Okay. It is now hot, and we all know it will only get hotter through July and August. In light of the heat, let's talk about some beautiful and hardy succulents and cacti. These plants are perfect for those of us who love the beauty of indoor plants but don't have a lot of time. Did you know every cactus is a succulent, but not every succulent is a cactus?

The first rule of thumb with succulents is to remember that these plants require little water. They have thick root systems and store water in their leaves and stems. It is easy to drown a succulent just by watering it like your other houseplants. The second thing to note is that regular potting soil is usually too dense and stays too moist for cacti and succulents. If you are repotting, be sure to purchase potting soil specifically for cactus. Last but not least, keep in mind that most cacti need not be grown in large pots. Planters in the 4-6 inch range will generally be sufficient.

Perhaps the most common succulent is aloe vera, and every home should have an aloe plant. Everyone knows the gel inside the leaves helps take the sting out of burns and helps the burn heal faster. But did you know the gel can also be used for acne, eczema, scars and dry skin? Aloe vera is only one type of the aloe species - there are over 400 types in all.

Echeveria is are beautiful plants, and several types form rosettes which make a lovely statement with their puffy leaves. Echeveria has been highly hybridized over the years, and while the hybrids are gorgeous, they are not as hardy as the original plants. As with the other plants mentioned, bright sunlight is a must.

Donkey's tail is a lush, beautiful plant best suited for a hanging basket. The leaves can grow up to three feet long! Donkey's tail should be hung in areas of medium to bright light. Like most succulents, donkey's tail needs a dry environment to truly thrive. Donkey's tail can be grown outside during the summer ad would be a beautiful addition to a sunny porch.

One of the most common indoor cacti is the pincushion cactus. Often seen in balls (hence the name), these cacti are hardy and pretty. They will flower under the right conditions. I have a pincushion cactus that has never stopped blooming. I've had it for at least two years! They need bright sun and dry soil. In fact, the soil must dry out completely between waterings, and it should not be watered during the winter at all.

Hens and chicks, so named because the mother plant develops "chicks" in several different ways. These are easy to care for and they can adapt to cooler temperatures than most succulents. There are over 3,000 different succulents in the sempervivum family, and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Hens and chicks are colorful and many times resemble a flower.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

~~Lilygrass flowers and decor  

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