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Succulents & Cacti for Sale - Buying & Growing Guide

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Succulents & Cacti – Buying & Growing Guide

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by John Haryasz | Horticulture Writer and Landscape Designer – last update on December 2, 2021

Succulents and cacti are extremely popular indoor plants. Both of these plant groups have similar growing characteristics that make them easy to include in the same growing areas. These two varieties of plants also prove to be very attractive, which has led many gardeners to grow them in their homes.

Types of Succulents

Type  Growing Zones Mature Height Sun Features
Aloe plant, Aloe vera 8-11 12 to 24 inches Full sun to part shade: 4 to 6 hours Long green leaves with spikes along the margins.
Snake plant, Sansevieria trifasciata 10-11 4 to 6 feet Shade to part shade: 4 hours or less Upright leaves with elongated stripes.
Living stone, Lithops 10-11 .5 to 2 inches Full sun: 6 to 8 hours Looks incredibly similar to a small stone or pebble.
Houseleek, Sempervivum  3-8 4 to 6 inches Full sun: 6 to 8 hours Circles of green leaves with pointed tips.
Baby jade, Crassula ovata 10-11 12 to 24 inches Full sun to part shade: 4 to 6 hours Vibrant green leaves with  small white flowers.

Types of Cacti

Type  Growing Zones Mature Height Sun Features
Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera spp. 10-11 12 to 24 inches Full sun to part shade: 4 to 6 hours Chain-like foliage ends with vibrant flowers.
Bishop’s cap. Astrophytum ornatum 7-11 10 to 24 inches Full sun: 6 to 8 hours Small, rounded cactus with reddish spikes.
Saguaro cactus, Carnegiea gigantea 8-11 24 to 48 inches Full sun: 6 to 8 hours Slow-growing with a classic cactus look.
Bunny ears cactus, Opuntia microdasys 8-11 16 to 24 inches Full sun to part shade: 4 to 6 hours Small, oval-shaped foliage with prickly white exterior.
Old lady cactus, Mammillaria hahniana 11-13 8 to 10 inches Full sun to part shade: 4 to 6 hours Round cactus shows small, purple flowers with great contrast.

What’s the Difference Between Succulents and Cacti

The debate over what plants are succulents and what plants are cacti can be a confusing one. But this topic is a bit simpler to understand than some make it out to be. The most straightforward way to define these plants in relation to one another is to say that a cactus is one version of a succulent. 

Succulents are plants that hold their water in their stems and leaves. Since cacti have this quality, that means they are part of the succulent family. In fact, it is fair to say that all cacti are a form of succulent, but not all succulents are cacti. 

Beyond that technical classification, what separates most cacti and succulents is differences in their physical appearance and their growing needs. For instance, cacti often feature prominent thorns and usually have a stronger affinity for direct sunlight. 

Common Uses for Succulents and Cacti

Most people use succulents and cacti as indoor plants. The reason for this is that many regions are far too cold in the winter to allow these plants to survive outdoors. That means that the only option for succulent and cacti fans is to grow their favorite plants indoors where it remains warm enough all year. 

When growing succulents and cacti indoors, it is not uncommon for a gardener to use both types of plants in the same container or the same growing area. This is because succulents and cacti often need similar conditions to grow. 

If you live in a part of the country or world that remains hot all year, you have the option to grow your succulents and cacti either indoors or outdoors. When growing outdoors, it’s important to check the hardiness of the plant in question to ensure it matches your zone.