How to Identify Succulent House Plants

Overview

The mention of succulents typically brings images of typical succulents, such as aloe, jade or sedum. However, succulent is actually a term that refers to any plant with thick juicy stems designed to hold water. This includes dessert plants, tropical plants and mountain plants. According to the University of Illinois Extension, even geraniums grown outside are considered succulents. There are thousands of succulents worldwide, but with careful observation, succulent houseplants are relatively easy to identify.

Step 1

Assess the overall size and shape of your succulent plant. Note whether it is short and dense or tall and slender. Look for the general curves of the plant. Some are mounded while others grow vertically with foliage sprouting from the main stem.

Step 2

Examine the leaves. Jot down the size, shape and color of the leaves. Look at the edges of the leaves. Leaves may appear scalloped, smooth, rounded or lanced. Note the kind of leaves your plant has.

Step 3

Look for blooms. Note the size and color of blooms and how they attach to the main stem of the plant. Some flowers bloom atop a slender stem held above the plant while others appear is clusters amid the foliage.

Step 4

Examine the main stem for branches. Many plants produce multi-branched foliage while some produce one main branch with a few offshoots.

Step 5

Visit the PlantCare database. Click on succulent and review the attribute list to the right. Click any that apply to your plant. Use your notes as a guide. Leave those you are unsure of set to "any." Click the search button. This brings up a list of succulents with your chosen attributes.

Step 6

Review the images of succulents and match the image to your plant. If your plant is young, its appearance may differ from the images, but leaf type and color, overall shape and blooms, if applicable, should match those of the mature plant.

References

  • University of Illinois Extension: Cacti and Succulents as Houseplants
  • University of California: Cacti and Succulents

Who Can Help

  • PlantCare.com: Plant Encyclopedia Database
Keywords: identify succulents, succulent houseplants, succulents

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.