A succulent has been a hot topic lately. You can buy them anywhere, they’re inexpensive and they instantly brighten up the appearance of your house.
Do succulents grow in deserts? Plants similar to succulents are commonly found in deserts & semi-deserts. In order to survive in such extreme conditions, they have developed certain adaptations. Consequently, they have a much different look from tropical plants and have unique yet simple needs.
How do succulents grow and where do they naturally grow?
A succulent is a plant that has a thickened structure that can store water for a long time. Desert regions that suffer from severe water shortages grow these plants naturally in drought-prone areas.
In addition to these basic adaptations, a number of others have allowed them to thrive in areas with higher temperatures and lower rainfall. The cacti mainly grow in subtropical and tropical climates.
How do Succulents Grow in the Desert?
Over the eons of evolution, succulents have developed several adaptations to deal with the extreme conditions of the desert. Among these are:
- Keeping water in the leaves, stems, and roots. The parts have become extremely fleshy and thickened to facilitate this process of water storage.
- Different from other plants CAM Photosynthesis allows them to better utilize water.
- Water is usually retained in smaller structures or with spines on the leaves.
- Strong waxy coating outside the fleshy stems: they are not easily penetrable due to the outer layer. Heat is protected from the substrate and water is prevented from evaporating.
- Strong well-developed roots: They have a variety of roots spread across the soil, some very close to the topsoil and others very deep into the soil. Therefore, they can utilize every last drop of water available to them.
- Additional adaptations of tolerating water loss from fogs and reducing stomata number are also prominent.
In the desert, succulents survive thanks to all of these adaptations.
So, Are Succulents xerophytes?
Xerophytes, such as those found at the edges of deserts, have adapted to the arid environment with the help of drought-tolerant plants. Because xerophytes have evolved to suit a dry environment, succulents have modified their plant parts over evolution. Succulents have a well-developed root system, waxy outer coat, fleshy stems & leaves, and opening of stomata at night time, all of which indicate that they are true xerophytes.
Some xerophytes are succulents, but not all xerophytes are because many other plants have adapted to dry climates in ways that are not common in succulents.
Do Succulent only grows in deserts?
In nature, succulent plants are only found to thrive in areas of acute water shortage, fast draining soil, dry environment, and mediocre to high temperatures. In those extreme environments, succulents have adapted themselves over hundreds of years.
- The zones of tropical rainforest and subtropical rainforest are mostly located in desert areas, but can also be found in many parts of the world.
- That’s right. Succulents can grow anyplace where their needs are met.
Since their requirements can be easily met, they have also been grown as indoor plants for thousands of years. It is best to replicate the type of soil and care they get in their natural habitats.
Do Succulents grow well inside the house or outside in the garden?
In order to survive, succulents require drainage-friendly soil and cannot be grown in ordinary potting soil.
- Soil requirements: Succulents thrive in cactus mic soil, which you can buy online or from your local nursery. A succulent-friendly potting mix can also be made by mixing equal amounts of potting soil with sand, pumice, volcanic rocks, and pebbles. The addition of all these inorganic contents will help to quicken the drainage of water. Succulents do not like soil that retains moisture for a long time.
- Best Pots for succulents: Choose terra cotta pots over plastic ones, as the former absorbs water from the soil and allows better airflow. The bottom of the pot should always have drainage holes, as this will further enhance drainage.
- Watering Requirements: Succulents are accustomed to growing in places with limited rainfall. When it rains, it pours. So water succulents only when the soil gets really dry in the pot. The plants do not need to be watered daily, in fact overwatering the plants can damage their roots, resulting in their death. However, when watering, be sure to drench the plants, and do not stop watering until the drainage holes are full.
- Sunlight Needs: The best place to keep them during the day is close to filtered bright light. Keep succulents in indirect sunlight rather than direct sunlight. So place them in a shade or near a window.
- Fertilization: Fertilize your garden during the growing season once a year. Dilute your fertilizer several times with water and use one that is well balanced. Other beneficial nutrients can also be added to the soil from time to time.
Which Plants are considered Succulents?
Most succulent plants are adapted to drought-prone areas and have adaptations that allow them to store water in their stems, leaves, roots, and reduce water loss in a number of ways.
Among the succulents that can be grown indoors are:
- Burrow”s tail
- Crassula ovata
- Aloe vera
- Snake pant
- Echeveria elegans
- Haworthiopsis fasciata
What does succulent mean?
The English word succulent is derived from the Latin word “sucus” which means juice or sap. It’s no wonder the name is perfect for this plant because it has waxy and fleshy stems and leaves that help in storing water for future use.
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