If you’re looking to add some variety to your succulent or rock garden, or if you simply want a stunning houseplant, tall succulents are the way to go. These versatile plants come in a range of textures and shapes, and they require minimal maintenance. They thrive on neglect, needing only good drainage and the right amount of light. So, let’s explore some of the most intriguing and visually captivating tall succulent plants for big garden spaces.
- African Milk Tree: The Towering Succulent
- Candelabra Spurge: The Marbled Wonder
- Desert Rose: The Blooming Beauty
- Elephant Bush: The Small-Leaved Charmer
- Eve’s Needle: The Intriguing Cactus Relative
- Fox Tail Agave: The Striking Agave Variety
- Jade Plant: The Fortune-Bearing Tree
- Joshua Tree: The Majestic Succulent
- Madagascar Palm: The Unique Trunked Succulent
- Mother of Millions: The Abundant Succulent
- Ocotillo: The Torch-Like Cactus
- Organ-Pipe Cactus: The Grand Desert Beauty
- Queen of the Night: The Elusive Bloomer
- Saguaro: The Iconic Desert Giant
- Snake Plant: The Hardy Indoor Delight
- Spineless Yucca: The Versatile Succulent Tree
- Sticks on Fire: The Vibrant Coral Succulent
African Milk Tree: The Towering Succulent
The African Milk Tree, also known as the Good Luck Cactus, is a remarkable plant for those who desire height without the long wait. Although it’s not a true cactus, this succulent features smooth triangular stems adorned with thorns and small pear-shaped leaves. In warmer climates, it can thrive outdoors, but it’s not tolerant of temperatures below 50°F. Keep in mind that the African Milk Tree is toxic to humans and animals, so exercise caution around children and pets. For a particularly enchanting variety, opt for the Royal Red cultivar, which displays stunning red leaves in the fall.
Candelabra Spurge: The Marbled Wonder
Candelabra Spurge is a fast-growing succulent that adds a touch of elegance to any garden. Its marbled creamy yellow stems are a sight to behold, and the branches grow in an upward fashion, resembling a candelabra. Although it can be planted in the ground, the Candelabra Spurge thrives as a houseplant or in containers that can be moved indoors during colder months. This succulent appreciates warm weather, abundant light, and low humidity. Remember to avoid direct contact with the sap, as it can cause skin irritation and is toxic if ingested.
Desert Rose: The Blooming Beauty
Desert Rose is a delightful succulent known for its easy care and stunning summer blooms. This perennial plant rewards its owner with an abundance of hot pink, red, or white flowers, provided it receives enough sunlight and moderate watering. During the winter, it sheds its leaves and flowers, requiring protection from harsh afternoon sun. Desert Rose prefers slightly moist soil in the spring and summer but can withstand reduced watering in the fall and winter.
Elephant Bush: The Small-Leaved Charmer
Native to Africa, Elephant Bush is a bushy succulent that serves as a food source for elephants in its natural habitat. It features woody stems and small, bright green, teardrop-shaped leaves. While it can grow up to 20 feet tall in the wild, it remains a manageable 4 feet when kept as a container plant. Elephant Bush goes dormant in winter and produces tiny pink flowers in spring. This succulent thrives in bright but indirect sunlight, as direct sun exposure may cause leaf drop.
Eve’s Needle: The Intriguing Cactus Relative
Eve’s Needle offers a distinct visual appeal with its dark green cylindrical stems, long fleshy leaves, and sharp spines. This succulent is commonly used as a vegetable in its native regions of Mexico and South America. While it rarely blooms in captivity, its red, cup-shaped flowers can reach up to 3 inches in diameter. Edible fruit follows the blooms, although it can be challenging to consume due to its numerous seeds.
Fox Tail Agave: The Striking Agave Variety
Fox Tail Agave stands out with its pale green, silvery-tinted rosette of fleshy, pointed leaves. Its flower stalk is particularly eye-catching, resembling a fox tail. This agave variety is not commonly used for alcohol production, but its core can yield a sweet syrup with a low glycemic index. Fox Tail Agave thrives in sunny spots and requires minimal watering to thrive.
Jade Plant: The Fortune-Bearing Tree
Jade Plant, also known as Crassula Ovata, is a slow-growing succulent that brings good fortune and wealth. While it typically reaches a height of 4 to 5 feet, it can grow taller under ideal conditions. Jade plants feature woody stems and oval-shaped green leaves, giving them the appearance of miniature trees. With the right conditions, they produce beautiful white flowers indoors during winter.
Joshua Tree: The Majestic Succulent
Joshua Trees are treelike succulents named after the biblical figure Joshua. Their thick trunks give rise to spikey clusters of leaves, with each trunk reaching a height of approximately 3 feet. In their native Mojave Desert, they can grow as tall as 30 to 70 feet, but they remain more manageable when cultivated in containers. These trees go dormant in winter and produce clusters of white flowers in spring. Joshua Trees are also a valuable food source for various animals and can live for up to 150 years.
Madagascar Palm: The Unique Trunked Succulent
Madagascar Palm, contrary to its name, is not a palm tree but a succulent. It boasts a thick, cylindrical trunk that stores water, enabling it to survive in arid conditions. With its spiky appearance, this plant adds a fun and funky touch to any garden, but it should be placed away from high-traffic areas due to its sharp spines. Madagascar Palm reaches its maximum height of 15 feet when planted in the ground, and it produces pure white flowers in summer.
Mother of Millions: The Abundant Succulent
Mother of Millions, also known as Devil’s Backbone, is a succulent that features tall stems with long serrated green leaves speckled with deep purple. It produces an abundance of tiny plantlets along the edges of its leaves. While Mother of Millions can become invasive when planted in the ground, it thrives as a houseplant. At certain times of the year, this kalanchoe species sends up tall stalks with clusters of coral-colored bell-shaped flowers, attracting hummingbirds.
Ocotillo: The Torch-Like Cactus
Ocotillo is a cactus known for its long, thin, tall stems, which sprout leaves during periods of rainfall. Its red buds resemble little torches, providing nourishment for hummingbirds. Ocotillo thrives in sunny areas, making it an ideal living fence in climates not prone to freezing temperatures. It adapts well to different soil conditions and altitudes, and its average lifespan is around 60 years.
Organ-Pipe Cactus: The Grand Desert Beauty
Organ-Pipe Cactus is a slow-growing succulent that offers a grand presence with its huge stature. This cactus, found in the Sonoran Desert, blooms with large white flowers in May. The flowers open at night and are mainly pollinated by long-nosed bats. The Organ-Pipe Cactus can survive mild frost but is easily damaged by severe cold. It has a long lifespan, reaching up to 150 years.
Queen of the Night: The Elusive Bloomer
The Queen of the Night cactus is a captivating plant known for its unique blooming habit. This tubular cactus produces large, fragrant white flowers that bloom for only one night each year. It prefers bright but indirect sunlight and should not be allowed to dry out completely between waterings.
Saguaro: The Iconic Desert Giant
A true icon of the desert, the Saguaro cactus can grow up to 40 feet tall in its natural habitat. As a succulent, it stores water and requires ample sunlight to thrive. Saguaro cacti are slow growers, with large specimens indicating years of careful cultivation. In late spring, these impressive succulents produce clusters of large white flowers that open at night, attracting a variety of nocturnal pollinators.
Snake Plant: The Hardy Indoor Delight
The Snake Plant, also known as Sansevieria trifasciata, is a popular houseplant due to its adaptability and low maintenance needs. With its erect, fleshy sword-shaped leaves adorned with light green stripes, this succulent can tolerate various light conditions and infrequent watering. It occasionally blooms with delicate white flowers, resembling honeysuckle, but flowering is rare when kept indoors.
Spineless Yucca: The Versatile Succulent Tree
Spineless Yucca is an adaptable succulent tree that thrives both indoors and outdoors, provided it is protected from freezing temperatures. As its name suggests, it lacks the spines common to most yucca varieties. Spineless Yucca grows up to 5 feet tall indoors and can reach heights of up to 30 feet when planted in the ground. During summer, it produces bell-shaped white flowers on stalks.
Sticks on Fire: The Vibrant Coral Succulent
Sticks on Fire is a vibrant succulent shrub that catches the eye with its slender coral-colored branches. It adds a splash of color to any garden, transitioning from vivid coral to yellow during summer and deepening to red when the weather cools. Resilient and pest-resistant, this plant produces small yellow flowers and should be kept away from children and animals due to its toxic nature.
Tall succulent plants bring an air of beauty and uniqueness to any garden or indoor space. From the towering African Milk Tree to the vibrant Sticks on Fire, these succulents offer an array of captivating features. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a succulent enthusiast, these exceptional plants are sure to add charm and elegance to your garden landscape. Explore the world of tall succulents and cultivate a garden that stands out with its stunning variety and natural beauty.
For more information on succulent gardening and to explore a wide range of plants and products, visit Ames Farm Center.