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.
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.
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
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 tend to bloom in spring primarily and these can be spectacular flowers. Echinocereus reichenbachii (left), Echinocereus subinermis (center) and Echinocereus pectinatus (right)
Echinocereus gentryi var. sheerii in my yard (left); Echinocereus fenderlii cactus show winner (center); Echinocereus dasycanthus (right)
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 (left), Oreocereus species in my yard (center) and Pilosocereus pachyclada also in my yard, all seen blooming in late May, early June
Various smaller Echinopsis varieties/species in my yard blooming in late spring. right is Echinopsis ancistrophora
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
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)
Gymnocalycium horstii in my yard (left); Gymnocalycium monvillei (center) and Gymnocalycium friedrichii (right), a species that blooms repeatedly through the spring and summer
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
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 princeps (left), Eriosyce napina (center) and Matucana aurantiaca (right) all blooming late spring in my garden
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
Opuntia ficus-indica (left), Opuntia littoralis (center) and Opuntia microdasys (right) all seen blooming in local botanical gardens
Nopalea cochennillifera (left), Cylindropuntia thurberi (center) and Austrocylindropuntia verschaffelitii (right), all Opuntia relatives, also tend to bloom this time of year
Parodias also like this time of year... Parodia magnifica (left), Parodia roseolata (center) and Parodia werneri (right)
Parodias erinacea and concina in my yard also flowering in late spring
Rebutias also like late spring. Rebutia heliosa (left), Rebutia pulchra (center) and Rebutia narvescensis (right) in May
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 (left), Aloe buhrii (center) and Aloe confusa (right) all tend to bloom in May (though Aloe buhrii also blooms in April).
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 (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 (left), Aloe distans (center) and Aloe striata (right) in late spring
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 is one of my faforite bloomers this time of year (center and left photos from plant in my garden)
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
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 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 bupleurifolia is another popular show plant that flowers now (left and center); right is Euphoriba perangusta flowering in my garden in late May
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-medusae (left); Euphorbia inermis var. huttoniae (center); and Euphorbia francoisii (right)
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
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 flowering in early May, southern California, Huntington Gardens
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)
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 farniosa (left), Dudleya viren ssp. virens (center) and Dudleya thraskiae (right) flowers in late spring
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, 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)
Tylecodons tend to bloom about now (just about the same time they begin to lose their leaves). Tylecodon panniculata (left) and Tylecodon wallichii (right)
Sedums compressum (left) and clavatum (right) also bloom this time of year
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 in flower in May, southern California
Lampranthus (left) and Drosanthemum (right) varieties still flowering in May in the Huntington Gardens, California
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.
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 diptera (left photo nightowl2); Hoya multiflower (center photo by atsich) and right photo of Hoya limoniaca (right photo SRQHoyas)
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 namaquanum hybrid (succulentum x namaquanum) (left), Pachypodium succulentum (center) and Pachypodium namaquanum (right) all in my garden late spring
scene from the Huntington showing Puya venusta in flower (foreground) and two different species of Dyckia in flower in the background, early May
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 species in bloom in May (left) and Hesperaloe nocturna flowers (not quite open yet) flowers (right)
Some Gasterias are flowering this time of year (left), as are some Stapeliads (center), and Hoodia gorgonis is as well (right)
About Geoff Stein
Veterinarian and Exotic Plant Lover... and obsessive, compulsive collector of all oddball tropical and desert plants.