If you’re a plant parent who is prone to neglect, we have a solution: succulents. These low-maintenance plants don’t require much attention and come in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes. These plants, which number over 10,000 species, have adapted to severe growing circumstances by creating fleshy stems and leaves that hold moisture in order to endure heat and drought. Many succulents make excellent houseplants and will also thrive in a sunny position in your yard.
If you’re planting outside, make sure the variety is perennial and can withstand winters in your USDA Hardiness zone by reading the plant tag or description. Alternatively, pot them up and bring them inside before the cold weather arrives. Above all, avoid the most common killer of succulents: overwatering. Succulents prefer to dry out—after all, they have their own water reserves—so don’t water them until the soil feels dry when you push a finger an inch or so into the pot.
Here are a few of our favorite succulents for home or garden.
The rose-like appearance of this succulent is due to its spiral of pointed leaves, which can be seen in a range of green, pink, and burgundy colors. It has a slow growth rate and can be grown in the ground or in containers; however, it also thrives when brought indoors and placed in a bright window.
STRING OF PEARLS
This adorable plant has tiny spherical leaves that drop from a long stem like a beaded necklace. Find your brightest window and leave it alone; the stems can grow to be many feet long but quickly break when moved. If a piece falls off, place it in damp soil to start a new plant. This plant’s cousin, a string of bananas, is equally appealing and resembles—you got it—a string of small bananas!
Related: 15 Cute Succulents That Remain Small
This iconic succulent houseplant appears to be almost indestructible. Snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) may go for weeks without light or water and yet look excellent. Their thick, stiff, pointed leaves grow straight up to nearly three feet long and often have snake-like patterning markings. It will grow into a dense clump that fills the entire pot over time, but it is simple to divide and repot as needed. While snake plants can survive low light, they thrive in medium to high light. They also love a little water when the soil is parched.
One of the nicest houseplants ever is this small, spikey succulent. Some resemble miniature aloe vera plants, while others have stripes. Display it alone or in a shallow dish with others. It performs best in direct sunlight.
HENS AND CHICKS
The common name for two succulent plants is hens-and-chicks. They are related yet have distinct appearances. Both give birth to “chicks” which are miniature, identical plants that are slightly offset from the mother (the hen). Mexican Snow Ball ($13, Etsy) creates flat, flowerlike rosettes with rounded edges and produces arching, bell-shaped blooms every year. Sempervivum tectorum, like this hens-and-chicks assortment ($21, Walmart), creates rosettes as well, but each leaf is flatter and more pointed. It bears star-shaped blooms. Both of these succulents come in a wide range of types with unique forms and colors, making them ideal for collecting.
When cultivated as houseplants, Echeveria and Sempervivum have comparable requirements. Because continual moisture causes their stems and roots to decay, both should be allowed to dry slightly between waterings. They will thrive in strong light near a window. You may simply multiply these succulents by removing the chicks and placing them in their own container, but use a sandy potting mix labeled for cactus and succulents to ensure your plants have adequate drainage.
Related: The Most Common Types of Succulents
Sedum comes in a variety of forms, including low-growing varieties and upright forms with strong blooms that appear late in the growing season when your garden is closing down for the year. Most are quite hardy but check the label to make sure.
This cheerful tiny plant, also known as a coin plant, UFO plant, or Chinese money plant, has playful, spherical leaves and makes a stunning addition to any end table or windowsill. It can also go outside in the summer but keep it out of direct sunshine or it will become sunburned. It produces “pups” around the base that you may pinch off and replant for new plants.
The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is a classic for a reason: it’s easy to cultivate! When cultivated in full sun, this long-lived South African native develops stocky, branching stems with thick, glossy green leaves that are often tinted with red around the edges. Some cultivars have unusually shaped leaves, such as ‘Gollum,’ which has leaves that resemble green monster fingers. Jade plants can grow to be several feet tall over time, but when cultivated as a houseplant, they usually stay around a foot tall. They can become top-heavy, so put them in a sturdier container, such as terra-cotta. Allowing the soil to dry completely between waterings is essential for keeping a jade plant happy. Some gardeners water jade only when the leaves pucker or lose their luster, but these are signals that the plant is already stressed; if you wait that long, it may begin to drop leaves.
The ice plant, also known as delosperma, is an excellent addition to garden beds, rock gardens, and slopes. It blooms from spring to frost and comes in a variety of beautiful jewel tones. It should not be confused with another plant also known as the ice plant, Carpobrotus, which is a distinct and invasive species.
On a short stem, aloe vera forms a cluster of long, slender leaves. Over time, it develops more leaf clusters known as offsets, which can form a colony large enough to fill the entire container. When things get too crowded, divide them and shift them to different pots. While aloe vera is most known for its healing sap, which has been used for ages to cure wounds and sunburn, it also has sharp “teeth” along its leaf edges that might hurt an unsuspecting visitor, so take caution. Aloe vera is a tough-to-kill houseplant that is forgiving and easy to grow. It, like other succulents, wants a dry environment rather than always damp soil. While it thrives in bright light, its leaves can be scorched if you quickly bring it into a hot, sunny window.
The numerous types of succulents make it easy to choose the ones you want to plant. Aside from being trendy, planting any of the varieties and species of succulents can provide you with a variety of advantages. Furthermore, they are definitely attractive to sight and may be used to create lovely arrangements that can add charm to your house or yard.