12 Succulents Worth Knowing
Discover a dozen drought-tolerant, low-maintenance succulents with eye-catching good looks.
Few plants boast the effortless beauty of succulents. These amazing plants have no-fuss personalities that thrive with sun, low water and heat. Learn about some succulents that have earned rave reviews from professional growers and even a few awards. Others in this group have stood the test of time—they're heirloom plants you should try growing.
‘Blue Elf’ Sedoro
Sedoro is a completely new plant group created by crossing Sedum and Orostachys. The resulting plant makes a fabulous ground cover with steel blue leaves. Pink flowers appear in late summer to early fall, completely obscuring leaves. Plants are 6 inches tall. Use along border edges or in rock gardens. You’ll get the greatest impact when you plant several together. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Colorful and cute, painted echeveria (Echeveria nodulosa) is a Mexican native, where it grows on limestone hills. Green leaves contrast artfully with red midribs and edges. Hardy in Zones 9 to 11, painted echeveria is drought tolerant in the landscape once it’s established. It also adapts well to container culture. Indoors, it needs bright light to develop full leaf coloring.
‘Mr. Goodbud’ Sedum
If you love ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, you need to check out ‘Mr. Goodbud.’ Sturdy, upright stems support large flower heads up to 6 inches across. The show starts in late summer as buds open bright pink to reveal starry blooms. Flowers last right up to frost on stems that refuse to flop. This is a pollinator favorite, serving bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Plants grow roughly 16 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
Queen of White Thread Agave
For many years, this beautiful variegated agave was available only to collectors and for a steep price. The Queen of White (Agave schidigera ‘Shira Ito No Ohi’) has a striking appearance. Cream and green leaves are edged with curly white filaments or threads. Plants are very slow growing, eventually reaching a mature height of 15 inches tall by 22 inches wide—but this takes years. Grow it outdoors where it’s hardy in Zones 8 and warmer. In colder locales, tuck it in a pot that you overwinter indoors.
Fire Spinner Ice Plant
Ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) provides an evergreen ground cover that grows to 2 inches high. Tri-colored flowers appear in spring and off and on throughout summer. The daisy-like blooms feature white, pink and orange petals emanating from a gold center. This ice plant is non-invasive and won’t overrun planting areas. Hardy in Zones 5 to 11.
‘Perle von Nurnberg’ Echeveria
This echeveria is an heirloom developed in the 1930s by a world-renowned succulent breeder of Perleberg, Germany. ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ has gray-brown leaves dusted with rose and purple tints. Sunlight coaxes the pink tones in the leaves, so place plants in full sun. Grow in containers or rock gardens with well-drained soil. This succulent adapts well to growing in a pot indoors near a bright window.
‘Lime Twister’ SunSparkler Sedum
Variegated leaves splashed with cream and green make this sedum a winner, even if it never bloomed. Flowers open in bright pink shades from late summer to fall. Use this as a pretty ground cover in a small space, or tuck it into containers with a dark leafed plant for eye-catching contrast. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
‘Desert Rose’ Paddle Plant
Native to South Africa, the paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) blends beauty with a rugged personality. Plants are heat and drought tolerant and adapt well to planting beds or containers. ‘Desert Rose’ has chalky blue leaves with red edges and tips. Full sun draws out the strongest coloring in leaves. Hardy in Zones 9 to 11.
Turn up the fall color with this striking sedum. It has smoky blue leaves topped with raspberry red blooms from late summer through frost. The 6- to 8-inch-wide flower heads completely hide leaves. Plants grow to 8 inches tall and boast deer resistance. Use it as a ground cover, as part of a rock garden or tucked into pots. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Meet an heirloom succulent discovered at a sulfur spring in Mexico in 1906. Known among gardeners as “Coppertone,” this well-known drought tolerant plant has leaves in shades of copper, bronze and brown. Fragrant white flowers appear late winter to early spring. Grow it in full sun in a rock garden or container. The botanical name is Sedum nussbaumerianum. It’s hardy in Zones 9 to 11.
Brakelights Red Yucca
Here’s a succulent for gardeners as far north as Zone 5. Brakelights Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’) brings on the color with a tuft of silver-gray leaves that contrast beautifully with the red flowers. Blooms appear in spring, held on wiry stems 2 feet tall. Hummingbirds flock to this flower. Hardy in Zones 5 to 10.
Brakelights Red Yucca
This is what a mass planting of Brakelights Red yucca brings to the garden—a sea of striking color. Like other yuccas, this beauty is deer resistant and drought tolerant, a definite must-have for a low water use landscape. Flowers also last long indoors in a vase. Hesperaloe parviflora is native to the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas, where it was first recorded in 1859.
‘Zwartkop’ Aeonium arboreum
Also known as black rose aeonium, this beauty has dark, black-purple leaves arranged in rosettes at the ends of stems. Leaves turn their darkest hues in summer and early fall when plants are in a semi-dormant state and need little water. ‘Zwartkop’ is a winter succulent, growing strongest during the cool season. This is the classic black succulent gardeners want—and it’s worth growing. The Royal Horticultural Society of London recognized ‘Zwartkop’ with an Award of Garden Merit in 1993.