Succulents make an ideal house plant because most are resilient and require little care and attention. With over 60 families and 300 genera there are many different varieties to choose from, each with a unique shape and colour that will add a beautiful element to any home.
Originating from dry environments with high temperatures, succulents survive by storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. This storage method is also a way for the different varieties of succulents to be identified.
Water-retaining leaf succulents are usually low to the ground or lacking an obvious stem. They are set apart from other succulents in appearance by their thick, fleshy leaves. Many popular varieties for the home include aloe vera, jade, living stones, and hens and chicks.
The most obvious characteristic of stem succulents is that they have few or no leaves to avoid evaporating water loss. Their columnar stems have a tough outer skin, sometimes covered in hairs or thorns, to protect their spongy, moist centre. Most cacti are members of the stem succulent family.
Root succulents have enlarged moisture-retaining roots used to store their water underground. These plants usually have deciduous stems and leaves, like the popular ponytail palm, and can be hard to distinguish unless the root is exposed.
Discovering Which Succulent is Best for You
If you are not sure which variety of succulent would work best in your home, or if you are looking for a particular species, you can visit the Succulent Plant Page online or the Cactus and Succulent Society of America's Web site, or visit your local greenhouse for information on they types of succulent plants that they carry.