Bringing some plants into your house is a great way to freshen up your space. Not only that, but having indoor plants has many benefits!
The hard thing about growing plants indoors is that not everyone has a green thumb. In fact, many people find it difficult to keep indoor plants.
But that’s where desert plants come in! Due to the nature of their origin, desert plants like cacti are very hearty and can withstand even rough, indoor conditions. Once you learn about your desert plant and understand their light and water requirements, you could find yourself growing a plant that could live upwards of 50 years!
If you are ready to get started growing your indoor garden, check out the top five desert plants to grow indoors!
1. Old Lady Cactus
The Old Lady Cactus is a great desert plant to grow indoors. Usually, it is grown as an outdoor plant but with the right care, it can thrive indoors.
The Old Lady Cactus, which is native to central Mexico, is also known as the Birthday Cake Cactus or the Old Lady Pincushion.
This spherical succulent does not like growing alone, so it does best in a pot with other similar cactuses. On average, it grows four to five inches tall and about five inches wide. If you take great care of it, it could grow as tall as 10 inches!
The most beautiful part of the Old Lady Cactus is its magenta flowers that look like a hero around its top. It also features thin, white spikes in dense groupings all over its surface. They may look soft, but be careful! They can be prickly!
To get your Old Lady Cactus to thrive and bloom indoors, you have to get its conditions just right. It is a very durable plant, but it needs plenty of sunlight and only a little water. And you should consider choosing a cactus mix soil because it is porous and well draining- perfect for your Old Lady Cactus.
Make sure that your Old Lady Cactus gets 4-6 hours of sunlight a day. If you don’t have a window that gets that much sun, you can use a grow light instead. And only water it when the soil is completely dry to avoid overwatering.
With the proper care, your Old Lady Cactus could live for 10 years or more!
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera plants are great desert plants to grow indoors, especially in the kitchen! Aloe is not only pretty, but all of its medicinal properties can come in handy.
For starters, the gel from inside the leaves on aloe plants can be applied to burns, scrapes, and even sun burns to relieve the pain! Aloe is also used in various beauty treatments for your skin, hair, or scalp.
You can even eat aloe! It’s not uncommon for aloe to be added to smoothies as the juice has plenty of digestive benefits. You can even dry out the leaves and eat them like a chip. Aloe has plenty of uses!
Aloe Vera, which is also known as the Lily of the Desert and Plant of Immortality in Egypt, has many thick and fleshy leaves. When the plant is healthy, it is a shade of grey green or blue green.
When an aloe plant reaches maturity, they can get as big as 25 to 40 inches tall. When grown indoors, it can take about three to four years to reach maturity. Plus, it can also spread or create new, smaller plants through offsets.
Aloe vera plants can live up to 25 years with the right care. However, you learn how to propagate your aloe plant, you can see its offspring live on and on for years!
To care for your aloe plant, first make sure that it gets plenty of sunlight, about six hours a day. It needs to be in a bright spot with indirect sunlight. Full, direct sunlight could actually burn your aloe! You should also turn it regularly to avoid the leaves getting yellow on one side.
When it comes to watering your aloe plant, make sure that its soil dries completely before you water it. It will also do better in a pot that has plenty of drainage holes. Without drainage holes, the roots of your aloe plant might start to rot. Finally, aloe grows better in cactus mix soil.
Aloe is a very safe plant to grow in your home. However, if you have pets, be aware that it has been known to cause mild to moderate effects of toxicity in both cats and dogs when ingested. Side effects include vomiting and diarrhea.
3. Ghost Plant
The Ghost Plant is one of the most common types of succulents you see and it is a great desert plant to grow indoors. In fact, the Ghost Plant is also very popular as a fake plant!
Also known as the Mother of Pearl plant, the Ghost Plant has short, fleshy leaves and is often found in a light green or pink/grey color. When full grown, they can get up to 20 inches wide and 12 inches tall.
When it comes to its lifespan, the Ghost Plant, which is part of the Jade Plant family, can live anywhere from a whopping 70 to 100 years. So if you give it the love and care it needs, you could see it live a long, long time.
The best part about the Ghost Plant is that it is non-toxic to both humans and pets, making it a very safe plant to have around your home!
To care for your Ghost Plant, make sure that it gets plenty of full sunlight. If full sunlight isn’t available, it can still thrive in partial sun. However, be aware that the kind of light it gets will affect its coloring.
Full sunlight will make a Ghost Plant bushier while partial sunlight can give a grey tone to their leaves.
Just like most succulents and desert plants, make sure your Ghost Plant’s soil is completely dry before you water it. You may even only end up watering it every other week. Talk about low maintenance!
And don’t forget it’s soil! Like the rest of the desert plants we have discussed, a cactus mix soil will be best for your Ghost Plant.
4. African Milk Tree
The African Milk Tree is another great desert plant that is easy to take care of. This plant that is native to Central Africa grows quite quickly and is also known as the Good Luck Plant.
It got its name from the milky latex that is right beneath its outer layer. However, be careful with this milky layer if the outer layer breaks and you become exposed to it. The milky latex layer can be a harmful irritant.
When it is full grown, the African Milk Tree can grow up to eight feet tall. However, when grown indoors, it is possible it won’t grow taller than four feet. It can also live up to 60 years with the right care!
The African Milk Tree has at least one large, green stalk with protruding leaves. If you have a Rubra or Royal Red variety of the African Milk Tree, you will see your plant’s leaves turn red late in the season.
When deciding where to put your African Milk Tree, choose a spot that has indirect sunlight. If you can’t completely avoid direct sunlight, make sure to keep an eye on it on days when temperatures get high as it could damage its leaves.
Your African Milk Tree will only need water once a week, after the soil has had time to dry out. Also make sure that you plant it in soil that has good drainage, such as Sandy Loam soil.
Again, be careful of coming into contact with the milky latex layer. If the plant is damaged, this layer will become exposed and can be harmful to both pets and humans if it is ingested or if it comes into contact with skin.
Side effects of coming into contact with the milky latex layer includes redness in the affected areas and swelling. If it comes into contact with your eyes, it could cause temporary blindness and in extreme cases, ingestion could cause death.
So be extra careful if you bring this plant into a home with pets or small children.
5. Prickly Pear Cactus
The Prickly Pear Cactus is what most people think of when they picture a cactus. It is also easy to grow indoors!
A fun fact about the Prickly Pear Cactus is that it grows fruit that is known as “tuna.” This fruit is high in Vitamin C and many people describe its taste as a cross between raspberries, watermelon, and bubblegum!
The pads of the Prickly Pear Cactus are also edible once its skin and spines are removed. This part of the cactus is used in tacos and salads a lot.
Since the Prickly Pear Cactus is edible, it is a safe and non-toxic plant. However, its protruding spines do raise another safety issue. Because of that, make sure it is out of the reach of small children and pets.
The Prickly Pear Cactus has pads that are flat, green ovals. Spikes spread across the surface of the pads that protrude outward and the “tuna” fruit grows in clusters around the tops of the pads. The “tuna” are either light red or magenta and have their own smaller clusters of spikes.
With the right care, your Prickly Pear Cactus can grow anywhere from one foot tall to 18 feet tall, and can ever live to be over 20-years-old.
Prickly Pear Cacti love to get 4 to 6 hours of sunlight a day. They are also one of the most drought resistant desert plants. In the summer, they only need water once every two weeks. For the rest of the year, they only need watering once a month.
When planting your Prickly Pear Cacti, a mix of sand and potting soil would be best.