Orchids vs. Succulents: 5 Fascinating Similarities and Differences

There tends to be some confusion about orchids and whether or not they are succulents. Through this detailed guide, we will try to clear some of that confusion up by figuring out the classification of orchids, the similarities and differences between them and succulents as well as some propagation questions.

Let’s begin!

are orchids succulents

Are Orchids Succulents?

Several orchids do share some common succulent features but are not entirely the same as them. For instance, some orchids do have succulent features that allow them to store and retain water for longer. This is entirely dependent on the type of orchid and which species it belongs to as orchids display a lot of diversity.

What Makes a Plant a Succulent?

A plant is succulent if it has thick and fleshy parts that allow it to easily store and retain water. They can store water in various organs such as in the stem or the leaves. They also tend to have a thick caudex and fuzzy leaves. They do not need much water to thrive and can survive well in high temperatures.

They can easily adapt to extreme weather conditions, particularly hot and dry ones. Succulent plants belong to a range of plant families.

How are Orchids Classified?

Orchids fall under the Orchidaceae family of flowering plants (Magnoliophyta) and contain thousands of species worldwide. Orchid flowers generally have three sepals and three petals. They tend to be perennial and are mainly found in tropical and temperate regions.

Orchids vs Succulents: Similarities and Differences

Let us look into the similarities and differences between orchids and succulents.


  • Both require lesser amounts of water as compared to other plants.
  • Some orchids have several fleshy succulent regions where they can store and retain water, such as a bulb, stem or leaf.
  • Both can survive in low-light conditions for a certain period of time to a certain extent.
  • Both require irregular and well-draining soil to grow well.
  • Both have their own times of dormancy.


  • Succulents can belong to several different plant families while orchids are of a single plant family with several species.
  • While both can survive in low light, most succulents usually need brighter and more direct sunlight as compared to some orchids who thrive in medium light.
  • The soil required for growing orchids is a lot more diverse as compared to that of succulents. While all succulents require a well-draining soil medium to grow in, Orchids require this plus a variety of coarse materials to grow in. However, more often than not, the medium is for the orchid’s roots to hold on to as orchids can grow on any medium in the presence of air.
  • Orchids have a lot more flowers as compared to most succulents.
  • Orchids require more fertilizer as compared to succulents.
  • Orchids require more warmth and humidity than succulents which is why they need more care during winter.
  • Orchids do not have a thick caudex like most succulents do.

Can Orchids Be Potted in Succulent Soil?

can orchids be potted in succulent soil

Succulent soil requires coarse sand and a potting mix combined with perlite, peat moss and organic fertilizers. This requirement is present for some orchids as well, so it might be possible to pot some kinds of orchids in well-draining succulent soil.

However, orchids also require a lot more material along with this mixture. This can include bark, charcoal, sphagnum moss, coconut husk, fern and more.

In essence, you cannot grow orchids in regular potting soil but since succulent soil has extra material, it might be possible for you to add on to it when it comes to orchids.

Make sure you know which type of species you are growing and the conditions they need to grow in. If you have any doubts, you can ask a professional from your local nursery about the characteristics of each.

Can You Grow Orchids and Succulents Together?

can you grow orchids and succulents together

Once again, this tends to depend on the type of orchid as well as the type of succulent you want to grow. However, since they tend to require similar growing conditions and because there are overlaps in the soil requirements, you can grow them together.

Since they both require lesser water to grow healthily, they make a good pair of plants to try growing together. You might need to a bit of research about the best conditions for the two plants as well as if the species are compatible with each other or not.

If your succulent is more tropical, for instance, it might be easier for you to grow an orchid and a succulent together. However, your best bet would be to simply grow them separately and combine them together at a later point. This is particularly important if you are not too aware of the specifications of each plant.

You can also choose to ask your local nursery to help you out. It is likely that they will have professional knowledge about the issue and will be able to guide you about how to go ahead with this.

Another simpler trick you can use is by using the same container but keeping the orchid in another pot in the container. This arrangement will ensure that both grow together without hindering each other.

The Bottom Line

To sum up, orchids and succulents may share a few common features that allow them to retain water. However, this depends on the species of the orchids as well. In that sense, not all orchids can be called succulents.

Through this guide, we have also looked into whether or not orchids can grow in the same soil as succulents and if they can be grown together. Once again, the species and growing conditions matter here.