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Is a Cactus a Succulent? - Varnish + Vine

Is a Cactus a Succulent?

The term succulent may not be as well-known as a cactus, prompting a closer look at its definition. This article delves into what a succulent is and whether a cactus falls under this category. Let's explore the intricacies of succulents and distinguish them from cacti. This informative article clarifies the distinctions between these two plant types.

What is a succulent?

In botany, succulents are plants with thick, fleshy parts that retain water. This allows them to last longer without water due to increased water absorption and retention. Succulents have adapted to arid environments by developing the ability to store water in their leaves and stems, allowing them to thrive in dry conditions.

What is the difference between succulents and other types of plants?

All plants need water to survive, and they typically need it regularly; otherwise, they may wilt and perish; this is due to plants using water to grow and aid photosynthesis, converting sunlight into oxygen. Proper watering is essential for plants as it helps them grow and aids in the process of photosynthesis, converting sunlight into oxygen.

Succulents retain vast water amounts for future use; their storage capability enables weeks or months survival without new hydration. This unique feature makes succulents a popular choice for those who may not have a green thumb.

Is a cactus a succulent?

A cactus is the posterchild of the variety of plants known as succulents. When most people picture a cactus, they immediately imagine a desert scene devoid of water; with few exceptions, only a succulent could survive in such inhospitable conditions. Succulents, like the iconic cactus, have evolved to thrive in arid environments by storing water in their fleshy leaves or stems. Cacti thrive in arid desert conditions without water for extended periods due to their succulent nature, allowing them to store ample water for later use.

Do all succulents live in deserts?

While many succulents thrive in the desert, it is a misconception that cacti only live in such regions. Numerous cactus varieties can be found on office desks and in living rooms across the United States and worldwide. Cacti, and other succulents, make excellent house plants due to their hardiness, durability, and overall low maintenance.

What are some common succulents?

Some of the most common succulents include the Monstrose Cactus, The Peruvian Apple Cactus, The Fairytale Cactus, the San Pedro Cactus, the Jade Plant, Haworthia, and the very popular, world-famous Aloe Vera, renowned for its medicinal and healing properties.


Succulents are a type of plant characterized by their thick, fleshy parts and ability to store increased volumes of water for prolonged periods of time. The most famous example of a succulent is the cactus, which is well known for its ability to thrive in barren deserts devoid of water for extended periods. Although many succulents thrive in the desert, you can also find cacti and other succulents, such as Aloe Vera, in homes all over the world due to their resilience and beginner-friendly, low-maintenance nature.

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