Succulents

Salicornia Europaea Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Common Glasswort”

Our Guide to Salicornia Europaea - Everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for "Common Glasswort"
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Want to give your garden a coastal look? Common Glasswort is a perfect choice.

Salicornia Europaea, commonly known as Common Glasswort, is an annual succulent with a unique look. You can usually find this succulent in saltmarshes, as it is a salt-tolerant plant able to grow in a habitat with high salinity. Common Glasswort accumulates and stores salt within its leaves and stems, which helps it survive in such inhospitable habitats.

Common Glasswort is also a healthy addition to any garden. This succulent sends oxygen down into the mud it grows in, thus stabilizing the environment and making it friendlier to other plant species.

Despite its unique look, this succulent is actually pretty difficult to grow, and it is very little cultivated. Yet, both beginners and avid gardeners can give growing Common Glasswort a try if they wish to achieve a coastal-like look in their homes or gardens.

Ready to find out more about growing and caring for the amazing succulent – Common Glasswort? Keep reading below!

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About Common Glasswort

  • Common Glasswort belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae and can be found in coastal habitats in Africa, Europe, and North America.
  • The botanical name of this succulent is Salicornia Europaea, but it is also commonly known as Common Glasswort, Glasswort, Marsh Samphire, Chicken Claws, Sea Asparagus, or Sea Pickle.
  • Thanks to its unique appearance, Common Glasswort is a great succulent for both indoor and outdoor environments that could use a green touch. You can use this succulent in bog or water gardens, xeriscaping, and coastal landscaping, but you can also grow it without difficulties in pots as a houseplant.
  • In general, this succulent has similar growing requirements to most other succulents. At the moment, common glasswort is not very popular in cultivation, but we think it should be and we recommend giving it a try.
  • Salicornia Europaea isn’t really frost-tolerant. It prefers medium to warm temperatures of 50°F (10 °C), especially during the growing season in spring and summer. So, make sure you protect your Common Glasswort from freezing temperatures during the cold season.
  • During winter, Common Glasswort goes semi-dormant, meaning that it decides to take a rest. So, if, during this season, you notice that your succulent may look odd or about to die, don’t worry! Your plant is just taking a nap.
  • Unlike other succulents, Common Glasswort loves humid environments and it actually prefers regular watering. But, it also requires well-draining soil that is also alkaline.
  • Another thing that Common Glasswort has in common with other succulents is the fact that it prefers sunny spots where it gets full sun. If grown indoors, it’s best to place it next to a window where it can get a lot of sunlight.
  • In general, Common Glasswort is pest and disease-free. However, snails find it quite delicious so they can pose a danger to this succulent.
  • A very interesting thing about Salicornia Europaea is the fact that this succulent is widely used as food. Common Glasswort isn’t toxic to humans or pets. If you grow yours indoors, there’s nothing to worry about placing the plant out of your kids’ and pets’ reach.
Common Glasswort
Common Glasswort

Common Glasswort Features: An Overview

  • Common Glasswort is a relatively small succulent herb that can grow up to 16 inches (40 cm) tall. It features jointed bright-green fleshy stems.
  • If you were to compare its look with something you see nearly everywhere, the first thing that would come to mind would be asparagus. This resemblance is responsible for its funny name – Sea Asparagus.
  • In late summer, Common Glasswort produces tiny yellow flowers that are hermaphrodite, meaning that they have both male and female organs.
  • During fall, the succulent’s color changes to red or purple.

Culinary and Industrial Uses of Common Glasswort

What’s interesting about this plant is the fact that it’s not just a cool succulent herb to have in your home or garden. It’s also a delicious healthy plant you can add to your salads.

This succulent is quickly becoming a precious garnish in restaurants around the world. Common Glasswort is considered a fantastic vegetable on its own, thanks to its succulent nature and salty taste, or transformed into a wonderful pickled vegetable. Its culinary uses made this succulent known by names like Chicken Claws, Sea Asparagus, or Sea Pickle.

Salicornia Europaea has a few culinary uses, including being a great garnish for fish, it can be added to salads, and can also be pickled or put in vinegar. In East England particularly, Common Glasswort is considered wild food, and it is often served as garnish for fish.

Besides its culinary uses, Common Glasswort, and its other six Glasswort cousins, used to have industrial uses only a couple of centuries ago. The ashes of Glasswort succulents were long used as a source of soda ash in glassmaking and soapmaking. However, in the first half of the 19th century, the LeBlanc process for industrial production of soda ash was introduced and it replaced the use of plant sources.

As you might have guessed, its use in glassmaking is what gave this succulent its Glasswort name.

Salicornia Europaea
Salicornia Europaea

Growing Common Glasswort

As we’ve mentioned before, Common Glasswort is actually not that commonly grown by people in their homes or gardens. Although this delicious succulent is a bit more difficult to grow, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a try. As long as you pay attention to its growing needs and requirements, your Common Glasswort will thrive and reward you with many cute succulent branches.

First, pay attention to this succulent herb lighting requirements. Like most succulents, it prefers sunny spots where it gets full sun for most of the day. So, whether you grow your Common Glasswort indoors in a pot or outdoors in your garden, make sure you choose a spot where it receives full sun for at least a few hours a day.

Since it is a small succulent, Common Glasswort doesn’t necessarily require pruning. However, you can prune it to give it the shape you want it to have. It’s best to prune this succulent during autumn or winter because, during spring and summer, the plant is in its growing season.

How to Plant Common Glasswort

When it comes to planning Common Glasswort, things are as complicated as they are when it comes to growing it. This succulent is not usually grown in cultivation, but if you succeed in doing so, your garden will get a unique-looking addition. To ensure success with planting this succulent, you need to keep all its needs in mind.

First things first, when deciding where to plant your Common Glasswort, remember that it needs to be placed in a spot where it receives full sun for at least a few hours. So, whether you plant it in a container or your garden, given that you live in an area with coastal-like conditions, make sure you choose the sunniest spot you can find.

Next, you also need to keep in mind that this succulent loves warm temperatures and that it doesn’t survive freezing temperatures. If you live in an area with a cold climate, it’s best to plant it in a container that you can bring indoors during the winter months. If you live in an area where temperatures are generally warm (about 50°F (10 °C) or more), you can plant it outdoors in your garden.

Besides that, probably the most important detail to keep in mind is the fact that Common Glasswort needs alkaline, rich organic, and well-draining soil. Although unlike most succulents, Salicornia Europaea prefers regular watering, it also needs well-draining soil. Well-draining soil can be achieved by adding sand or pebbles for improved water drainage.

Glasswort
Glasswort

Watering Common Glasswort

If you’re used to growing succulents that are afraid of ‘wet feet’, Common Glasswort requires a different watering tactic. This succulent plant actually prefers to grow in moist soil. This succulent herb isn’t susceptible to root rot, but it is still recommended not to overwater it and to plant it in well-draining soil.

We recommend watering your Salicornia Europaea with a saline solution of 1tsp sea salt mixed in a pint of water for the soil to mimic this plant’s natural soil conditions better.

Although you should avoid overwatering it, always keep your succulent in moist soil. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

Propagating Common Glasswort

This succulent propagates via seeds, but its germination process is pretty complex. Successful propagation will only happen if sown as soon as the seed is ripe in the autumn.

In Conclusion

Common Glasswort is a lovely small succulent herb that can definitely give your garden a coastal vibe. If you are a fan of water gardens or coastal landscaping, and the climate and conditions in your area allow it, this succulent is going to be a great addition.

It is also delicious food and has plenty of culinary uses, so you can always incorporate it in your dishes as a garnish for fish or meat.

While it can be more difficult to grow, if you do your best to provide your Common Glasswort with its most basic growing requirements, it should thrive. Also, next time you find yourself stranded on an island, know that you can safely eat Salicornia Europaea.

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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