Succulents have a long history as indoor plants and are just perfect for those who adore the look of cacti but dislike their prickly spines.
They’re readily available, colorful, originally shaped, and kid-friendly, and some even bloom abundantly indoors, making them ideal for indoor gardening! You may even keep the snake plant (or pincushion cactus) in your bedroom.
Hairy, creeping, shrubby, with strange geometric shapes, the great tribe of these fleshy plants offers an incredible and astonishing diversity of shapes, foliage, blooms, colors, and hardiness.
In addition to their variety and originality, indoor succulents are decorative plants par excellence due to their compact size, ease of care, and ability to thrive in various indoor lighting conditions. No wonder their popularity is threefold!
In most situations, you need a dim light and a little bit of water once a week, and they’ll be ecstatic. Some even thrive in low-light areas… But which ones are the best? Perhaps not saguaros or agaves…
However, many echeveria types, crassulas, and other living stones may grow in such conditions.
Which aspects to choose from is often hard to decide, so we’ve put together a list of the best succulents for indoor gardening!
Out of thousands of varieties, we had to pick the best 20 out thousands, and here they are!
1: ‘Lady Aquarius’ Echeveria (Echeveria ‘Lady Aquarius’)
Echeveria is a classic indoor succulent, but the cultivar we picked is just a real wonder… Meet ‘Lady Aquarius,’ an unusual variety with great colors and shapes.
The rosette comprises broad, ruffled, and soft-looking succulent petals, like a plant you would expect under the sea’s waves, hence the name.
These are ice blue with pink edges, though, as you know, the color depends on the light it receives. If they tend to be green, move them to a brighter spot.
It will also bloom with lovely star-shaped vivid orange-red flowers on purple stems and with purple sepals…
‘Lady Aquarius’ is small but eye-catching, so it is really perfect as a centerpiece on a beautiful coffee table, but even on a kitchen shelf, it will do perfectly well.
2: Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
The jade plant is the best choice for an oriental-looking natural bonsai succulent. This South African beauty looks like a small tree with naturally elegant branches covered in a paper-like layer.
The leaves are paddle-shaped, waxy, very smooth, and glossy indeed, and they come at the tips, looking like jade pendants. The color will change depending on the light and season; bright to mid-green is common, but yellow and red, especially at the margins, will come out in late summer or fall.
It does bloom, too, with many thin, star-shaped, and faint rose flowers above the crown of this winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
The Jade plant is a succulent that improves with age; as the branches thicken, it becomes a slow-growing exotic bonsai… It looks lovely with a rock composition reproducing a mountain setting.
3: Variegated Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii)
The variegated snake plant is a popular houseplant because of its unique and beautiful leaves. The leaves are stiff, marble-like, and pointed, with margins that are lined with dark yellow stripes.
But that’s not all – the large area in the center of the leaf has a crocodile skin pattern of dark green or dark blue with pale green or silver-blue patches!
It really looks like a reptile! It does not like to bloom indoors, but if it does, the small green flowers are also highly fragrant!
Perfect for offices, corridors, and halls, but also living rooms, the variegated snake plant tolerates shady places. It also has received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
4: Pearl Plant (Tulista pumila ‘Variegata’)
Continuing with the reptile theme, why not grow an alien-looking small succulent on your shelf or coffee table? Pearl plant will enchant you if this is your taste.
It is a small rosette of horn-like leaves with lots of bumps, like warts on it, which look like the tentacles of a sea creature!
It’s also varied, of course, with lengthwise stripes that change color according to the light and season; it’ll make an excellent focal point for an open terrarium.
With shades of pale and dark green, or, with lots of sunlight, orange, yellow and purple, you will have a changing display, from fresh to little flames. And yes, it does bloom, with small but pretty green flowers.
Original, unusual, and very evocative, the pearl plant is a relatively recent newcomer on the shelves of garden centers, but one that is destined to grow!
5: Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe luciae)
Color and soft shapes are what you can add to your indoor décor with paddle plants. The round succulent leaves can reach 6 inches across (15 cm) and are arranged in a lovely rosette with a three-dimensional arrangement.
They range between yellow, bright green, and red at the margins, a shade that becomes more pronounced in winter.
Very sculptural, this African species, also called desert cabbage, will also bloom with urn-shaped flowers in soft hues, from pale green to cream or yellowish. However, it is monocarpic, like agave, so once the blossom is spent, your green companion likely will die.
The paddle plant looks like a small sculpture, which you can have as a focal point in a brightly lit and elegant room.
6: Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)
According to Feng Shui, the Chinese money plant is one of many plants that brings wealth and prosperity to your household if you grow it indoors.
And it also looks like a small “shrub of coins”… Yes, because the leaves are almost perfectly round and come individually at the end of thin, arching, and draping stems.
Their color is deep green and glossy. It will also grace your home or office with small but pretty greenish flowers, which sometimes have a pink blush. Small in size, it is an easy succulent to grow and a trendy one.
Its delicate look makes Chinese money plant ideal for shelves and coffee tables, and it will fit almost anywhere, even in a small room.
7: Lady Fingers (Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Oophylla’)
Lovely and tiny, ladyfingers are a charming succulent to grow almost anywhere. While it is not very sculptural, it will grace your indoor spaces with its short branches filled with leaves that look like candies, which are of an unusual shade of blue-gray, with purple edges.
It has an unruly, twisting habit, and at the tips, it will produce stems with a few tubular and bell-shaped red flowers that make a lovely contrast with the dark foliage.
Easy to grow and propagate through stem cuttings, lady’s fingers have a childish personality, so maybe you want to buy them to brighten up your children’s bedroom or maybe for a playful open terrarium.
8: Dolphin Plant (Senecio ‘Hippogriff’ or Senecio x peregrinus)
Bring a smile to your children’s faces with one of the most playful succulents ever: the dolphin plant.
You guessed, the little green, fleshy, smooth leaves come on thin, tender-looking stems and look like dolphins jumping on the waves!
Tiny but packed with a great personality, it will also bloom late in the season; the flowers are small, but they form dense puff balls and are made up of very bright red to golden yellow filaments.
The dolphin plant is perfect for shelves and little corners in a brightly lit room, and it is ideal for a maritime-themed open terrarium.
9: Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria crinita)
Pincushion cactus has a special place in my heart and can be equally special in your indoor spaces: it is the first succulent I ever grew!
This is because it is one of the first succulents ever made into the houseplant market and has never left its place. In fact, it is likely one of the most popular ever.
Yes, it’s the small, rounded, and very spiny little globular cactus that never grows and never dies, but it produces showy flowers that look huge on it, though they are only 0.6 inches long (1.5 cm), funnel-shaped but always brightly colored: they can be white, yellow, pink or red! It’s always a lovely surprise to find out…
A small classic of the succulent indoor world, the pincushion cactus is a great little friend for adults and children alike!
10: Pine Cone Plant (Euphorbia bupleurifolia)
Pine cone plants provide a unique design to your workplace or living area. The rounded, swelling stem resembles a brown pinecone with scales-like segments.
The plant sports conifer-like features but has a bushy top resembling rabbit ears. The leaves are a deep green, sometimes with red tips, and the flowers start as yellow-green before eventually changing to red. Two large bracts blooming from the stem can grow up to 3 inches long!
The pine cone plant, often known as a succulent, is a lesser-known succulent, yet another example of why succulents are so unique. It’s small but extremely tactile, which makes it an ideal coffee table centerpiece.
11: Ping-Pong Ball Cactus (Epithelantha bokei)
Another succulent with an evocative and very descriptive name that deserves a focal place on your desk or table is the ping-pong ball cactus. While it is not fully round but cylindrical with smooth edges, the overall effect is indeed that of a table tennis ball.
This little gem from Mexico features a thick, regular covering of tiny spines that are pale green-blue in color and form diamond-shaped lines on the plant’s emerald-green surface.
It also produces lovely, vibrant pale green flowers that are nearly translucent at the top and beautiful crimson fruits you can eat!
Yet another lesser-known variety for an original twist to your indoor spaces, playful and sculptural at the same time, the ping-pong ball cactus will also fit into tiny spaces indeed!
12: Parachute Plant (Ceropegia sandersonii)
What words can you use to describe a parachute plant’s unusual form? The leaves are basic, green, succulent, and heart-shaped and grow on thin vines.
However, the blossoms appear to be strange modern sculptures or marble vessels with a lid like a cross vault, yet many mistake them for parachutes. In any case, it is a lovely trigger for the imagination.
The blooms are white with light green patterns, while the “roofs” are bright green, with dark spots and a few white hairs, like eyelashes, at the margin. And they are pretty significant, well, about 3 inches long (7.5 cm)!
The parachute plant is perfect as a companion to a painting by Salvador Dalì, and in any case, it will be a topic of conversation at dinner parties!
13: Cinnamon Bunny Ears (Opuntia microdasys subsp. rufida)
For a larger indoor space, a very sculptural choice would be cinnamon bunny ears. This prickly pear variety has perfectly oval pads that come in pairs, making it look like rabbits’ ears, hence the name.
Bright green in color and waxy in texture, these have reddish-brown spines distributed regularly on the surface; the effect is very eye-catching, like a colorful teddy bear.
The blooms are showy, bright red-orange, and about 3 inches long, while the fruits are small and red when ripe, about 1 inch long (2.5 cm)m, and they are edible!
Cinnamon bunny ears are ideal for large, brightly lit rooms, like office halls or spacious living rooms. However, while the spines on the pads are not dangerous, those on the fruits are, so maybe avoid it if you have kids.
14: Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus rigidissimus subsp. rubispinus)
Small but with massive blooms, rainbow hedgehog cactus will brighten up your living or working spaces with its colors… The stem is cylindrical, dark green, with regular lines of short, russet to pink spines.
But wait till spring, and you will see substantial round flowers that reach 4 inches across and are very bright magenta or red, while the throats are snow white, with lime green, saffron, and purple-brown sexual organs.
Being relatively small, this Mexican succulent is ideal for indoor growing, though a bit of fresh air in the open in summer is welcome.
The rainbow hedgehog cactus is an explosion of light when in bloom, but even when it is not, it has exciting shades that add an elegant touch to your room.
15: Flaming Sword Plant (Vriesea splendens)
The flaming sword plant is an unusual succulent with great decorative value and is popular as a houseplant. It is a bromeliad, so unlike most succulents, it needs constant watering, but you get a lot out of it…
The rosette of soft-looking, long and pointed leaves is a beauty in itself, but we all love this tropical plant for its blooms… Ok, they only come once, and then the plant dies, but when they do…
The brightly colored display of modified leaves that look like a stylized burning flame can be red, yellow, orange, pink, and sometimes bicolor, but always very vivid. The actual flowers are violet-purple or bright cobalt blue and come from between the bracts.
As long as you don’t put a floating sword plant in a drafty spot, you can have a little living fireplace alight with the most amazing colors and no fire risk in your living room.
16: ‘Aramatsu’ Gasteria (Gasteria ‘Aramatsu’)
‘Aramatsu’ gasteria would look great on a coffee table in a container with colored rocks, gravel, and even some unusual-looking feature, even a space rover or flying saucer… Why?
It looks like a strange creature from outer space! It forms clumps of the tongue like succulent leaves with an irregular arrangement.
Each can be different, including a green surface dotted with white-gray bums, sometimes in rows, sometimes forming relief patterns along the length of the fleshy leaves…
This corrugated look changes as the plant ages, making it look older and older and more and more ancestral. The flowers come on a long stem that are tubular, usually orange and not showy, but pretty.
Ideal for a dry-looking composition, ‘Aramatsu’ gasteria is not for the faint-hearted because it does have a “different” look from what you would usually call “attractive.”
17: Zebra Plant (Haworthiopsis attenuata)
Very decorative and small, the zebra plant is perfect for elegant indoor décor. It has tentacle-like, long pointed, and conical leaves that grow in rosettes, and they may remind you of the “arms” of an octopus…
But, from another point of view, the mid to dark green, glossy foliage also has horizontal lines made up of white warty bumps, so, in the end, the name is accurate.
The flower’s stem is tall, up to 16 inches (40 cm), and it bears white blooms with green veins, repeating the color pattern and theme of the rest of the plant.
Sculptural and unusual, the zebra plant would look well in any well-kept room, on a working desk, on a table on a shelf, and with other plants for a surreal composition, including in an open terrarium. And it is ideal for a shady spot!
18: Chihuahua Flower (Graptopetalum bellum)
With the small Mexican succulent known as the chihuahua flower, you get the best of both worlds: decorative foliage and beautiful blooms!
The leaves are arranged in a regular rosette, and they are short and pointed; they look a bit like the scales of pineapple or similar to an echeveria or hens and chicks; they are dark green and glossy.
The bright deep pink or red, star-shaped flowers will float above this little beauty in clusters, and they look quite large for a small-sized plant: 1 inch across each, or 2.5 cm, and they last for months. When in bloom, it is eye-catching for its color; when not, it is intriguing for its shape.
Chihuahua flower is great in small decorative round or cup-shaped pot because this will extol their natural beauty, shape, and the flower display when it comes.
19: Window Hawortia (Hawortia cooperi var. truncata)
Also called the pussy foot, the name window hawortia describes is better. Or maybe imagine a bowl of candies on your desk, coffee table, or shelf if you want a clear picture.
Yes, because the plump and short little leaves of this crazy South African succulent look like jellybeans!
They are modified to be literally transparent because they grow hidden in the sand, and this allows the light to get deep inside them. The color changes from green to aquamarine or bluish, a children’s favorite color!
The rosettes spread over time, and they will also bloom with pretty small white and green tubular flowers.
Ideal for kids, window haworthia can also go into one of your creative compositions with weird-looking succulents, even in a terrarium.
20: Living Stones (Lithops spp.)
We can only conclude our top 20 with another weird-looking succulent called living stones because they look like desert pebbles. And in fact, this is all a trick to hide in dry areas, “dressing up like rocks.”
There are about 145 varieties of them, and it’s no use giving you a favorite one because people like to mix and match them. They are made up of two bean-shaped leaves, flat at the top and small. But then, there are literally all the color combinations in the world to choose from!
Some even have a transparent window at the top… Tiny though they are, they produce blooms that are often far bigger than the whole plant, with thin and long daisy-like petals and many colors: white, yellow (common), pink, red, and magenta!
Play with the gravel color on the soil’s surface, and you can have a very intriguing display all year round if you grow some living stones! Just have fun and a lot of it!
Indoor Succulents Basic Care Tips
The world of succulents is vast; there are more than 10,000 species, but they share common metabolic traits.
To start with, they always give off oxygen, even at night, which is why you can safely keep them in bedrooms – in fact, they are suitable for healthy sleeping… But this also means that….
How to Water Succulents
Overwatering is the primary cause of succulent disease and death. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions (mainly bromeliads), they are drought tolerant and cannot manage excessive humidity; they simply don’t have enough pores to release excessive water.
Allow the whole soil to dry up before watering. Not just the top one or two inches as you do with other plants.
On average, this will be once a week during the hot season, but do it with parsimony; less is more when it comes to succulents and water!
Succulents and Sunlight
Most succulents thrive on direct light, and many desire as much sun as possible outside. However, some indoor variants do well with bright indirect sunlight; only a few types will do well with direct light. Some may also endure low or medium levels of illumination.
But remember one thing: leaf and stem coloring depends on your plant’s light. And many succulents are famous for the pinks, blues, silvers, etc. that they have…
Little light usually makes them tend to green colors, so keep this in mind.
Soil and Succulents
When potting a succulent, make sure to use well-drained soil. A Cactus potting mix is ideal, but other soil types can also be used as long as they are amended with coarse sand, perlite, or other nonorganic drainage material.
Most succulents prefer light soil. And “light” here means low in organic matter, so no leaves, compost, or anything like that should be added. They eat and drink very little. As a result, succulents are prone to excess nutrients.
How to Feed Succulents
Avoid fertilizing your succulents with generic fertilizer; they need a specialized nutrient balance that other plants don’t.
Instead, get a cactus / succulent-specific fertilizer and feed sparingly, even once or twice a year, and never when they are dormant.
Also, use half the quantity you read on the bottle… In case you can add some more.
As you can see, they have very few demands, making them perfect indoor plants, even if you are a forgetful gardener… But which ones are the most beautiful? Let’s see them.
Ideal Succulents For Indoors
All the succulents we have chosen have some common qualities: they are not big, they grow slowly, they are not toxic or dangerous, and, above all, they are so beautiful that they can brighten up any indoor space, so… off we go then!
Succulent Indoors: A Lot Of Fun!
There are many other succulents that we could not include in this top 20, but one thing is sure: no group of houseplants is more colorful, quirky, child friendly, and fun than succulents!
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.