Succulents in the Virtual Garden at the Ohlone College Newark Center

Succulents are unique and often striking plants that thrive in bright light and with very little water. The name "succulent" refers to the way that the leaves and/or stems of the plants are often fleshy and swollen-looking from storing water. The stems and leaves of succulents may have spines or long hairs, or may be very smooth. Unlike the leaves of other plants, succulent leaves stay tightly closed during the day and open to breathe at night. This helps them retain water to survive their dry natural environments.

Cactus, aloe, and jade plant are all examples of different succulent plants. Succulents can die from getting too cold or receiving too much water, but they tend to do very well when they get abundant sunshine and occasional watering such as from light rains or heavy dew. Because succulents are so low-maintenance, they are very popular in xeriscaping, which is when a landscape or garden is designed to have a very low demand for water.

Most succulents do not grow very large, but there are exceptions. The century plant, which grows in several places in the salvia garden and nearby, blooms only once in its life - just before dying - and the stalk it sends up may be as many as thirty feet tall! In less dramatic fashion, the Arabian aloe plant sends up tall stalks topped with red flowers regularly throughout its lifetime.