Succulent plants commonly known as Succulent in botany are plants with parts that are thickened, fleshy and engorged to retain water usually.
Most of the time, they are present in arid climates or soil conditions.
There are different types of succulents like indoor succulents, trailing succulents, hardy succulents, and grow in full sun. You can either plant them in terra cotta pots or plastic pots.
Moreover, it is a characteristic of plants and is often used as an accurate characteristic only at a single species level.
The word succulent comes from the Latin word sucus which means juice or sap. They tend to store water in leaves and stems or in various structures. Moreover, they are also called hen and chicks plants.
Moreover, the water content of some succulents can get up to 90 to 95%.
According to some definitions, its includes roots also, therefore, geophytes that survive unfavorable or harsh conditions or periods by dying back to ground storage organs are sometimes regarded as succulent.
In terms of horticulture, botanists often exclude plants and would regard them as succulents like Cacti.
You can often find them as commercial plants because of their stunning and unusual appearance, as well as their ability to survive with minimum care.
Many plant families all around the world have different succulents species within them. This accounts for 5 plant families.
The habitat of these plants is in areas where there is high temperature and low rainfall such as deserts.
Moreover, they have the ability to survive in an area where there is less water such as mist or dew, which makes them survive in an ecosystem that is a water-scarce.
This article sums up the appearance, habitual, cultivations and a guide on growing Succulent plants indoors. Keep on reading about it.
Appearance of Succulents
The water storage capacity of succulents gives them a swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants. This characteristic is Succulence.
In addition to succulence, these plants have other water-saving features and include:
- absent, reduced, or cylindrical to spherical leaves
- stems are the main site for the process of photosynthesis rather than leaves.
- they have a wavy, spiny, or hairy surface to create a humid micro-habitat around the plant. This reduces air movement near the surface and therefore, reduces water loss and can create shade
- roots are near to the surface of the soil, so they are able to take up moisture from the very small showers or from heavy dew.
- reduction in the number of stomata.
- the compact, reduced, or cushion-like columnar or spherical growth form of the plant
- ribs that embed rapid increase in plant volume therefore, to reduce exposure to the sun, there is a decrease in the surface area
- crassulacean acid metabolism, CAM to minimize water loss.
- they have the ability to remain plump, and full of water even at high internal temperatures.
- mucilaginous substances that have the ability to retain water
- very water-resistant outer cuticle or skin
Habitat of Succulants
Other than Antarctica, you can found succulents within every continent.
While most people think that succulents come from hot or desert areas like steeps. semi-desert or deserts. the world’s driest areas, however, do not make for proper habitats.
This is why due to difficulty such low-growing plants or seedlings will have to thrive where they can get cover in the sand.
Due to long periods and frequent drought in Australia, it hosts very few succulents. Moreover, even in Africa, it does not host many of the plants in most dry regions.
However, while succulents do not grow in harsh climatic conditions or weather, they can survive in uninhabitable conditions, in which other plants cannot survive.
Interestingly, many succulents are able to survive in dry conditions and can even last for 2 years without depending on their surroundings and adaptations.
Succulents can be epiphytes, occasionally, which means that can grow on other plants with limited or no contact with the ground.
Moreover, they are also dependent on their ability to store water and gain nutrients by other means. This is often observable in Tillandsia.
Succulents can also occur in inhabitants of sea coasts and dry lakes which contain high levels of minerals in the soil. However, these minerals can be deadly to other plants.
You can grow succulents indoors in pots with minimal care, as well.
Learn more about pot-friendly vegetables here.
Families and Genera
There are almost 60 different plant families that contain succulents.
The following are the families or subfamilies along with the number of succulent plants:
Agavoideae: Contains 300 succulents
Cactaceae: 1600 succulents
Aizoaceae: 2000 succulents
Crassulaceae: 1300 succulents
Didiereaceae: 11 succulants
Apocynaceae: 500 succulents
Portulacaceae: almost 500 succulents
Asphodelaceae: more than 500 succulents
Cheirolepidiaceae: 4 or maybe more succulents
How can You Cultivate them?
Succulents are popular as household plants and because they are easy to care for.
If you properly care for them, they need little maintenance to survive indoors.
These are very adaptable plants and can survive in a range of indoor conditions.
Overwatering and infections are the main cause of death of succulents, for many plant owners.
You can propagate or graft succulents in different ways. One of the most common is vegetative propagation in which you can cut several inches of stem with leaves and after healing, they produce callus.
After a week or so, roots can grow.
The second method is division, which consists of uprooting an overgrown clump and pulling the stems and roots apart.
Thrid method is propagation by leaf, which allows the formation of a callus.
During this method, you will completely remove the bottom leaf often by twisting it cutting.
This leaf then dries out and a callus form which prevents the leaf from absorbing too much moisture and thus rotting.
This method can take a few weeks to produce healthy roots that would eventually create new plants.
Moreover, the negative propagation can be different according to the species of the plants.
Learn more about Organic Fertilizers’ Importance for Cactus Plants here.
How can You Grow Succulents Indoor?
Because succulents have the ability to retain water, they tend to thrive in warm, dry climates and do not mind a little neglect.
Moreover, this quality makes them adaptable to indoor growing and ideal for you if desiring low-maintenance houseplants.
If you choose succulents for your home and this is your first experience with them, follow these steps for the successful care and growth of your plants.
1# Choose an appropriate Succulent
Most often, succulents like sunlight however, if you have a shaded corner in your home, choose the ones that are light-tolerant plants like mother-in-law tongue.
Moreover, if you plan to grow them in a hanging planter, then a trailing variety like a string of bananas is a great choice. It is important to always read the labels to find the sunlight requirements, size, and spread of your succulents.
2# Well draining Potting Medium
When in nurseries, they plant their succulents in soil that is rich and retains too much moisture, so that you will want to repot your succulent as soon as you bring them home.
You can start with a coarse potting mix with good drainage and aeration.
Moreover, you can pot special cactus and succulent mixes at nurseries or can use African violet mix.
To improve the drainage and prevent compaction.
You can add perlite or pumice to the cactus or African violet mix up to 50% of the total potting mixture, and it depends on the needs of your succulent plant.
Moreover, always wet the mix before using it and make sure it is evenly moist.
3# Chossing your Container
When you bring home your succulent, use a container that has a drainage hole and is at least 1 to 2 inches larger than the nursery container.
Moreover, avoid using glass containers as long-term potting solutions, This is because glass containers do not allow the roots to breathe and can cause them to rot over time.
It is important to fill the bottom of your pot one-third of the container with pre-moistured potting mix.
Then position your plant inside and backfill it with more pre-moistured potting mix.
4# Placing Your Plant
Most succulent plants need at least 6 hours of sun per day, therefore, try to place them near a south or east-facing window.
You will notice your succulents becoming spindly or stretching towards the light if they do not get enough light.
5# Drying of Mix between Waterings
Most often, people make a mistake and it overwhelms them. It is best to water more ut less frequently.
Moreover, saturate the potting mix thoroughly however, make sure the water flows out of the drainage hole properly and also allow the mix to dry out slightly before watering it again.
In case, the watering mix is consistently wet, the plant may die eventually.
6# Fertilize your Succulents once a Year
Most plants benefit from fertilizers during the spring season when the days are longer and new plant growth begins,
It is important to use a balanced and all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 diluted to half the strength as recommended on the package.
Moreover, do not fertilize your succulents in the winter season, when they are in a semi-dormant state. During this, they do not need the nutrient boost because they are not growing actively.
Learn more about Prickly Pear Cactus here.
Succulent plants are plants that can grow and withstand harsh climates and do not need much attention.
You can easily grow them at your home and take care of them by keeping in mind that they do not frequent attention.
However, make sure to put them in sunlight for at least 6 hours as they do need sunlight. Moreover, watering them frequently is not necessary, because they can survive water easily.
But you still need to water them. Choosing the right pot mixture is also necessary for their proper growth, as well as a drainage hole that keeps them well moist important for their growth.