When I was young, I had a jade plant, and it fascinated me. It looked like a miniature tree made out of silicone. Its leaves were fat and fleshy. Its limbs were rubbery and flexible. It seemed like a beautiful little alien life form to me.
From there, I got an Aloe Vera plant. I would cut open its thick leaves and rub it on a minor burn, it would soothe and heal it. That was magical.
Another magical quality about succulents is that they’re often found in arid places, and yet they retain water like no other plant does. Succulents, to me, are the epitome of abundance. Some can live up to two years without water. They are survivors. I admire them. I also really, really enjoy saying succulent.
There is a controversy regarding succulents in the plant world. (And who doesn’t love a good controversy? Bring it on!)
In horticultural circles, the term succulent excludes cacti. But botanists would tell you that nearly all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. For our purposes, succulents are thick, fleshy and engorged with water. That describes most cacti, too. I tend to look at cacti as succulents with an attitude.
There are lots of reasons to love succulents. They’re beautiful, they’re hardy, they’re low maintenance. They come in countless varieties. But maybe I just like them because, at my age, I can relate to water retention. Who knows?
If you are really into succulents, I suggest you read my post about the Cactus and Succulent Society of America. They even have conventions! The day I get to attend one of those is the day I’ll truly consider myself a succulent nerd.
Here are some photos of the succulents I have at home, some of which are in flower pots that I painted myself. Enjoy!