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Wylers Greenhouse

From a growers perspective, the demand for succulents is increasing at an unprecedented

rate. In fact, Succulents of all kinds are the highest growth category in gardening, more so than

even vegetables. Ken Altman, founder and president, Altman Plants, Vista, CA (the largest

grower of cacti and succulents in the US) reports, Our business has grown 20% annually since

2005. Wylers Greenhouse is no exception to the trend. Marian Wyler, founder and co-owner,

confirms this growth, stating her business is closed only four weekends per year (those being

major holidays).

Much of this growth has been attributed to:

1. Increasing population density in cities--apartment and condominium residents desire for

unusual plants, but with very limited space, and less that optimum growing conditions.

2. Recent drought conditions have raised awareness of, and interest in, plants with minimal

water requirements.

3. International demand in countries such as Japan and Germany is rising, while demand in

China and Korea has skyrocketed, benefitting primarily Australian Horticulturists.

Wylers stocks a wide variety of succulents such as: Common House Leek (Sempervivum

tectorum), Paddle, or Flapjack Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora), and Jelly Bean Plant (Sedum

pachphyllum). Their pride and joy, is an award-winning-specimen of Madagascar Palm

(Pachypodium lamerei).
In some families, such as Aizoaceae, Cactaceae, and Crassulaceae, most species are succulents.

Members of these families share many common traits such as: roots very near the surface of the

soil, so they are able to take up moisture from very small showers or heavy dew; the ability to

remain plump and full of water even with high internal temperatures (e.g., 126 F); and very

impervious outer cuticle (skin). Of particular interest is Crassulacean acid metabolism, also

known as CAM photosynthesis. This form of photosynthesis employs a carbon fixation pathway

that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions. In a plant using full CAM, the

stomata in the leaves remain closed during the day to reduce transpiration, but open at night to

collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored as the acid Malate in vacuoles at night, and then

in the daytime, the Malate is transported to chloroplasts where it is converted back to CO2, which

is then used during photosynthesis. In an unusual twist, the primary site of photosynthesis, in

many of these plants, is stems rather than leaves.

Given the increased demand for succulents, their ability to survive in less than favorable

conditions, and their lower water requirements, a wider selection availability may be justified for

future plant sales. However, with limited knowledge of the local market, this may not be a viable

option.