If you thought all succulents are naturally grown and from Southern California, then you are horribly mistaken.
I get it though.
With San Diego being the self-proclaimed "Succulent Mecca" I would see how that is a common misconception.
Succulents are naturally grown all over the world. Their unique colors, shapes, and textures are determined by their origins.
This article won't cover hybrid succulents, because those are man-made crossbreeds that are created by professionals.
We are talking about straight species here, and will only discuss types we carry. So without further ado, let's get into it.
Most people think of aloe and it reminds them of that green sauce that they put on their sunburns or a leaf you snap off to get to that milky white stuff you put on your skin to moisturize it.
And yes, Aloe is cultivated for many agricultural and medicinal uses, but that's just Aloe Vera.
There are hundred of varieties of Aloe that don't serve that purpose, but are instead great ornamental succulents that go into pots and gardens.
In the wild, you can find native varieties of Aloe in Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula - which are mostly tropical, semi-tropical and arid climates.
This thin-leafed waxy rosette succulents will commonly be found in coastal beach cities. I can't remember a time I have been to Huntington or Laguna Beach and didn't come across them.
They are different from traditional succulents in 2 ways:
1.) Their dormancy period is warm months, and active growing season is cool months,
2.) Their water reserves are stored in their stems, and not their leaves - so their leaves are not plump and fleshy.
These do well in coastal cities because they are native to the Canary Islands, with some rando Aeonium scattered about in Central Africa that offer the same type of climate.
When people think of Agave they think of 2 things - Agave nectar and Tequila, Tequila, but there are some other uses as well.
Most interestingly, they are being used as a way to produce bioenergy.
Second - they make great ornamental plants - but can only do well in desert-like areas. Put these in a beach city and it'll die.
They can only grow in the hot and dry regions of South and Central America - mostly Mexico and the Caribbean.
Crassula / Jade Plants
Spoiler Alert - While Crassula do well indoors, their natural habitat is actually outdoors in South Africa.
They have been grown, cultivated and domesticated over and over the past century in Europe and here in America - and have since adjusted to life indoors as a result.
The gorgeous fleshy rosettes are perfect for pops of color in homes and gardens, and are commonly used in wedding décor and as favors all over the country.
As long as you can provide them with a climate that is like their hometown - Mexico and Central America - they'll be happy.
This means they want sunlight, dry conditions and warm temperatures to really thrive.
These uniquely shaped, colored, and sometimes fuzzy, succulents, are native to tropical regions of world.
Africa, Asia, and Madagascar is where these are originally from.
What's funny is some Kalanchoe are considered a weed in some countries, like the Mother of Thousands or Mother of Millions. But here in the States, it is one of our most popular plants.
There are two types of Sedum - soft and hardy.
The soft Sedum are those that cannot handle cold temperatures. These will typically have fleshy leaves where they store water. These are from temperate climates and are native to Africa and South America.
The hardy Sedum will will have thin leaves and can handle temperatures down to -20 degrees F. These are from central Asia, like Japan, and thrive in the Himalayan mountains.
One things unique about these succulents is they are frost hardy. They can also handle temperatures down to -20 degrees F.
They are native to the mountain areas of the Mediterranean and central and southern Europe - where it is cold and the soil is dry due to lots of rocky areas.
These curiously shaped succulents - usually upright growers good for groundcovers, or sprawling ones that are great for hanging baskets - are very picky growers, some more than others. Especially the String of Pearls.
But curiously, they are naturally found in the wild around all 5 regions of the Mediterranean, particularly in tropical alpine-like areas that give them shady areas with temperate weather.
Why It's Important
Understanding where your succulents are from is important for a few reasons.
1.) It makes for great conversation with other plant nerds.
2.) It's important to understand where your succulents are native to so you can better care for them.
3.) Knowledge is power. Educated customers tend to be our happiest customers. They seem to avoid murdering their succulents less often. :)