A common question we receive is “Are cacti and succulents the same thing?”
The simple answer is yes. There are six large families of plants called succulents, with cacti, in the Cactadceae family, being just one of them. Members of both cacti and succulents in the other five families are native to seasonally dry deserts, seaside cliffs, frozen Alpine mountain conditions, and even high in tropical jungle trees where water is harder to come by.
The word succulent simply means juicy, and when applied to plants it refers to plants with special cells that can absorb and store water when water is available and slowly release the moisture to the plants when the weather is dry. Every succulent, including and succulent cactus plants, have fleshy leaves and stems that do this.
There are many types and varieties of each family, all fantastic specimens for gardeners who live in naturally dry climates or where water use is restricted. Also great for people who want interesting, colourful plants for patios or bright indoor windows but don’t have time or patience to grow thirstier plants.
Most cacti and other succulents require exposure to sunlight, but often protection from direct sunlight in the middle of the day (so on a windowsill that receives a lot of direct sunlight, your plant might get burned). Though some grow well outdoors in harsh, cold climates, many are damaged or killed by freezes and need to be kept indoors during the winter. All require well drained soil and only occasional watering.
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