Succulents have grown in popularity in recent years, popping up everywhere from your Instagram feed to that trendy new coffee shop down the street. While you’ve undoubtedly seen them around, their actual identity can be a bit of a puzzle to anybody who isn’t all that familiar with plants.
To clarify, succulents (or water storage plants, as they are sometimes known) are a group of plants that have the incredible ability to store water under dry climates or soil conditions. Unsurprisingly, this characteristic is referred to as succulence. Because they have special water retention abilities, they don’t do well in humid conditions. Succulent roots tend to grow close to the surface of soil in order to take in as much water as possible in arid conditions. As a result, they can rot and die if exposed to too much water for long periods of time.
Due to the fact that succulents often have thick, fleshy leaves, it’s quite common for people to mistake them for some type of cactus. In reality, most cacti are actually succulents themselves, though there are many succulents that are not cacti. However, it bears to keep in mind that in popular horticulture literature, succulents tend to be categorized separately from cacti.
Fun fact: there are over 40 different botanical families that are considered succulents, including – but not limited to – cacti! And contrary to popular belief, they don’t all grow in hot deserts. Succulents can be found in cold conditions such as on mountains, but also in jungles and even near great bodies of water like lakes and seas.
The point here is that succulents can pretty much grow anywhere, so long as they aren’t over-exposed to water. The fact they often originate from extreme conditions means that succulents are quite resilient to long dry spells, and they’re also quite the little propagators! One fallen leaf can often easily produce an entirely new plant. Another cool thing to note is that under extreme environmental fluctuations, they can change colours, ranging anywhere from dull green to vibrant red, and even black.
Given that succulents seem to come from some of the wildest corners of the planet, it might not seem intuitive to think that they would thrive indoors. But think again! Succulents are growing in popularity, if only because busy everywhere are thrilled with the prospect of a plant that thrives only if you pretty much leave it alone. Over-coddle your succulent, and it’ll die faster than your ego did that time when great-aunt Agnes picked you up from school and called you by your pet-name from across the parking lot.
Just keep your succulent in a spot where it can get at least a few hours of sunlight, though some varieties will need more than others. You pretty much don’t need any fertilizer, except may once in the spring or summer… but let’s be honest – ninety percent of you probably aren’t going to go out of your way to fertilize it anyway, so we’ll go into the details of that elsewhere. As for watering, this will vary based on their environmental conditions but a good rule of thumb is it's much better to underwater than to overwater. If you notice your succulent begins to shrivel, try to water it in a slightly shorter interval in the future, and preferably with distilled water so that it doesn’t take in harmful minerals.
Because succulents are so super, even if you have a long history of plant deaths on your rap sheet, don’t be afraid to grab some succulents and give them a shot! It just might be your first step towards becoming a planting pro…
Now that you know how easy they are to take care of, you're probably interested in buying a few succulents for yourself.We're a Succulent store in Toronto but we ship across the country so be prepared. 'Cause once you buy one, you'll want a million!