Coming down to earth with succulents

Green little buddies: Knowing how to grow and nurture plants is becoming an increasingly relevant skill, and growing succulents would provide one with the basic skills to begin, says Aik Loon.

SUCCULENTS have long brought splashes of colour into many households all over the world. During the Covid-19 pandemic, these plants spiked in popularity as people explored every avenue to keep themselves occupied at home.

Some of you may own a succulent without you being aware of it. Did you know that plants like the juicy aloe vera, the versatile snake plant and the spiky cactus are considered succulents? Why would I recommend growing these green companions? Here are my top five reasons.

1. Improves overall mental health

A study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney in Australia presented evidence of how indoor plants had positive effects on their owners’ well-being. It found that these plants brought a 37% reduction in tension and anxiety, a 44% reduction in irritability, and a whopping 58% reduction in depression to those caring for them.

This is mainly due to the symbiotic relationship between the house plant and the owner responsible for the plant’s health. To put it simply, we feel a sense of purpose and responsibility when we’re held accountable for how a living being flourishes.

2. An excellent use of spare time

During the pandemic, we had plenty of free time to develop our interests, and yet we still found ourselves with a chunk of it left on our hands. If you were to care for succulents, you would be kept busy with activities such as propagation, transplanting and visiting nurseries for new additions to grow your collection.

Caring for your succulents isn’t a one-off activity; it’s essentially like looking after a child (albeit these are comparatively low-maintenance and more hardy). You’ll be able to have an outlet for your spare time instead of wasting it away on social media.

3. A good hobby

While developing our succulents, they provide us with the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. For example, we learn to appreciate things more. Growing succulents is by no means an easy task. Some can take up to years before we see the tiniest of blooms. Through growing them, we learn to be more patient with people and would come to realise how everyone grows at different paces and that we should all be more understanding. Also, as we are cultivating these plants, we are bound to fail at least once or twice before finding the perfect balance between soil, moisture and light for our plants to thrive. We experience failure firsthand, and it helps us develop mentally to face challenges in life head-on without giving up.

4. An important life skill

Knowing how to grow and nurture plants is becoming an increasingly relevant skill as countries are experiencing food shortages. Knowing how to harvest your food would mean a secure and constant source of nutrition from the comfort of your home.

Growing succulents provides the necessary foundation and basic skills that would allow us to begin. These skills can also manifest into career options in the future like becoming a botanist, herbalist and farmer.

5. A reliable source of income

With the trend of growing succulents becoming exponentially popular on social media, the niche sales of succulents have become a profitable business opportunity. Plant owners have displayed meticulously crafted terrariums and multi-coloured blooms on virtual marketplaces, bringing in thousands of ringgit a month in revenue from their sales.

These sales are not limited to domestic transactions only. Established forums online allow people to trade and sell rare succulents that are only native to their respective countries.

Aik Loon, 17, a student in Selangor, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For more information, go to

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