The stonecrop family, Crasulaceae, comprises fleshy, succulent, easy-to-grow plants, typically found growing in rocky outcrops or other environments where water is scarce. Like cacti, they store water in their leaves, which they use in times of drought. There are 35 genera and around 1500 species worldwide. Many are well-known garden plants including Aeonium, Crassula, Echeveria, Kalanchoe, Sedum and Sempervivum. Flowers are bisexual.
More on growing succulents:
Browse plants in the Crassulaceae family, below.
Tree houseleek, Aeonium, is a genus of tender, succulent plants largely native to the Canary Islands. They form a perfect rosette of spoon-shaped leaves on long, corky stems. The cultivar ‘Zwartkop’ is particularly attractive, as its fresh green leaves turn almost black in summer. While they grow well outdoors in the growing season, they need moving indoors for winter.
Echeveria is a genus of drought-tolerant plants, native to Central America, Mexico and South America. There are many species, some of which are grown in temperate regions as houseplants. They have fleshy, succulent leaves that come in a range of colours and shapes. They’re incredibly easy to grow and, like many genera in the Crassulaceae family, you can propagate new plants from a single leaf.
Crassula is a diverse genus of succulent plants, with fleshy leaves coming in a number of shapes and sizes. A few species, such as Crassula x rupestris f. marnieriana ‘Hottentot’, pictured, have a trailing habit. Most species are tender and are therefore best suited to growing indoors, although some can be grown outside in summer.
There are over 100 species in the Kalanchoe genus, comprising tropical, succulent plants native to Madagascar and tropical regions of Africa. One of the most commonly grown kalanchoes is flaming Katy, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, which has broad, fleshy leaves and bright red flowers.
Houseleeks, Sempervivum, form rosettes of succulent, spoon-shaped leaves, from which tall stems of monocarpic flowers appear in summer. Each rosette comprises a single plant, which dies after flowering but produces offsets, which can be separated and planted up.
Pachyphytum is a small genus of plants with particularly thick, fleshy leaves (‘pachys’, means ‘thick’), that come in a range of different colours. Some species, such as Pachyphytum bracteosum, are suited to growing in gravel gardens in a sunny, sheltered site, while others are grown as houseplants.
Sedum is a large genus of succulent plants, or stonecrops, many of which are native to the Northern hemisphere and are hardy. Some species have recently been moved into the genus Hylotelephium. Sedum ‘Blue Carpet’ bears blue-green foliage with white-pink flowers in summer. It’s perfect for growing in dry situations and rock gardens.