Well, all cacti are succulents, but all succulents are not cacti! Both succulents and cacti are especially adapted to conserve water - a feature that stemmed from their origins in very hot climes. Cacti are a botanical family and succulents are a broader group that encompass them.
The word succulent comes from the Latin ‘sucus’ meaning juice or sap, and these plants are characterised by their ability to store water in their leaves, which are often thick and leathery. Succulents have adapted over time to withstand drought, the tissues within their leaves being able to store enough water for the plants to
survive long periods of very dry weather. So as houseplants, they’re great if you like a low maintenance plant!
Happy Houseplants have a big selection of cacti and succulents Here at Happy Houseplants we have a huge selection of cacti and succulents - we really love them and they are a great contrast to the more leafy foliage, rainforest houseplants. Having a combination of large leaved tropical houseplants and cacti or succulents is super stylish - it’s exciting to have the variety! If you’re looking for large indoor plants, smaller houseplants or hanging houseplants then cacti and succulents might be something worth considering!
Let’s have a closer look at a few cacti! Cacti often look superb as stand alone plants but can also look great as part of a group - they make really eye-catching features in a room. Try them in a sunny spot in a living room or kitchen, creating a strong silhouette in a study or drawing the eye in a dining room. Wherever you put a cactus it will get noticed!
Euphorbia cooperi for amazing colour and shape.
A really stunning cactus is Euphorbia Cooperi. If you want a structural feature, this could be just right for you! It’s what you might think of when you hear the word cactus - bold, sculptural and eye-catching. It has a beautiful blue/green colour - making it a really fascinating cactus to look at.
This cactus looks wonderful amongst other houseplants of on its own as a feature plant - it has typical cactus style. Striking, simple, stunning - this is minimal, no fuss, no frills - but beautiful nonetheless!
As you would expect with a cactus, this needs watering only when most of the soil is dry to the touch, then you should soak it through and leave to drain. Cacti by their nature have adapted to survive in very dry conditions and they can store water for long periods of time, making them excellent easy care houseplants! At Happy Houseplants we something to suit everyone. You might want it for a shelf or table top, or the larger cactus for a pot on the floor. Either will make a perfect style plant!
A cactus isn’t always such a classic shape though. Cacti can also be trailing! Have a look at Lepismium Bolivianum - Forest Cactus. It has wonderful trailing stems that look fantastic cascading from an indoor hanging basket or even a pot on a dresser or windowsill. Let it add interest in a room at a different level - its hanging stems give the impression of movement and flow which can be brilliant as a style plant in any room!
Forest cactus originates in Bolivian rainforests - you can just imagine it spreading its long tendrils in the undergrowth! The stems can grow up to a metre long - it can give a forest curtain kind of look to a corner!
Don’t put it in full sun though - think of the bright but indirect light of the rainforest where it would live surrounded by taller trees.
The Ghost Cactus for spectral good looks!
A really unusual and particularly stunning cactus is Euphorbia Eritrea Variegata - the Ghost cactus! It is a beautiful pale green marbled colour - faded looking hence the name Ghost Cactus! It’s a candelabra shape, very structural and strident - but with the stunning ghostly colour making it very different! This is a real style
plant, fantastic on its own - or as part of a group of houseplants. It will love a sunny spot with lots of light - cacti are well adapted to the hot sun and can tolerate dry conditions well. Remember only to water when the soil gets dry, then allow to drain well. Never let any houseplant sit in a tray of water as they hate this!
Euphorbia Eritrea Variegata
Euphorbia eritrea variegata
Succulents are equally as stunning and there are so many wonderful succulents to choose from! A really well known and well loved succulent is Sansevieria Victoria or Snake plant - it’s a superb plant for air purification and it’s really attractive with its snake like markings. Easy to look after and very distinctive, it’s a brilliant statement plant - we have snake plants in different sizes - even a mini houseplant version that could pop onto a shelf or windowsill.
String of Rubies
Snake Plant is really popular in offices because of the way it helps clean the air and also because it’s so easy to maintain. Looking stunning in a simple pot, it’s also really simple to propagate if you want more little snake plants!
Sansevieria are actually a big family of succulents - we love Sansevieria Laurentil which is also known as Mother in law’s tongue or Variegated snake plant. Whereas Sansevieria Victoria has a very broad leaf, Sansevieria Laurentil has multiple leaves that reach towards the sky, like snakes’ tongues. It has a look of being almost
frozen in motion - it’s a beautiful dark green with cream edges to the leaves which gives wonderful style appeal.
This fantastic succulent looks amazing in a living room or kitchen, study or office. It’s super easy to look after!
Succulents in general don’t like to be put in direct sun as it can damage the leaves - unlike cacti which like to bask in sunlight. Find a spot for your Snake plants where they will get lots of bright, indirect light - they do like warmth and humidity so will also love being misted with water. Water when the plant’s soil is dry to the touch - delve down a couple of inches and if that top bit of soil is dry then it’s time to water. Again, make sure your plant drains properly and doesn’t sit in water.
Madagascar Palm - a palm that’s not a palm!
For a totally tropical look, why not have a look at Pachypodium Lameri - Madagascar Palm? Native to Madagascar, off the coast of Africa, this really is a succulent rather than a palm but looks very palm like with its sword shaped leaves, which grow upwards from the crown and then outwards as the plant matures.
Madagascar Palm stores water in the trunk, which expands as it fills - this means that in its natural habitat it can withstand drought well. It also means that it only needs infrequent watering at home!
Madagascar Palm likes heat and humidity so a warm kitchen or even a bathroom would be ideal. It’s a very striking and sculptural looking plant, so would work well as a stand alone feature plant. It will certainly get noticed! This stunning succulent would also be fantastic alongside other succulents or cacti as an exotic grouping - really give that tropical feeling with several plants in a corner of a room!
You can mist the plant’s leaves - houseplants absorb moisture well this way, you can even spray plant food on to the leaves! We have our own vegan, organic plant food at Happy Houseplants which we recommend for use on any houseplant we sell. Madagascar Palm loves a sunny spot and thrives in direct light so a south facing
window would be a perfect spot. This lovely palm-like houseplant really brings a taste of the tropics!
Lots of succulents are hanging or trailing - you probably wouldn’t think of a succulent as a hanging plant straight away, but in the rainforests and tropical climates many of them grow hanging from larger trees or attaching themselves to steep slopes - adapting to survive and reach the light. In your home, hanging succulents can really add interest to a room - having plants at multiple levels draws the eye in different ways and can create depth. Hanging succulents can create multi level interest in a room
Rhipsalis Elliptica is a wonderful hanging succulent that is native to Brazil, where it survives by clinging to steep slopes. The leaves of this attractive succulent are really good at storing water making it brilliant at coping with very dry conditions. At home, it looks fabulous in a hanging pot or basket, or even tumbling from a pot on
a shelf. It has beautifully coloured, elliptically shaped leaves which are a soft green edged with burgundy. Rhipsalis Elliptica can also produce flowers - usually small and white - in the right conditions.
This lovely hanging succulent will suit a spot with bright light but not blazing sun - just like the Snake plant, the leaves can burn in full, hot sun. Try a bright, sunny room but hanging in a place where it won’t be basking in the hot sunlight - some sun will be fine especially the sun in the UK! The summer sun may be too much for the leaves though. It doesn’t require much water - a really good tip is to water it in a big sink or over a bucket and allow all the excess water to drain away before replacing it in its spot!
Crassula Ovata for good financial fortune! A easy care, beautifully bushy succulent we love is Crassula Ovata,
the Jade Plant or Money Tree. Said to bring good financial fortune when you have it in the house - we all need one of these! The leaves are abundant, glossy and a rich emerald green. Typical of a succulent it is able to store water in its leaves and stems to ensure its survival in very hot, dry weather. Actually the Jade Plant is tolerant of cooler weather too and you can even give it a summer vacation in a pot in your garden! Bring it in before the cooler weather of autumn sets in - it likes semi shade rather than full sun in the house or in the garden if it is out. Jade Plant is great if you tend to forget to water - it’ll manage well with just the occasional soaking to top up its stores.
There are so many wonderful cacti and succulents on our site here at Happy Houseplants, in this article we’ve only just shown you the tip of the iceberg! We hope we’ve given you a taste for the huge variety and versatility that these fabulous houseplants have to offer.
Why not make a cactus corner or a succulent space - or intersperse them with other, leafier houseplants? Cacti and succulents make great indoor plant gifts too because they come in every shape and size and are really easy to look after.
These are not high maintenance houseplants! We love to have succulents peeping from shelves and a cactus making a bold statement by a sofa. Such brilliant style plants - why not have a closer look in our cactus and succulent section and browse our large selection?
Link to our ‘Cactus and Succulents’ range