Photo by Melody

The flowering succulents of late spring early summer

By Geoff Stein (palmbobMay 29, 2012

By middle to late spring, into early summer, the types of succulents flowering are predominately cacti and tend to remain so the rest of the summer. However, there are still plenty of aloes that bloom this 'late' in the year, along with a good variety of Euphorbias and other succulents. This article is a pictorial to give the reader some idea what might be in bloom this time of year in the world of succulents and cacti.

Gardening picture

No matter where you live, most succulents and cacti bloom at approximately the same season, at either end of the globe.  Below are some examples of what one should or might see blooming this time of the year (late spring into early summer).  This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the species that make flowers this time of year.  On the contrary, there are hundreds, if not thousands more species that make flower in the spring and early summer.  But many of those other species are either rare in cultivation or very similar to what I have shown here... or have pretty insignificant flowers.  And despite the hundreds of cactus species that are flowering this time of year, these pale compared to all the other plants on the earth that flower this time of the year.  Spring and summer flowers grown by most growers around the country and the globe I am sure are more impressive and glorious than those produced by most of the succulents.  But for those who appreciate succulents and cacti, this article is let you see that you, too, can still enjoy some flowering occurences in your more peculiiar and arguably more interesting plants.  


By the the most common succulent plants that can be found flowering this season are the cacti, and they will dominate the succulent flowering scene for another few months.  Eventually aloes, agaves and a few other succulents will take command again as the weather cools, but this is the time of year that cacti like the best. 

 Astrophytum myriostigma Astrophytum asterias Astrophytum capricorne

Astrophytums have been blooming before this season, but now they are in full swing.  Astrophytum myriostigma (left), Astrophytum asterias (center) and Astrophytum capricorne (right) in my garden 

 Cleistocactus Cleistocactus ferrarei Cleistocactus winteri

Cleistocacti tend to bloom a bit earlier, but many can still be seen blooming this time of year, though those that are usually bloom for much of the warmer months, not just in spring.

Cleisotcactus samaipatanus. (left); Cleistocactus ferrarei (center) and Cleistocactus winter (right) in my yard 

 Echinocereus reichenbachii Echinocereus subinermis Echinocereus pecntinatus

Echinocereus tend to bloom in spring primarily and these can be spectacular flowers.  Echinocereus reichenbachii (left), Echinocereus subinermis (center) and Echinocereus pectinatus (right) 

 Echinocereus gentryi Echinocereus fendlerii Echinocereus dasycanthus

Echinocereus gentryi var. sheerii in my yard (left);  Echinocereus fenderlii cactus show winner (center);  Echinocereus dasycanthus (right) 

 saguaro  Cererus grenadensis Echinoposis terscheckii

Some of the large cactus species begin to bloom in mid spring.  Carnegia gigantea (Saguaro Cactus) left;  Cereus grenadensis (center) and Echinopsis terschecii are several of the large columnar plants that flower this time of year 

Pachycereus marginata  oreocereus Pilosocereus

Pachycereus marginata (left), Oreocereus species in my yard (center) and Pilosocereus pachyclada also in my yard, all seen blooming in late May, early June 

 pink echinopsis white echinopsis Echinopsis orange

Various smaller Echinopsis varieties/species in my yard blooming in late spring.  right is Echinopsis ancistrophora 

 aporophyllum Epiphyllum Epiphyllum empress

Various hanging cacti also bloom this time of year.  Aporophyllym 'Cascade' in my yard (left), and unknown Epiphyllum also in my yard (center) and Epiphyllum 'Giant Empress' from a show 

 Epi red epi yellow epi dull pink

Epiphyllum 'Campfire' (left photo Calif_Sue);  Epiphllym 'Madeline' (center photo EricinSF);  Epiphyllum 'Padre' (right photo Clare_CA

epi pink  epi white dpi pink and white

Epiphyllum 'Space Rocket' (left photo by AnniesAnnuals);  Epiphyllum 'White Splendor' (center photo Calif_Sue); Epiphyllum 'Clown' (right photo AbbieOriginal

Gymnocalycium horstii  Gymno saglionis Gymno hossei

Gymnocalyciums are still blooming and will continue to do so for much of the summer.  Gymnocalycium beuneckeri (left), Gymnocalycium saglionis (center) and Gymnocalycium hossei (right) 

 Gymno horstii 2 Gymno monviellei Gymno friedrechii

Gymnocalycium horstii in my yard (left); Gymnocalycium monvillei (center) and Gymnocalycium friedrichii (right), a species that blooms repeatedly through the spring and summer 

 Mamm magnifica mamm longimamam Mamm matudae

Mammillarias have already been in bloom off and on since mid winter, but many continue to bloom through into summer.  Mammillaria magnifica (left); Mammillaria longimama (center) and Mammillaria matudae (right) in my yard 

fero peninsularis fero viridescens

Ferocacti (nearly all) are off and on in bloom in late spring and early summer.  Here are just two of many (Ferocactus peninsulae left and Ferocactus viridescens (right) 

 leuchtenbergia eriosyce Matucana

Leuchtenbergia princeps (left), Eriosyce napina (center) and Matucana aurantiaca (right) all blooming late spring in my garden 

 Opuntia blue

Opuntias are in full bloom by late spring and nearly all of them bloom this time of the year, and into the summer.  Opuntia macrorhiza in May 

O ficus indica  Opuntia littoralis opuntia microdasys

Opuntia ficus-indica (left), Opuntia littoralis (center) and Opuntia microdasys (right) all seen blooming in local botanical gardens 

Nopalea   cylindopuntia   opuntia thurberi 

 Nopalea cochennillifera (left), Cylindropuntia thurberi (center) and Austrocylindropuntia verschaffelitii (right), all Opuntia relatives, also tend to bloom this time of year

 Parodia magnifica Parodia roseolata Parodia ubelmanianus

Parodias also like this time of year... Parodia magnifica (left), Parodia roseolata (center) and Parodia werneri (right) 

 parodia erinacea parodia concina 

Parodias erinacea and concina in my yard also flowering in late spring 

 rebuta heliosa rebutia pulchra rebutia narvescensis

Rebutias also like late spring.  Rebutia heliosa (left), Rebutia pulchra (center) and Rebutia narvescensis (right) in May 

 rebutia mentosa rebutia krainziana rebutia rerplexa

Rebutia mentosa (left), Rebutia krainziana (center) and Rebutia rerplexa (right) in late May 


Though Aloes are no longer the predominate succulent flower producers in late spring and early summer, there are still a number of species that can be counted upon to bloom this time of year, though many of these are the type that bloom multiple times a year.

 Aloe aristata aloe buhrii aloe confusa

Aloe aristata (left), Aloe buhrii (center) and Aloe confusa (right) all tend to bloom in May (though Aloe buhrii also blooms in April). 

aloe camperi  aloe camperi 2  aloe cooperi

Aloe camperi (left and center) is one of the more popular landscape aloes in southern California because it creates such a colorful mass planting in May and June when most other succulents seem to be resting.  Aloe cooperi (right), a relatively rare glass aloe, blooms in the early summer, too. 

aloe inyangensis aloe dorotheae aloe hemmingii aloe elgonica aloe rabaiensis

Aloe inyangensis (another grass aloe- left), Aloe dorotheae(left center), Aloe hemmingii (center), Aloe elgonica (right center) and Aloe rabaiensis (right)  are all species that tend to bloom multiple times of the year, and May and June are just two of those months. 

 aloe bussei aloe distans aloe striata

Aloe bussei (left), Aloe distans (center) and Aloe striata (right) in late spring 

Aloe ngongensis  aloe susannae

Aloe ngongensis blooming in my yard (left);  right is Aloe suzannae in fruit (never seem to catch this one in flower- tends to flower at night), but it did flower this time of year 

 aloe porphyrostachys flower aloe porphyrostachys in flower aloe porphyrostachys detaisl

Aloe porphyrostachys is one of my faforite bloomers this time of year (center and left photos from plant in my garden) 

 aloe pubescens aloe trichosantha aloe trich closer

Aloe pubescens (left) and Aloe trichosantha (center and right) both have fuzzy pink flowers this time of year, though the latter flowers repeatedly throughout the year as well 


Though many Euphorbias bloom for many months, most show their flowers in late winter into early summer, so a lot of them can be seen in flower this time of year

euphorbia canariensis  Euphorbia flanaganii euphorbia antisiphylitica

One of the more spectacular landscape Euphorbias, Euphorbia canariensis, flowers this month (left);  Euphorbia flanaganii flowers over several months (center) and this is the time of year Euphorbia antisyphilitica produces hundreds of tiny pink cyathia (right) 


Euphorbia misera, a California native species, blooms for much of the late spring and summer in southern California (photo much enlarged to show the little cyathia) 

 Euphorbia milii euphorbia resnifera euphorbia red floewr

Euphorbia milii varieties are still in flower and will continue to be so off and on for several more months (left);  Euphorbia resnifera is just one of many smaller columnar species to flower late spring (center); Euphorbia gottlebei is a popular show plant particularly this time of year (right) 

 euphorbia buepleurifolia e bupleurifolia closer e perangusat

Euphorbia bupleurifolia is another popular show plant that flowers now (left and center); right is Euphoriba perangusta flowering in my garden in late May 

 E polygona e coureulescens Euphorbia serrulata

Euphorbia polygona (left) blooms off/on over several months from late winter into mid summer;  Euphorbia coerulescens (center) on the other hand blooms precisely at the end of May to early June year after year;  Euphorbia serrulata has some nicely colored cyathia this time of year (right) 

Euphorbia caput medusa  Euphorbia inermis Euphorbia francoisii

Euphorbia caput-medusae (left); Euphorbia inermis var. huttoniae (center); and Euphorbia francoisii (right) 

 euphorbia viguieri e zanti e knuthii

Euphorbia viguieri (left) has some spectacular cyathia in late spring; Euphoriba xanti (center) still is in bloom this time of year and makes a great looking landscape shrub; Euphorbia knuthii, one of the easier caudiciform potted plants makes green cyathia in early summer (right) 


This is time of year most of the Dudleyas are in flower, along with many Echeveria species.  Kalanchoes are pretty much just finishing up as are most Crassula species.  But Aeoniums seem to continue to flower into early summer despite starting in mid winter

 Aoenium Voodoo  Aeonium hybrid

Aeonium 'Voodoo' (left) and a closely related hybrid (right) can make a showy appearance as they flower in May (shots here from the Huntington Gardens, California) 

 Aeonium simsii hybrid

Aeonium simsii hybrid flowering in early May, southern California, Huntington Gardens 

 Dudleya brittonii dudleya anthonyi dudleya viscida

Dudleya brittonii (left) often starts blooming in winter, but late spring is its primary blooming season;  Dudleya anthonyi flowers in my yard (center); Dudleya viscida flowering in Santa Barbara, California (right) 

 D caespitosa Dud pulverulenta dudleya palmeri

Dudleya caespitosa is another Dudleya that flowers over many months (left); howevery Dudleya pulverulenta seems to be more precise and blooms in June ony (center);  Dudleya palmeri also seen flowering in June (right) 

  Dudleya formosa dudleya virens dud thraskiae

Dudleya farniosa (left), Dudleya viren ssp. virens (center) and Dudleya thraskiae (right) flowers in late spring 

 Echeveria setosa

Echeveria setosa, a nice, cute little fuzzy species that is probably better grown in pots than in the landscape like this (my garden) 

Echeveria lilacina  Echeveria pallida Echeveria potsiana

Echeveria lilacina, a magnificent nearly silver plant, flowers in May (left); Echeveria pallida continues to be seen flowering despite staring several months ago (center); Echeveria potsiana (basically a somewhat miniature, pale form of Echeveria elegans) flowers this time of year as well (right) 

 Tylecodon panniculata Tylecodon wallichii

Tylecodons tend to bloom about now (just about the same time they begin to lose their leaves).  Tylecodon panniculata (left) and Tylecodon wallichii (right) 

sedum compressum   sedum clavatum

Sedums compressum (left) and clavatum (right) also bloom this time of year 

 cotyledon  crassula arborescens 

Some Cotyledons (left) are in bloom this time of year, and Crassula arborescens tends to make flowers in early summer, late spring (right) 


Though the spectacular expanses of brilliant floral displays by these plants are becoming a bit scarcer in summer, there still are some that can be seen in bloom

 Oscularia deltoides

Oscularia deltoides in flower in May, southern California 

Lampranthus pink   drosanthemum

Lampranthus (left) and Drosanthemum (right) varieties still flowering in May in the Huntington Gardens, California 

 Drosanthemum piquetbergens

Drosanthemum piquetbergens in the Huntington Gardens, May 


These interesting, mostly tropical vining succulents, are sometimes forgotten when compiling lists of succulents.  However, some of these produce simply fantastic flowers and many of them bloom in mid spring into summer.  I personally can only grow a few of these reliably, but there are hundreds of species and varieties, so many of the below photos are NOT mine.

 Hoya Hindu Rope    Hoya hr again   Hoya obovata

Two of the plants i find particularly easy in my hot, dry, outdoor situation are Hoya carnosa 'Hindu Rope' (left and center) as well as Hoya obovata (right)

 HOYa green Hoya white and purple Hoya red

 Hoya cinnamonmifolia (left photo PanamonCreel);  Hoya comingiana (center photo nightowl2);  Hoya macgillivray (in Hawaii)

 Hoya diptera Hoya multiflora Hoya limon

Hoya diptera (left photo nightowl2);  Hoya multiflower (center photo by atsich) and right photo of Hoya limoniaca (right photo SRQHoyas)  

Miscellaneous Plants

 Adenium bombax Jatropha filiera

Adenium arabicum (left)- many Adeniums start to bloom around this time of year;  Pseudobombax elipticum (center)- this pachycaul tree is often grown as a bonsai plant by succulent enthusiasts, and it makes curious shaving-brush-like flowers of white (and some forms make brilliant pink) in late spring, early summer;  Jatropha muitifida is one of several Jatrophas that start to flower in late spring (right) 

Pachypodium x  Pachypodium succulentum Pachy nama

Pachypodium namaquanum hybrid (succulentum x namaquanum) (left), Pachypodium succulentum (center) and Pachypodium namaquanum (right) all in my garden late spring

 Puya venusta and Dyckias

scene from the Huntington showing Puya venusta in flower (foreground) and two different species of Dyckia in flower in the background, early May 

 Puya 'green' Puya venusta Dyckia 

Puya sp. green (related to Puya beteroana and alpestris) left;  Puya venusta still in bloom in May (center) and a Dyckia brevifolia variety flower (right) 

Fouquieria sp. blooming   Hesperaloe

Fouquieria species in bloom in May (left) and Hesperaloe nocturna flowers (not quite open yet) flowers (right) 

gasteria   stapelia sp.   Hoodii

Some Gasterias are flowering this time of year (left), as are some Stapeliads (center), and Hoodia gorgonis is as well (right) 

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

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