Botany for the Willfully Ignorant: Why I Don’t Grow Succulents

Today is my second chemo treatment, so I thought this might be a good time to reblog some old posts. I hope you find this one entertaining. Incidentally, I apologize for not commenting consistently on your blogs, but as you can imagine my energy is not what it was. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this post from November, 2014.


Let me start with a few acknowledgments. First, I know almost nothing about succulent plants. However, this does not prevent me from exercising my rights as an American to have opinions about them.

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These opinions may not be based on fact. However, I feel that they are true. Therefore, while they may not be accurate, they have (to use the phrase coined by Stephen Colbert) truthiness. And that’s good enough for me.

That said, I don’t grow succulents for the same reason I wouldn’t have a lizard or snake as a pet. Succulents strike me as cold-blooded plants.

The spines are really leaves and the leaves are really stems, or possibly the other way round. Ruth Bancroft Garden. The spines are really leaves and the leaves are really stems, or possibly the other way round. Ruth Bancroft Garden.

I like plants that are more like golden retrievers or maybe a well-behaved cat, Plants that would cuddle up to you as you watch TV on the couch. Plants that are warm…

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24 Comments on “Botany for the Willfully Ignorant: Why I Don’t Grow Succulents”

  1. I don’t like succulents in the settings your photos show, I find the large ones like that ugly! They do, like cactus, have pretty flowers though. I only have very small succulents, either houseplants or a few spots of low growers in the herb garden.
    A to lizards and snakes? Beautiful. But, I do not want pets that have to be fed live animals! I sold enough little mice and rats as feeders when I worked. I never fed the reptile stock though. And every time I sold a rat I apologized to it, I love pet rats. Then, snakes grow out of rats and move on to rabbits. It takes special kind of person (perhaps as cold-blooded as their pets) to enjoy watching a snake eat something live.

  2. I don’t think you have to apologize for anything you don’t do. Comments are hardly your priority right now. Meanwhile, an old blog is a good fill-in, especially if it’s one with opinions I share. Can’t help admiring the photos, though.

  3. I enjoy your posts, no matter when they were written. No apologies needed.

    I like small succulents. Big ones like in the photos would worry me. Being somewhat naturally clumsy I’d be afraid I’d trip right into one!

  4. I loved this post when you first wrote it and I still love it. I admire people that grow these plants in areas like ours that is not the right climate. I just don’t like the hassle. I like succulents for their weird, to me, shapes, spikes and colors. I admire them from afar because it is so disheartening when they shrivel up or collapse in a black heap. Not a pretty sight, and then there is the guilt of not providing the best care.

  5. I loved this post! Right now, I’m looking out my window at my cacti — the only plants that really were happy at my former apartment. They loved the long, hot afternoons and hours of direct sun. Now that I’ve moved, they’re in full shade all day, and they’re sulking. I finally encouraged one of my favorites to bloom by putting it on a plant stand outside my front door and rolling it into the sunshine every day. I figure I’m one of the few people in the world who walks a plant instead of a dog.

  6. What I dislike about succulents is that they are a fad that is supposed to conserve water. The problem is that they do not conserve water if they get watered as much as everything else. I am none too keen on how too many of them look in the downtown planter boxes, although I have two big houseleeks in mine. I do not consider my Yuccas, which I really like, to be succulents. Fortunately, the fad has ignored the Yuccas.

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