Succulent plants have fleshy, water-storing tissue. They are represented in over fifty botanical families, including the Cactaceae (cacti), Crassulaceae (crassulas), Euphorbiaceae (euphorbias), Liliaceae (aloes), Agavaceae (agaves) and Aizoaceae (lithops). They are found in a variety of habitats, at altitudes ranging from sea level to over 4,500 metres.
Succulent plants native to arid and semi-arid regions have adapted to the very hostile conditions in these habitats. Precipitation ranges from less than 25 cm to approximately 50 to 80 cm a year and is often concentrated in a single season or a very short period followed by a period of drought. Daytime temperatures frequently exceed 40°C and there is a huge difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. The sun beats down on them strongly, there is little relative humidity and the winds dry them out.
You should have good success with growing most succulent plants native to arid and semi-arid regions if you follow the advice in this leaflet, although each species has its own particular requirements. For optimal results, it is important to reproduce a plant’s native growing conditions as closely as possible.