A History of Survival, Succulents


History of Succulents

An ultra-low maintenance plant once used for air conditioning and to ward-off lightning and witches, succulents have a long history that is still debated. Odd yet uniquely beautiful in appearance – at times called “fat plants” – succulents survive in the most arid climates and poor soil conditions, making them ideal for urban living. Cactus and Succulents They store water in their thick fleshy leaves, and “succulents” is the umbrella term for xerophytes and geophytes (the key difference between the two being the roots, and whether the plant “retreats” underground to save itself in very dry conditions). A rule of thumb: Cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti; a cactus does not have leaves, the thorns are the “leaves.” Aloe, agave, sempervivum and jade are among the most popular non-cacti succulents. Romans planted sempervivum on their roofs to provide air conditioning and even to prevent lightning strikes. Thought to protect against thunderstorms and called a “House Leek” – said to prevent decay and witchcraft – Charlemagne also ordered that people plant succulents on their homes.  The juice was used as an astringent (shrinking human tissue and aiding in blood clotting) and to treat eye disease. Horticulturalists still argue which is which, even if cacti should be included as “succulents” – but we consider succulents an all-encompassing family term, with potatoes possibly include due to their big tubers also store water. Aloe is of course great for burns and healthy skin.  Agave is also a natural sugar and key ingredient in tequila, so take a sip and let the horticulturalists argue-on as they will. _2000299 _2000300 Very popular in our store, becoming the hottest plant (pun intended) in Brooklyn, succulents are easy to care for, can thrive in direct or filtered light, and they look super cool. Our bridal bouquets and boutonnieres often feature succulents (we can be very creative to give your special day a truly memorable look), and my favorite thing to do is plant a succulent inside “found” glassware and vintage objects.  They do well in containers with little drainage, so this natural yet striking ecosystem will be a self-contained treasure for a long time. Never underestimating the simple bouquet of flowers send to a sick friend or loved one, but succulents seem to be more appreciated than something that will fade and die in a week or so. Send a friend something that isn’t a burden but a beautiful keepsake. Succulents grow great in window boxes, surviving the harshest conditions and, maybe most importantly, neglect.  Don’t abuse your plants, of course, just know that succulents don’t need daily attention and will be ok if you go away for a long weekend. The craziest succulent I know is the cryptophyte known as “a living rock.”  It literally looks like a rock but has the most beautiful orange bloom. WARNING: Be careful when you have succulents and small children! Kalanchoes can be poisonous – Before buying or sending, do a little background research on the specific succulent to ensure children and pets won’t be harmed by your new plant. Never underestimating the simple bouquet of flowers send to a sick friend or loved one, but succulents seem to be more appreciated than something that will fade and die in a week or so. Send a friend something that isn’t a burden but a beautiful keepsake. Succulents grow great in window boxes, surviving the harshest conditions and, maybe most importantly, neglect.  Don’t abuse your plants, of course, just know that succulents don’t need daily attention and will be ok if you go away for a long weekend. The craziest succulent I know is the cryptophyte known as “a living rock.”  It literally looks like a rock but has the most beautiful orange bloom. WARNING: Be careful when you have succulents and small children! Kalanchoes can be poisonous – Before buying or sending, do a little background research on the specific succulent to ensure children and pets won’t be harmed by your new plant.

Care of Succulents

Try misting succulents instead of direct watering, because succulents absorb water from the air instead of the ground.  Never plant succulents next to moss, especially in a terrarium, because the dampness will make them rot. Very easy to propagate, most succulents like jade, euphorbia, and didiera plants can grow new roots. Don’t worry if a leaf breaks off, this is just a succulent at work, simply plant it in sand and watch a new succulent soon emerge! Fun Stuff! Place a glass of water an inch or so under the plant and watch roots start to reach and grow to the water. This interesting trick will keep kids engaged and grow their interest in plants and how nature works. Cactus food (Schultz is our favorite) is recommended for succulents, as is specific soil.  3 parts horticultural sand, cactus food, and your own blend, is ideal.

Steps to creating an open air terrarium:

Find the coolest container you can (presently vintage glassware from the 70s is our most popular) something that you will proud to display for a long time. Place 1-2 inches of gravel or rocks on the bottom. Add a layer of sheet moss on top of the gravel. Add a layer of charcoal on top of the moss. Cover with succulent soil on top then plant – Sit back and enjoy!

Complements

Sedum and moss rose grow well with either succulents and look lovely together.  Here at the shop we grow them on old tires, stacked in a pallet, and any extra space or interesting object that we can find. As plush green lawns are being torn-up and replaced with designs that demand less water, succulents are becoming all the rage, whether in Las Vegas or New York City. The less water required the better!
[caption id="attachment_30" align="alignleft" width="625"]Bridal bouquet with succulents Succulent Bouquet[/caption]
  Remember, once you introduce succulents into your home or displays, people will take note. When we added succulents to our bridal and delivery displays, the demand grew rapidly. People too often think of prickly cactus as the only succulents, but we have found them to offer beautiful blooms, low-maintenance upkeep, and ideal for the harsh weather swings in Brooklyn.