aloes and succulent plants in an indoor garden



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Aloes and succulents (fat plants) make a very decorative indoor container garden. Succulent plants do very well as pot plants because they do not need a lot of soil around the roots.  This indoor garden can be left without watering for long times. It eliminates the problem to find some-body to water your plants when you are on vacation.
How to set-up your indoor garden.  click on the links :-

 soil or growing medium   

light requirements  

cleaning plants

feeding the indoor garden

The succulent indoor garden should be on a low level as it is best if admired from above. The size of your indoor garden is a matter of personal preference. The succulents need a shallow wide container.  The container can be plastic, the wide open top will allow the soil to dry out quick enough. It will be necessary to protect your floor or furniture with a tray beneath the containers, but empty it after watering.  Do not stand the container in water. (10743 bytes) (13390 bytes)

photos above by Ben Botha.   Plant bowls and succulent plants above  were made and cultivated by Ben Botha
succulents.bowl.jpg (30826 bytes) An indoor bowl garden with a very realistic dry desert image. It needs very little maintenance. Do not over water. (102354 bytes)
In this indoor garden there are growing:-
4 different aloes
one white Cotyledon sp.
Euphorbia mamilaria
Gasteria sp.
small fine crassula ground cover.
click photo to enlarge


This rock garden is excellent for a veranda or balcony.  The plants are in pots hidden by the stones. Place polysterine foam around the pots which then need only a single layer stones to cover it, to reduce the weight on a balcony. This rock garden can  give an eye catching show inside the home.  It will need more lighting than normal indoor plants.



Container size

The size is not at all important but  the container must be shallow to give the image of a miniature garden,   Aloes and succulents can be happy with a tiny bit of soil.  They often grow in cracks with not much more than a cup full of  dust and rotting leaves. 
Even if it is shallow, the container needs a tray beneath to catch the excess water. The tray must be large enough to prevent water damage to your furniture.  Empty the tray after the water ran through.
Clay pots are are not nesessary as the open flat containers will let the water evaporate through the open top soil.  Non porous containers can be used.  Let the soil dry out completely before watering the plants again.

Soil or growing medium

Crushed dolomite or limestone should be added to the cacti mix (normal potting soil is also fine) sold in nurseries.  Garden compost can be used with the crushed dolomite or limestone.  Mix stones/pebbles or crushed pottery into the potting mix for drainage.  Crushed Dolomite is recommended as it keeps the soil neutral to basic. 
The plants need roughly 50% crushed dolomite, stones/pebbles/pottery and 50% (or less) potplant soil. Finer stones for smaller pots.

Light requirements 

Light is the most important factor for a plant.  It needs the light to manufacture food which is survival number one. Succulents need as much light as possible.  Choose a place near a window where the plant could get some sun or add artificial bright light.  There are special lights on the market which can be used to give the right amount of light.  If the succulents do not get sufficient light they will loose shape and becoming soft and susceptible to disease.  Sunlight or strong light is needed to promote flowering.   However,  beware of scorching through a glass window.  The plant will not die, but it will have ugly burn marks.    
Cleaning plants

Indoor plants collect dust that give dull sickly appearance to the plants. Clean leaves are neat and give a healthy appearance to the aloe plants. Cleaning the aloes plants with a small amount of alcohol and liquid soap added  to the water will remove insects and plant lice.

The way to clean the aloe or succulent plants is to put them outside in a rain shower, or inside under the shower. Wipe the underside of the leaves with a soft cloth.


Indoor plants have  lower  fertilizer requirements than aloes growing outside in full sun. Feed the potted aloe plants with a good liquid fertilizer at 1/4 the strength given for other plants .  Fertilizer burn does not occur easily when a water-soluble fertilizer is used. 

Fertilizer sold for flowering potted plants are fine for the aloe plants.   Do not feed aloes from a summer rainfall area ( summer growers) in winter and the winter rainfall plants should not receive fertilizer in summer.   A half to one teaspoon Magnesiumsulfate sprinkled over the soil once at the beginning of the growing season should be added.

If a natural fertilizer is preferred then dried cow paddies can be crumbled on top of the soil. One application is usually enough or a small sprinkling monthly - only in the growing season -  is even better. 

A white film on the soil, outside of the pots or the drainage holes is an indication of salt building up due to salt in the water or too much fertilizer. Salt buildup in the soil can lead to root damage, causing symptoms such as reduced growth, brown leaf tips, dropping of lower leaves and wilting of the plant. Prevent salts building up by watering the soil completely wet and let the surplus drain away.  Never let the pot stand in water.  Let the soil dry out before watering again. Use rainwater to water the plants.


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