Succulents: 10 Popular Varieties for Your Garden

Succulents are terrific plants for your garden. Easy to grow and maintain, these plants tolerate drought. Because succulents come in such a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes, they can add beauty, color and texture to your garden. They are great in rock gardens, in containers or in the garden itself to add interest or showcase a particular spot. Below are ten popular varieties. Don't be afraid to try other, more obscure types as well; you may be pleasantly surprised.

1. Aeonium

Aeonium is a distinct plant with rosettes on long stems, cone-shaped flowering bundles and aerial roots. Aeonium 'Zwartkops' is a common variety; its leaves change in color from green to dark purple or almost black in full sun.

2. Agave

Agave is a large succulent with long, spiky-shaped leaves, sometimes with thorns. Agave attenuata (also known as Swan's Neck or Foxtail agave) has a large, curved distinctive white flower cluster. This plant can grow to 8 to 10 feet high.

3. Aloe

Aloe also has long, spiky-shaped leaves. The most popular variety, aloe vera, is used for burns; simply break the leaf and put its gel directly on the burn. Aloe has tubular flowers on long stems ranging in color from yellow to pink to red.

4. Crassula

Crassula has thick green leaves grouped together on stems. Crassula ovata is the jade plant which can grow to the size of a small bush. It has small white flowers and the tips of its leaves can turn a reddish color in the sun.

5. Dudleya

Dudleya grows in rosettes which range in color from gray to green. It is a very hardy plant and can live for many years. Dudleya is very common in Southern California and is often seen growing between rocks on hillsides, on cliff faces and in cracks on the highway. Its flowers are commonly white, yellow or red.  

6. Echeveria

Echeveria is sometimes known as Hen and Chicks. It also grows in rosettes in a range of colors, many of which have distinctive markings or different color tips. A wide variety of flower colors gives the gardener many choices.

7. Euphorbia

Euphorbia has many different-shaped and -sized varieties but the most common is euphorbia pulchierrima or poinsettia. Commonly sold during the winter holidays, poinsettias have a milky sap which was used in olden times to heal wounds. Many types of euphorbias are also called spurges and were once used as purgatives. 

8. Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe is a flowering plant with green waxy leaves and clusters of flowers. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is the one usually sold in nurseries, with flower colors ranging from yellow to pink to red. 

9. Sedum

Sedum is a diverse plant with clusters of small leaves. It may be grown as a ground cover or in hanging baskets; other varieties are more bush-like.  Also called stonecrop, sedum most commonly has white and yellow flowers. Sedum morganianum is also called donkey tail or burro tail and is a creeping or trailing variety. Sedum 'Autumn Joy' grows as a bush with varied color flower clusters that look like broccoli but come in pink or mauve.

10. Sempervivum

Sempervivum grows in rosettes and is often confused with echeveria. Its leaves can be green-gray, green-pink or other color varieties and some types grow stalks from the rosette.