What Is A Succulents

Any plant that has fleshy, thick tissues that can store water is considered succulent. Some succulents, like cacti, only store water in the stem and have no or few leaves, but other succulents, like agaves, primarily store water in the leaves. The majority of succulents are endemic to deserts or areas with a semiarid season and have deep or wide root systems. More than 60 plant families have succulent species, with the Aizoaceae, Cactaceae, and Crassulaceae having the highest proportions. Aloe, Echeveria, Kalanchoe, and other plants are among those that are grown as ornamentals and indoor plants.

The timing of the opening of stomata, which are tiny mouthlike structures on the surface of plant leaves and stems, is one adaptation shared by many succulents. Stomata enable the exchange of water and oxygen with the environment as well as the uptake of carbon dioxide from the environment. The stomata of many succulent plants are closed during the day and open at night, in contrast to those of most plants. As a result, less water loss (transpiration) happens during the hot, dry daylight hours, while carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake takes place at night. As a result, these succulent plants display crassulacean acid metabolism, a modified form of CO2 fixation and photosynthesis.

A succulent: Cactus or not?

What distinguishes a succulent from a cactus? A cactus is the only plant that can sit in a blazing south window where the sun rushes in, magnified through the glass. Any plant that stores water in juicy leaves, stems, or roots to resist recurring droughts is considered a succulent. Some people accept non-fleshy desert plants while others exclude plants with flesh, such as epiphytic orchids (yuccas, puyas).

Cactus is merely a type of succulent that can hold moisture and is classified separately from other succulents (cacti is the plural form of cactus in Latin) (Cactaceae). On the other hand, not every succulent is a cactus. In addition to being close relatives of the pointsetta, geranium, lily, grape, amaryllis, crassula, daisy, and milkweed, succulents are members of approximately 40 botanical families that are distributed throughout the world.

The name “cactus” derives from the Greek word “kaktos,” which means “spiny plant.” The ancient Greeks used this word to describe a species that was actually an artichoke variety rather than a cactus. 2000 years later, Linnaeus, who classified plants, gave a family of plants with distinctive characteristics like thick stems that served as water reservoirs, prickly or hairy coverings, and few, if any, leaves the name Cactaceae.

Cacti are simple to spot. They rarely have leaves because they have to work so hard to stay alive. They have stems that have been altered into cylinders, pads, or joints that store water during dry spells. Skin thickness lowers evaporation. For defense against browsing animals, the majority of species have bristles or spines, but some lack them, and others have long hair or a woolly covering. Large and vibrant flowers are the norm. Fruit may be both edible and colorful.

Every cactus has leaves when it is still a seedling. Additionally, some plants briefly produce tiny leaves on their new growth each spring. The majority of cactus progressively lost their leaves as shifting climatic patterns transformed native environments into deserts, evaporating too much limited water into the dry air. They switched to storing the water that was available in their stems. To adapt the size of their evaporation surfaces to changing conditions, many may modify their shape. When moisture is abundant, ribs that resemble an accordion can extend; when there is a drought, they can contract.

The majority of succulents, such as aloes, hawthorias, crassulas, and echeveria, originated in environments with less harsh conditions than cactus, such as those with rainy seasons followed by protracted dry seasons. They all have leaves. Their leaves gradually grew fattened by water-storing tissues and covered in a waxy or horny substance that lessens evaporation from the surface to help them get through the dry spells.

From Canada, through Central America, the West Indies, and south to the chilly regions of Chile and Patagonia, the cactus (Cactaceae) family can be found (southern end of South America). The largest collection may be in Mexico, but there are also a large number in the western deserts of the United States and at higher elevations in the Cordilleras of Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.

The majority of succulents are native to milder, semi-desert regions of the planet (Mexico, South Africa). Some (such as sedums and sempervivums) are native to cooler regions where they thrive on sunny, rocky ledges and slopes. Although there are many succulents around the world, not all succulents are desert plants. They can be found on mountains, in jungles, and next to bodies of water. Succulents can be found in semi-arid parts of North and South America, Asia, and Africa, but many also live in rain forests. Succulents can be found in the mountains where they can survive inclement weather, strong winds, and poor soil. Aeonium is a succulent native to Africa, the Canary and Madeira Islands; Agave is a succulent native to the Americas; Aloe is a succulent native to Africa, the Mediterranean, and Atlantic islands; Cotyledon is a succulent native to semi-arid regions of Africa; Crassula is a succulent native to mostly Africa; Dudleya is a succulent native to coastal California and Mexico; Faucaria is a succulent native to South Africa; Sempervivum: North Africa, Asia Minor, and Central and Southern Europe.

Succulents Help You Breathe BetterEven at Night!

Succulents produce oxygen during photosynthesis while absorbing the carbon dioxide from our breath, keeping the air we breathe clean and fresh. Aloe vera, Christmas cactus, and snake plant (also known as mother-in-tongue) law’s are examples of succulents that even produce oxygen at night.

These succulents are perfect for the bedroom since they let in more fresh air as you sleep, which results in a better night’s rest.

Succulents Purify the Air

Succulents that remove pollutants from the air particularly well include snake plants and aloe vera. Snake plants routinely remove 87 percent of volatile organic pollutants, including formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and nitrogen oxides, according to studies, including those carried out by NASA.

Because VOCs like benzene and formaldehyde are present in rugs, cigarette smoke, grocery bags, books, and ink, these plants are especially useful in libraries and study spaces.

For a 1,800 square foot residence, NASA suggests growing at least 15 to 18 medium- to large-sized snake plants, according to a study it conducted to find out how to purify the air in space stations. Succulents not only add moisture to the air, but they also enhance indoor air quality. So put away that obtrusive air purifier and buy some succulents instead.

Succulents Have Healing Powers

Numerous succulents have been utilized throughout history to cure medical conditions such cuts, burns, stomachaches, and more due to their healing abilities. Succulents used for healing include:


Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory characteristics, agave has long been used to treat cuts, burns, and to hasten the healing process after wounds. For anything from toothaches and menstruation issues to stomach ulcers and jaundice, people in Central America utilize agave.

Even mats and paper are made from agave plant leaves that have been weaved. Isoflavonoids, alkaloids, and vitamins B, C, D, and K are abundant in agave juice. But before you start putting it in every recipe, you should be aware that using too much agave might irritate a pregnant woman’s stomach.

Aloe vera

Many people consume aloe vera to help with stomach issues since it has the reputation of reducing inflammation, particularly in the digestive tract. Its gel is a typical ingredient in face creams and body lotions and has a ton of positive effects on the skin.


To promote quiet, relaxation, and intensive healing, cacti are excellent houseplants. The prickly pear cactus in particular has significant levels of fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids, and betalains (which are a rare type of antioxidant). It has been suggested for consumption as juice, as a meal (grilled or boiled whole), or as a supplement.

Other folk remedies for diarrhea, asthma, high blood pressure, and gastric acidity have not been shown effective by science.

Stone crops

Some succulents, such as the leafy succulents known as stonecrops, have the capacity to decrease high blood pressure. Simply consuming enough of its leaves can reduce blood pressure.


Historically, yucca was applied to heal dry cuticles as well as to calm cuts and scratches. Saponins, which are chemical substances with anti-inflammatory qualities, are found in yucca plants.

To ease pain from inflammatory illnesses like arthritis, many herbalists and healers advise boiling the roots for around 30 minutes and drinking the resulting tea.

Additionally, some laboratory studies have revealed that its components have qualities similar to medicines typically used to treat joint pain, despite the fact that human research on this topic is still inconclusive.

Yucca is yet another succulent that seems to be able to do it all. It is also high in vitamins A, B, and C and a good source of copper, calcium, manganese, potassium, and fiber.

Succulents Improve Your Focus and Increase Your Productivity

You already knew that having succulents at your desk might increase your enjoyment at work, but did you also know that they also increase your concentration and output?

Numerous research on both students and employees have concluded that having plants in the room while studying or working increases focus, alertness, and mental capacity.

According to a University of Michigan research, the presence of plants increased memory retention by as much as 20%. Small plants like succulents, which don’t take up much space on your desk, are particularly helpful at the office.

Indoor plants are known to boost our mood and concentration, whether it’s the color and texture that calms the mind or the recall of nature that helps us feel relaxed. Succulents and cactus will also provide productivity, calmness, and satisfaction to your home or workplace.

Because of the increase you’ll get at work for being so productive, your succulent habit will more than pay for itself!

Succulents are Easy to Look After

Succulents are incredibly simple to maintain because they don’t need a lot of water. You won’t have much trouble taking care of succulents if you just make sure to choose the proper ones for the right environment (low-light succulents for indoors and sun-loving succulents for outdoors).

Even so, they won’t perish if you don’t keep the proper succulents in the right locations. The adage that succulents are difficult to kill is accurate.

Succulents Adapt to Circumstances

Succulents can quickly adjust to changes in their environment. They are more likely to live with lots of sunlight and little water because they originate from desert areas. However, when introduced to humid and rainy environments, they quickly become accustomed to the conditions.

Caring for Succulents Reduces Stress

According to studies, taking care of your plants can lower your blood pressure, calm you down, and help you recover from the stress of the day’s cerebral workload.

Succulents are low-maintenance and difficult to destroy plants, so they might even help you feel less stressed than other houseplants. Following all of our care instructions for succulents will make taking care of them a snap.

Succulents Make a Cool Gift

Do you know somebody who needs a little encouragement? Also cool as gifts are arrangements of succulents and cacti. Consider giving the gift of health with succulent baskets or containers because they are inexpensive, convenient to carry, and simple to maintain.

Consider adding extra plants to your home or buying a coworker or loved one a present on this Earth Day. Both cacti and succulents are simple to maintain and offer a host of health advantages.

How do succulents differ from cacti?

Hey, do you understand the distinction between a cactus and a succulent? Customers at Establish frequently ask us questions like this. Therefore, we decided to take a time to share with you some of the parallels and differences. Knowing a few of them will undoubtedly improve your green thumb!

First of all, while all succulents are not cacti (repeat that ten times fast), all cacti are succulents.

Because they store water, succulents are renowned for being moisture-packed. Succulents may go for a long time without being watered because they store water in their leaves, stems, roots, and arms. Areoles are tiny, circular, cushion-like structures found in cacti where flowers and hair can flourish. On the cactus’ body, areoles typically resemble little, fluffy lumps that resemble cotton. It is where the thorns spread out to sting you! Typically, cacti lack leaves and have thick, hard skin. A succulent is not a cactus if it lacks any of these distinguishing characteristics.

The success of whether a succulent or cactus can thrive depends heavily on planting. It is advised to use a clay pot with a hole in the bottom that is filled with rocks or bits of shattered clay. The pot should be half as wide as the plant’s intended pot height. Use soil specifically formulated for succulents or cacti. You can make your own, but you must combine dirt and sand. Make sure you adhere to some crucial advice from a nursery because this can be tough. When you initially acquire your plant, wait a week before watering. After that, only lightly mist the soil, do not soak it. * Watch this space for our upcoming piece on cacti and succulent watering advice. One quick tip: to avoid getting pricked when planting cacti, wear leather gloves!

Remember that cacti and succulents are water-filled plants when caring for them; therefore, when you look at your plant, it should appear full of water and plump. If it doesn’t and the plant appears puckered, water it, but make sure to drain any standing water that has accumulated at the base of the cactus stalk.

Remember that we are here to assist you if you still need assistance or have questions about what to plant or where to place your new friend. Just ask, and we’ll work with you to design the ideal oasis in the desert.