Easy-to-care-for succulents can brighten up a room

C&G Newspapers | Published August 1, 2017

 Kelley Woodall, of Farmington Hills, keeps a personal succulent garden by her window to give the plants sunlight.

Kelley Woodall, of Farmington Hills, keeps a personal succulent garden by her window to give the plants sunlight.

Photo provided by Kelley Woodall


By Samantha Shriber
C & G Special Writer

Succulents, plants that store water in their leaves and stems, have been popping up across the United States with the same heat as their desert roots.

Amelia Oke, of St. Clair Shores, said that succulents generate a cheerful and positive atmosphere for her household.

“My succulents at home are very healthy and happy,” she said in a Facebook message, explaining how they sit on counters and dresser tops with a lifelike happiness.

For Oke, succulents give bliss to her everyday life and continue to uplift her spirits in the morning.

“They’re the first things I see when I get ready; it’s nice to have plants in my house that are so cute,” she said.

Lora Irwin, of San Diego, has been selling succulents for roughly 15 years and notices the same sort of joy being passed along to her daily customers.

“Succulents make people happy,” she said. “People light up when they talk about their plants and usually tend to get bit by the succulent bug.”

Irwin and her husband, Darren, have been selling succulents online for seven years through their online store, the Succulent Source.

The couple’s three-generation family operates from their private California licensed nursery. Each week, they are able to distribute thousands of succulents throughout the country.

“Succulents have been hot for about 10 years now,” Irwin said, explaining that the succulent trend travels in a pattern of being inactive to absolutely booming. “People frequently say that succulents travel in 20 year waves.”

The wave previously occurred in the 1970s, when they were also super hot, Irwin said.  But prior to the early to mid-2000s, succulents had been dormant, and their popularity was of very little significance.

Ashleigh Laho, of Livonia, said she became a quick and willing victim to the storm after coming across them through social media.

“I saw a couple of posts on Pinterest and decided to buy a couple for myself; now I’m obsessed,” the third-year college student said. “They’re adorable and super easy to care for, and I think having plants in a room gives it a special touch.”

Irwin said that the love for succulents comes from appreciation for their bohemian flair, symmetrical beauty, drought resistance and their ability to live long, healthy life spans.

“I feel what people love most about succulents is that they are always in a constant bloom, whereas when you have a rose or a cut bouquet, they die after only several days or a few weeks,” she said.

In 2004, the couple gave out their wedding succulent centerpieces to friends. These plants now sit on their friends’ porches with the same glow and liveliness as they did 13 years ago, Irwin said.

“They are also especially popular with millennials, I’ve noticed,” Irwin said. “They come on a silver platter and are easy, which is exactly what young people are looking for.”

That millennials may also be  environmentally conscious and green friendly has also made way for the plants’ mainstream comeback, Irwin said.

Vallery Ecklund, of Troy, stumbled upon succulents during a trip to Eastern Market in Detroit.

“I like them because they’re independent. I can plant one or a whole pot full and it looks great,” Ecklund said in a Facebook message. “They’re super cheap and so cute.”

Ecklund, who is a grandmother, said that parenting these plants has given her a sense of youthfulness.

“As for vibe, I think I’m young and hip now because I have hip succulents,” she said.

Irwin and her family follow strict rules of thumb when caring for and nurturing succulents.

“Only water when bone dry, and to water thoroughly,” she said.

A unique feature to succulents is that they prefer to be neglected and left alone for long periods of time, instead of being kept up like other flowers, Irwin said.

“Succulent is a big umbrella term for a plant that feeds itself and can carry its own water for some time,” she said. “A cactus is actually a succulent, and not the other way around.”

Oke said that after purchasing a succulent, relocate it to a bigger pot that has good drainage. She said to plant it with a mix of half soil and half sand.

“Once they’re planted, add a little fertilizer,” Oke said, “Throughout summer, give them as much sun as they can get. Make sure to occasionally check the soil to see when to water.”

Irwin said that another interesting thing about succulents is that there is always an endless supply.

One can cut off the top of a succulent and be able to plant it. The top will grow roots and become its own succulent, while the one it came from will regrow. The same process occurs with succulent leaves.

“It’s awesome how easy it is for them to propagate,” Irwin said. “I feel that people are often super fascinated by their growth cycle.”

Succulents come in all shapes and sizes, and for the most part, are pretty independent. But Oke said that the most important tip to remember is to treat them with a lot of love.