Learn the Differences Between Cacti and Succulents

Are you a plant lover? If so, you've come to the right place! Today, we're going to tell you about the differences between cacti and succulents. Don't miss out!
Learn the Differences Between Cacti and Succulents

Last update: 05 July, 2022

When it comes to plants, it’s not always easy to recognize the differences between them–more so when we talk about the differences between cacti and succulents. This is because they’re a similar species in terms of size and appearance. Although some cacti have spines, many can be confused, which leads to issues when caring for them.

One thing that’s clear is that cacti are traditionally known for their spines. However, some cacti are so small that their spines are difficult to see and can often be mistaken for succulents.

Thankfully, we’re going to remove all doubt and explain the differences between cacti and succulents. This means that you’ll be able to put an end to the confusion about these two beautiful plants.

Differences between cacti and succulents: what are succulents?

Know the differences between succulents and cacti.
Know the differences between succulents and cacti.

The best way to learn the differences is to know what each one is. To start with the definitions, we’ll talk about succulents. They have the ability to store water in different parts of their structure, including their stems, leaves, and roots.

They do it as a survival and self-protection mechanism. This means that in cities or environments with high temperatures, they can internally self-regulate and reduce their perspiration.

What are cacti?

After our brief description of succulents, you might think that cacti are a similar species. The truth is that cacti come from arid or desert areas, which means that they also have the ability to store water.

Another thing that differentiates these two plants, is that the spines of the cacti aren’t just for direct defense. In addition to preventing animals from eating them, they serve to collect small drops of dew water.

But did you know that there are varieties of cacti without spines? Yes, they do exist and they’re completely safe if you have children and pets or simply want to avoid accidents in your home.

Succulents: non-cacti succulents

Botany defines succulents as those that aren’t part of the cactus family. These plants have a great feature that makes you recognize them straight away. They have very thick and fleshy leaves, which serve to store a large amount of water.

As such, it’s necessary to include controlled irrigation in its care. Otherwise, they may become damaged and the heaviest leaves will collapse.

Learn about the differences between cacti and succulents

Types of cacti.
You’re about to learn the differences between succulents and cacti.

It’s going to sound a bit confusing, but the main difference between these two plants is that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. In fact, one of the main characteristics of the succulents that aren’t cacti is the shape and size of their leaves. 

Finding the differences can be somewhat complex, the difference isn’t as clear as in the case of cacti. However, if you think about the family of succulents and the characteristics that we’ve already mentioned, you’ll see that the leaves of the succulents are born from a stem.

Differentiating factors

If you’ve come to the conclusion that the differences are about the spines, you’re largely on target. However, remember that some cacti don’t have spines. So you’ll still need to take care when classifying both species.

Now we’ve explained how to recognize cacti from succulents, you can choose the species you want to have. Both species are attractive and will make a great addition to your home decor.