Succulent plants have adapted to suit dry, arid and sunny climates by developing fleshy leaves, stems or other structures, which store water.
They need to be grown in bright light in very well-drained soil, as the roots are prone to rotting if wet for too long. Succulents should never be left to stand in trays or pots of water, and shouldn’t be watered if the soil is already damp – let it dry out between waterings instead.
Discover how to plant up an alpine succulents pan, with plants like sempervivums and sedums.
For full growing advice check out our succulents grow guide.
Find out more about some of the best succulents to grow, below.
If you’re looking for something really unusual, go for a succulent like Haworthia truncata. Its succulent leaves look like large green teeth, with translucent ends that let sunlight in, aiding photosynthesis. Similar succulents to grow include Lithops and Fenestraria species.
Pilea peperomioides has become something of a phenomenon in the houseplant world. Initially it was quite tricky to come by, passing between gardeners via cuttings, but it’s now becoming more widely available. They’re endlessly producing offsets that you can grow on and give away as gifts.
Commonly known as the Mexican snowball, Echeveria elegans is one of the many fantastic echeverias you can grow. It has pale, green-blue foliage and will gradually spread to produce a colony of rosettes.
There’s such a diversity of sempervivums to grow that its tricky to pick just one. They’re easy plants to grow and it’s fun to mix and match them in pots and containers. Check out this expert advice on growing sempervivums.
There are lots of garden-worthy agaves to grow, but Agave americana is one of the largest and most impressive. If you have the space it can be grown indoors, but an outdoor spot will allow it more room to grow. Grow in a large container, or in the ground in very well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Protect it from excess winter wet.
Sedum dasyphyllum is ideal if you’re looking for a plant to grow as ground cover in a hot sunny, spot. The species is reputedly hardy down to -12°C, so you can shouldn’t need to protect it in winter. You could you also try growing this fast-growing species on green roofs or in the crevices of walls.
Crassula ‘Gollum’ is a popular cultivar of the jade tree, Crassula ovata, with tubular leaves, though they aren’t actually hollow. Easy to grow and less demanding of bright light, so can be grown in a bit more shade. Not to be confused with Crassula ‘Hobbit’ – another cultivar of Crassula ovata that has larger leaves with a less tubular appearance.
There are lots of aloes you can grow indoors as houseplants, like Aloe vera and Aloe rauhii, but Aloe aristata is the one of the hardier species, so is better suited to growing outdoors. It’ll quickly produce offsets, and in autumn produces tall flowering stems with coral orange blooms.
Graptopetalum pentandrum subsp. superbum
Unlike many other succulents, Graptopetalum pentandrum subsp. superbum can be grown for its stunning panicles of flowers, just as much as the frosted purple foliage. Hardy to -3°C, so could be grown outside all year in warmer regions. Some graptopetalums have been crossed with echeverias to produce beautiful hybrids, known as graptoverias.
Sedum morganianum ‘Burrito’ can often be spotted growing in Mediterranean countries, where it’s popularly grown in pots and planters to trail over the edges. In cooler climes it makes a stunning houseplant for growing in hanging pots. Handle it with care as the leaves are easily knocked off.
This lovely succulent has reduced, fleshy leaves that give the stems a columnar appearance, almost like lots of stones stacked on top of each other. As the stems get longer, they gracefully tumble over – an effect that looks especially good in a hanging container. ‘Hottentot’ also produces clusters of ivory coloured flowers.
Each ‘bead’ of the string-of-beads plant (Senecio rowleyanus) is actually a succulent, modified leaf. All this low-maintenance houseplant requires is a bright, ideally in a hanging container where the dangling stems can be fully appreciated.
Planting your succulents
If planting succulents in containers, go for unglazed terracotta pots with plenty of drainage holes in the bottom and add grit to the compost. Terracotta pots will warm up quickly in the sun, which your succulents will enjoy. Most succulents have fibrous roots so can be planted in fairly shallow pots. Don’t overpot plants – they can cope in quite small containers.