10 Unique and Stunning Succulents for Your Garden

Succulents have become a favorite among modern designers, and it’s not hard to see why. These plants celebrate geometric form in such a rigid way that they hardly seem alive. From stone-like appearances to toothed leaves reminiscent of alligators, succulents can even transform into genetic anomalies. Every gardener should have at least one succulent plant in their collection. However, some of these fleshy beauties can be notoriously fickle, prone to sudden meltdowns, rot, and mummification. With so many different types of succulents available, it can be difficult for home gardeners to tell the easy growers from the more delicate ones. In this article, we have compiled a selection of diverse, no-brainer succulents that will help you get started without the risk of failure.

Add Color to a Dreary Winter: Paddle Plant

Tree aeonium (Aeonium arboreum and cvs.)

The paddle plant, also known as Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, is the most popular modern succulent due to its whimsical form and vibrant winter color. Its leaves are flat, resembling pancakes, and arranged in a unique rosette shape. When the paddle plant blooms, the center stem elongates into a gangly white stalk, spoiling its looks. However, once it flowers, you can cut off the stem and take good care of the remaining plant. It will soon produce many new offsets that can be rooted and replanted.

The Succulent for Zinnia Lovers: Tree Aeonium

If a zinnia were a succulent, it would be a tree aeonium. This particular species offers two stunning varieties that have taken the modern succulent world by storm. The deep burgundy to black ‘Zwartkop’ creates a powerful contrast against light green or yellow plants. On the other hand, ‘Sunburst’ boasts large cream-colored variegated leaves that can even develop pink highlights. Over time, tree aeonium develops a thick trunk and may branch into sizable subshrubs, producing foot-long, cone-shaped stems adorned with vivid yellow flowers.

Further reading:  Reviving Your Corn Plant: Tips to Keep it Thriving

Tree aeonium (Aeonium arboreum and cvs.)

Donkey’s Tail: A Unique Spiller

Donkey’s tail (Sedum morganianum)

The donkey’s tail, scientifically known as Sedum morganianum, is a unique vinelike succulent that children can’t resist touching. It’s typically grown in a hanging basket to ensure perfect drainage, but it can also be planted in pots on walls or balconies. This succulent thrives in shaded locations with filtered light and is a cinch to grow in spots protected from the wind. Its trailing stems and fleshy leaves add a touch of elegance to any space.

Get the Flames—Without the Fire: Firesticks

Firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’)

Firesticks, known as Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’, is a stunning succulent that adds color and texture to any garden. This red form of the pencil tree is prized for its fine texture and vivid winter hues. The intense color is a result of reduced chlorophyll, which keeps this succulent small. Firesticks thrives in full sun and is more tolerant of ordinary soil compared to other succulents. It’s often planted alongside moisture-loving plants, creating a striking visual contrast.

A Single Specimen is All You Need: Queen Victoria Agave

Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginae)

The small Queen Victoria agave, scientifically known as Agave victoriae-reginae, is a mature specimen that can cost a small fortune. This slow-growing succulent blooms just once at the end of its life, but its slow growth and exquisite beauty make it well worth the investment. With leaves edged in white lines, this rock-hard plant adds a unique graphic quality to any garden. Displaying a mature Queen Victoria agave is like having a natural work of art.

Small Doesn’t Equal Wimpy: Zebra Haworthia

Zebra haworthia, also known as Haworthia attenuata, is a small but impressive succulent. Its leaves are covered in hard warts that give it a crocodile-like appearance. Despite its small size, this haworthia is incredibly hardy and difficult to kill, as long as you don’t overwater it or expose it to frost. Zebra haworthia is perfect for shallow bowls or bonsai pots, where it offsets freely, quickly filling up the container. It produces delicate white flowers on long, slender stalks.

Further reading:  Know Your Natives - The Majestic Royal Fern

Pick a Color, Any Color: Echeveria

Echeveria (Echeveria spp. and cvs.)

Echeveria is a collection of stunning succulents that offers a multitude of colors to choose from. These plants are like paint-boxes waiting to be paired with glass gravel or showcased in the landscape. When selecting echeveria, it’s best to choose in person rather than ordering online to ensure you get the color you have in mind. With their eye-catching hues and striking rosette shapes, echeverias are sure to add a touch of elegance to any garden.

If You Love Blue, You’re in Luck: Blue Chalk Sticks

Blue chalk sticks, scientifically known as Senecio mandraliscae, is the ultimate succulent for those who love the color blue. Its pencil-thin, upright leaves create a spiky, fine-textured mass that stands out in any arrangement. Blue chalk sticks can be shrubby or low spreading, depending on the variety you choose and how you shape it. This succulent is an exceptional choice for windowsill gardens and adds a unique form and color to any space.

Hummingbirds Love This Spider: Spider Aloe

Spider aloe (Aloe humilis)

Spider aloe, or Aloe humilis, is a cute and stubby succulent that blooms spectacularly, attracting hummingbirds with its tubular, coral-red flowers. This hand-sized plant is ideal for low and wide bonsai pots, maintaining its precise form at all times without flopping. Its toothy leaves are thick and stiff, offering a unique texture. Combining several spider aloes with smooth river stones creates a beautiful little grouping that adds charm to any garden.

This Succulent Bears the Cold: Cobweb Houseleek

Cobweb houseleek (Sempervivum arachnoideum)

Cobweb houseleek, scientifically known as Sempervivum arachnoideum, is a cold-hardy succulent with adorable small rosettes. This plant thrives in winter because it originates in the high mountains of Europe, where it develops in decomposing granite pockets on sun-drenched cliffs. Its name comes from the spider-like appearance created by stems arching outward from between the leaves to bear offsets. These offsets are easy to sever and root into new plants, allowing you to expand your collection effortlessly. For optimal growth, ensure good drainage for this hardy succulent.

Further reading:  Experience the Magic of Robert Plant at Tanglewood

Potted Succulents Need the Right Soil

Potted Succulents

The biggest problem potted succulents face is the use of soil mixes that contain too much organic matter. Many bagged cactus soils labeled as suitable for cacti and palms often have a high proportion of woody material. While these soils are lighter and more cost-effective to ship, they do not provide the well-drained mineral soil that succulents need. To ensure your potted succulents thrive, consider these tips:

  • Screen out woody particles: Use a sheet of ¼-inch-grid hardware cloth to prevent overwatering by removing woody particles from cactus mixes.
  • Modify regular potting mixes: Create a 50/50 blend of potting mix and sharp sand to create a well-draining environment for your succulents.
  • Fertilize regularly: Succulents have low fertility requirements, so use a low-dose fertilizer during the active seasons of spring and summer to compensate for the lack of fertility in the soil mix.
  • Pair succulents with other succulents: Succulents thrive when grouped with other succulents rather than plants that require rich soil and consistent moisture. Mixing them with incompatible plants can lead to unhappy succulents.

By following these guidelines, you can provide the best soil conditions for your succulent plants and ensure their long-term health and beauty.

For a wide variety of succulents and expert advice, visit Ames Farm Center, your go-to destination for all things succulent-related.

Note: All image credits go to Fine Gardening.