Collecting Succulents: Addiction or Basic Human Desire

Do you remember, as a child, that incessant need and burning desire to collect things? For me, it was Monster in my Pocket figurines, Premier League football stickers, Barbies and gel pens. Just focusing on the Monster in my Pocket for a second, there were literally hundreds of these little things to collect. There were different names, shapes, numbers, colours and associated myths/backgrounds. I’d be completely fascinated by the backstory of each monster and how it would differ to the others. I am convinced to this day that my love for these toys fuelled my now-wild imagination. Anyway, that’s not really the point of my blog. What I’m trying to get across is, that feeling of absolute joy and accomplishment when collecting different items, learning about them and then imparting knowledge to others.

This didn’t really go away as I grew older - what I collected just changed. It became more about shoes, nail varnishes, rare coins and DVDs. To be honest, I never expect this to go away, and I bet those who are reading this feel exactly the same way.

But why? As humans, we generally don’t collect for monetary reasons, but emotional ones. By collecting succulents, I get to relive my childhood – a time when worrying about health, money and work were not even on my radar. Collecting things can help ease insecurities and anxieties about losing a part of oneself. It’s also the thrill of the hunt that draws me in when collecting succulents.

Looking deeper, collecting items is considered a manifestation of the need for ownership and control, stemming back to when we were young and the trauma associated with toilet-training and first parting ways with one’s ‘possessions’ being flushed down the toilet. Not one to focus too much on Freudian opinion, I won’t elaborate on this in my blog, but I will say this: collecting items is as important and special to me now as it was when I was child, if not more as I’m older and have the ability to understand and appreciate how lucky I am.

I live in a part of the world where coming by rare succulents isn’t easy, mainly because of our climate and how the unusual ones can’t be kept outdoors to grow freely and multiply like in countries like Mexico, USA, South Africa and South Korea. Seeking these rare beauties out on the internet at an affordable price, when you love and appreciate the beauty of succulents as much as I do, can make you feel like you’ve struck gold.

If I’m brutally honest with myself, it’s a collection quest that I will never ever complete, but does that bother me? Not in the slightest. I don’t have the land, the greenhouses, the grow lights or the money to buy and house every single succulent type out there. I’m also a lot better these days at prioritising what I spend my wage on. I’ll only buy succulents for my personal collection after I’ve sold enough of the ones that I’ve grown myself so I’m not out of pocket. The great thing about building my own personal collection of them is that yes, I get to feed my succulent hunger but also, I can use them for marketing purposes.

I want others out there to know and understand the joy that these plants have brought me during a pandemic. They’ve given me focus and distracted my mind in a positive way when things got quiet, and I was left with just my thoughts and worries.

Working from home day after day, on my own for eight hours most of the time, I needed something. Being able to get up from my desk when my head would get too full and go outside to pot up some Sempervivums, remove leaves for propagation or just work on my @StaceysSucculent101 Instagram was my saviour. It gave me clarity, a sense of achievement and happiness bringing others joy when I sold a succulent.

My bottom line is this: collecting succulents gives you so much more than just a pretty living room…

The excitement of finding that Echeveria Rainbow online that you know your mum would really love is wonderful.

Creating that succulent fairy garden for your childhood friend’s daughter is just magical.

Growing your first rare succulent from a single leaf is incredibly powerful.

The whole succulent experience is amazing and why so many people throughout the world are becoming obsessed with collecting these amazing plants. I hope that I’ve proved that it’s not a bad thing or a ‘waste of money’ - as long as you’re sensible about it and know what you can afford. You don’t even have to go as far as where I’ve taken my hobby and make a business out of it, not at all. Just filling your house and garden with the beautiful and unusual is enough to bring you the joy and wonder you used to feel as a child.

So next time someone asks you why you’re buying another succulent, don’t let them focus on the money it’s costing you, but what it’s affording for your mental health and how you’re just addressing your basic human desire!

You can follow me on Instagram: @StaceysSucculents101.

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