Succulent Plants Identification

Overview

Succulents are ideal plants for busy people who don't always remember to water. These plants, which can take considerable neglect, are desert natives. Their leaves are fat and swollen so they're able to store water for survival under dry conditions. They come in unique shapes and textures and are often used as indoor plants that add decorative attractions to homes or offices.

Types

Leaf succulents have foliage almost completely consisting of water storage cells that are covered by photosynthetic tissue, notes Succulent Plants.com. Stem succulents have fleshy stems containing water storage cells covered by photosynthetic tissue. Their leaves are entirely or almost totally absent, which reduces the surface area so water doesn't evaporate. Root succulents store water underground with their fleshy, swollen roots, where water is protected from hot sunlight and animals. Their leaves and stems, which are usually deciduous, shed during long dry seasons.

Ficus Genus Varieties

The Agave genus includes century plants, which are too large for be used as houseplants. Jade plants also belong to this genus. The Aeonium is a genus having succulents that usually grow into small trees with spatula-like leaves and bare stems. Lithops succulents, also known as "living stones" or "stone-faces," are mini-succulents that look like small rocks or pebbles. The Euphoria genus consists of a large, diverse group of succulents that have a milky sap exuding from their stems when plants are damaged. The Crown of Thorns and Candelbra Cactus are members of this genus.

Considerations

Succulents can easily be grown in trays and even in rocks. These plants can serve as decorative centerpieces and planted in unique containers, notes Colorado State University. To survive in a pot or planter, a succulent plant needs a container that provides draining for excess water, sunlight and potting soil that drains well.

Misconception

Many people consider all succulents to be like green cacti, which have thorny spines that can prick skin whenever they're touched. However, there are many succulents with fleshy, soft foliage that come in shades of blue-green and even purple.

Warnings

Most succulents need artificial watering or sufficient periodic rain, although they can tolerate sporadic drought, according to the University of Arizona. Many succulents, such as cacti, normally grow in shade. If they're placed in direct sun, their skin (epidermis) can sunburn. This can cause infection and rot which can lead to plant death. Overwatering is a succulent's worst enemy. Succulents should be watered only once weekly or less, depending on the plant and container size.

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About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.