Showy Succulents to Grow on Your Winter Windowsill

Brighten your home with colorful, eye-catching succulents.

Succulents

Succulents

When you plant a succulent, fill the pot almost to the top with potting mix, so the leaves sit above the rim. This helps keep them from rotting when you water.

Photo by: Costa Farms

Costa Farms

Houseplants can really suffer in the wintertime. All that warm, dry air from the furnace is murder on leaves that crave high humidity. Stems get long and lanky, and flowers won't form when the sunlight is weak and the days are short. And if you water your plants until they drown, or neglect them until they shrivel, it's hello, compost pile.

Happily, succulents save the day. These tough little guys don’t need much care, and they come in lots of different colors and shapes to dress up your winter windowsill. Thanks to their shallow root systems, they'll grow in containers as small as a teacup (perfect for lining up over the kitchen sink). They don’t mind low humidity and average room temperatures, and if you forget to water now and then, they're pretty forgiving. While they prefer bright light, most will adapt to low indoor light, if that’s all you have.

Give some of these low-maintenance beauties a whirl when you want cheerful, indoor color during the cold season.

Succulents in Vintage Box

Succulents in Vintage Box

An indoor planter can sit in a bright window or on a shelf. Combine succulents with different colors, shapes and textures for a fun arrangement, as long as they take the same basic amounts of water and light.

Photo by: Sue and Scott Wald/Simply Succulents

Sue and Scott Wald/Simply Succulents

An indoor planter can sit in a bright window or on a shelf. Combine succulents with different colors, shapes and textures for a fun arrangement, as long as they take the same basic amounts of water and light.

Hens and Chicks (Echeveria)

Hens and chicks belong to the Sempervivum group of succulents; roughly translated, the Latin name means to “live forever.” They won’t survive that long, but they do reproduce easily, with baby plants—the chicks—popping up next to the mother plant—the hen. To add to your succulent collection,  gently pull off the chicks and repot them. Look for these cuties in shades of green, silvery blue, gray, purple and pink. Full sun or bright light brings out their most vivid colors. 

Jade Plant (Crassula)

Jade plants are thought to bring good luck. They're not quite as drought tolerant as other succulents, so keep their soil damp, but not soggy, which can cause the thick leaves to drop. These sun-lovers thrive in south-facing exposures. Sometimes they grow until they resemble little trees, and become so top heavy, they'll tip over. Use a container that's both wide and weighty enough to hold them upright.

Succulents in Milk Bottle Terrarium

Succulents in Milk Bottle Terrarium

Pretty stones add color to this Vintage Milk Bottle Terrarium Kit and help drain away excess water. If you order succulents online, check the available shipping dates, which can vary in cold or hot weather.

Photo by: Sue and Scott Wald/Simply Succulents

Sue and Scott Wald/Simply Succulents

Pretty stones add color to this Vintage Milk Bottle Terrarium Kit and help drain away excess water. If you order succulents online, check the available shipping dates, which can vary in cold or hot weather.

Aloe

Aloes are great to grow in the kitchen, where you can snip or break their leaves and use the soothing gel to soothe minor burns. (The gel should never be ingested by people or animals, however.) The plants will grow in bright, indirect light or artificial light, but be careful to water only when the top of the potting soil feels dry. Use a sharp knife to cut the baby plants, called pups, from the parent. Then let the cut areas dry out for a couple of days before you pot up your new aloes.

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes with red, white, pink, orange and yellow blooms are often sold in garden centers and floral shops during the winter. The flowers can last for weeks, but it’s a little tricky to coax the plants to rebloom. These succulents need a rest period and form flower buds either when the days are naturally shorter in fall and winter, or when they're kept indoors, in complete darkness, for 14 hours a day for six weeks. Since kalanchoes are relatively inexpensive, it's  easier to toss your plant after the flowers die, and buy another one already in bloom. 

Lemon Coral Sedum

Add a pop of lime green or chartreuse to your windowsill with 'Lemon Coral' sedum, also called stonecrop. This sturdy succulent tolerates heat and drought and makes a nice filler if you like mixed containers. It grows vigorously, so you may want to move it into your garden after all chance of frost has passed. Leave it in its pot, or transplant it into a rock garden for bright color.  

Lemon Coral Sedum

Lemon Coral Sedum

If Lemon Coral Sedum outgrows your windowsill, move it into the garden after the last frost. It's hardy in USDA zones 7-11.

Photo by: ProvenWinners.com

ProvenWinners.com

If Lemon Coral Sedum outgrows your windowsill, move it into the garden after the last frost. It's hardy in USDA zones 7-11.

Other Ways to Display Succulents

No room to line up succulents on your windowsill? Plant a tabletop terrarium and keep it in a spot that gets at least 5 or 6 hours of natural light each day. 

Succulent Ball

Succulent Ball

This glass globe, part of a Succulent Terrarium Ball Kit, has a flat-bottom so it can be displayed on a tabletop. The plants shown here include Haworthia fasciata, Aeonium 'Kiwi', Sedum rubrotinctum and Crassula ovata coral.

Photo by: Sue and Scott Wald/Simply Succulents

Sue and Scott Wald/Simply Succulents

This glass globe, part of a Succulent Terrarium Ball Kit, has a flat-bottom so it can be displayed on a tabletop. The plants shown here include Haworthia fasciata, Aeonium 'Kiwi', Sedum rubrotinctum and Crassula ovata coral.

Terrarium globes that hang on a Christmas tree or in a window are unusual and fun. You can also plant succulents in glass cylinders, cubes, fishbowls and jars without lids. (Too much sun can heat up the glass and burn the plants, so use a sheer curtain to filter the light, if needed.) A small wooden or metal box that fits on your windowsill also makes a great planter. Line it with plastic so it won't rot or rust when you water. 

Planting tips for succulents:

  • Use a good quality potting mix labeled for succulents and cacti. The mix should drain easily.
  • If your container doesn't have drainage holes, add some. If you can’t make holes in whatever you're using, add a layer of small pebbles or gravel to the bottom, so the plant roots won't stand in water.
  • Handle your succulents gently, since their roots are often fragile. Lightly tamp the soil around them with your fingers, and top off the container with a layer of sand, grit or gravel.
  • Wait to fertilize until spring or summer, or when you spot new growth on your plants.
  • Place succulents in their containers so the stems and leaves stay above the rim. Contact with moist soil can cause rotting.
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