Succulents and cacti are frequently used interchangeably, but this is erroneous from a scientific standpoint. Knowing how the two are related will make it easier to identify the two and make a proper distinction between them.
Plants known as succulents have water in their stems, roots, and leaves. The category of succulents has roughly 60 different plant families, including cacti, aloe, haworthia, sedum, and sempervivum. This group includes fleshy plants that hold water, such as cacti. Succulents therefore include all cacti.
Simply said, cacti are a family, or subcategory, of the succulents, a class of plants. They might be short and spherical or tall and slender, and they frequently lack leaves and branches. A succulent plant needs to have areoles in order to be categorized as a cactus. Areoles are tiny, spherical, fleshy cushions from which the cactus produces spines, hair, leaves, flowers, and other things. Only cacti, not all succulents, have areoles.
Due of their thorns or spines, some succulents are sometimes mistaken for cacti; however, this does not mean that all succulents with similar features are cacti. The two can be separated primarily by their areoles. The succulent cannot be a cactus if it lacks areoles.
It appears to be rather simple, right? Well, there is a tiny bit of ambiguity when separating succulents from cacti. Cacti are classified as succulents in science, but some botanists and horticulturists place them in distinct categories. Cacti are classified as succulents by botanists, but some horticulturists do not include them in this category. In principle, all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. We just wanted to be sure we covered all the bases.
Why are cacti referred to as succulents?
Despite their close kinship, cacti and succulents differ in a few significant ways.
- Typically, cactus plants have few or no leaves.
- The rounded indentations along the stems of cacti set them apart from the other succulents. These “areoles” are modified buds. The spines that make cacti famous frequently emerge from the areoles.
- There are numerous non-cactus succulent species that are indigenous to various parts of the planet. Cacti, on the other hand, are virtually exclusively native to the New World.
Once you get familiar with the non-cactus succulents, it is usually simple to distinguish them from other plants, just as cacti stand out due to their areoles. Most succulent plants have leaves or modified leaves that, while firm to the touch, have a swollen, juicy appearance (hence the name “succulent”) due to the fact that they retain water in their foliage and must be hardy enough to endure harsh conditions. From the diminutive “living stone” (Lithops) to the enormous saguaro, which matures to a height of up to 50 feet, succulents come in all sizes.
The majority of succulent species are not eaten by humans, although some of them are. Purslane is a succulent common lawn weed that has excellent, nutrient-rich leaves that can be used to make salads. In addition, some individuals sip aloe vera plant juice.
What is a succulent?
Plants known as succulents have distinctive fleshy leaves that store sap. They have those leaves because it helps them retain as much moisture as possible. They can be found all throughout the world, but are most common in desert regions.
Succulents include a wide range of plant species. Succulents include cacti, aloe plants, and even orchids. Succulents are typically found in the same family as ZZ plants and other popular indoor plants. They are well-liked because they take little care, little pruning, and some species only need very little light to survive.
How did succulents get their name?
The thick, fleshy, sap-filled leaves that are the defining characteristic of succulents are what give them their name. Compared to plants with thinner leaves, they can hold and retain water more efficiently because to their leaves.
Where do succulents come from? Where did they come from originally?
Succulents initially originated in arid, dry regions like deserts. Even while certain succulents, like orchids, grow in places where the rain may not easily reach them, they do receive rainfall. Many succulents originate in Africa and other continents with protracted dry seasons when plants have developed means of more successfully storing and utilising water.
Why are succulents so popular?
Of course, succulents have been around for a very long time and have been used in indoor gardens and as office plants for a very long time. However, it appears that their popularity has increased in recent years. There are several causes for this:
- They require little upkeep. They require minimal to no pruning and less watering.
- They are available in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors. This includes really tiny plants in little pots that are perfectly suited for a desk.
- They don’t draw as many pests. Plants frequently attract pests as a result of the ongoing requirement for irrigation. The risk of pests drastically decreases when you don’t need to water the plants as frequently, such with succulents. Succulents’ thick, waxy leaves make it more difficult for pests to pierce and feed through them.
- It is simpler for greenhouses and shops to sell them. They are easier to transport because they can go for extended periods of time without water and can stay on a truck for days at a time. Because many succulents are tiny, producers can export huge quantities of them for less money. Some can even be shipped across the country in plastic bags. Additionally, they can be kept at the garden center for a lot longer and survive a lot longer.
- Most people find it very challenging to outgrow. Some common indoor plants, like Pothos, have issues because they grow and eventually start to vine. This can be inconvenient and takes a lot of maintenance.
Where’s the best place to buy succulents?
Due to their growing popularity, succulents are now available almost wherever that sells plants. This can include everything from smaller big box stores to garden centers. Succulents may even be sold in some grocery stores that also offer plants.
How can you tell a succulent from other plants?
A unique class of plant is the succulent. They simply don’t look like other plants. Their leaves are one of the main variations. When you touch a succulent, the leaves are typically thicker than those of other plants and can have a rubbery feel to them. They often do not sit in extremely damp soil, and their roots tend to be relatively shallow (in fact, soil that is too moist is bad for them).
They are available in many different types, shapes, and colors. In order to be sure, ask an expert any queries you may have or study the labels that have been placed on the pot or in the plant’s soil.
Is there a difference between succulents and cacti?
It does appear that there is some debate among plant scientists over whether or not cacti are succulents. Although the majority of gardeners believe them to be a separate category of plants, some horticulturists disagree.
In the end, cacti do meet the criteria for being considered succulents. They don’t need a lot of water. Cacti lack leaves in favor of thick, green stems, but they have a special method for making the most of the little water they do receive. Some of them blossom, which makes them popular among plant lovers who prefer to have low-maintenance plants.
Is there a difference between succulents and air plants?
Succulents and air plants (Tilandsia spp.) are essentially in the same class and can both be categorized as succulents. Air plants frequently grow atop other plants or structures, such as tree branches, and have essentially no roots. They require almost no water at all and are quite robust.
Air plants only sometimes need to be misted, and the majority of the water that falls on their leaves is retained. They keep the little moisture they do receive by absorbing it. These days, they are highly popular since they can survive when delivered in groups in boxes or bags by absorbing the water released by other air plants.
Are succulents easy to take care of?
Succulents are quite popular for a variety of reasons, one of which is how simple they are to maintain. They don’t need to be replanted or require a lot of water (although you can if you wish to for aesthetic reasons). They require no pruning because of their slow growth.
Only the propensity for individuals to overwater succulents needs to be avoided. Despite the fact that it is quite obvious that plants don’t require a lot of water, people naturally want to water their plants every day. Succulents shouldn’t let this to happen. Just check to see if the soil is dry.
If you choose to water your succulent while keeping it in a saucer, take it out, hold it under the faucet, and let the water drain. Alternatively, if you use a watering can, water the plant, then check to see if it is still submerged later. If so, take it off the saucer and discard it. Avoid light watering (also known as “splash and dash”) when the soil is dry. Always water the plant properly when necessary, and drain any extra water.
Contact Ambius for more information about how we can provide succulents for your environment. We know how to properly care for succulents, so get in touch with us.
Are succulents expensive?
Succulents are often not extremely expensive, but because the family is so large and diverse, there are always outliers. There may be certain uncommon varieties of succulents that command a premium price. But generally speaking, the majority of succulents are fairly inexpensive. They may cost a little bit more than you would for a more common plant because they are special and frequently have unusual colors and shapes, but you get a more intriguing plant in exchange.
Make sure the plant is in good condition to make sure you get your money’s worth. Make sure to check the plant to see whether it appears to be in good condition if you want to buy succulents from a big-box retailer. Like any other plant, they become brown or yellow when they are ill or about to die. Despite being tough plants, if left unattended for too long, they may suffer.
Because succulents grow slowly, a small plant could be highly valuable and shouldn’t be given a fixed price merely because of its size. Succulents are generally more valuable per unit of size than the typical houseplant.
Are succulents poisonous?
Generally speaking, most succulents are not toxic, and they have a variety of health benefits.
For instance, the sap from the leaves of the succulent Aloe is recognized for treating burns and has been used to manufacture cosmetics like face creams. However, certain people may occasionally experience allergies to plants, even succulents. People with latex allergies should be extra cautious around sap-producing succulents (particularly succulents in the genus Eurphorbia). Anyone who has an allergy will most likely experience a cutaneous reaction like a rash.
Which succulents are safe for pets?
Once more, given the enormous variety of succulent species, most plants should be maintained as far away from animals as possible. Some succulents with long, sharp, stiff stems that could cause more bodily harm to pets provide the greater risk (such as to eyes). Succulents are generally safe for animals, though.
Which succulents prefer shade?
Even though it is well knowledge that succulents don’t require much water, some varieties can survive without much sunlight. But bear in mind that the majority of succulents thrive in hot, dry settings like deserts and other arid regions.
For more information about a plant’s light needs, always refer to the information that came with the plant.
What distinguishes a cactus from a succulent?
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 moment to share with you some of the similarities 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.
What distinguishes cacti from succulents?
What distinguishes a succulent from a cactus? The only plant that can survive in a hot south window, where the light shines through the glass intensified, is a cactus. 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.