The Q&A Archives: Help In Identifying My Succulent.

Question: Hi, At my local garden club sale, my husband and I purchased a succulent-so we're told that is what it is. But, it doesn't have a name, the club didn't know it. What they did tell us about it is that the "flowers" at the top of the plant will drop and start new ones. They're not really "flowers", just not sure what else to call them. It grows very straight. The stalks on which the "flowers" appear on at the top--as the plant grows, those stalks drop down--only to be replaced by new growth. The colors of the plant are green(i.e., stalks) with some brown on them. The trunk is all brown/gray. Actually what I'm calling stalks are normally called leaves. But, I'm not familiar with succulents
The length of these stalks/leaves is 2 to 2 1/2 in. They did say I could plant it outside. And that it loves sunshine. If you're not able to help me, would you please recommend a good book to me about succulents. By the way, what is the difference between cacti and succulent-I've always heard they were the same. Hopes this makes sense, but, if not Thanks anyway. GOD Bless and have a great day. Sue T.

Answer: Without seeing the plant, I'm only guessing, but I suspect it's Lewisia. These plants have narrow, fleshy leaves and produce flowering stems which are topped with showy flowers. These are beautiful plants for rock gardens. They need excellent drainage and do best with gravel around the crowns of the plants.

In very broad terms, cacti generally have spines or thorns and succulents do not. Succulents are plants with fleshy leaves, such as Hens and Chicks or Aloe. There are hundreds of plants with succulent leaves! One book I find helpful is the Illustrated Dictionary of Succulents by Maurizio Sajeva & Mariangela Costanzo, published by Timber Press, ISBN# 0-88192-398-2. Hope this information helps!

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