What are Succulents
- Succulents are a wide group of plants that have evolved from ancient tropical forests to combat the feast and famine of water supply.
- Succus is the latin for juice. Succulent plants have stems,branches, roots, stalks, leaves or flowers that are juicy, fleshy or thick to retain moisture.
- Parts of succulents above the ground act as reservoirs of water.
- Succulents are varied plants not one or even related groups or families of plants.
- All cacti are succulents but all succulents are not Cacti.
How do Succulents Preserve Water
- Many succulents including cacti do not grow leaves reducing transpiration.
- Thick leaves have space to store far more water than other leaves such as Aloe.
- Some plants can be pulled underground to preserve water.
- Minimum evaporation is achieved by hairy, spiney or waxy outer layers.
- Shapes are developed to maximise retention and minimise water loss.
- Some plants have roots that grow in bundles on the soils surface to capture any available moisture
- Many Cacti breath oxygen at night and photosynthesis during the day.
Common Types or Groups Of Succulent
- Sedum and Sempervivum
- Cactaceae are divided into 3 sub families with over 200 genera and 10,000 species.
- Haworthia, Gasteria and Aloe are succulents but part of the Lily family.
- Agave, Aeoniums, Echeveria, Lithrops and Yucca are succulents.
- Many Euphorbias and Cereus are succulent.
- Christmas and Easter Cacti, Schlumbergera or Zygocactus
Tips for Growing Succulents and Cacti
- Getting the watering right is the key issue. All plants need water during their growing period.
- I water weekly in spring and early summer cutting down drastically by autumn leaving winter almost watering free.
- Good drainage is as important as watering. Most succulent prefer a free draining sandy or gritty soil. Do not stand in water.
- Keep most varieties free of frost.
- Provide a weak fertiliser solution in spring and early summer.
- Plants can be grown from seed and many root well from cuttings or grafting.
- Insects can be a problem but most die in high heat.