There is a vast variety of succulents and cacti in terms of their sizes, colors, textures, and shapes. We can readily find a wide range of different sorts and species from all over the world today because of their appeal.
These plants are cherished for their distinctive traits, in addition to their beauty and carefree nature. Are cacti and succulents the same thing? How should these plants be cared for? Are they worthwhile to collect? Can I cultivate them inside? These issues, along with many others, will be covered.
What are succulents?
A group of plants known as succulents or succulent plants have tissues that can store water. Succulent plants can withstand droughts. They have evolved to withstand the extreme aridity. Typically, the leaves, stems, or roots of these plants serve as water reservoirs.
The Latin word sucus, which means juice or sap, is where the word succulent first appeared. Their leaves typically have a meaty, plump, and thick texture to assist them conserve water and reduce water loss.
Are cacti succulents?
There can be some confusion because cacti and succulents are sometimes classed together and other times they are not. A distinct subset of the succulent genus is the cactus or cacti. One of the largest families of succulents in the world is the cactus family, or Cactaceae.
The Greek word kaktos, which means spiky plant, is where the term “cactus” originates. Cacti belong to the succulent family because they are fleshy plants that can store water. This class of plants is notable for its fleshy stems that act as water reservoirs, prickly or hairy coating, and scant, if any, leaves.
These distinguishing features make cacti nearly instantly recognizable solely by their outward appearance. In general, all succulents are termed succulents, however not all cacti are called succulents. However, depending on your information source, meanings and terminologies may change.
Cacti are frequently left out of the succulent category by horticulturists. However, for the vast majority of us who enjoy succulents or cultivate them as a hobby, these distinctions in definitions and classifications are not particularly significant.
Where are they from?
Succulents can be found in their natural environments all over the world. They have a diverse and extensive range of habitats, and they frequently live where no one else would. From Africa to North and South America, the majority originate in arid regions, deserts, and semi-deserts. Other species are found in mountainous areas and rain forests.
These plants have become exceptionally resilient and adaptive to environmental conditions that are typically too harsh for other plants to survive, such as high temperatures and low precipitation. Natural habitats for some succulents include arid lakes and seashores, which, because to their high concentrations of dissolved minerals, can be harmful to other plant species.
How do you care for a succulent plant?
I adore succulents, and they require little maintenance. Succulent plants require less maintenance than other types of plants. Your succulent will flourish as long as you take care of the three fundamental factors.
Generally speaking, to properly care for your succulent plant. You want adequate sunlight, not long stretches of intense sunlight. Succulents require soil that drains properly, or soil that doesn’t retain water. And enough fertilizer for your plant to develop new leaves and roots.
Are succulents indoor plants?
Both inside and outside, I have succulents. There are succulents almost everywhere. There are a few things you should watch out for when keeping succulents indoors in order to ensure their success.
As long as they are placed close to a window, succulents can flourish indoors. By the window, succulents do not require direct sunshine. For optimal lighting, place them on a south-facing window. If grown indoors, succulents require far less water, so make sure the soil you use drains effectively.
Do succulents need sun?
Almost all plants require sunlight to survive. Succulents are no exception. But it’s crucial to comprehend how much sunlight a succulent requires to not just survive, but also develop.
The majority of succulents can withstand modest sun exposure—roughly 6 hours per day. Before exposing your succulent to the entire six hours of sunlight, you typically need to gradually adapt them to the sun.
How often do you water succulents?
All plants will die without water, but sometimes it’s difficult to remember to water your plants each day to ensure their survival. Fortunately, succulents don’t require a lot of water, but you still need to take care not to overwater them.
As a general rule, water your succulents when the soil feels dry and wait until the soil is totally dry before watering again. You can avoid root rot by using a soil that drains efficiently so that your succulent doesn’t spend the entire day sitting in moist soil.
Can you pick succulents in the wild?
Stephen McCabe, the director of education and coordinator of research at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, responded to our recent editorial about the native California succulents known as dudleyas. He brought up a subject that we believe is significant enough to discuss with our readers.
We concluded the article with the following advice: “Look for dudleyas at nurseries that specialize in California native plants, as well as at chapter, botanical garden, and college plant sales of the California Native Plant Society. In the wild, dudleyas freely hybridize, so keep a watch out for new varieties.
We meant that since the plants easily cross-pollinate, new hybrid varieties created by horticulturists are likely to appear in the nursery industry. McCabe, though, interpreted it otherwise: “I was worried about how you concluded the essay. The recommendation is basically to hunt for attractive plants “in the wild” that don’t match others, collect them, and cultivate them as prospective new cultivars, at least that’s how my colleagues and I understand it.
Many varieties are simple to grow, although skilled cultivators tend to kill a lot of dudleyas, particularly those that are gathered from the wild. Professional botanists I’ve spoken with will humbly admit to collecting uncommon dudleyas even if they wouldn’t gather a common mariposa lily for their own garden.
taken as true. To be clear, we anticipated that anyone with the ability to spot strange people would know better than to gather them. We oppose taking dudleyas or any other living plant from its natural habitat.
Not only is it a horrible idea, but it’s typically illegal as well. Obtaining wild plants without a permit is prohibited in national parks, national monuments, national forests, state parks, most local parks, and along highway rights of way, according to the California Native Plant Society. All plants, not just those formally labeled as threatened or endangered, are subject to these rules.
On privately owned property, you need the owner’s permission to collect plants. For the purpose of saving endangered plants whose habitat is going to be destroyed by development, there is also a public permit procedure.
The practice of gathering wild herbs is widespread, legal or not. It’s actually a large industry. Cactus smuggling is a thriving industry, supported (at least until recently) by landscaping demands in developing southwestern towns like Phoenix and Las Vegas. Other plant species, such as bulbs, cycads, and orchids, are infamously susceptible to illegal harvesting.
The plants that Department of Agriculture inspectors have seized at airports and border crossings are merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s not only plants either: Additionally endangered are the wild populations of parrots, falcons, reptiles, reef fish, and butterflies. Even some legitimate trade puts species in danger.
Do wild succulents exist?
Succulents are often associated with the gorgeous little plants that resemble roses and can occasionally be found in tiny pots on tables. These plants have thick, fleshy green leaves. The general appearance of many succulent plants, such echeverias and sedums, helps with this. But there are plenty more, in all sizes and forms.
All across the world, succulents can be seen growing in the wild. Their distinctive colors, forms, and textures are a result of their origins.
Do succulents thrive in wooded areas?
Succulent plants can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Surprisingly few native succulents may be found in Australia, the driest continent, largely due to the country’s history of protracted droughts. This initially looks irrational because succulents are adapted to dry conditions. They do, but only to brief, predictable dry seasons rather than the protracted dry spells typical of other areas of rural Australia.
Africa is the continent with the most succulent species. Again, the Sahara desert is the driest place on earth, yet the southernmost west coast of South Africa has the highest diversity of animals. The summers in this region are quite dry, although there is a distinct and recurring wet season every year. Succulents are prevalent in the eastern regions of South Africa, which also endure the opposite and more typical climate conditions of a dry winter and a hot summer. Succulents of the cactus family, which are native to the Americas, likewise predominately grow in regions with recurrent rainy summers. There are a few exceptions to this generalization, though.
The majority of the world’s genuine deserts are devoid of life, even succulents. However, semi-deserts are less arid, may have yearly rain patterns, and frequently see short-term flooding.
Succulent gardens are frequently created to look like idealized versions of their natural environments. To individuals who are unfamiliar with succulents in their natural habitat, this gives the impression that they grow as densely and lushly as is displayed here. The majority of succulents will still thrive in humid, moist climates that are considerably different from their native environments, as gardens like these demonstrate.
There are a lot of succulents since the area is still too dry to support woods or grasslands, which would compete with the succulents for light and space.
Succulents native to humid climates thrive in unique dry habitats like woods, cliffs, rock outcrops, and soils that are so depleted of nutrients that other plants struggle to survive. These regions include the snowy Alps of Europe, icy Patagonia, and the steamy tropics of South America, Africa, and Asia. It is challenging to generalize about succulent care due to the variability in habitat and environment.
The poorest surviving specimens of succulents are frequently found in the hottest and driest locations, whereas the more attractive and healthy specimens appear to grow in locations where more water and better soil are available, according to research conducted after visiting numerous habitats where succulents naturally occur.
Succulents should not be grown in the same manner in which you presume they thrive in nature. It is undesirable for the plants and nearly hard to reproduce their habitat. Nevertheless, there are certain advantages to comprehending their local environment and climate. Knowing when succulents are dormant and in their growing season is crucial (whether they are winter or summer growers). Most succulent species are not picky and will adapt to the typical growing patterns of other plants in the yard, resting in winter or the cooler months, and growing in the warmer months. However, certain succulents demand a specific rest from being watered during their dormant phase. The habitat of a succulent will also reveal whether it prefers hot or cold temperatures, very dry or wetter climates, experiences frosts, or is tropical and can be grown all year.
4 This photograph was taken in Chile’s Atacama Desert and shows a natural garden that rarely appears as clichéd. Only a little coastal strip of this extremely dry desert, which is 99 percent lifeless, supports meager flora. One of the more “lush” oases is where this picture was taken. The Atacama desen’s succulent Calandrinia species sprout swiftly after rain. This plant really is this big.
1 Succulents may live on the coastal border of Chile’s Atacama Desert thanks to mists that are brought in from the Pacific Ocean.
The Welwitchia mirahilis inhabits this barren, mostly biologically devoid region of the Namib desert. This plant, which gets its water from extremely deep in the gravelly soils, is not a succulent. Succulents find all desert settings to be too hot and dry, with very few exceptions.
Aloe pillansii growing in South Africa’s coastal region on a small hill south of the Orange River. The hilltops receive just enough mist and fog to allow succulent growth while the low valleys are nearly lifeless. These ancient, crumbling giants were originally part of a vast “forest” that once covered this desert when it was covered in a thick layer of vegetation.
a typical environment for succulents that is covered in low, sparse bushes. Observe how the cactus and other succulent plants thrive under the protection of the shrubs. Here, they get some shade and gain from any light rain that falls on the shrubs’ stems.
Growing in South Africa’s western Cape Province is Aloe khamiesensis. Rock outcrops are where this species primarily grows. This is due to the flat, densely packed shrub cover that can be seen behind the aloes, which is prone to wildfires. On the flatter slopes, damaging winter frosts can also be fairly severe. Although there are over a thousand kinds of succulent plants in this region of South Africa, they are not evenly distributed. The vast majority are instead concentrated in advantageous settings such rocky slopes and southwest-facing hillsides (where they are more exposed to the prevailing coastal mists).
X Succulents are not typically expected to flourish in high mountains. In drier areas, like this one in Peru’s interior, there is less rainfall and less competition from other plants. These elements have made it possible for some succulents, like the enormous Puya raimondii shown here, to flourish and expand to enormous sizes. Over 6 m tall (all of the flower spikes) This location is over 5000 meters above sea level, and nearly every night of the year there is frost.
Dry areas can exist in rainforests as well. A large variety of succulent plants call this north-facing cliff face in southern Brazil home. These plants prefer the ample sunlight, air movement, good drainage, routine waterings, and lack of competition. Our gardens will flourish quickly and healthily if we can reproduce all of these factors.
Growing on a Mexican rock face is the agave bracleosa. Although it typically grows in soil, this thornless plant will reach any surface that offers it enough water, support, and nutrients. The benefit of expanding here is obvious—there is no competition!
S Succulent plants are frequently quite abundant in rocky areas with damp habitats. On this Peruvian rock face covered with moss and lichen, an Echcveria species may be seen growing. In contrast to how they are typically thought of, mosses and succulents in this situation both benefit from shade and a generally moist environment. Sedums and sempervivums, which are related and belong to the Crassula family, are native to windy, mountainous, and frequently cool climates.
With plenty of water available, succulents thrive. A seasonal seepage and an Agave harvardiana are growing side by side in the hills above Marathon, Texas. Indicating a relatively moist atmosphere during the summer rainy season is the lush backdrop greenery, as you can see. The bushes and tiny trees turn deciduous in the dry season, but this agave will still look amazing.
? a pretty unusual environment for succulents? In no way! More succulent species can be found than in the majority of real desert areas, even in the vicinity of lguacu Falls on the Brazil-Argentina border. Numerous species can be found living among the rocky outcrops on the left, where the windy yet moist waterfall environment is ideal for them. Succulents take over in what would normally be a rainforest home for a brief period during the dry season when the falls are smaller and the rocky terrain is too dry for other plants.
This Madagascar ecosystem is anything but dry because rice is thriving there. However, rocky outcrops dry off fairly rapidly even when it’s raining. Just enough soil is present in the crevices of the bare rocks in the foreground to support the Euphorbia milii (‘crown of thorns’) plant. At least nine different succulent species, including aloes, kalanchoes, and pachy-podiums, can be found in the desolate areas in the backdrop.
9 Trichocereus pasacana plants growing in an Argentine seasonal stream. These cactus giants stand over ten meters tall. They do best in the valley’s gravelly soil, which is somewhat damp but has good drainage. Take note of how this species is absent from the drier hillsides.