7 Surprising Facts About Succulents

Succulents are much more interesting plants than you think! Get to know succulents with these fun and fascinating facts.

1. What Is a Succculent?

Miniature Succulent Plantskynny/Getty Images
Miniature succulent plants

This one of our facts about succulents might surprise you. “Succulent” is a loose term with no single definition. It refers to any plant with fleshy parts—leaves, stems, or roots—that store moisture to tolerate drought.

Check out the top 10 colorful succulents you should grow.

2. One Succulent Blooms Once a Decade

The century plant’s name might make you think it blooms every 100 years, but it actually blooms every 10 to 15 years.

These seriously cool succulents make great houseplants.

3. Some Gardeners Can Grow Succulents Outdoors

succulent factsCourtesy Mike Droppleman
Holy Gate echeveria

Some say echeveria is the most attract of all succulents. If you’re in Zones 9 to 11, give this beauty a try in the garden; it’s a classic drought-tolerant roseate succulent. Everyone else? Grow it as a houseplant or in an outdoor container during the warm months.

Learn how to grow a flock of hens and chicks plants.

4. Aloe Vera Attracts Hummingbirds

aloe vera plantsCourtesy Bonnie Flamer

There are more than 250 species of aloe plants in the world. In the United States, aloe can generally be grown outdoors only in Florida, California and Texas. Residents of those states might notice hummingbirds stopping at blooming aloe plants for a sip of nectar!

We found the best succulents to attract pollinators.

5. Are Cacti and Succulents the Same?

Shutterstock 246098719 Cactus 9NONG/SHUTTERSTOCK

Cacti alone make up more than 1,300 species of the succulent group. However, keep this one of our facts about succulents in mind: All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.

Discover fascinating facts about Christmas cactus.

6. Succulents Are Versatile Garden Plants

Succulents are amazingly diverse plants, because they can be used in so many ways throughout landscapes. Try using them in one of these five ways: container, roof gardens, vertical gardens, garden beds and borders, and rock gardens.

Love flowers? Check out the top 10 flashy flowering succulents.

7. Some Succulents Are Cold Hardy

Variegated green and yellow striped yucca plant in bloomSimon McGill/Getty Images
Variegated yucca plant in bloom

Living in the north doesn’t mean you can’t have a little desert appeal in the backyard. Cultivars of these three hardy groups are great options for cold-climate gardeners.

Psst! Here’s how you can grow your own succulent container garden.

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines as a time and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds, and attended various festivals, including Sedona Hummingbird Festival, Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival and Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.