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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CACTUS AND SUCCULENT

Succulents have been used throughout history for their medicinal properties, health benefits and beauty. These wonderful plants are commonly used as indoor potted plants and landscape ornamentals depending on the climate. Succulents and cacti can be hung indoors in sunny areas and are used to accent almost any room. But what’s the difference between succulents and cacti?

Succulent

Cacti VS Succulent | Are Cacti Succulents?


A succulent is defined as any plant that stores water in their leaves, stems or roots to withstand a periodic drought. Cacti are defined as a succulent plant with a thick stem, typically bearing spines, lacking leaves and producing colorful flowers.


This means that all cacti are considered succulents but not all succulents are considered cacti. Succulent is a fairly common term used for lots of different plants. There are an estimated 60 plant species that contain varieties of succulents.


Succulent plants are found all over the world but Mexico hosts the largest variety. Most species of cactaceae however are native only to North, Central and South America , otherwise known as “The New World”.



Large Cactus

How To Identify Cacti?


Depending on the type of cactus, cacti usually do not have leaves in the general sense. Cactus pads are essentially modified stems with a waxy coating. The prickly spines are modified “leaves” that break up the wind. The stems of cacti establish the shape of the plant and are also their primary sites for photosynthesis and water storage.


Cacti have distinctive areoles (small light to dark colored bumps that grow clusters of spines) that distinguish them from other succulents. Non cacti succulents will not have areoles.


Some species of cacti have glochids which are hair like spines or short prickles that are generally barbed. These are found on the areoles of cacti in the Opuntioideae cacti family. Glochids easily detach from the cactus and irritatingly lodge themselves in the skin upon contact.


How To Identify Succulents (Non-Cacti Succulent Identification)

Succulent Leaves

Succulents have thick, fleshy leaves and grow well in warm, dry conditions. The leaves of a succulent will usually have spines, thorns, or prickles on their leaves and stems. Similar to how a cacti’s structure is determined by the stem, a succulent's growth structure is determined by their leaf arrangements.


How Often Should Succulents Be Watered?


You might be wondering how often do succulents need water? Indoor succulent plants should be watered about once a week with a decent amount of water. Allow succulents enough time to store the water in their leaves. Make sure to let their soil dry out in-between waterings.


Succulents need sun and should receive roughly 6 hours of sun a day. Make sure to gradually introduce full sun to younger succulents to avoid scorching your plant.


How Often Should You Water A Cactus Indoors?


When do you water a cactus plant? During the cacti growing season (spring, summer & autumn) cacti should receive frequent watering and nutrients (fertilizer) every seven to ten days.


Always let your cactus dry out between waterings, this is made simple by testing the first few inches of soil. When the top layer of potting soil/potting mix dries out, it's time to water/feed them again. Make sure that succulent containers have adequate drainage holes or you could drown them. During the winter months, cacti only need to be watered once every 4 to six weeks.


Benefits Of Growing Succulents


Cactus And Succulent Landscaping

There are many benefits of a succulent garden. Succulents are extremely easy to grow and thrive even with minimal effort or care.


They only require modest amounts of water and nutrients (fertilizer). Rarely will pests become an issue during succulent growing. This makes them a great plant for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.


They come in a variety of colors and their unique appearance makes them ideal for home decorating and landscaping needs. Succulents will look great added to a group of plants or kept on their own, you be the judge!


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