7 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Succulents

If you've been on social media, watched any movies, seen advertisements, or just generally been online lately it's almost guaranteed you've seen some succulents. But as popular as these plants are, they are frequently misunderstood or misrepresented. Let's fix that.

Not great house plants

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It's not uncommon to see succulents in stylized photos where they're nowhere near a window. Often ads or tv spots make it look like succulents can thrive anywhere in your house. Sadly, that's not quite true. There are a number of succulents that can grow inside without additional help, but most succulents need a substantial amount of light to stay colorful and compact. This doesn't mean you can't grow succulents indoors, you absolutely can. It's just not as effortless as it might seem and not all succulents will grow easily indoors.

They're not all from the desert

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Many succulents are native to temperate areas of South Africa. While they don't get super wet on a regular basis, they also aren't living in the Saharan desert. As such, many succulents have a hard time when the weather gets extreme -- either cold or hot. The "Goldilocks" principle really applies to succulents, not too hot and not too cold, everything needs to be just right. Most succulents wouldn't actually survive in a true desert climate.

Cactus are succulents

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Cactus are a distinct group of plants on their own, but they're actually part of the succulent family. All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. It's not a surprise these prickly plants fit in to the succulent family. They store a substantial amount of water in the body of the plant -- one of the characteristics of a succulent.

Succulents Like Water

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One of the reasons succulents have gained popularity in the last few years is due to their drought tolerant qualities. However, people often take this to mean that succulents don't need very much water. In reality, succulents like to have their soil soaked completely but then dry out completely before watering again. So rather than give your succulents a few table spoons of water every other day, they want a deep drink and then to be left alone for a while. Using the "Soak and Dry Method" of watering will help keep your succulents happy.

Not all succulents are the same

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Most people tend to think of succulents as these beautiful, colorful rosette shaped plants with thick leaves. There certainly are a lot of succulents that match this description, but succulents come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. You'll find a lot of diversity among this group of succulents from perfectly pretty to weird and unusual succulents.

Succulents can grow in the snow

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Now, before you leave all your succulents outside for the winter, keep in mind that not all succulents are cold hard. There's a large group of Sempervivum, Sedums, and cacti that will all grow in freezing climates (down to Zone 4) that get several inches of snow in the winter. Many of these varieties will acutally change colors throughout the year and tend to be most vibrant and colorful when the temperatures drop to freezing or below.

Succulents have flowers

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The most commonly recognized succulents have a flower-like shape, but most succulents also produce a bloom. Some of them bloom each year while others flower only at the end of their life (these are called monocarpic succulents). Cacti have some of the most beautiful flowers, often resembling a rose with their delicate petals. Other succulents have small flowers on very long stem which many people don't find to be very attractive.

Is Your State On The List? 18 States Where Succulents Can Grow Outside Year Round

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Many people think of succulents as beautiful house plants but don't realize they can be grown outside year round in many parts of the United States. Not every succulent is suited for outdoor growing in every state so here's a list of states and some of the succulents you can expect to grow outside year round there.

What Succulent is Best for You?

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There are thousands of succulent varieties and not all of them will grow well in your climate or may require more (or less) work that you want to put in. It's important to know how much light and water your succulent plants need to thrive so you can select the plant that's best suited for you.

Is Your Succulent Dying? Find Out Why

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There's a number of reasons your succulent might not be looking great. Find out how to tell what's wrong with your succulent and how you can fix it or prevent it from happening again.

This article originally appeared on Succulents and Sunshine.