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Do you like houseplants but they get overheated by south-facing windows? The solution is quite simple - grow succulents. It has many advantages. You don't have to worry about what to do with the plants during the holidays, or about saving water or heating energy. Succulents can cope well with extended periods without watering and they will welcome the drop in temperature in winter.
Their name is derived from the Latin word succus = juice, and it refers to the succulent (juice-filled) parts of the plant's body. Succulents have succulent leaves, stems or roots. In some species more than one part of the plant is succulent. These plants are adapted to living in areas where longer or shorter periods of drought are common. They are also found in places without dry seasons. There they choose habitats where water drains quickly. In the Czech Republic, for example, stonecrops or houseleeks grow in these places. Succulents can be found on all continents except Antarctica.
Succulent plants are found in about sixty families and include about 10,000 species. The most famous succulents are undoubtedly cacti. However, succulents can be related to dandelions or daisies, gourds and cucumbers, passionflowers, pineapple, grapevine, and even plants in the Tradescantia genus. There are also many succulent species among the spurges and geraniums. In South Africa, you can even find succulent grasses.
So, there are plenty of plants to choose from and it's just a matter of choosing the right ones for your conditions. There are different plants for narrow windowsills and different ones for large spaces. In the Czech Republic, the tradition of growing succulents has been going on for more than a century and plants once considered rare are now commonly propagated. Unfortunately, changed housing conditions are not matched by the offer in florists and hobby markets. Plants suitable for modern apartments are more likely to be found at exhibitions, swap meets, or on the websites of specialist sellers.
Succulents from tropical areas are suitable for most apartments, as they do not need a significant drop in temperature in winter. Instead of smaller tropical cacti, which are more suitable for experienced growers, get one of the succulent spurges. The best-known spurge, the crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) is undemanding and blooms with bright red flowers all year round. There are also new hybrids with really large inflorescences. If you don't like thorns, choose some other blooming Madagascan spurge - Euphorbia leuconeura, E. lophogona or E. geroldii. These spurges are pretty even without leaves.
The popular 'Madagascar palm' Pachypodium lamerei grows quickly but it is hard to make it bloom. It flowers only when it is taller than one meter. There are related species that will flower more easily at a smaller size, e.g., the African Pachypodium saundersii, and the Madagascan P. rosulatum ssp. bicolor, P. windsorii, and others.
We certainly must not forget to mention the increasingly cultivated desert rose - Adenium obesum. Hybrids with full and even bicolored flowers have been bred. This succulent can be shaped well as bonsai and it looks great without flowers and foliage.
Other species can also be used to create indoor bonsai, e.g., more accessible genera of Bursera, Commiphora, or Opercularia.
The dessert rose grows well in south-facing windows. It can be shaped to form a succulent bonsai.
The thornless crown of thorns is native to Madagascar. It is not very widespread yet, but it grows well in apartments and flowers most of the year.
The Red Dragon hybrid has thicker branches and much larger inflorescences than the original species and it blooms almost all year round.
Blooms as a young plant and thrives in south-facing windows.
Madagascan spurge Euphorbia lophogona
Flowers readily, and even in our apartments can produce seeds that germinate well.
For further inspiration, visit our garden and see a wide range of succulent plants. Either in the World of Succulents exposition in the northern part of the garden or in the tropical Fata Morgana Greenhouse.