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What Are The Differences Between Succulents and Cacti?

by Sofia Lara
What Are The Differences Between Succulents and Cacti

What is the difference between succulents and cacti? That is one of the most common questions we get from our readers. 

The main difference that sets them apart is their structure. Succulents have numerous fleshy leaves, but lack the round, cushion-like areas named areoles. On the opposite, a cacti is filled with areoles from which spines, hair and flowers grow. 

There are some types of succulents that can be mistaken for a cactus, such as Euphorbia. This plant has lots of thorns that can’t be removed without damaging the plant. Keep in mind that the spines of a cactus are designed to break in order to protect it from feeding animals. 

Differences between watering succulents and cacti

Differences between watering succulents and cacti

Succulents and cacti don’t need frequent waterings. However, the cactus is a superhero that can live and thrive in desert conditions. Between March and October, you should water both succulents and cacti more frequently, because it’s their growing period. 

Regardless of the plant, always allow the soil to dry out between waterings. The moisture condition can be checked by placing your finger into the soil. It’s the same principle bakers use to test if a cake is done. They just insert a toothpick into the center, and if it comes out clean, all is perfect. So, when you remove your finger, it should be without any soil particles. Better keep an eye on the leaves and stems of the plant as well. They will tell you if the succulents or cacti are underwatered or overwatered

Read more about How to water your cacti properly.

Do succulents need a different soil than cacti?

Yes, succulents need a different soil than cacti, in order to grow properly. Succulents tolerate more water than cacti and a perfect soil for them would be a combination of perlite, potting soil and coarse sand. This mix provides nutrition, a neutral pH and good water absorption. Cacti, on the other hand, requires less water and fewer nutrients in order to grow. The most common combination for a cacti is one part potting soil and two parts coarse builder’s sand. This soil recipe will benefit the cacti on the long term, because it will create proper drainage. 

Can you put succulents and cacti together?

Can you put succulents and cacti together?

Yes, but it depends on the type of succulents or cacti. For example, Schlumbergera is a type of cactus that prefers a low light environment and it’s a great indoor plant. Aloe and Agave, are sun loving succulent plants, and are suitable for an outdoor garden. You should choose succulents and cactuses that have similar needs in terms of light and water. Succulents demand a bit more watering and this could harm the cacti, if grown together. A big pot with a good drainage is necessary, regardless of the plant type. It’s a real challenge, trying to please both types of plants, but it’s not impossible. 

What are the similarities between Succulents and Cacti?

Succulents and cacti have more similarities than differences. It is well known that all succulents and cacti can withstand dry spells for a long period of time. They achieve this by storing water in leaves, roots or stems. Some of the species produce beautifully colored flowers and fruits and are used for an aesthetic purpose. A few succulents and cacti are even safe to eat, such as : Saguaro, Dragon Fruit and Aloe. 

Discover more about Edible Succulents and Cacti.

Succulents and cacti are fascinating plants, easy to care for and perfect for indoor use. They will cheer up any space, and even help you have a healthier life. Succulents and cacti have the ability to cleanse the air, because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen continuously.

Last Updated on June 28, 2022 by Sofia Lara

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