Plant Spotlight: Succulents

Words by Tim

It may be an obvious fact to state, but here at Plant Designs we’re passionate about one topic in particular… plants! In our Plant Spotlight series we invite members of the team to tell us a little about their favourite greenery. Here we’ve got Tim, one of our horticulturists, telling us all about the humble succulent.

There are so many different shapes and styles of succulent out there, it’s a true feat of nature. While most of them don’t grow very large, they are definitely among the most unusual looking plants I’ve come across. In my time I’ve seen star shapes, varieties that look like crumpled up paper, and some that look just like smooth little pebbles. You need only hear a few of the common names to get some idea of the varieties on offer. There are ‘Mexican Snowballs’, ‘Painted Ladies’, ‘Milk Bushes’, ‘String of Beads’, and the charmingly named ‘Wart Plant’ to name just a few!

Photography by Nic Kane.

What all succulents have in common is that they store water, usually in their thick fleshy leaves and stems. This is what allows them to survive in the arid locations they are native to – it’s also this trait that makes them one of the most forgiving indoor plants to take care of. It has however, also led to one of the most common misunderstandings about succulents.

So often people say to me, ‘ah yes, succulents never need watering, do they?’… This isn’t strictly true! While they don’t need much water in the winter months (from October to March), if they aren’t watered in the spring and summer they won’t grow much and will eventually die. In fact, throughout the summer they should be watered generously, often just as much as your regular house plants!

There are so many succulents available, it can be difficult to know where to start your collection. One succulent that just about everyone has heard of is the Aloe, due to its extracts having been used in herbal medicine for centuries. It’s now more popular than ever and crops up in supplements, skincare products, and even in drinks. If you’ve ever had a nasty sunburn, you may well have used an Aloe-based product to soothe your skin afterwards. Given its versatility and its striking appearance, I think an Aloe is a great starter succulent.

Photography by Nic Kane.

I think another joy of the simple succulent is its ability to fit into any decor scheme. In recent years we seem to be using succulents more and more because they fit so well into modern, minimal interiors. Because of their unusual forms, clean lines and often subtle colours, they just seem so at home in a contemporary setting. However that’s not to say the maximalists among us can’t enjoy a succulent or two! Some varieties are so complex and their shapes so unusual that they look almost like a man-made sculpture – just the thing to bring some life to your space.

Interested in learning more about how succulents can work for you? Get in touch with our team today to discuss how we can introduce these beautiful plants to your space.