Succulents feature pretty heavily in my home decor. Two of them sit either side of me as I work and as much as I love growing little plant babies into vegetables and flowers, I can be prone to forgetting to water! No point denying anything...which is why I love succulents so much. As well as being hardy and, let's be honest, very trendy, there are actually some great health benefits from having succulents and cacti in your home.
Let's get the elephant in the room cleared properly first. These strong and independent plants don't need too much watering, so if you have a tendency to forget about them for a few days, they won't wilt and die like my lovely daffies have done. My windowsill is starting to look a bit sad. Meanwhile, my spider plant adjacent to the daffodils is thriving - you can check out the benefits of spider plants here. But oh no, succulents seem practically immortal. I don't think I've ever managed to kill one, and if I've ever got close I am able to resuscitate it with a sunny spot and plenty to drink. Simulating a rare desert rainfall over them seems to do the trick.
I could list for hours the names and families of succulents (if I could spell them and somehow remember them all), but, like most varieties of plants, there are countless types. Unfortunately, unless you visit a specialist you are likely to find that every individual plant is simply labelled 'variety' or 'aloe', or even just 'cactus'. I tend to just choose the ones that attract me the most. They are usually echeveria because I'm so drawn to their flowerpetal-like rosettes.
So why are they so good for us?
Aside from being a reminder of nature and providing us with a rewarding sense of satisfaction that we can keep them alive and let them thrive (however easy it might be), succulents are very beneficial when it comes to our health. Aloe vera is found in multiple skincare formulations and especially in suncream or aftersun lotions. It has a cooling ability that can treat the dryness of sunburnt skin, but also is able to help treat cuts, bruises and fever. Agave, like aloe, can be an effective natural antiseptic. That being said, my disclaimer here would be to make sure that you speak to healthcare experts when looking at using plants for treating ailments.
But succulents and cacti don't stop there. Some species defy the laws of photosynthesis and, through the night, continue to release oxygen into the air where other types of plants would usually stop for a rest. I talked a bit more about the good that we can get out of having houseplants to recycle our CO2 into O2 in a recent blog post, linked above. Isn't it awesome that succulents also do just that and occasionally more? If succulent plants are also able to purify the air we breathe, I'm all for having millions of them.
How you can style them in your home
Since succulents and cacti are so prolific in supermarkets, florists and garden centres alike, I would say make the most of them! You can buy little ones in cute terracotta-coloured pots very cheaply. I love flowers a lot, but it almost seems like a better deal to get some succulents for the same price as a bunch of flowers. My succulents stand confidently alone on a shelf, but I want to get a bit more creative. There are some very simple and stylish ways to spruce up your little desert-loving guys, by showcasing them together in a terrarium filled with stones and sand or soil. Or you could visit my Pinterest page and revel in all of the other amazing, original and imaginative ways to display succulents in your home and garden. It was hard to stop pinning all of the clever ideas, most of them being things I wouldn't have ever thought of if I hadn't seen them. Now my mind is reeling with plans for both indoor and outdoor succulent forests!
I'd love to know what you do with your cacti and succulent plants!