About Cacti and Succulent Plants
Cacti and succulents are low maintenance type plants which in their natural habitats can be found in the dry deserts, high mountains and even in the jungles which dwell jungle type cacti.
Most people are familiar with cactus plants with their sharp spines and drought tolerant characteristics. Cactus plants store almost all of the water in their stems (body) and the sharp spines they feature carry
Succulent plants on the other hand, carry many of the same characteristics of cacti in that they are also very resilient to neglect and harsh weather conditions.
Some popular types of succulent plants you may have already know are Aloe Plants, Echeveria and Haworthias. Succulent plants contains fatty leaves which have excellent water storing ability, in addition to storing water in their stems and roots for certain species.
Cactus plants are drought tolerant plants that reside in many different parts of the world. These plants can be found in areas such as the hot dry deserts in Africa, to the high snow mountains in South America, and also in the tropical Rain-Forests which dwell Jungle type cacti.
In the world, there are over 1,500 difference species of Cacti with all sorts of unique looks, shapes and colors to them. All these cacti fall under the plant family name of Cactaceae. Some of the most popular types of cactus plants are the Sanguro, Golden Ball and Prickly Pear.
Succulents are characterized by their fleshy leaves in which they store water besides the stem. These plants also have excellent water storing ability and could handle harsh conditions.
Succulents can be found in a wide range of climate zones such as the tropics, semi-desert, and desert. These plants generally dwell in shaded, rocky areas out of direct intense sunlight. Caring for succulents is very similar to Cacti for most species in which they require very little watering and oversight.
Some of the most well known types of succulent species are Aloe Plants, Baby Donkey Tail and Echeveria.
Basic Anatomy - Cactus/ Succulents
The stem is the main body of the cactus plant that stores water and also is where photosynthesis takes place. Due to adaptations to survive, cactus plants do not have leaves as a measure to conserve water, and is the reason why photosynthesis takes place on the stem instead of the leaves like regular plants. The surface of the stem (skin) contains a wax like substance that is also used to help retain water inside the cactus and shield itself from the elements.
Sharp, thorn like needles called Spines are used to protect itself from predators and also serves a secondary purpose as a shield from the sun and wind to help retain water. Spines are produced on the stem of the cactus from growth structures called Areoles.
Circular and fuzzy growth structures on the stem, called Areoles is where the spines and flowers emerge. Areoles are unique only to Cacti plants. Succulent plants do not contain Areoles, and is one of the reasons they do not contain spines.
The roots of a cactus plant are generally thin and short, compared to other regular plants and tend grow in a horizontal manner. Special attention is needed to ensure that the soil or medium used is dried quickly after each watering as the roots may rot when prolonged wet.
Special type Cactus Soil with added Perlite or Sand can provide the drainage and aeration needed for potted plants
Not often seen, cactus do produce beautiful flowers with varying colors based on species. The flowers are produced from the Areoles.