The Story of the

Succulent

30 years ago, succulents were reserved for the remotest of deserts and the back of dusty garden warehouse shelves. Then along came a drought, social media and a generation of aspiring gardens who long for something easy to look after. And thus, the humble succulent became the trendiest member of the plant kingdom!

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Succulents have become living ornaments in our homes, gardens and workspaces. Why? Because they’re cute, come in lots of collectable varieties and can thrive even with the most basic of care.

 

In 1970s California, you couldn't give a succulent away! Frequency and snobbery prevented any sort of ‘take off.’ 

 

The 1990s saw a different story… As architects became more inventive and creative with buildings, landscapers began experimenting with succulents to highlight the striking angles of the new buildings. It became about sleek, clean-lined architecture, accompanied by sleek, clean-lined plants.

Unfortunately, in the absence of social media, landscaping trends moved very slowly, and succulents didn’t start appearing in gardening magazines until the early 2000s.

 

When a drought hit California in 2011, people started scrambling for more water-wise gardens and succulents, which stored water and could live for long periods without it were the perfect match.

It was around this time that millennials decided they wanted to develop green fingers of their own and thus started their fascination with the simple, low-maintenance succulent that could fit any small space.

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Eventually, like any 21st century trend, a handful of online succulent-focused influencers began popping up on social media. Their feeds were filled with their favourite ‘designer’ succulents, all the colours of the rainbow in unusual pottery. Suddenly, the trend of minimalist furniture, crisp white walls. The odd splash of bright colour and plenty of green succulents was born.

 

A 2017 Garden Center magazine survey of retailers showed that sales of cacti and succulents had increased by 64% in five years. Since then, succulents have been popping up all over social media, with massive succulent wholesale retailers making millions every year.

 

Their amazing, semipermeable membranes allow them to absorb  

moisture from the outside world. Many species of succulent undergo photosynthesis at night (different to the average garden plant), by opening their pores and sucking in carbon dioxide. This enables them to save more water and survive for longer.

 

Succulent etiquette has even become ‘a thing.’ All succulents should have a name. Most have their own Latin name e.g. Sempervivum, Calcareum etc. but many succulent collectors actually give their plants a name of their own, to make them more individual and almost humanising them. What will you call yours?

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