Everything You Need to Know About Succulents

If you’ve tried growing your own herbs, veggies, or indoor plants before and haven’t had much success, there is one more type of plant you should try before hanging up your gardening gloves forever: succulents.

Updated on March 13, 2018 15:03 pm


These unique plants have exploded in popularity in recent years… and for good reason! Succulents offer a whole host of benefits that make them a great choice for gardeners who are struggling with their green thumb.

What is a succulent?

The diversity in color, texture, and shape amongst succulents is just one of the reasons these plants are so attractive to gardeners. This diversity is also the reason that many people—botanists includedhave a hard time defining exactly what a succulent is.

While the matter may still be up for debate, for the average gardener, what differentiates succulents from normal plants are their “fat” leaves that retain water. It’s this unique adaptation that makes succulents fantastic plants for new gardeners. With so much water stored in the plant itself, they need far less water and nutrients than traditional plants. In fact, some of the hardiest types of succulents can go for months without being watered or fed!

This means you can be a bit absentminded, go on vacation, or simply ignore these plants and there’s a good chance they will still survive—and even thrive.

Three Succulents to Start Growing

There are over 20,000 different types of succulents out there—that’s a lot to choose from! While many of these are great choices, here are three fantastic beginner succulents to grow:

1. Tree Aeonium

Tree aeonium is better known by its common names: tree anemone and desert pinwheel rose. They come in many colors, each featuring a striking rosette of thick, waxy leaves.

Caring for these succulents is simple: in cooler climates, they need full sun. In warmer climates or during the summer, give them a little bit of shade to protect them from the peak heat of the afternoon. Overwatering tree anemones is a death sentence—they will rot and die. All they require is a well-draining soil like a cactus mix, which you can find at the local nursery along with these pretty succulents.

2. Donkey's Tail

This creatively named succulent is popular for its hanging leaves that can grow up to 4 feet long. When grown in pots, the many “tails” of this plant hang over and create a unique appearance that not many plants can match. If you’re lucky, the ends of these tails can even flower in late summer, providing a beautiful bouquet of tiny flowers.

Caring for donkey’s tail couldn’t be easier. They like bright light but can’t tolerate a blinding heat, as they will burn. Every single leaf of these plants holds water, so overwatering will actually rot the plant. Watering once every two weeks is more than enough. As for soil, the typical mix for succulents works perfectly for donkey’s tail: a well-draining cactus mix. As your donkey’s tail grows, divide it up and repot it to grow even more in the garden.

3. Zebra Haworthia

Haworthias are spiky, pretty succulents that are exceptional for two reasons: their unique texture, and the fact that they change colour the more sun they get. If given a good amount of light, the green parts of the leaves deepen. If they are given full sun all day long, they will deepen even further into a red or violet color.

Haworthias make excellent indoor plants due to their small size and low water requirements. If you give them partial sun (a windowsill is more than adequate), they will thrive on little water and require almost no care whatsoever. As long as they aren’t in very cold or very hot temperatures, zebra haworthias will keep growing and adding spice to your windowsills for years.

Article originally published in Fix.com. Edited and published with permission.

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Infographic courtesy of Fix.com
Cover photo courtesy of Costa Farms


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