leafy and barely succulent, so...

- In terms of Euphorbias, I have an E. Lactae, E. greenwayi, and an E. antiquorum 'tortilis' (something like that) growing on a north-facing windowsill. Growth has been pretty robust, consistent, and not etiolated or weird or anything.

I've also seen E. Trigonas doing pretty well indoors for long periods of time.

In general the Euphorbias, compared to the cacti, have not been problematic for me. I'd avoid the medusoid kinds, though. My E. Flanagani and E. Globosa are basically vines, now, although they actually did that outside, too, so I don't know what they want.

I'm also not having as much luck with my E. anoplia. It looks like it's etiolating somewhat but I'm not sure to what extent at this point.

- Leafy things will probably do better because leave collect light or something. I think I read that, somewhere.

- The two Alluaudias I have seem to be doing alright, although growth has been inconsistent. That was true when i had them outside, though. The Montagnacii hasn't done anything since I bought it, and my three-branched Procera only has one branch that ever puts out growth.

- Echeverias I have a really hard time with. They tend to etiolate REALLY badly for me indoors. Some fall apart. Some actually start growing normally after awhile. Some just attract mealies and make life miserable for everyone. I'd tend to group those with desert cacti in the "don't even bother" group.

- I've seen Pacyhpodiums (geayi and lamerei I think) growing fairly robustly indoors, although these were in like lobbies that had huge, glass windows. Might be worth a try if you can get one for reasonably cheap?

- Mesembs as a whole are another really questionable group that I haven't done much with because lithops are notoriously rot prone. I'm sort of having success with my Trichodiadem bulbosum, but I'm not sure about the Faucaria. Both looked bad in the winter -- the former defoliated, the latter deflated. Both revitalized quite suddenly this spring, but I'm NOT thinking that the Faucaria is growing normally, although the extent of this and its future impact isn't really clear.

- Avonia quinaria's actually proven surprisingly easy so far. That was surprising.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 9:38PM
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aviolet6(7)

I tried growing some indoors undoor bright flourescent lights. They didn't get enough light and kept stretching up instead of growing wider. Someone told me to put them outside which I did this summer, and they died. I live in zone 7.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 8:58AM
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birdsnblooms

Aviolet. Since your succulents were getting flourescent light, then you set outdoors, they probably got sunburned.

Your plants should have been taken out gradually, starting from slight shade to bright light to full-sun.

Did you toss the succulents?

Succulents don't do well under artificial lights w/o natural sun, too. They grow spindly. Toni

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 1:27AM
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amccour

hopeful, my E. Flanaganii and E. globosa are REALLY spindly/viny, but also putting out lots of new growth and flowering. What does THAT mean? I always assumed that if a plant was getting low enough light that it etiolated it wasn't getting enough light to flower.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 8:28PM
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birdsnblooms

Hi Amccour. How much light are your Euphorbias getting?
Is the new growth on E Flannaganii thinner than old growth?
The reason I ask is there are different (Medusa) cultivars. Mine has the short, thick leaves, but I always wanted the one w/very narrow, long leaves, then set in a Medusa's head statue, lol. I bought the head years ago at Secret Gardens. Got the idea from a picture in Orthos Cactus and Succulent book.

It doesn't get much light in winter, but is very slow-growing. It's several years old, and has put on very little growth. Surely never bloomed. Probably since it doesn't get enough sun.
I'd like to see a pic of yours in flower if you have one available.

If the new growth on your E. flannaganii is growing spindly, then it should be placed in a sunnier spot. Plants sometimes flower out of stress, if that makes sense. But, since your E. flannaganii 'Medusa' is growing leaves, even spindly foliage, it's probably getting light, just not enough..They do well in direct sun, year round.

I don't know, or ever heard of E. globosa, however I Googled a picture, it's very attractive. Since I don't know about this Euphorbia, I can't answer your quesstion.

Do you have pics? Toni

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 3:24PM
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amccour

I don't really have a full-sun location for it, which is sort of the problem. So the etiolation's sort of inevitable. It's also a rather awkwardly shaped plant and it's hard to get it into a good position because of that.

I guess what I'm interested in now is whether it will hit a critical point of some sort and collapse, or if it will eventually acclimatize. I think the main thing is going to be what the central stem/caudex does.

Anyway, as I said, that's only one of two Euphorbias I have that are growing particularly poorly. If they don't work, they don't work (and the globosa was pretty shabby when I got it anyway, so...).

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 1:54AM
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birdsnblooms

Why not pinch or take cuttings where etiolation takes place? Rooting Euphorbias are simple and usually fast, 'though time of year matters.'

What size pots are they in? Can you place on a window-sill? Toni

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 4:36PM
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amccour

When I potted it the first time, I had to use an oversized pot because it had a lot of really long, floppy branches at the base of the caudex that needed support. As a result of this, I also had to fill the bottom half of the pot with rocks so that the amount of potting media wouldn't be too large for the root system. As a result, it's in a huge and very heavy pot. And kind of difficult to get close enough to a window to be happy.

Realistically speaking, I could probably downpot it quit a bit now.

It's one of three plants I have that I really have a hard time finding space for. One is a Pereskia acculeata that's... about three or four feet long, all of which is essentially horizontal growth. The other is a Hylocereus, because if you don't give them anything to climb on they just sort of sprawl everywhere.

Those three basically cause an undue amount of "plant tetris" every time I get something new. As I said, some heavy pruning might be in order.

By the way -- my Pereskiopsis got scale a few months back so I moved it across the room to avoid contamination. As a result, it's not actually near any window, and it's... still growing relatively normally. I don't know if I mentioned that in my first post, but I think that's something you could definitely grow inside.

I get the impression that opuntiads could probably cope with indoor conditions better than other desert cacti, but I don't generally grow them because glochids are the worst things.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 10:30PM
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