While you may not recognize the name right away, odds are, you’re one of the many people who love succulents. After all, what’s not to love about them? Succulents are essentially another name for uniquely beautiful desert plants, like, aloe vera, snake plants, or jade. Indoor growing of succulent plants can be tricky, but with a few helpful tips, you can care for your plants properly.
What are Succulents?
Though most of us refer to them by the common term, “desert plants,” the term “succulents” has grown in popularity. In horticulture, succulents are known as water storage plants. These plants store water in their thick, fleshy leaves. But that may be all that succulents have in common, seeing as how they come in a seemingly endless array of shapes, sizes, and colors.
One of the most often asked questions is: “What is the difference between a succulent and a cactus?” Cactus plants have spines, needles, and/or prickles; most succulents don’t. There are, however, some exceptions; e.g., the Crown of Thorn. A little know fact is that snake plant, kalanchoe, Christmas cactus, and asparagus, to name a few, are considered succulents. In any event, basic care is the same for both.
Where do Succulents Grow?
Unlike most perennials, succulents thrive on a bit of neglect. Over centuries, they’ve adapted to be able to exist in harsh, dry climates. But while you may picture succulents only growing in the deserts of Arizona or Nevada, potted succulents can survive in just about any house across the country.
Succulents: Fast Facts
- They get their name from the Latin word “succus,” meaning juice or sap.
- More than 60 different plant families contain succulents.
- While the most common succulent color is green, you can find them in almost any color of the rainbow, including red, orange, yellow, and purple.
- The chalky substance found on most succulent leaves is a protective substance that helps protect the plant from pests, disease, or sunburn
While succulents are known for their resilience and low maintenance, there are still a few rules you’ll have to follow if you want them to thrive.
Evening is the best time to water succulents, as this is their resting time. Never mist these plants as it will cause spotting and/or rotting. It is always better to revive a plant that has too little water than to overwater. Plants with leaves that pucker aren’t getting enough water; the ones with soggy leaves are getting too much water.
Succulents need bright, direct sunlight (4 to 6 hours a day), but can and will survive in bright indirect light from a southern window. Indirect lighting will require a lot less water. When you bring home your new plant, slowly increase the amount of light it receives, since these plants were greenhouse-grown, where lighting is defused.
The perfect soil for succulents and cacti is Espoma Cactus Mix. Also great for growing these plants is Diatomaceous Earth, which can be found in most auto supply stores because it is used to clean up oil spills.
Unlike most flowering plants, succulents hate having wet feet. Whether your plants consist of one in a pot, or a combination of different succulents in a shallow container, it is important that these containers have drainage holes. Plants should be watered down to the root, without flooding.
Succulents, just as any house plant, can be susceptible to pests, aphids, mealy bugs, and powdering mildew. These can be controlled with organic sprays such as Meem Oil. Feeding should be done three to four times a year with their specific food, or normal plant food at half the recommended amount. Never feed during winter dormancy.
Interested in bringing a piece of the desert into your home? Whether it’s a simple potted plant or a self-contained terrarium, we’ve got plenty of succulent plants to choose from!