Common Types Of Succulents

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Succulents grow all over the world and are defined by their ability to store water inside their leaves and/or roots. Sempervivums and Sedums found in Northern Europe are adapted to rocky and windy conditions. The deserts of North America are home to the Yuccas and Agaves. Africa grows a diversity of succulents including Aloes and Asclepiads. There’s an entire world to explore when you grow a succulent garden.


Aeonium are native to North Africa and the Canary Islands. These evergreen plants prefer warm climates and grow spoon shaped leaves that form burgundy and green rosettes. One of the oldest cultivars is Schwartzkopf with glossy dark burgundy foliage. Decorum makes a compact green bedding plant. Haworthii sprouts flat blue-green leaves with red margins.


Agave has hard rigid leaves that have marginal teeth and end with a sharp spine. Some species grow very large such as Agave Americana which can get as tall as six feet. Parry’s Agave is a smaller plant growing to one foot tall.


Aloe is a necessity in a kitchen garden. The gel filled leaves come in handy for cuts and burns. Aloe arborescens is commonly found in gardens and makes an excellent fire-retardant in areas prone to fires. Aloe barberae grows into a tree that can reach 50 feet.


Cactus are a variety of succulents that are found in desert climates and have spines that stick out from points on the plant. Cactus may not be appropriate for a home that has children or pets. Prickly Pear cactus are edible. Pincushion cactus are smaller plants that can be grown indoors.


Most Crassula species originated inSouth Africa. The two types of Crassula are jade and stacked varieties. The jade types are bushy and can be grown as a small shrub. Crassula ovata ‘Jade’ can be grown in containers and needs to dry out between waterings. The stacked varieties form cascading branches that can be used in hanging baskets. Baby Necklace is a common crassula that has disc shaped leaves that are strung on a thin stem.

common types of succulents common types of succulents


Delosperma originated inSouth Africaand are known by the common name of Ice Plant. These weed fighting succulents not only make a lush groundcover, they will tolerate foot traffic. As an added bonus, brilliant daisy like blooms in yellows, purples and pinks.


Echeveria are a low-growing hens and chicks type of succulent that are native toMexicoandSouth America. These colorful rosettes sprout smaller plants and can quickly fill in a rock garden or flower pot. Echeveria colorata has large thick leaves with pinkish tips and thrives in high temperatures. Echeveria elegans is a common garden plant that has a small rose shape. Echeveria lilacina has large white rosettes and produces orange flowers on long arching stalks.


Haworthia are enjoyed by plant hobbyists because the plants are easy to hybridize. They grow to be the size of a softball and easily thrive in containers. Plant Haworthia in an indoor garden; the plants may sunburn when kept outdoors. Many Haworthia, such as Haworthia limifolia, resemble a striped aloe. Other varieties, such as Haworthia coarctdata and reinwardtii, have tightly compacted leaves that grow around the stem to resemble a column.


Kalanchoe is a class of succulents with large flat oval shaped leaves. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a popular plant that produces bouquets of tiny red, yellow, orange or pink flowers and blooms for over half the year. Kalanchoe thyrsiflora has grayish green leaves with red margins that form a basal rosette. Kalanchoe pinnata has scalloped edges and produces a spray of bell shaped flowers.


Sedum grow bean shaped leaves that grow in long trails. Sedums can be used as a groundcover in rock gardens or as fillers in container gardens. These plants thrive in cool summers and tolerate freezing temperatures. Sedum spectabile ‘Autum Joy’ has pink to rusty flowers that attract butterflies and bees. Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ has light green needle shaped leaves with yellow blooms.


Sempervivums are known as hen and chicks with their thin pointed rosettes that create clusters of small offshoots. Sempervivums enjoy cool climates, are frost tolerant and do not grow well in hot summer climates. Lilac Time has bright lilac blue rosettes. Bronco is deep burgundy. Corona grows in tight rosettes of green leaves with rosy red margins.

Succulents are extremely low maintenance plants that are perfect for a xeriscape garden. Succulents can be convinced to grow in the smallest of cracks and crevices, in a rock wall, bordering a flower bed or cascading over a window box. Experiment with the bright colors and various textures. With a right amount of watering and shelter from the cold, succulents will be a star in your garden all year long.

Last Updated: August 30, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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