Types Of Succulents [PICTURES Included] Easy Grow, Drought Tolerant

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To the connoisseur of beautiful plants, there are many types of succulents.

This large group of low-maintenance, easily grown, drought-tolerant floral gems produces marvelous color in both foliage and flower.

Types of succulents growing in a small succulent gardenPin

The casual observer often misses and may not even see the brilliant, subtle, delicate tones of the many different succulents.

What Is A Succulent Plant?

The term “succulent” is often confusing, even to experienced gardeners.

From the Latin origin meaning “juice,” but in the horticultural world, common succulent types are described as a plant with thick, fleshy leaves and refers to many kinds besides cacti.

Plants that store water and are drought-tolerant resistant are generally included in this classification of “succulents.” Usually, these different kinds of succulents are low-maintenance as well.

For example:

… could all be considered “succulent type plants.”

The common types of succulents described in this article are not cacti because none of them have the primary characteristics of the cactus family, which are:

  • Generally no leaves
  • Numerous spines in clusters
  • Numerous stamens on flowers show little difference between the petals and sepals

The rosette-shaped succulent plant types you will see are:

  • Sempervivum, hardy, star-like flowers, opening flat
  • Echeveria, tender flowers never wide open
  • Haworthia, tender, with translucent windows on the ends of the leaves
  • Mesembryanthemum, very juicy leaves, and many petalled flowers
  • Aeonium, rosettes on stems (Sempervivums are flat on the soil)
different types of succulents available at local garden centerPin

Look At The Flowers For The Succulent Type!

The flowers give clues to the genus of the type and kinds of succulents you are looking at.

  • The Kalanchoe is generally a four-petalled succulent
  • Agave, Aloe, or Haworthia have six petals in their flowers
  • Other succulents mainly have multiples of 5 petals
  • Star-like flowers less than ¾” inch in diameter, think Sedum
  • Succulents having 5 petals and 10 stamens equals a Crassula
  • Aeonium have 5 petals and also 5 stamens
  • While the Sempervivum has more than five petals and stamens

Check out the PlantCareToday list of Low Light Succulent Plants

Different Types Of Succulents To Grow – Common Succulent Plants

Crassula Plants

potted jade growing as a houseplantPin

One can easily confuse Crassulas with Sedums. However, Crassula plants have five petals and stamens. Sedums have five petals but 10 stamens.

Most people recognize the jade plant Crassula argentea (also known as Crassula ovata), from South Africa.

Most types of jade have oval, thick, juicy leaves, and the Crassula is a popular garden and houseplant plant.

In warm locations, the jade takes on tree-like proportions. In December, masses of pale pink flowers covered the Jade tree.

Another plant, Crassula lactea from South Africa, also makes a good potted plant.

  • Compact clusters of white flowers
  • Thick leaves with hemstitched edges
  • Series of white dots along the margins

The Watch Chain succulent – Crassula muscosa – is a small, slim green shrub with zipper-like stems. Easy beginner plants for kids or adults.

Crassula coccinea (red crassula) – summer red blooming succulent, easy to grow outdoors or indoors on a bright windowsill.

Crassula Perforata (String of Buttons) – gray-green triangular long trailing unbranched stems, succulent becoming harder with age.

Check out the jade look-a-like – Elephant Bush: Growing and Care Of Portulacaria Afra

Aloe Plants

Aloe potted in terra cotta container used for design on an outdoor patioPin

Bailey calls attention to the Latin pronunciation [a-lo-ee’] and to English [al’o].

Mention the word “Aloe,” and one thinks immediately of the common succulents of the Aloe vera plant family.

However, there are over 500 Aloe species. They do not originate in central Mexico but across Africa and the Middle East.

  • Bright scarlet, tubular cylindrical flowers
  • Many plants are spiny with margined rosettes.
  • Prominently featured in cultivated Southern California landscape and across the Mediterranean region.

Try growing Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe) with narrow, watery, prickly margined leaves as a potted plant.

Another is the attractive Aloe polyphylla known as the Spiral Aloe.

Haworthia Types (includes so-called Window-Plants)

Haworthia potted in terra cotta bowl with stones on topPin

One group of the Haworthia species has juicy leaves and displays translucent areas at the tip. For example, Haworthia retusa (star cactus) and Haworthia truncata.

Another group of Haworthia plant species has:

Long pointed leaves, generally banded white with white raised dots, called Zebra plant – aka Haworthia margaritifera and Haworthia fasciata.

  • Off-white flowers are not very showy.
  • Flowers have six perianth segments.

In their native habitat, plants become covered with sand. The little windows in the leaves allow light into the center of the leaves.

Echeveria Plants

potted Echeveria on tablePin

Echeveria plants come in a wide variety of different colors and sizes of leaves. Flower colors run from the palest white to fire engine red.

These pretty plants have the following:

  • Compact rosettes make them easy to recognize
  • Plump, fleshy attractive leaves look like succulent roses
  • Compact growth habit
  • Leaves tinged with red or pink

Drought-tolerant succulents, aka Echeverias, make excellent plants for use indoors. 

Related: More on Echeveria care.

Mesembryanthemum (Fig-marigold)

The name meaning “mid-day flower,” referring to the fact that many succulent flowers do not open until around mid-day when the sun is high.

NOTE: fig-marigold refers to any of the South African flowering succulents plants of the Aizoaceae family. 

Members include ice plants (Cryophytum crystallinum – Mesembryanthemum crystallinum), living stones (Lithops), or pebble plants and split rocks (Pleiospilos).

A clock could be made to correspond to the various succulent species, each blooming at a select time of the day.

These plants hold water and are very juicy. The usual watering schedule for houseplants will kill them with overwatering.

Most succulent types thrive on pure neglect. Botanists do not classify a majority of these plants as Mesembryanthemum but place the succulent species in several genera.

Those known as the “Tiger-Jaw” Faucaria tigrina have large hair-like teeth on the leaves. Those difficult to distinguish from the surrounding rocks are called living rocks, stone-plants – Lithops and Pleiospilos.

Some have pustules that appear like crystals on the dark green leaves, like on the common annual ice plant, Cryophytum.

Perhaps it is only the appearance of being dew-sprinkled, known as Dewplants, Drosanthemum.

Don’t forget the unbelievable baby-toes, Fenestraria. These look like clusters of small cylinders with a window-like membrane at the top.

Most bear flowers with numerous hair-like petals and numerous stamens.

Predominants are golden yellow flowers, but you’ll find some white, others with brilliant crimsons, oranges, and roses only seen in the world of nature.

Stapelia (aka Carrion-Flower, Starfish Plant)

carrion flower - Stapelia giant starfish cactus flowerPin

The Starfish plant is a group of strange African plants lacking the usual leaves; the green branches, often four-angled, function as leaves.

The large star flowers generally smell extremely unpleasant and are often marked with bars of darkest red, maroon, and often with many fine white hairs.

The most common is Stapelia variegata (also known as Orbea variegata). The plant markings vary greatly on the 2″ – 3″ flowers. Stapelia gigantea, however, produces flowers up to 10″ inches across.

Flies lay eggs in these giant flowers mistaking them for spoiled meat. When the eggs hatch, the larvae die for lack of food.

Sempervivum (House-Leeks)

Sempervivum planted in decorative containersPin

The pointed leaves on lovely rosettes form comfortable colonies with often rosy, purple, or gray-tinted foliage.

Houseleeks seem better adapted to cool temperatures, even freezing weather. Sempervivums are commonly sold in California and across the United States.

It can be used as eye-catching accents in dish gardens, terrariums, or outdoor landscapes in temperate climates.

The common hen-and-chickens is Sempervivum tectorum. The plant grows on thatched roofs in England, hence the name house-leek. The species’ name “tectorum,” which means roof.

Particularly interesting is the cobweb houseleek, Sempervivum arachnoideum.

The plant produces small rosettes less than an inch in diameter and is covered with cobweb-like hairs which connect the leaves.

For more, read our article on Hen & Chicks and Sempervivum Care

Aeonium Plants

Aeonium succulents – These Canary Island natives, along with adjacent areas, share the largest of the rosette-type succulents.

Southern California makes the perfect home where plants like Aeonium cyclops can reach several feet tall. They reward us with giant flower clusters over 3′ feet tall.

The flowers are primarily yellow, white, or flushed pink. They appear like Sempervivums and Sedums, but the rosettes stand above the soil on defined branches.

Related: Aeonium Plant Care: How To Grow The Succulent Aeonium

Sedum (Stonecrop)

burro's tail plant in hanging basketPin

Many species of Sedum succulent types are well-known for their masses of tiny or large foliage and the profusion of yellow, pink, or white succulent flowers.

NOTE: Some Sedum species have been moved to the Hylotelephium genus.

For growing in containers, Sedum sieboldi (Hylotelephium sieboldi) makes a beautiful Autumn display with its three-part, blue-green foliage and pink flowers.

An ideal showy, blooming edging plant for Autumn from the Stonecrop tribe is succulent varieties of Sedum spectablie (Hylotelephium spectablie).

Brilliant, with thick leaves, several inches long and wide, and masses of bright rose-colored flowers.

For the windowsill indoors, try Sedum nussbaumerianum (Coppertone Stonecrop) with leaves that are bright orange in direct sunlight.

Don’t forget Sedum Morganianum, the Burro’s Tail or donkey tail succulent plant. Long, pendulous stems perfect for hanging succulent baskets with heavy leaves resembling a donkey’s tail.

Gasteria (Ox Tongue, Lawyers-Tongue)

Leaves of the Gasteria succulentPin
  • Gasteria plant has tubular flowers but is unlike Aloes.
  • The Bulge at the base of the flower defines the name “Gasteria,” referring to the little belly.
  • Leaves variously spotted with white in bands
  • Raised dots are known as tuberculate and also spotted white
  • Leaves arise in one plane, unlike other succulents, which radiate out in several directions

The common name “lawyers tongue” is said to originate from a gardener claiming the white spots “are the lies on a lawyer’s tongue.”

Kalanchoe and Bryophyllum

Kalanchoe tomentosa - panda plant a well known varietyPin

The panda plant Kalanchoe tomentosa is among the most well-known.

Most of these plants produce new plants from the notches in their leaves, earning them the common names of:

  • Air-plant
  • Cathedral bells
  • Life plant
  • Miracle leaf
  • Flaming Katy

Kalanchoe pinnata, also known as Bryophyllum pinnatum from Madagascar displays leathery leaves and simple or with three to five divisions.

Eventually, pinnata or pinnatum displays a cluster of bell-shaped, reddish pendant flowers with a large inflated reddish calyx.

Kalanchoe pubescens (Bryophyllum pubescens, syn. Kalanchoe aliciae), a hairy leaf sort, display beautiful orange flowers veined in red.

When the flower cluster finishes blooming, it becomes a collection of young plants that drop into the soil and begin growing.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a Christmas plant with large clusters of orange, red, or scarlet flowers sitting atop green leaves.

Kalanchoe beharensis a BIG, amazing plant known as the “velvet elephant ear Kalanchoe.”

Deeply or shallowly lobed velvety leaves which are felt chocolate-brown or green, up to 18″ inches long

Agave (Century Plant)

group of Agave attenuata plantsPin

Native to the Western Hemisphere, Agave plants belong to the Agavaceae family.

“Century plant,” the common name, refers to the slow-to-bloom Agave americana. The claim that americana booming every 100 years is a myth.

In their own native habitat, it is claimed the plants will flower in 6 years. As conservatory plants blooming could take decades.

Oddly enough, the agave dies after flowering.

Related: Read our Agave Plant Care article for more details.

Other types of succulent plants to consider include:

Growing Succulents – Brief Review of Their Culture

Succulents naturally store water when they can use later during dry periods.

How often do you water succulents indoors? When grown as houseplants, succulents thrive with minimal watering when not actively growing.

The season varies depending on the variety.

I read of an individual who “grew” the Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi plant in a sunny window without soil.

He gave the cutter one full tablespoon of water whenever the plant looked ready to die. Sorry, no plant cruelty comments.

For two years, the plant got less than a tablespoon of water every two months.

However, plants still formed on the leaves, and those small plantlets grew without any issues.

Mesembryanthemums appear to be the most drought-resistant of the ones mentioned in this article.

Good drainage is essential. As a potting soil for individual pots or in a small succulent plants garden, mix in sponge rock (perlite) with a good houseplant potting mix.

If ground mealybugs attack, remove the plants from their pots, wash out the soil, and repot with new soil.

Many of these succulent plants live in nature under the partial shade of small shrubs. Therefore many enjoy bright light but not direct full sun.

The Gasteria and Haworthia prefer less bright light conditions than some others. Give Mesembryanthemums full exposure.

Aeoniums become leggy grown in the atmosphere of a home.

The leaves of Echeverias, Cotyledons, some Sedums, and Kalanchoes root easily.

Cut Gasteria leaves into several pieces and plunge the cuttings into a pot of sand.

One leaf section can produce a dozen plants or more.

Echeveria, Sedum, Mesembryanthemum, and Cotyledon will all grow from stem cuttings.

Many of the succulent species produce numerous runners or offsets.

Related: Succulent Leaves Falling Off | Is Fish Emulsion Good For Succulents?


Learn more about –> Good Indoor Succulents

Modern gardeners blend succulent specimens perfectly with contemporary architecture.

Today succulents perform and are no longer considered oddities. They are elegant, practical plants for our homes and gardens. Try some!

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