What is a Saucer Plant?

O. Parker

A saucer plant is a frost-sensitive succulent that grows well as a houseplant or outdoors in mild climates. Saucer plant is the common name for the species Aeonium urbicum in the family Crassulaceae. Plants in this family are characterized by their plump leaves that store water, making them drought tolerant and suitable for dry or desert-like garden conditions as well as the hot, dry conditions of many interior spaces.

Saucer plants can survive drought conditions.
Saucer plants can survive drought conditions.

The saucer plant is a small shrub that commonly grows 10 to 16 inches (about 25 to 40 cm) tall but can grow up to 35 inches (about 90 cm) tall. The plump leaves are green with a pink or red hue and form rosettes at the end of bare, leafless stalks. The plants bloom in late spring through the middle of summer producing a pink inflorescence. Inflorescence is a term that describes a flower head that has multiple small blooms, creating the visual image of one large, complex flower. The saucer plant is mostly grown for its visually interesting leaf pattern and shape rather than for the flowers.

As houseplants, Aeonium urbicum is low-maintenance, tolerant of neglect and resilient. It does best in a sunny window where it will get at least six hours of bright light each day. Unlike many tropical houseplants that do best in high-humidity environments, conditions that are often not present in indoors, the saucer plant prefers a dry environment and will do well in the heated and dry conditions of most indoor spaces. Saucer plants thrive in a temperature range between 50 and 75°F (about 10 to 24°C).

When grown indoors, a saucer plant requires good drainage above most other things. A planting pot that has holes in the bottom should be used to allow water to drain out after each watering. In addition to a pot with good drainage, the potting soil is also important. A pre-mixed potting soil that is formulated specifically for cacti and succulents has high amounts of grit mixed in to encourage water to drain through. Homemade potting soils containing sand or grit, standard potting soil, and peat, perlite or vermiculite are also suitable.

Outdoors, saucer plants are ideal for rock gardens and rockeries or planted into a rock wall. In frost-free areas, this drought tolerant succulent can be planted as part of a water-wise garden plan. In hot climates, the saucer plant enjoys some light afternoon shade.

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