Some types of succulents, such as cacti, are desert plants, but not all succulents are desert plants. You will find succulents growing in almost every type of climate on earth. Some succulents, such as the houseleek, can be found growing in subzero conditions and some succulents, such as Crassula helmsii, are aquatic and can be found growing fully submerged in water.

Is A Succulent A Desert Plant?

Succulents are usually described as drought-resistant plants with extra fleshy leaves, stems, and roots for the purpose of storing water.

And most succulents have evolved to survive for long periods without water.

But there are many types of succulents and lots of plant families that have multiple succulent types living within them.

Some plant families, such as Aizoaceae, Crassulaceae, and Cactaceae are desert plants and are mostly made up of succulents.

These water-preserving succulents are suited to desert-like conditions with high temperatures and low levels of rainfall.

These types of succulents would be classed as desert plants.

But not every succulent is a desert plant.

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Succulents Are Everywhere

Apart from Antarctica, you’ll find succulents growing on every continent on earth and in a wide range of climates.

Succulents are most commonly found in Africa and Central/South America.

But you’ll also find them growing in the European Alps where the air is moist and cold.

Succulents are hardy plants that have evolved to survive in some of Earth’s most extreme environments.

You’ll find aloe vera growing in harsh desert-like regions of Africa, Europe, Asia, and America.

While succulents like the houseleek can be found growing in subzero conditions high in the European Alps.

And some prickly succulents, like cacti and Euphorbia, can be found growing high up in the mountains of South America, where often, there only source of water is mist.

There are even aquatic succulents like Crassula helmsii which grow while fully submerged in water.

Are Succulents The Same As Cacti

While all cacti are considered succulents, not all succulents are cacti.

Put simply, cacti are a subcategory of the larger group of plants known collectively as succulents.

To consider a succulent to be a cactus, it has to have areoles.

Areoles are small mounds of flesh where flowers, spines, and leaves grow from the cactus.


We can definitely say that some succulents are indeed desert plants, but not all succulents are desert plants.

One thing I think we can agree on is that succulents are seriously tough and that’s why we love to keep these hardy little plants.

In the vast majority of home garden and indoor growing environments, these plants thrive and do so with very little attention from us.