Succulent Plant Info: Learn About Types Of Succulents And How They Grow
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Succulents are a group of plants with some of the most diverse forms, colors and blooms. These easy to care for indoor and outdoor specimens are a dream for the busy gardener. What is a succulent plant? Succulents are specialized plants that store water in their leaves and/or stems. They are remarkably adapted to harsh climates where water is scarce or comes sporadically. Merriam Webster defines a succulent as “full of juice” or “juicy.” Read on for some fun succulent plant info so you can get started collecting the myriad of varieties available in this special class of plant.
What is a Succulent?
Oddly, some botanists and horticultural experts differ on which plants are technically succulents. Their appearance differs from species to species, but one common characteristic is swollen leaves, pads or stems. The exact classification of a certain plant will have to go to the experts, but whatever the case, all types of succulents or those that appear to be succulents are pleasing to the eye, minimal regarding care and produce delightful little surprises during their life cycle.
Again, referring to the dictionary, a succulent plant has thick stems or leaves that store water. This unique adaptation allows the plant to survive in low moisture regions of the world. Succulents are often thought to be native only to arid regions, such as deserts, but they also belong in forest settings, high alpine regions, coasts and dry tropical areas. There are over 50 families that are classed as succulents. There are both xerophytic succulents that thrive in dry areas and halophytic types which live in boggy saline soil. The xerophytic succulents are the best known form and are widely available as house or garden plants.
Succulent Plant Info
While most types of succulents require warm temperatures, moderately dry, well-draining soil and sunlight, some can withstand cooler or even downright cold temperatures. These hardy succulents are able to withstand brief freezes and fend off frost damage. Occasionally, cold snaps will force a plant into dormancy, but well established hardy types will spring back when warm weather returns. It is important to know if your succulent is a tropical or hardy variety in instances where it is planted outdoors.
One of the main succulent plant characteristics is thick, fleshy leaves or pads but there are also non-succulent leaved varieties. This is why botanists and other experts disagree on some plant’s classification. The succulent vs. cactus question is often debated even among professional growers. This is because cacti produce the fleshy leaves but lack other characteristics familiar to the family. In actuality, a cactus is indeed a succulent due to the trait of harnessing and storing water shared by all species in the group. That said, a succulent is not considered a cactus.
Succulent Plant Types
If swollen leaves and stems are the main succulent plant characteristics visible, there are also other qualities which delineate the group. Shallow roots are one adaptation shared among the succulents. A few varieties have deeper tap roots but the majority has wide, surface root zones that allow maximum moisture capture when infrequent rains occur.
Some of the succulent plant types commonly available are:
- Various euphorbias
- Some types of orchids
It is important to note their hardiness range, but many of these can thrive in the garden. Smaller succulents make varied and fascinating container displays for the indoors. Almost all species need at least 8 hours of light, warm daytime temperatures, consistent water during the growing season and well-drained soil.
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Read more about General Cactus Care
Cactus or Succulent? 5 Succulents That Look Like Cactus
Are succulents and cactus the same? It is generally assumed that all cacti are succulents. That is also true, but the inverse conclusion that all succulents are cacti is not true. Let’s address the differences between cactus and succulent in today’s post. I will also show some examples of succulents that look like cactus.
1. Mexican Hens and Chicks, Echeveria Lola
Mexican Hens & Chicks – Echeveria Lola
This elegant Echeveria Lola is responsible for bringing many succulent enthusiasts into the fold. The delicate aquamarine color, powdery patina, and curvaceous leaves all add together to equal a champion succulent.
This Echeveria, like all others, earned its common name of “hens and chicks” because of its unique method of self-propagation. A healthy plant will grow a multitude of baby plantlets around its bottom edge which resemble chicks peeking out from under a mother hen.
All Cacti Have Areoles
Because cacti are genetically related, they all share one defining characteristic—areoles. Areoles are round, white bumps on the bodies of cacti that look like cotton balls. Their main purpose is to fend off critters who like to eat cacti for their water content, which is why you’ll often see spines and prickles growing from them.
Sometimes flowers sprout from areoles as well.
Any plant that doesn’t have areoles is only a succulent, so look for these small, white bumps when you’re trying to tell the difference between these two plants.
[C] Types of Succulents with Pictures
Callisia is a genus of flowering plants in the spiderwort family, Commelinaceae. Members of the genus are commonly known as roselings. It is native to the Western Hemisphere from the southern United States to Argentina. The generic name is derived from the Greek word καλλον, meaning “beauty.”
Examples of Callisia succulents:
- Callisia micrantha
- Callisia navicularis ‘Chain Plant’
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- Callisia repens ‘Turtle Vine’
- Callisia gentlei var. elegans
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Carruanthus is a genus of flowering plants from the ice plant family Aizoaceae.
Examples of Carruanthus succulents:
Cephalophyllum is a genus of flowering plants from the ice plant family Aizoaceae.
Examples of Cephalophyllum succulents:
- Cephalophyllum diversiphyllum
- Cephalophyllum ebracteatum
- Cephalophyllum pillansii
- Cephalophyllum tricolorum
Ceropegia is a genus of plants within the family Apocynaceae, native to Africa, southern Asia, and Australia. They have many common names including lantern flower, parasol flower, parachute flower, bushman’s pipe, string of hearts, snake creeper, wine-glass vine, rosary vine, and necklace vine.
Examples of Ceropegia succulents:
- Ceropegia hayghartii
- Ceropegia occulta
- Ceropegia rendallii
- Ceropegia woodii
Cheiridopsis is a genus that consists of 100 species of flowering succulent perennial plants, native to semi-arid regions in the far west of Namibia and South Africa.
Examples of Cheiridopsis succulents:
Conophytum is a genus of South African and Namibian succulent plants that belong to the family Aizoaceae. The name is derived from the Latin conus and Greek phytum. The plants are also known as knopies, waterblasies, sphaeroids, conos, cone plants, dumplings, or button plants.
Examples of Conophytum succulents:
- Conophytum calculus
- Conophytum corniferum
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- Conophytum flavum
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- Conophytum friedrichiae triebneri
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Corpuscularia is a small genus of succulent plants in the ice plant family Aizoaceae, from the coastal belt of the southern Cape, South Africa.
Examples of Corpuscularia succulents:
Cotyledon is a genus of succulent plants in the Crassulaceae family. Mostly from Southern Africa, they also occur throughout the drier parts of Africa as far north as the Arabian peninsula. Members of the genus are shrublets, generally succulent, with fleshily woody, brittle stems and persistent succulent leaves.
Examples of Cotyledon succulents:
Crassula is a genus of succulent plants containing about 200 accepted species, including the popular jade plant (Crassula ovata). They are members of the stonecrop (Crassulaceae) family and are native to many parts of the globe, but cultivated varieties originate almost exclusively from species from the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Examples of Crassula Succulents:
× Cremnosedum is a hybrid genus produced from crosses involving the genera Cremnophila and Sedum.
Example of x Cremnosedum succulent:
29 Types of Succulent Plants for Your Terrarium, Indoor Decor, or Cactus Garden
Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.
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Are you familiar with one of the latest trends in home décor and flower arrangements? You may not guess it because it’s incorporating plants known as succulents.
These unique plants are an excellent choice for use as a centerpiece, as a houseplant, or even to be incorporated in your edging and container gardens.
They do well in dryer climates, require only minimal watering, and can take higher temperatures as well. There are many varieties of succulents, and I’m going to share a few favorites with you.
If you are ready to create your own terrarium or succulent garden, then here are your different options for choosing the succulent which will best fit you and your decorative needs:
1. Burro’s Tail
You guessed it. This plant gets its name because it looks similar to the tail of a burro. It can grow to be approximately 4-inches in length and is a type of cacti.
Beyond its unique appearance, this is a great choice for a succulent plant because it propagates easily and is low-maintenance as well. If you need a no-fuss houseplant, this could be what you need.
2. Crown of Thorns
Don’t let the name of this succulent scare you away. It’s a wonderful indoor plant because of its unique ability to adapt to typical indoor climates and temperatures quickly.
However, you should grow this plant on a windowsill whenever possible. It needs around 3-4 hours of sunlight daily. Don’t overdo it on the watering either. This plant should only have water added to the soil when it’s quite dry.
3. Flaming Katy
If you keep your home between 60-85°F, this could be another great indoor option for a succulent in your home. This plant doesn’t handle cold well at all. For this reason, it does best indoors in most climates.
It’s a good idea to grow this plant on a windowsill too because it needs approximately 8-10 hours of sunlight per day. This succulent will flower, and the more sunlight it receives, the more blooms you should see.
4. Jade Plant
The Jade Plant is a unique succulent. It looks like a miniature tree at first glance. The Jade plant has a thick trunk growing in its center. From there, branches sprawl out off of the trunk which gives it the appearance of a tree.
However, know its unique characteristics stop there. If you raise this variety in the proper setting, it’ll produce pink and white star-shaped flowers.
5. Aloe Vera
The Aloe Vera should be a familiar plant to many people. We typically see images of it on store shelves on the skincare aisle. Aloe Vera has fantastic healing properties that work wonders on burned or irritated skin.
However, this plant has a unique appearance because of its thick and pointy leaves. However, if you like to keep a plant on hand which can offer natural healing, this could be a great succulent to incorporate into your life.
6. Panda Plant
Do you love Pandas and their adorable appearance? I’m on board with you because they’re amazing creatures. This plant is named after a Panda because of the distinct markings on the tips of the leaves.
Also, this succulent is covered with fur as well. The Panda plant has a small stature which makes it a good choice if you need to squeeze a plant into a smaller location or even a planter. It can fit practically anywhere.
7. Pincushion Cactus
I love when people grow this style of cactus because it brings back memories of my great grandmother. She grew a Pincushion Cactus in her bathroom window for years. It was unique and a special memory I only incorporate with her.
If you’re looking for a pointy cactus that will only grow to be around 6-inches or less, this could be your plant. It also produces pretty, colorful blooms on it as well. If I noticed it as a small child, you know this plant can draw the eye.
The Roseum is a unique plant you’ll have to consider. It only grows to be approximately 6-inches in height. Because of its small stature, it’s an excellent choice for a container garden or for growing indoors on a windowsill.
Keep in mind, this plant prefers partial shade and can be eye-catching too. It produces star-shaped flowers which are a vibrant pink color.
9. Snake Plant
If the name of this plant doesn’t draw your attention, no worries, the plant itself will certainly do the job. It is a plant perfect for growing indoors. It has qualities that allow the plant to purify the air in your home, naturally.
However, the best part about this plant is how low-maintenance it is. If you have a room with poor lighting, this plant can thrive there, and it can survive for more extended periods of time with no water. To those who are famous for neglecting their houseplant, this plant is the one for you!
10. Zebra Plant
The Zebra plant is another succulent option which tells you how it was given its name after one look at it. This plant has stripes all over it which quickly remind you of a zebra. If you’re looking for a small succulent to grow indoors, this plant is for you.
It only grows to be about 5-6-inches tall. Keep in mind you should grow this plant in a small planter because it has shallow roots. However, once you get the plant settled in, be prepared to be amazed. It produces dazzling yellow flowers.
11. Hens and Chicks
Years ago, before I began gardening, my mother-in-law gave me one of these plants. She had been growing it and had propagated it. At the time, I was confused because I hadn’t seen a plant quite like this one.
Now, I’m intrigued. These plants are incredibly low-maintenance and propagate exceptionally easily. The Hen is the original plant, but they produce other plants quickly, referred to as the chicks. If this isn’t fascinating enough to make you want to grow this succulent yourself, they also produce pretty red flowers when properly cared for.
12. Stone Crop
There are two different varieties of this succulent. The first is a tall sedum, and it grows to be 1-3-feet tall. The other variation is known as creeping sedum. This should be grown on the ground as it likes to sprawl out.
Either way, they come in a variety of colors. You can choose between green, pink, silver, and blue. It’s a great way to add a splash of color to your home with little to no fuss.
13. Whale’s Tongue Agave
This plant is a unique option. It produces large, flat green leaves which is where the plant gets its name. They look like a whale’s tongue.
However, the plant itself only grows to be about 2-5-feet in height, but it gets to be about 3-6-feet wide. It’s important to water this succulent regularly to encourage it to produce spikes that reach 10-14-feet in height. At the end of the spikes are gorgeous flowers.
14. Ball Cactus
This succulent is another one that is obvious where its name derived from. It’s a round cactus which looks exactly like a ball… only with spikes. The plant will grow to be only 1-2-feet high.
If you’re looking for a unique succulent to add to a container garden, this is a wonderful option. It also produces flowers in clusters which will add to its glamour.
15. Plush Plant
This succulent is one that prefers partial shade. You can plant it outdoors or incorporate it into your container garden.
However, it’s an attractive plant because of the gorgeous yellowish blooms it produces. If you need an eye-catching succulent to finish the look of your home décor, this could be it.
Dudleya isn’t your average succulent. If you’re someone who commonly kills houseplants, consider this plant because it will amaze you. It has over 40 different varieties to choose from.
However, this plant can live to be 100 years old when cared for properly. Clearly, it has a desire to thrive. Remember when watering, though, it doesn’t like to have its leaves get wet. You should only water it from the bottom.
17. Pig’s Ear
We have yet another succulent choice which is named from what the plant resembles. The leaves of this succulent plant look similar to pigs’ ears. It can grow to be roughly 4-feet tall.
Beyond its unique shaped leaves, this plant has one more surprise up its sleeve. When the colder months set in, this succulent will sprout red or yellow flowers at the end of its stem.
Don’t let the name of this one scare you off. If you can’t pronounce it, stick with its other name. It’s called ‘the black rose.’ The reason being is it looks almost identical to a large black rose.
This plant prefers full sun and does well grown outdoors. It also produces yellow flowers during the winter months.
The Sunburst produces yellow flowers that grow in a circle around the center of the plant. It looks like a burst of the sun when you’re gazing at it.
The Sunburst plant also produces rosettes. They’ll bloom white flowers over the summer months to give it an even more interesting look.
20. Torch Plant
This plant is related to the aloe vera plant which is why they look similar. However, this plant doesn’t have the medicinal properties of the aloe vera plant.
However, it does have green leaves that get darker in the sun. The plant produces orange blossoms in the summer months at the end of its long stems. These blooms cause the plant to look like a glowing torch.
21. Common Glasswort
This variety of succulent is quite unique. It’s known as ‘Poor Man’s Asparagus.’ If you didn’t already piece it together, it not only looks like a vegetable, but this is also an edible version of a succulent.
However, it’s said this plant should be pickled before eating to enjoy it at its best flavor. Try it and see what your thoughts are.
22. Sweetheart Hoya
This is another unique choice for a succulent. Would you imagine it produces leaves that are almost perfectly heart-shaped?
For this reason, many refer to it as the Valentine plant. It would make a unique and gorgeous Valentine’s Day gift.
23. Agave Azul
This agave plant looks similar to the Whale’s Tongue Agave, but it has smaller leaves. Every time I hear the name of this plant my mind immediately goes to our local Mexican restaurant.
It has some of the best food around, and the sign on the door has this plant on it. Any guess as to why? Well, if you knew this plant is the key ingredient in tequila it all adds up. If you’re into making your own tequila, this succulent could be a great option.
24. Ponytail Palm
Are you looking for a unique succulent variety? We’ve shared a great deal of them with you up to this point, but this one is in a category all of its own.
It resembles a small palm tree. This plant has a solid trunk and wild leaves which resemble the leaves of a palm tree.
25. Wooly Senecio
This plant is covered in lots of fine hairs which gives it a ‘wooly’ appearance. It’s also known as a raccoon plant for similar reasons.
However, once you get past the fuzzy hairs all over the plant, you’ll be glad to know it also produces pretty yellow blooms.
26. Christmas Cactus
My mom and grandmother have kept a Christmas cactus in their homes for as long as I can remember. This succulent variety is also known as a Thanksgiving cactus. Unless they get confused (which has been known to happen over the years I’ve watched them bloom,) they usually bloom around the holidays.
The blooms resemble those of a lobster’s claw when in the process of blooming. However, they are gorgeous and can bloom in a variety of colors. It’s the splash of color we all desire during the winter months.
27. White Velvet
You guessed it. This plant is known as white velvet because it’s covered in white hair. You could choose to look at this in two ways.
First, you could look at the white hairs and ponder the idea of it looking like a spider has been all over the plant, or you could take the more artistic approach and see the beauty of the plant and how it seems as though it’s covered in white velvet. Entirely up to you, and your take on the situation.
28. Black Prince
This plant looks similar to the black rose succulent mentioned above. The key difference is the black prince has pointier leaves.
However, it’s a gorgeous plant as it produces dark burgundy colored leaves and rosettes. If you want a unique succulent which will draw some attention, this is it.
29. Sticks on Fire
There’s no delicate way to put this. This variety of succulent looks like a group of sticks that are on fire because they’re orange in color.
However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll know this plant is unique beyond its looks. It’s known as a hydrocarbon plant. Therefore, it has a substance inside of it which is poisonous. Don’t let this deter you though. This substance can be used to make a substance similar to gasoline. Pretty neat, huh?
Well, you now have 29 different varieties of succulents to choose from. Some do better outdoors and some better indoors.
Either way, no matter what you’re planning on doing with your succulent, this list should point you in the right direction. Hopefully, you’ll find the perfect plant to bring your vision to life.
To create a watering schedule you can adhere to, place sticky notes on your pots that outline when your plant needs water next (and note how much to add). This method is helpful, especially since understanding when to water is where most succulent owners fall short. "With a porous mix, it may be hard to tell if the soil is dry or not," Roethling explains. "I tell folks to stick their fingers in. If it feels cool or moist, watering can wait another day or two." For her succulents in her central own North Carolina home, that system usually results in two three waterings a week. How often your plants need H2O will depend on your specific environment.