Succulents in Containers

Succulents are plants that store water in their tissues, developing thick fleshy leaves that, if cut open, have a juicyness akin to grapes. Cacti are a type of succulent, differentiated by the swollen stems that store water, whilst the leaves are in the form of spines, so heavily modified as to be unrecognisable. Many succulents originate from inhospitable areas with a low rainfall, having adapted to the conditions by growing slowly and conserving sufficient moisture — in either fleshy roots, stems or leaves — to survive during long periods of drought.

Most of the succulents in cultivation originate from Africa and Europe, apart from Cacti which are natives of the Americas, and require a minimum temperature of five degrees, and others — Melocacti, for example — that need to be much warmer. Discovering a plant’s natural habitat gives a better understanding of its cultivation needs. The UK has just three species of native succulent, the best-known being stonecrop, Sedum anglicum, or Sempervivum tectorum, the common houseleek, both of which are hardy.

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