A huge group of plants with huge amounts of variation even between species. Care varies immensely, although they all follow the same general pattern: let them dry out before you water again, and keep in bright, indirect light.
The vast majority of species are not very cold hardy, although many sempervivums can tolerate frost easily. Light requirements vary wildly as well.
The most striking succulents display their best coloration under stress from under-watering, but it’s a fine line to walk.
Pretty much all succulents like well draining soil. How much depends on the type – some have much larger root systems than others.
Many of the small, soft succulents produce huge showy sprays of blooms very popular with hummingbirds. Others only bloom once, then die.
Not just species, there are dozens if not hundreds of hybrid aloe cultivars of all sizes, shapes, and colors.
Many aloes are found in the southern edge of the African continent, but they’re by no means limited there. They’re found in Madagascar and throughout Africa, although growing conditions strongly resemble desert conditions in multiple areas of the world.
Aloes: highly varied, highly desirable
Aloes range from miniature species that occupy small niches in the desert, to towering tree aloes that can be 15 feet tall or more. Whatever the growth habit you’re looking for, there’s likely to be an aloe species or hybrid that grows in that shape.
Aloes generally prefer warmer temperatures, being unforgiving of temperatures below 35F. Some types prefer a lower range of temperatures, such as Aloe polyphylla, while others do best in higher ranges, such as Aloe suzannae. To determine care, it’s often best to learn about the natural conditions a given species is found in. Hybrids generally do better with a bit more babying that the true species, depending on the particular cultivar.
Below are a few of the aloes in my collection; aloe hybrids and aloe species will each have their own page.
Aloe "Purple People Eater"
Aloe castilloniae "blue" hybrid
The majority of Agaves are native to the hot, dry regions of the Americas, although a small few are found in more tropical regions of South America.
Agaves grow for years, sometimes decades, and then end their life in a single, giant bloom stalk with hundreds of seeds. They need very little water to survive, and their life can be extended by a sparse watering regime.
Beautiful, desert-growing plants that grow for years or decades, and then throw a giant bloom that signifies the end of an individual plant’s life. They tend to have extremely sharp spines at the tips of their leaves, and grow in a spiral shape, developing their best size over time.
Agaves are also the plants that bring us tequila – although I don’t have any of that type, they are grown throughout Mexico for that delicious, delicious beverage. The ones in cultivation are typically grown for their color and contrast.
Agave celsii multicolor
Agave colorata x celsii Nova "Blue Wave"
Agave isthmensis 'Ohi Raijin Shiro Nakafu'
Agave parryi truncata
Agave titanota "Black and Blue"
Agave victoria - swobodae
Agave victoriae-reginae variegated
Popular and enormously variable, almost the entire genus is found naturally on the Canary islands, with a very small number of other species hailing from Madeira, Morocco, and East Africa.
Easy Winter Showers
In the wild, these plants produce all of their growth during a cool, rainy season, and look their best during that time. They often get scraggily and sad looking during their summer dormancy period.
Aeoniums: Succulent Flowers
Aeoniums typically cluster readily, and can be very easily propagated through cuttings. The wide range of colors and shapes mean that you can create artful, aesthetically pleasing plantings with only this genus – although it may only be in cooler, wetter times of year that it looks its best.
These work well in mixed arrangements, where their summer sadness can be offset by plants that thrive in the summer heat. Nearly all thrive better in cooler winter weather, but dislike actual frost. Even a light frost at 32F is enough to melt their leaves, with some varieties being even more (or less) sensitive than others.
Aeonium "Mardi Gras"
Aeonium "Sunburst" - crested and non crested
Aeonium - misc
The unnamed or lost tag hybrids in my collection.
A highly variable genus with over 200 accepted species, these range from small succulents perfect for collectors to sprawling shrubs, such as the common Jade plant.
The commonly available species originate from South Africa, and thrive best in similar warm conditions. The thicker the stem, the more drought-tolerant the plant is.
Almost all crassula like it warm, and fairly dry, although the shrubbier species tolerate a very wide range of conditions. There’s a reason you can find a Jade plant in nearly any city in the US!
The commonly cultivated varieties of crassula come from South Africa, and thrive with well draining soil, plenty of light, and regular (although not too frequent) watering.
Crassula capitella "Campfire"
Mine was originally labelled “cornuta”
Crassula marginalis rubra var. variegata
Crassula perforata variegata
California’s native succulent, this genus is near and dear to my heart. Many species are threatened or even endangered, and commonly have narrow ranges that are threatened by poaching and overcollection from enthusiasts.
The "Live Forever" plant
Dudleyas are commonly called “live forevers” because they tend to die back in quite extreme fashion in summer, then rebound with a bang with the winter wet season hits. Most can survive a light frost, and grow in rocky crevices or sheer cliff faces in impossible looking locations.
California’s Native Succulent
Dudleyas are a genus of succulent that have about 45 species, and range up and down the California coast, including many islands. Nearly all grow in slanted or close to vertical orientations, in conditions few other plants are found. This is due in large part to their leaves, which allow them to store water through the extended dry season found on the west coast.
Many of the species have white, glaucous leaves, and develop a fine, protective farina that helps protect the plant from losing too much water from the leaves. They should be kept almost entirely dry in summer, when they are dormant, and watered well when dry during their growing season in winter. They do best planted at a slant, which helps prevent water from sitting in the center and creating rot. They also do well in climates outside of California if they can be kept dry in summer, with many species tolerating temperatures down to 15F.
A truly massive genus with over 150 species included, and easily hundreds more of hybrids, crosses, and cultivars. These are immensely popular in cultivation all over the world.
Echeverias are incredibly varied, but they all share one thing: they grow in a rosette pattern, with sprays of beautiful flowers that are typically bell-shaped. Echeverias are a new world species, found at the very southern end of North America, throughout Central America, as well as throughout South America.
Echeverias are typically easy to grow, with many cultivars doing well even as windowsill plants indoors. As long as you’re able to provide them with well draining soil, plenty of bright, indirect light, and can learn the water routine that works best for your plants, they thrive! Here in San Diego, I often need to water mine close to daily in summer, which dips to once every few weeks in cooler weather.
This genus tends to be slow growing compared to others, and rarely reaches sizes above 12″ across, which is yet another reason they work so well as container plants. Many species and cultivars readily produce offsets, making them easy to propogate and give to friends, or even create new arrangements. Most commonly available are hybrids, either between echeveria species or even crossed with graptopetalum, sedum, or pachyphytum species.
Below are only a few of the Echeveria species in my collection. Keep checking back to see the true species page expanded, and the addition of the hybrids page!