There is a frenzy, buzz for succulents. Many indulge in growing succulents for recreation or aesthetics. But is that all? Or is there more to succulents? Here is a complete guide on 'what are succulents?', their purpose, benefits and tips on how to take care of succulents.
What Are Succulents?
Succulents are plants that survive in dry, harsh conditions by storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. They are often fleshy with compact foliage, though there are some exceptions. Their attractive appearance and ease of care make succulents popular as landscape plants and houseplants.
Most succulent plants grow in deserts, where they can get as little as one inch of rainfall each year. Other succulents live in grasslands or mountainous regions which only receive a few inches of rain a year. Still, others live in tropical areas, rocky soil near the ocean, and even marshes. The climate in which a particular succulent naturally grows dramatically impacts the types of care it needs for optimal health.
Succulents have adapted to arid conditions with specialized cells designed to store water in leaves or stems. They can be either evergreen perennials or annuals, but they all have fleshy leaves and branches that can hold water in the plant's stem or leaves.
They can come from a variety of different habitats, including deserts, swamps, and mangroves. However, they typically grow naturally in arid climates with little rainfall where their roots cannot reach underground water supplies.
They are easy to grow and maintain indoors. Most varieties prefer bright light, but some can handle low-light situations. They need very little water because most of their water storage abilities come from their leaves or stems, where they hold moisture. These plants tolerate dry conditions very well and tend not to be affected by humidity levels indoors. Most succulents prefer dry climates to humid ones.
Most succulents need full sun to grow and bloom optimally. Therefore, they do best in warm sunny areas with cool air temperatures and lots of sunshine throughout the day. Succulents that live in arid desert climates enjoy hot days and cool nights, but they don't like prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.
What is the purpose of succulents?
Succulents serve a variety of purposes in different parts of the world. For example, in harsh, dry climates where rainfall is scarce, succulents provide food and water for animals that might otherwise starve in times of drought. Many succulents are also considered valuable sources of food and medicine by native people who live in arid regions.
Succulents are also popular houseplants in dryer parts of the world. People grow succulents for two reasons.
- Add color and life to indoor spaces with their attractive foliage,
- They are easy to care for amid dry conditions because they don't need frequent watering.
Benefits of Succulents
Succulents have more to it. Not only do they please your eyes and wallets, but they also add healthy effects to your lifestyle.
Succulents are natural air purifiers. Although they don't look like plants, they exhibit the characteristics of plants. They intake carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. Thus it keeps your home pleasant with fresh air.
Succulents are still, and they tend to reflect upon the same feeling towards people owning it. Their color, texture, and calmness can reflect upon you. It calms down anxiety and relieves you from depression. It maintains equilibrium in your mind when you see it often. They increase your overall productivity as well.
Succies - the old age doctors
Succulents have been used as natural medicines in the Indian subcontinent for ages. Aloe vera is good in treating skin diseases like psoriasis and hair fall. Sour Fig helps in treating fungal infections, whereas elephant's foot helps in trading scabies.
Keep you fit
Contrary to popular belief, many succulents are edible. The leaves and stems have health benefits. They can keep you hydrated for a longer duration, which can help in reducing your weight.
Are you a nomad? Shifting places often but need a companion with you? Then succulents can be your best friend. They are small in size, easy to grow, and don't need much care, but they can stay with you for most of your life. Unlike your girlfriend, it can listen to you. You can find a good friend in succulent.
Succies demand less but give more
Unlike other plants, succulents require less care and less water. So in a busy world, you can let grow for months, if not days, without attending to it. On the contrary, it renders more benefits in the form of fresh air and a pleasant atmosphere.
How is a succulent different from other plants?
Many succulents are different from other plants because they grow with fleshy leaves or stems that collect and store water. Succulent leaves may be flat, round, pointed, angled, or tubular.
Some look like leaves but are modified branches instead of foliage. Their stems may be long and slender, short and squat or bulbous.
Some succulents have leaves that look like those of other types of plants. For example, some cactus species grow pointed, spiny leaves similar to those of a yucca plant (Yucca spp.). In addition, yuccas and agaves (Agave spp.) have fibrous leaves resembling cactus. In other cases, succulents may look like low-growing shrubs but are succulent ground covers, and tiny succulents grow in rosettes or clusters to resemble larger bushes.
Some succulents don't look like any plant you might find in your yard or a greenhouse. In arid regions, succulents can grow as tall as trees. "Bottle" plants have swollen trunks and branches that help them store water for survival during periods of drought. In coastal areas, you might see tall grasses with rounded, fleshy leaves that resemble cactus pads instead of blades of grass.
Succulents come in various colors, including green, white, gray, and shades of red, orange, and pink. Some succulents produce colorful flowers, while others only bloom after several years of growth.
People grow succulents for food, medicine, and decoration in much the same way they grow other plants. However, some succulents can be more challenging to grow than other plants because they need special care.
What's the difference between a succulent and an aloe plant?
Aloes (Aloe spp.) are succulents with stiff, pointed leaves that form rosettes. The sap in aloe leaves is used for medicinal purposes and is sometimes applied directly to a cut or scrape to promote faster healing.
Aloes are different from cacti because they have broad leaves instead of cylindrical stems. Many aloe plants also grow colorful flowers. Like other succulents, aloe plants store water in their leaves and need less frequent watering than traditional houseplants.
Aloe flowers are different from aloe leaves because they grow on tall stalks instead of the plant's leaves. Some aloes produce clusters of pink, yellow or white flowers that resemble daisies.
Aloe flowers are different from most other succulent blooms because they grow at the end of long, fleshy stalks instead of on top of leaves or branches.
Are succulents the same as cactus?
Cacti are succulents with cylindrical, segmented branches that grow in the shape of a ball or cylinder. The stems of cactus plants are covered with fine, protective spines that dissuade hungry animals from eating them. The flowers are large with bright colors.
Many species of cacti belong to the Cactaceae family, while succulents are members of several families, including Aloaceae, Aizoaceae, Crassulaceae, and Euphorbiaceae. Other succulents are not related to cactus plants because they grow in totally different regions or climates.
How to Care for Succulents: 8 Tips on how to take care of Succulents
Though succulents look rough on the outside, they are extremely sensitive to some aspects. Here is a complete guide on how to take care of succulents.
1. Make Sure Your Succulents Get Enough Light
Succulents are very low maintenance, but they do need the sun to grow. They will tolerate periods of dim light, but they won't thrive without bright sunlight. If you want your succulent to have lots of leaves and no flowers, then it needs at least eight hours of sunlight every day. If the plant starts to lean towards the window or light source, it's getting enough sunlight.
2. Water Your Succulents Just Right
Succulents are drought tolerant because they store water in their fleshy leaves, but that doesn't mean you can skip watering them completely. First, you need to know that each succulent has different water requirements, but most succulents need water only once a week.
Ensure that the soil is dry completely between waterings and never water a succulent growing in a clay pot because it will soak up all the water too quickly. If you have any questions about how often you should water your succulents, then ask us or look for tips on the plant's care tag.
3. Take Care of the Leaves and Flowers
The leaves on a succulent can become dry and brown or yellow if you're not watering them often enough, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If your plant is getting too much sun, some of its leaves will turn brown to help it cope with the heat and direct sunlight. However, you should take the plant out of direct sunlight if it starts to look crispy or dry. It would be best to cut off dead leaves because they can attract bugs and diseases that will spread through your succulents.
4. Only Report When Your Succulent Has Grown Too Big for Its Pot
Succulents are slow-growing plants, so they don't need to be repotted very often. You only have to repot a succulent when it has outgrown its pot, or you want to give it a bigger one because the roots are growing through the drainage holes. In most cases, an overly large succulent won't survive the process of transplanting, so it's best to try to keep your plant in its original pot as long as possible.
5. Stop Over-Watering Your Succulents
Never overwater your succulents because that will cause the leaves to turn yellow or brown and fall off. However, you also don't want your succulent to dry out too much, or its roots will die. It would be best to learn more about your specific succulent water requirements and care for it properly.
6. Protect Your Succulents From Cold Temperatures
Many people think that succulents can live in any temperature zone, but there's a big difference between the inside and outside temperature. Succulents can survive in non-freezing temperatures, but they shouldn't be exposed to cold conditions because that will kill them. During the winter months, make sure the succulents have enough light and that their soil doesn't become too wet. Furthermore, keep the succulents away from windows or any other source of cold air.
7. Don't Let Your Succulent Sit In Water
Many people water their succulents and then let them sit in a pool of water on the counter until they dry out completely. However, that can kill your plant if you do it too often. You should only leave your succulent sitting in water for a short period after watering it because all the soil should absorb water before you take it back out. You should also gently press on the soil to make sure that it's as wet as you think it is.
8. Repot Your Succulents When They're Rootbound
If your succulent isn't getting enough light, then its leaves might start dying and falling off because they can't grow properly without sunlight.
However, many succulents will develop a dense network of roots inside their pots, and they won't fit the plants anymore. In most cases, this is a sign that your succulent has outgrown its pot, and it's time to repot it into a new one.
How do you plant a succulent?
Succulents grow in a variety of habitats, from desert regions to coastal areas. Succulents need well-draining soil, adequate sunlight, and minimal humidity. In many cases, succulents aren't picky about getting these things because they can adapt quickly, even when their environment changes.
The best time to plant a succulent garden or container is in the spring or fall. Succulents grow best when they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you live in a warm, sunny region, your succulents will most likely thrive without any additional watering during the summer months.
Succulents can survive with less water than traditional houseplants because they grow in climates that experience long periods without rain. However, they may need additional water during hot months or when you first plant them.
Succulents like the soil to dry slightly before watering them again. How often your succulent needs more water depends on how fast it dries out and what type of container you use to hold it.
Succulents grown in porous materials such as clay or wood need more frequent watering than those grown in plastic or glazed ceramic containers. The size and shape of your container can also affect how often you water your succulents.
A shallow container with a large surface area may dry out faster than a deep, wide pot that holds moisture. Also, succulents with thick, fleshy leaves (such as aloe or some cacti) require more water than smaller succulent varieties like Sedum rubrotinctum.
What's the best way to water a succulent?
You can use any water on your succulents without any unique treatments. However, some succulents grow best when you use purified water on them rather than tap water. For example, Sedum morganianum is very sensitive to fluoride -- an ingredient in most types of tap water.
You can find out if your household water contains high fluoride levels by contacting your local utility provider. If you don't know, a quick Google search for your city and the words "fluoride levels" should help you find the information.
If your tap water contains fluoride, don't use it to water succulents. In most cases, purified water is safe but checking the packaging to ensure the water is free from fluoride is necessary.
How do you care for a succulent?
Succulents thrive outdoors in warm, sunny parts of the world where rainfall is scarce. However, most people grow them indoors in brightly lit rooms and use artificial light to help them bloom.
Succulents need moist soil because they store water in their leaves and stems. However, succulent plants won't survive if you keep the soil constantly wet. Most types of succulents only need water every few days or about once a week. You need to ensure that soil is dry between watering because succulents die if the roots stay too wet for long periods.
Succulents won't grow if they have soggy or wet feet, so it's essential to plant them in well-draining soil rich with organic material. You can use regular container soil or mix your potting soil with sand or perlite to help improve drainage.
Succulents can be grown outdoors in landscape beds, raised garden beds, and hanging baskets. They also add interest to rock walls and other landscaping features.
Many succulents need warm conditions to grow well. Those that originated from the American southwest may not bloom or grow if they are kept indoors for too long. If you live in a cooler area, you might need to bring your succulents inside during winter or help them adjust to colder temperatures gradually before moving them back outdoors again the following spring.
Most succulents bloom after several years of regular watering and fertilization. The blooms produce nectar that is popular with hummingbirds, butterflies, and insects.
Succulents bloom in shades of white, purple, yellow, and pink. The blooms look interesting on their own or when mixed with other flowering plants in a pot or hanging baskets.
How often do succulents need to be watered?
Each succulent has different watering needs, but all succulents need water less frequently than traditional houseplants. You can tell when your succulent needs water by the way it looks and feels. For example, if the soil is dry, your plant needs more water -- no matter what watering method you use.
Do succulents need sun?
Succulents need lots of sunlight and generally grow best when they get six hours or more every day. It's important not to place your succulents in full sun, however. If the leaves or stems on your succulents turn brown or black, it may be getting too much light.
How often do you fertilize a succulent?
Most succulents only need to be fertilized twice a year. However, it would be best if you fertilized your succulent every week during its growing season (usually spring or summer). Succulents generally don't need to be fertilized in the fall and winter because they go dormant during these cold months.
What is the best fertilizer for succulents?
You can use any fertilizer you like because succulents don't require special treatments. Most types of houseplant fertilizers work well on succulents.
However, if you live in a dry area and want to use slow-release fertilizer pellets, it's best to place them on top of the soil or around the outer edge of your succulent pot, so they don't burn the plant.
Granules and liquid fertilizers tend to work better than slow-release pellets because succulents need nutrients more frequently.
You should also feed your succulent plants with time-release fertilizer capsules that contain micronutrients every six months or so. These are especially important for young succulents because they have higher nutrient needs than mature plants.