Succulent Plants

Succulent plants have juicy leaves or stems for holding water through long periods of drought. They come in an array of shapes, colors, sizes and temperature tolerance and are suitable for growing in dry garden areas or in containers both indoors and out.



Photo by: Costa Farms

Costa Farms

Succulent plants are among the most amazing on earth, and because they are well adapted to harsh, dry climates, they can be super easy to grow in gardens both indoors and out.

A succulent plant can be nearly any size or shape - tall and thin, wiry and cascading, or in spreading rosettes. Its leaves can be plump or flattened, or round, long, or curly, and with wild variations in colors, stripes, and variegations. They often have unique, sometimes whimsical growths including frills and spines. Most have astounding flowers as well. The one thing they all share is the ability to store water in usually-fleshy leaves and stems to help get them through long periods of drought.

While a cactus is a succulent, not all succulents are cacti. They are all native to xeric or seasonally-dry climates, including deserts, seaside cliffs, freezing mountain sides, and even tree limbs in steamy jungles. Some are tropical and will freeze easily, while others can tolerate temperatures down into the teens or even below zero.

Growing Succulents

For best growth and color, succulents require very bright light - full sun outdoors or sunny windows, with protection from hot midday sun in humid areas. For some, a sheer curtain may be needed in hot south-facing windows.

With enough bright artificial lighting, some succulents such as Sansevieria, Hoya, Aeonium, Euphorbia, Pedilanthus, and Haworthia can grow quite well indoors, even tolerating the low humidity; if they start getting leggy or weak looking, move them to brighter light. Others, especially Agave, Aloe, Crassula, Echeveria, Kalanchoe, Opuntia, Sedum, Sempervivum, and Yucca, require at least six or eight hours of direct sunlight to remain compact and colorful.

Plant succulents in areas which never stay wet. To prevent overwatering during rainy spells, the typical collector of succulents plants them as specimen or in amazing combinations on terraces, slopes, or other areas with fast drainage; in xeric (dry) climates, they are often used in foundation plantings and shrub beds, and even as lawn substitutes. They are ideal for planting in creative containers including wall hangings.

For better drainage, add coarse sand or grit to your native soil. For container gardens, select a cactus mix or any good potting soil that has had coarse sand, crunchy perlite, or garden grit added.

Grow Your Own

Most succulent plants are easy to propagate from stem or leaf cuttings allowed to dry a few days to heal over before planting, or from offsets of small “pup” plants at their base. Many have the unique ability to grow new plants – roots and all - from leaf tips or margins, and some can sprout new plants from fallen leaves simply stuck into potting soil.

Simple Succulents 03:34

Our expert shares her secrets for growing and selecting succulents.
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How to Plant Succulents

Succulents are easy to grow, but should be planted properly to get the most out of their versatility.

What is a Succulent Plant

Succulent plants, from tropical to cold hardy, come in astounding variety of sometimes bizarre shapes, colors, and unique features; they have fleshy leaves or stems which help them store water for weeks or months.

Succulent Gardens

Succulent gardens, both indoors and out, are interesting, low maintenance, and easy, and contain a variety of sometimes-bizarre plants in many shapes, sizes, colors, and features. The most crucial things they need are bright light, and well-drained soils that never stay wet.

Growing Succulents Indoors

Nearly anyone wondering how to grow succulents indoors can look no farther than their own grandmother’s windowsill, which probably boasted at least one.

Aloe Succulents

Aloe is a large group of succulent plants with rosettes of thick, juicy leaves and bloom spires topped with beautiful clusters of mostly red or yellow hummingbird-attracting flowers. Many popular Aloes tolerate frost or short freezes.

Pruning and Trimming Succulents

Succulent plants often need pruning to remove unruly or overgrown growth, and their dead or dying stems, leaves, and flower stems trimmed.

Transplanting and Propagating Succulents

Succulent plants are very easy to transplant into different garden settings, and are perhaps the easiest plants of all to grow from cuttings, division, stem cutting, and rooted leaves.

Growing Succulents Outdoors

Create the right conditions for growing exotic-looking hardy succulents outdoors in an garden, anywhere in the country.

Best Soil for Succulents

No two gardeners use the same potting mix for succulents, but they all start with similar basic ingredients that help plants hold a little moisture and fertilizer while allowing extra water to drain away very quickly.

Types of Succulents

Succulent plants offer an incredible array of types, sizes, shapes, colors, flowers, fruits, garden uses, and temperature tolerances, coming from a wide range between tropical jungles, deserts, mountains, and extremely cold climates.


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