Photo by Melody
Are you ready? It's time for our 14th annual photo contest! Enter your best pictures of the year, for a chance to win a calendar and annual subscription here. Hurry! Deadline for entries is October 21.

Cheap and Easy Succulents: Personal Recommendations

By Geoff Stein (palmbobJune 8, 2008
bookmark

Ever visit a nursery and be amazed and tempted by the cool and weird looking succulents being offered for sale, for just a few dollars... but didn't know which ones were easy, and which were gonna die for sure? I have many times. This article is a brief guide to some of the easy and not-so-easy succulents commonly encountered at the average nursery that will carry such plants.

Gardening picture 

When I used to peruse nurseries for whatever succulents I could find that I did not have yet, I was often presented with dizzying varieties on large flats of this and that- literally hundreds of inexpensive and fascinating little rubbery and succulent creatures, all potential landscape and potted plants in my garden.  99% would not be labeled and I had little idea what would do well in my yard and what would be best left on the nursery shelves.  And so I would get one of each and try them out.  After several years of doing this I have some experiences under my belt and have learned which plants are, for me, easy and which aren't... at least of the common varieties one is most likely to find at the average garden outlet center and typical nursery.  This is not an article directed towards very experienced enthusiasts or those looking for information on how to keep alive certain species, rare or common.  This is more just to let the beginning succulent collector and gardener know what species are apt to be easy versus not-so-easy... as looking at them at the nursery in their states of perfection, they ALL look easy.  But some are definitely not and are for the dedicated succulent collector, or the less careless collector than myself.

 Image Image Image

                        Displays of common succulents available at many southern California nurseries, and also at most garden outlet centers

Succulents one finds at most nurseries include representatives from many of the available genera.  In fact, one could accumulate a pretty impressive collection just from going to the $2 table at Target, Home Depot, Lowes, OSH etc.  This is why I have so much experience with some of these plants as I have tried them over and over again since their costs have been minimal.  But I do not like to lose plants and after multiple attempts at certain species, I soon realize that some take a bit more care than, lets say, dig a hole and plant them in the ground anywhere and see what happens.  There are an amazing number of succulents where this actually DOES work, however.  I will go over some of these plants, along with some commonly offered ones to watch out for (difficult, i.e.).   I plant outdoors in a zone 9b west coast, so your results obviously may vary.  But as badly as I treat my plants, this list will at least give you some place to start when shopping for cheap succulents.  As I am prone to do, I rate plants in all sorts of categories, so the following will be rated from 1-10 with 1 being nearly impossible for me to keep alive and 10 being nearly impossible for me to kill.

 Image Image Image

More dizzying arrays of plants to select through.  Some of these are nearly 'bulletproof' in terms of ease, while others I find nearly impossible to keep alive.

Asclepids- these are mostly little columnar plants that produce stinky, rotten-meat-smelling flowers and some are very common plants in the nursery cheap seats.  However these are not my area of expertise, and though I grow several, I am at a loss to tell them apart.  I know that many species of Asclepids can be easy to rot, and I have rotted my share.  Fortunately most of the cheap plants at nurseries turn out to be the hardiest ones and I have had excellent success with these.  I rate the common Stapelia sold at virtually all nurseries selling succulents about an 8 out of 10 on the easy scale.

 Image Image Huernias and Stapelias for sale in numbers

Image Image Image

Huernia I grabbed off shelf for a few dollars, I knew nothing about, and turned out to be easy (see it a year later flowering); this Stapelia is growing all over the yard like a weed now and taking over some areas.  Makes these huge stinky flowers that attract flies.  Easy to plant, easy to grow, full sun, shade, etc. 

Image Yet this Luckhoffia I find nearly impossible to keep alive.  To me, this is a 2.

Adeniums, usually Adenium obesum (Desert rose) is not an easy plant for me, and I have rotted every single one.  They certainly cannot tolerate outdoor life in my climate.  But if kept warm all the time, and not over watered (what that means exactly I obviously don't know) many have good success with them.  I rate these a 2-3 in easiness, though I should be able to increase that to a 5 if I just knew exactly when, and when not to water them.

 Image Image

Adenium obesum a tad larger than the ones I find at Target (photo by Cactuslover), and my own plant, appropriately growing near a dead cactus.  Not too much longer I also killed this Adenium.

Adromischus- this is a relatively small group of low-growing branching plants with fat, succulent, globoid leaves.  Some are ridiculously easy while others give me fits.  Most need bright light, moderate water and pretty much take care of themselves after that.  The rarer ones are the ones I can never keep alive, but I have not seen those for sale at most nurseries.

 Image Image Image

Two easy plants: the Adromischus crispatus on the left is super easy (a 10), while the Adromischus maculata on the right can be rotted in you try hard (about a 6).  Both are pretty common succulents, though the crispatus is very common.  The third plant above is a less common species, Adromischus marianae, and impossible for me to keep alive (a 1 in my experience).  Stick with the common ones!

Aeoniums- I just wrote an article on these so look for that... but for the most part, only a few varieties of Aeonium end up on the cheap shelves and nearly all are 10s- Aeonium arboreum and its hybrids (Aeonium arboreum atropurpureum and Zwartkop), Aeonium haworthii and some variegated forms (usually also Aeonium haworthii and Aeonium davidbramwellii).  Aeoniums are super easy plants and grow just about anywhere you can plant them... though they distinctly do not like super hot situations.... And super hot and humid situations even less so.  They are also not very cold hardy (though recover pretty well from breif freezes down to the mid 20s).  They are not nearly as drought tolerant as most other succulents, so don't withhold water that much, but more so than you would with most non-succulent small plants.  My yard is full of Aeoniums since most common varieties branch, fall apart and can be replanted.  Eventually you may have to give the extras away.

 Image Image Image

Three Aeoniums I have in my garden (second photo is of plants in a nursery, but I have many of these): Aeonium arboreum Zwartkop, Aeonium Sunburst, and Aeonium haworthii.  All are easy (10s), all are cheap and all can be found just about anywhere succulents are sold

 Image Image

Another Aeonium (Aeonium sedifolium), though less obviously this genus, not all that rare at nurseries, is a challenge for me to grow... looks great in the store as a small green 'bonsai' tree, but if you don't take care of it properly, it gets to looking like this in the second photo (oops)- I do not consider this plant an easy species.

Agaves- there are only a few agaves that I regularly see on the cheap shelves of these nurseries: Agave americana, attenuata and angustifolia.  All are very easy plants, but americana and attenuata can get out of control in the garden, so careful.  Those two also become intensely dangerous plants with sharp spines on the ends of the leaves and along the leaf edges.  Agave attenuata is a super easy plant, though, and will grow just about anywhere (that it doesn't freeze).  These can rot if you plant them in deep shade.

 Image Image Image

three common species of Agave found at most nurseries: Agave angustifolia, Agave attenuata and Agave americana Mediopicta.  All easy, all cheap.  I am tempted to rate the first and third shown here as 11s they are so easy... but that's just my frustration with their being impossible to eradicate once in the garden.

Image Image

Have gone through (killed) about 8 of these Agave utahensis, and 2 Agave nizandensis... just so you don't go thinking all Agaves are easy.  But you won't find these in the common nurseries, so Agaves are generally a safe, easy plant

Aloes- most nurseries carry a small variety of Aloes and most of these aloes, with the exception of Aloe polyphylla (not usually a cheaper plant anyway) are amazingly easy and tolerant of all sorts of abuse, from drying out to being overwatered, full sun, shade etc..  There are way too many aloes to go into any details about them (hundreds of species exist), but probably the most common aloes encountered at most nurseries are Aloe striata, Aloe maculata, Aloe ferox and several hybrids species (Blue Elf being by far the most common encountered here in California).  Except for Aloe ferox, a thick-bodied, often intensely spiny light blue aloe, all do well in shade and in bright sunny, indoor situations.  However, I do not grow any plants indoors, so that is about as much as I can tell you.  Aloe ferox is also a tad easier to rot in heavy clay soils than the others.  Still, this is a genus that for the most part is pretty easy and will make it no matter where they are planted.  Aloes are NOT too cold tolerant, however, so if you live in a zone where it freezes for any length of time, they will need to be in pots.

 Image Image Image

Three commonly sold and easy Aloes: Aloe arborescens (8), Aloe Black Beauty (8) and Aloe brevifolia (10) (this last one is super easy).  All these were Home Depot plants

Image Image Image

Three more common nursery Aloes: Aloe aristata (6), Aloe Blue elf (9) and Aloe broomii (8).  The second two are super easy, but Aloe aristata is a tad touchy in full sun, and can be rotted by watering its crown... not what I consider and easy plant

Image Image Image

Three more common nursery Aloes: Aloe ciliaris (10), Aloe congolensis (8) and Aloe Doran Black (5).  The latter is a tad touchy about full, hot sun and overwatering, but the other two are easy, especially Aloe ciliaris, a virtual weed in my yard.

Image Image Image

Aloe ellenbeckii (6) is often sold at nurseries, though rarely identified as such- this is an easy to rot plant, and easy to damage, too (somewhat delicate); Aloe hemmingii (9) in the second photo just may be the most common aloe in all garden outlet stores and is pretty easy as long as you don't water its crown all the time (I have rotted one); Aloe juvenna (10) is impossible to kill and extremely common

Image Image Image

Aloe maculata (10), ferox (7) and striatas (9) are also super common, cheap and easy plants, though Aloe ferox don't do well in full shade and eventually become enormous (something I don't necessarily find 'easy').  The other two are about as easy as succulents get

 Image Image Image

These are Aloes I also found at common nurseries, but are NOT easy Aloes in my opinion.  The first two, Aloe bakeri (3) and Aloe descoingsii (3) are two miniature species that seem too touchy and sun sensitive for my careless husbandry tactics, while the third, Aloe polyphylla (2), is nearly impossible in this climate no matter how hard one tries (just too hot here for that one)... though that doesn't keep me from trying.

Beaucarneas (Ponytail 'Palms') are often sold as dinky spheres with a few grass blades growing out of them... I have no luck killing these (all 10s so far) even with the most severe forms of abuse, so I classify these as super easy succulents.  They just need tons of light, some water, and draining soil.  They do well both indoors and out.  I have an article on these plants you might want to check out.

Image Image Image

Beaucarnea recurvata, guatamalensis and gracilis were all pretty cheap, and relatively easy to find (the third one only rarely shows up at common nurseries).  I have yet to have one of these give me any problems at all (other than trying to die during freak freeze).

Crassulas include a huge number of plants and many of these are available in dinky 2" pots for next to nothing.  This is hard group to generalize about as many are super easy, and some I find incredibly difficult and frustrating.  Still, they can't be too hard or they wouldn't keep selling them for $1-$2 everywhere.  But I think those vendors have heat and temperature controlled greenhouses... or climates.  I just wrote on article about the stacked Crassulas, which unfortunately only cover a small fraction of the available Crassulas one encounters commonly at nurseries, but it's a start.

Image Image very common, slow,  but easy: Crassula arborescens (8)

Image Image

 Crassula ovata (Jade Plant) and it's weird variant: 'Gollum' are both extremely common and super easy- both are 10s

Image Image Image

Crassula cotelydonis (8), Crassula lactea (8) and Crassula mucosa (7) are all very common succulents found at garden outlet nurseries and qualify as fairly easy in my book, but not the easiest of all the Crassulas

Image Image Image

Crassula Morgan's Beauty (first two photos) is a great plant (7) though not super common (did find these in common nurseries, though).  Crassula Spring time (10) is super common and one of the easiest of all the Crassulas... hard to kill and grows in any conditions

Image Image Image

3 stacked easy plants- the first two are Crassula perforata (10) varieties and the last is Crassula rupestris (10).  All super easy and cheap plants

Image Image

Crassula Buddha's Temple (4) and Crassula perfoliata var falcata (5) are also common, but can rot easily if you're not careful

Image Image Crassula Dorothy (1) is becoming common- tough one

Image Image 

Crassula Emerald  (1) and Crassula Little Gem (5) also fairly common... but not easy for me (especially Crassula Emerald!)

Image Image Image

three 'stacked' Crassulas that are NOT easy: Crassula Ivory Tower (4), Crassula Ivory Pagoda (1) and Crassula Moonglow (5).  All rot at the base easily (especially Crassula Ivory Pagoda- cannot keep that one alive!)

Echeverias, Graptopetalums, Pachyphytums and hybrids between them- these are fantastic garden plants here in southern California and a few are very easy plants... however, many are touchy about being overwatered, grown in shade or put in direct, hot, full sun.  Few like high humidity.  So only a few would I classify as super easy.  Fortunately most of the common ones tend to be the easy ones.

Image Image Image

Echeveria agavoides (9) is a super easy species, sun or shade, and very common.  Don't know what this one is, but it's anothe easy plant, multiplying wonderfully and effortlessly

Image Image Image

There are far too many Echeverias to go over, but this nursery selection is typical and just about all of them are easy... it is a pretty safe group to try out and most of the cheap, common plants are easy

Image Image Image

Most of the Echeveria hybrids are also easy: Echeveria Black Prince (9), Echeveria Morning Light (very easy = 10), and Echeveria runyonii Topsy Turvey (super easy =10)

Image Image 

a few touchier but common ones include Echeveria purpusorum (5) and subsesillis (3)- the former rotting easily and prone to mealy bug, and the latter being sun wimpy

Image Image

Graptopetalums paraguayense (10) and pentandrum (8) I also find common and pretty easy (especially paraguayense)

Image Image Image

Graptoveria Opalina (8) is common, beautiful and easy, as is Graptoveria Fred Ives (10+) (this is probably the easiest of all the plants described so far);  this third unknown Graptoveria is easy, but a tad sun sensitive

Image Image

Pachyveria glauca is another easy plant (8) and one of its parents are Pachyphytum (5)(above photo by kniphofia), a plant that, though somewhat easy, falls apart and rots more easily than the hybrids do (but super common)

Euphorbias- this is another huge group full of super easy and incredibly difficult plants... unfortunately as is the case with so many of these other succulents, the most common and cheap species are not always the easy ones.  I often see difficult Euphorbias for sale at common nurseries.  There are many hardy, easy species, but there are even more- hundreds and hundreds- of super-easy-to-rot species in existence, and I am still in the process of learning which ones these are (a life time project, I tell you).

Image Image Image

Euphorbia ammaks (both normal and variegated) are pretty darn easy plants (9), as is this Euphorbia coerulescens (super easy=10)

Image Image Image

Three more fairly common and easy columnar Euphorbias are Euphorbia grandicornis (7), Euphorbia ingens (9), and Euphorbia lactea (5)Euphorbia grandicornis can rot if overwatered, and Euphorbia lactea, as can be seen, is a bit sun sensitive (and cold sensitive) in my climate

Image Image Image

Some of the smaller, common species include Euphorbia echinus (8), enopla (7) and ferox (10), all easy plants (especially Euphorbia ferox)

Image Image Image

Euphorbia horridus (6) and polygona (6) (both 'normal' and snowflake) are also easy, but need a lot of sun or they can rot

Image  Image

These are the only two common, cheap medusoid Euphorbias I run into over and over again, and though they look sort of exotic and delicate, they are both pretty easy plants (Euphorbia caput-medusae, an 8, and Euphorbia flanaganii, a 10).  Most other medusoid Euphorbias I have tried are similarly easy, but not likely to show up in most nurseries.

Image Image Image

All three of these are commonly encountered Euphorbias: Euphorbia mammillaris variegated (8), Euphorbia leucodendron (9), and Euphorbia obesa (5).  Euphorbia obesa is probably one of the most recognizable Euphorbias, and larger ones are NOT cheap... and it is prone to rot if not given enough light, heat and not overwatered... still, I have figured this one out and don't lose too many anymore.

Image Image Image

All three of these skinny, branching Euphorbias were collected at Home Depot and cost very little... but all have turned out to be really cold sensitive or rot prone (Euphorbia aeruginosa- 2, Euphorbia baioensis (the plant on the left in the middle photo)- 3, and Euphorbia debilispina- 4).  Live and learn...

Image Image

Euphorbia decaryi is showing up at many nurseries now, and of course most recongnize Euphoria millii (Crown of Thorns).  The former is a pretty touchy garden plant (3), but the super common Euphorbia millii isn't all that easy, either, and I have successfully killed most of mine from overwatering and just putting outdoors in winter (not a cold tolerant plant!)

Image Image

Can't judge a Euphorbia by its looks, either.  Euphorbia susannae looks sensitive, but is about a 7 on my scale.  The similar above three plants (Euphorbia bluplerifolia- 3, Euphorbia fasciculata-2 and Euphorbia pubiligans-4) all give me fits.

Image Image

To me, $12 is not cheap, but I have gotten these Euphorbia submammillaris pfersdorfiis for only $2-$3 elsewhere- still cheap is no guarantee to survival.  I have been unable to keep any of these alive for more than a month (and I have even put a bit of effort into it), easily rating this species a 1.

Gasterias for the most part are pretty hardy and easy plants.. .but for some reason the most commonly sold species are some of the most difficult.  The variegated forms are popular, but slow and easily rotted plants, and the inky dinky ones are also pretty easy to kill off.  I have learned how to keep these doing OK, but only in pots.  The larger species are usually no problem.  Many gasteria x aloes are also commonly available at nurseries and these are almost always very easy plants.

Image Image Image

Gasteria acinicifolia (8), Gasteria glomerata (10) and Gasteria Little Warty (9) are all common and easy plants

Image Image Image

Gasteria croucheri is not too common, but pretty easy (7); this unnamed variety is in all the stores and I find a tad likely to rot (5), while Gasteria liliputiana is very rot prone (4)

Image Image

I tend to plant my gasterias in pots now, often in groups, and they do best that way (garden plants often get lost unless large); Gasteria rawlinsonii (4) is somewhat rare and extremely slow growing... and prone to both over and underwatering

Some Haworthias are fairly easy plants, though they don't always make good garden plants as most disappear from sight eventually (something grows over them, or they pull themselves into the soil).  Some Haworthias are super difficult, but most of those are not going to be found on the dollar shelves.  The cheap ones, in general, are amazingly hardy and easy

 Image Image Image

These are some of the most hardy of the Haworthias and qualify as easy plants: Haworthia attenuata (8) and Haworthia coarctata varieties (9)

Image Image Image

Haworthia retusas are often sold in large, inexpensive clumps like this, sort of proving they are easy plants (8); Haworthia truncata hybrid Whirlpool is a very hardy and easy plant (9); Haworthia venosa var tesseleta is a tad less common but still not rare, and pretty easy (7)

Image Image Image

More garden outlet Haworthias: Haworthia emelyae (5), a bit easy to over water, as is Haworthia limifolia (5); Haworthias reinhardtii (6) (draping plant in third photo) and Haworthia cooperi (4)  (clumping light green plant in third photo) are somewhat easy plants, but less so than the above ones

Kalanchoes for the most part are pretty easy plants, but only a few end up on the cheap shelves.  All those are pretty easy, but most require some sun acclimation if they to be just shoved into the soil somewhere haphazardly (l have learned this lesson over and over).  A few Kalanchoes are TOO easy (the ones called Mother of Thousands of where there are several species) and on might regret these additions to ones collections eventually, despite their ornamental looks.  The most commonly sold Kalanchoe, K bossefeldii, is not as easy as some of the others, but I think I tend to underwater these and put them in too much light.  These are super toxic plants for dogs and cats, by the way, so careful if keeping them indoors.

 Image Image Image

Kalanchoe tomentosas for sale cheap; Many succulents at a local nursery in southern California with lots of Kalanchoe luciaes (reddish spoon-shaped leaves); and Kalanchoe blossfeldianas, a very popular plant, at the same nursery

Image Image Image

Plants in my own yard: Kalanchoe beharensis is moderately easy and common (many varieties of this species); Kalanchoe lucieae, often mistakenly called Kalanchoe thyrisfloa, is another moderately easy plant, as is the Kalanchoe tomentosa.

Image Image Image

Then there are the kalanchoes that are TOO EASY: the Mother of Thousands plants.  These are so easy, they grow when/where you don't want them to.  Kalanchoe diagremontiana (10+) in the first photo, with all the babies along the leaf edges (all will quickly fall and regrow into weeds around the yard), and Kalanchoe delagoensis (10+) (aka tubiflora), another weed species also called Mother of Thousands.  The third photo is of my Kalanchoe diagremontiana pink variety- this plant thankfully does not spread, but it also is a tad touchier (6)

Mesembs- another massive category of plants that, in general, do NOT make good garden plants if for no other reason than most are super dinky and would never be seen again once planted.  But these are also, for the most part, touchy plants outside of their native lands (most are from southern African countries) where in almost never rains or freezes.  So in reality, Mesembs are some of the hardiest plants on earth... just not in my hands, which usually have a watering hose in them.  Some Fauacarias and some ice plants are easy garden plants so I include those as good ones to collect.  But Lithops, Titanopsis, Alionopsis, Conophytums and other various weird and unusual dinky things are so easy to rot that I don't even try them anymore.  Ice plants is huge category of plants all by themselves, and are also in the Aizoaceae family... many of these are easy, even weed-like, so generalizations with this group is difficult.  I don't find most ice plants make good potted plants, but if you live in a warm, dry climate, these are no problem.

 Image Image Image

this southern California nursery table in the first photo is covered with a myriad of Mesembs (mostly Lithops) for sale that always look perfect to me, and tempting, but most the Lithops (1), Titanopsis (1), Alinopsis (1) and various Delospermas (3-5) are all difficult plants; the second and third tables only include Pleiospilos (about a 4) and more Lithops.

Image Image Image

Titanopsis in show, Aloinopsis in my care (lasted maybe 3 weeks) and my long lost collection of Lithops (some of many)

Image Image Image

Had some brief success with Argyrodermas (the pale green plants), but fleeting (rating about a 3); Delosperma spalmanthoicles (3) shows up at nurseries periodically and is irresistable... but not easy

Image Image Image

Pleiospilos (3-6) are also common nursery plants and I can keep them alive in pots as long as I don't overwater them too much and they get lots of sun.  Pleiospilos simulans in the second photo, a fleshier plant the consistency of rotten meat, is actually a surprisingly hardy plant considering it feels rotten all the time... but I still kill it eventually; Fenestrara (Baby Toes) is actually a pretty decent Mesemb to start with.  I rate it about a 7 in a pot, but a 4 in the garden (gets lost and if not in lots of sun, rots easily).

 Image  Image Image

But not all Mesembs are difficult garden plants.  The Delosperma species above, a wonderful bloomer in full sun in spring and early summer, is quite easy... in fact, it's now a weed in my yard and I am ever in the process of ripping it out (swarms over every other plant); the second photo is of Delosperma echinatum (the Pickle Plant), another commonly found one on the cheap shelves, and a surprisingly easy plant with curious leaves and nice yellow flowers.  This one grows in full sun or shade and I spreads a bit slower than the other one- easy to control.  I rate both about a 9.  Faucarias in general (some are tougher than others, but rarely show up on cheap shelves) are extremely easy plants, and if grown in full to partial sun hardly evey develop a problem.  I grow these in pots and in the garden.. .but in pots they eventually take over, so if using them in comminity pots, I would only plant with other aggressive plants, or something large

Image Image

Though it may not look like a Mesemb, Trichodiadema bulbosum  (8) is a commonly found nursery plant and is one of the few cheap and easy caudiciforms (first photo is of plants for sale, and mine raised up in a pot to show of f roots).

Pachypodiums can sometimes be found in the cheap seats, and the few species that are inexpensive are certainly the easiest of them.  I don't know if I would say there were bullet-proof, however, as one can certainly rot these if they are over watered, particularly if not kept in full sun or warm.  The difficult species are costly.

 Image Image

Pachypodiums lamerei and geayi are the only two species likely to show up at garden outlet centers, and they always do, and thankfully, they are also, by far, the easiest of the Pachypodiums.  I rate both about a 6, though my problems with them are occasional frost damage and my own stupidity of planting them in too much shade.  Full sun and warmth and these two are hard to kill.  One can even grow the former indoors in a window.

Sansevierias- these are collectively called snake plants and I have written an article on them if you want more information.  Only a few types are commonly sold at most nurseries and all are pretty easy house plants... but for the yard I find only some of these common, cheap ones easy, and the rest very rot-prone (not generally very cold or water-hardy plants). 

 Image Image Image

Sansevierias for sale at nursery; my own Sansevieria cylindrica (8) and massoniana (6).  With plenty of sun, well draining soil and no super cold temps, these do well (handle frosts down to about 27F)

Image Image Image

Most of the tall, upright Sansevieria trifaciata sp seem to be very hardy outdoors here in southern California often used carelessly as landscape plants all over.  I can rot them, though, but think they are about a 6.  The dinkier forms of this species are very sun sensitive and much easier to rot, and I rate them a 3 (easy indoors, though).  I have even seen Sansevieiria penguicula, which used to be a rare and expensive plant, show up at Home Depots now and then.  This is NOT an easy species (about a 2), but a beautiful one if take good care of it.

Sempervivums-.  Here in southern California where it gets hot in the summers, just a half dozen species are available at the local nurseries, and thankfully they are the ones most hardy to heat.  Most of the hundreds of other varieties that do so well in most other parts of the country (even where it snows every winter) do not do well here in the dry heat.  But planting the ones we do have here in shade and the coolest, wettest corners of the garden has enabled me to keep a few alive year after year.  Still, I would not classify these as easy, but I bet most others would.

 Image Image Image

Sempervivum arachnoideums at nursery, and my own plants.  These two Sempervivums (calcareum is in the third photo) are about the only two I can nearly consistently keep alive (still kill  them off now and then) and rate both about 6

Image Image Image

Even here in southern California these plants look beautiful for a while... but when it finally heats up... ouch

Sedums- this is another humongous group of plants, but only some are offered up routinely on the cheapo table.  This is a group of which I am least familiar, since I do not find them all ornamental and some have been rather disappointing to me.  Sedums, in general, are swarming, groundcover-like plants and seem to require a lot more attention (or water?) than I give them.  Many in cooler climates have great success with these, so if you don't live in the baking desert, these might be good plants for you.

 Image Image Image

Sedum clavatum (9) is a very easy and wonderfully attractive landscaping plant; Sedum burrito (7) is OK, but needs more water than one would think; Sedum nussburianum (8) is another awesome garden and pot plant, but if you want the nice yellow color it needs to be in full sun (otherwise a boring green color and leggy)

Image Image Image

Sedum rubrotinctum (10+) is so easy it's a weed in the garden, and roots wherever it falls, though the aureum version is much finickier (6); Sedum pachyphyllum (9) is another easy plant

Image Image Image

Sedum dasyphyllum (5), something sold as Sedum Ogun (4), and Sedum spathulatum (2) are not my ideas of easy plants, and though some persist in the garden, I have lost most of them

Senecios are not that common in common nurseries, but a few show up routinely.  Again, this is not a group I find highly ornamental, so my experiences are limited to a few species only.  But of the ones I find at most nurseries, some are easy and some are rot-prone.

 Image Image Image

The trailing Senecios are fairly easy plants (don't know what the first two are, as so many look alike, but both are about a 9); Senecio rowleanus is a 6 for me as I rot it now and then, and it is not very drought tolerant

Image Image Image

These more classic upright plants, Senecio hildebrandii (6), Senecio scaphiopus (6) and Senecio crassissimus (7) are all fairly commonly found at many ordinary nurseries- if in sun, all are pretty easy, but I still rot them now and then

 Image Duster Miller is a Senecio, but is it a succulent?  Easy (9)

Odds and Ends- these are plants that really don't deserve  their own categories, but still show up at the cheap shelves and some are pretty easy. 

Image Image

Alluaudia procera (5) is very common now, but really needs full, hot sun to do well (if gets covered over by other plants, sulks and rots); Tylecodon schaeferanus (7) is a weird looking thing, and looks dead all summer long... yet comes back reliably in winter- it will rot if watered too much in summer, though

Image Image Image

Portalucaria afra  (aka Elephant's Food) is a super common and very easy (10) plant taking sun, shade, drought... not super cold hardy, though.  The variegated form is very slow relatively, but still easy (9)

I apologize about the length of this article... it started out as a simple list of plants I see in local nurseries that I have since discovered whether I can kill them or grow them (this information never seems to be in the succulent books)... and before I realized it, the list got pretty long... guess I have wasted too much time and money on these little plants... but sure makes gardening fun!

 


  About Geoff Stein  
Geoff SteinVeterinarian and Exotic Plant Lover... and obsessive, compulsive collector of all oddball tropical and desert plants.

  Helpful links  
Share on Facebook Share on Stumbleupon

[ Mail this article | Print this article ]

» Read articles about: Cactus And Succulents, Gardening Tips, Aeoniums, Agaves, Aloes, Echeverias

» Read more articles written by Geoff Stein

« Check out our past articles!



Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Hilarious Cont. KateHewitt 1 2 Apr 28, 2014 3:20 PM
Succulents for zone 6? theirislady 1 14 Jun 24, 2012 7:49 AM
Excellent resource! Fleurs 0 11 Oct 26, 2009 7:25 PM
'Little Gem' Duncan_Kirkland 0 14 Oct 21, 2009 2:39 AM
Succulents, rock garden favorites... ccilch 0 16 Aug 10, 2009 4:48 PM
VERY INFORMATIF rulyfortuneleaf 0 8 May 4, 2009 9:14 AM
where can I buy online? flowersanyone 3 41 Sep 26, 2008 9:44 PM
Delosperma cooperii AnalogDog 0 14 Sep 7, 2008 11:57 PM
As always, lots of great information amyskaggs 0 10 Jun 18, 2008 4:40 PM
Wonderful article Trekkingkitty 0 8 Jun 14, 2008 12:54 AM
very worthwill article easy to read capanron 0 9 Jun 12, 2008 10:33 PM
Oh thanks! Lot's of helpful info! aliceisoutside 0 8 Jun 12, 2008 4:23 PM
Wonderful article and not to long ladygreensleeves 0 8 Jun 11, 2008 8:02 AM
Thank you for the great article! evesocal 0 8 Jun 10, 2008 1:20 PM
Zone 9b - soil & further info Anita_Challis 1 27 Jun 10, 2008 4:15 AM
Soil invalidreality 1 17 Jun 10, 2008 4:12 AM
not too long LouC 2 41 Jun 9, 2008 8:50 PM
Great article orchid923 0 14 Jun 9, 2008 7:07 PM
Thanks,Geoff carrihulet 0 11 Jun 9, 2008 6:50 PM
Awesome concise information bernrice 0 17 Jun 9, 2008 2:36 PM
Super article, soive2000 0 15 Jun 9, 2008 1:44 PM
Great! Jax4ever 0 23 Jun 8, 2008 4:02 PM
Love all the Pictures kristykritters 3 38 Jun 8, 2008 3:49 PM
Very Informative KatG 0 35 Jun 8, 2008 3:07 PM
You cannot post until you login.


We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2014 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.
 

Hope for America