Quick and Dirty: Top Five Succulents This Season

Try one of these diverse succulent varieties in your yard or container garden.

Ascending Beauty

Ascending Beauty

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

These square cast, concrete containers flow gracefully down the flight of stairs, while the unruly stems of Lady’s Slipper (Pedilanthus macrocarpus) explode out of them like fireworks.

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They thrive in the sun. They shine in the shade. They squirrel water away in their plump, fleshy leaves so you don’t have to bust out the watering can very often. Succulents are the best guests in the garden, and these five varieties are heating up the coolest landscapes in the country.

Echeveria Cante

Got direct, blistering sun? Can’t have enough cantes. This bright pink cabbage is also a favorite of hummingbirds, who love its stalks of bell-shaped, neon-orange flowers.

Pedilanthus

Clients in search of a strong vertical element usually ask for horsetail, but Jeff Delzell, landscape designer at California Cactus Center in Pasadena, California, steers them towards the pedilanthus. “It’s more easily controlled and tends to be a better plant,” he says. “The blooms look like lady slippers on the tips of the branches, and when it’s in full sun it gets a nice orange hue.”

Echeveria Subrigida

Commonly referred to as “fire and ice,” the subrigida has beautiful bluish-green leaves daintily outlined with a thin line of red and produces bright orange bell-shaped blooms.

Mutated Succulents

Due to a natural mutation that occurs once in every 1,000 varieties, these succulents are highly sought after and considered collector plants. Varieties like echeveria 'Pappy’s Rose' crest differ from their sister succulents with multiple growing points and a skater-punk sense of style. “They look like a plant with a mohawk,” Delzell says.

Golden Moss

This sedum gets rave reviews for its gorgeous yellow color. “I like to use golden moss like Jackson Pollack,” Delzell says. “I just splatter a little bit here and there.”

What plays nicely with succulents? A sun-and-shade-loving ground cover called Moses in the Cradle. “Once clients see the bright purple color, they always wind up buying one or two,” Delzell says.

Want to know where Danny sources her succulents? California Cactus Center, 216 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena, CA, 626.795.2788, cactuscenter.com

Succulents 101

  • Contrary to popular belief, succulents don’t require sun all day long. In their natural habitat, they usually get some sort of protection under a bush or tree.
  • Keep indoor succulents in as much direct sunlight as possible or they’ll lose their color and stretch out, reaching for sunlight.
  • Water outdoor succulents once or twice a week; indoor plants can have a shower once a month.
  • Succulents thrive in soil made of pumice.
  • Succulents tend to shut down a bit in the summertime, so fall planting is best.

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