Looking online at sites such as Pinterest, and those catering to the latest in garden fashion both inside and outside the home, one can see the rising popularity of growing succulents. Brides now use them in bouquets, businesses have them as the plant of choice, and teachers are receiving them as end of year thank you gifts. Floral shops now make succulent arrangements for almost every occasion. Korea has been quietly growing cactus and succulents for many years now and are on the cutting edge of growing the most fantastic hybrids and clones, particularly of Echeverias and Haworthias.
Basically all cactus are succulents (means a plant with fleshy leaves that stores water,) but not all succulents are cactus. (Cactus have spines.)
Korea has a limited number of succulents native to the region; Orostchys Malacophylla, Orostchys Japonica, Sedum Aizoon, Sedum Sarmentosum, and Hylotelephium Erythrostictum, but that hasn’t stopped them from growing a vast number of non native varieties for home use and for export. Korea has become famous for its succulents and you can even buy them online here in the US. The Prickly Pear cactus which is native to the Americas is grown on Jeju Island and they even make a chocolate from it.
If you’re visiting Seoul one of the best places to see a nice variety for sale is at the Jogno Flower Market Alley. A little over 100 meters in length it is chock full of stalls selling all sorts of plants, however, the main focus is succulents. Succulents make perfect houseplants for busy city people and are a favorite of many urban dwellers around the world. Relatively easy to take care of, if you follow the instructions and provide the correct amount of water and light etc, they provide both sculptural interest and colorful beauty to one’s home.
You can also see some really nice collections at some of Korea’s numerous Botanic Gardens. Korea has fifty four Botanic Gardens to be precise, although not all have all varieties of plants on display. Of the half dozen or so Botanic Gardens we’ve visited most had some succulents on view. The Greenhouse at the Seoul Grand Park had one room devoted to them, as well as an incredible Orchid room. (Since many orchids have fleshy parts that store water they are considered to be succulents although many people do not group them as such.)
Another place in Seoul was one of the greenhouses set up at the old wastewater plant in Seoul Forest.
Outside of Seoul the Yeomiji Botanic Gardens on Jeju Island have perhaps the nicest collection of cactus and succulents that we’ve seen so far in Korea. Their greenhouse is massive and is divided into specialized areas, all of which were quite impressive.
We also found another smaller garden while on Jeju Island that had a lovely display in their greenhouse, unfortunately I can’t remember it’s name at the moment.
If you’re interested in growing succulents, particularly some of the fabulous Korean hybrids and/or clones I suggest you find a local nursery who can help you out. If that is not an available option I know they sell a lot online, but please use caution and common sense when buying from online sources. There is a good article here which may be worth reading before you buy online.
Next time we visit Korea we plan to find some time to visit another Botanic Garden, or two. Maybe you can add one to your list too.
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photos belong to original owners, Debora & Elizabeth Marzec.